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A few questions on different techniques

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Ye_olde_dragon, Dec 7, 2006.

  1. Hi all,

    I've been playing for a pretty long time, but I've never had any instruction minus what I've read or picked up from other musicians, so I'm not as good as I'd like to be in alot of areas. I play fingerstyle and slap. I've never really learned how to play with a pick. I can groove well and I have a good sense of timing, but I'm not very fast at all, and my lack of musical theory is starting to hinder me. So I've been reading the scale/chord theory lessons on here and other places and trying to expand the types of music I play. Anyway, here's my questions:

    1. I tried for the first time this week to play a metal song (Iron Maiden's Invaders) and realized how woefully slow I am. I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I have real trouble with this song. The opening riff and the verse riff totally kick my ass. Are there specific exercises I can do to improve my speed? Mostly I've just been trying to play it really slow and get the timing perfect and then speed it up little by little.

    2. I was reading a lesson on Wooten's double thump technique but there's something I don't understand. If you watch him it looks like he's slapping the strings, but the lesson I read implied that it was more of a pluck with the thumb, followed by an upwards pluck? Is it slap or pluck?

    3. Also was reading a lesson on another site on tapping techniques, and I absolutely cannot make my hands move independently of one another. I get the rhythm riff going with my left hand, but the instant I try tapping with my right hand, my left hand wants to follow what my right hand is doing, if that makes sense. Has anyone else had this problem while learning to tap, and how did you overcome it?

    4. What the hell is the circle of fifths? I did a search on here and on wikipedia and I'm still lost on how to apply it to my practice routine. I'll be honest I didn't completely understand the wikipedia entry. :meh:

    I'm really trying to expand my abilities and knowledge and I'd appreciate any help you guys can provide. Thanks!
  2. Matheau


    Nov 27, 2006
    1) Sometimes it is just a matter of learning the piece until you don't have to think about it and then speeding it up. There are lots of speed excercises out there though.

    3) That is probably the single hardest aspect of tapping, you just need to keep practicing. Try learning both hand seperately until you can do both of them without thinking and then combine them. That might work.
  3. I need to find some hand exercises I can do. It'd never been an issue with me before because I've never played in a band that played really fast music, mostly classic punk/rock bands, sometimes with a little funk thrown in just for fun.

    It's definitely the hardest part for me. I can get a nice clean tapping tone, but just can't manage to get my hands to work together (separately as the case may be). That's a good idea about learning it until you don't have to think about it anymore. I never could do that rub your belly, pat your head thing either. :crying:
  4. The best way to improve speed is by practicing SLOWLY with a metronome. Especially when it comes to Steve Harris and Iron Maiden's music. 99.9% of Harris' lines are scales and arpeggios.

    I played a ton of Maiden in the late 80's and they are all the same thing - triplets and 1/8 notes, scales and arpeggios at very fast tempos.

    Try running major (Ionian), minor (aeolian) and dominant 7 scales (maj. w/b7 or Mixolydian) scales starting with your metronome at ~80 bpm.

    Start doing 1/8 note scales, then move to triplets.

    Then do the arpeggios (1, 3, 5, 7, 5, 3, 1) in each mode. First as 1/8 note arps, then triplets.

    With both the scales and arps, connect one to the next without dropping a beat. So starting with an F maj. scale; run F to octave F and back down then immediately move to F# - up, down - immediately to G and so on... Go as far up the neck as you can.

    DO NOT INCREASE THE BPM UNTIL YOU ARE ABLE TO RUN EACH SCALE FLAWLESSLY. When you nail the scale, increase the BPM and do it again. At first this will be tedious, but if you do this for an hour a day, for a week, you will see such an improvement in your speed that you won't believe it!

    It is not a slap - a slap "strikes" the string and bounces off. Vic's thumb technique drives in through the string then pulls back out driving out through the string. The goal is to make each strike sound the same, like with alternating finger techniques. You always want to strive for evenness and control. This mean, yes... you guessed it... practicing SLOW WITH A METRONOME. Do the scales and arpeggios exercise above using this thumb technique and you will get it.

    Think of your thumb as if it were are guitar pick. Using your wrist, rotate your thumb into the string driving through it then rotate it back reversing the action. The side of your thumb will be sore for a bit, but pretty soon you will see how sticking your thumb out and rotating your wrist very quickly using your thumb like you would use a pick can give you that Victor thumb sound.

    Practice it slow, with a metronome. If you cannot do it slow, you cannot do it fast. There may be times with a burst of energy makes you think it's easier to fly then to walk, but usually that is because it happens so fast your brain filters out the crap.

    I will defer to the theory buffs here on this question.
  5. Wow, what an exceptionally helpful post. Thanks, dude!

    1. Those sound like great exercises. I'll start today!

    2. Okay, I think I understand. So you're plucking with the side of your thumb? At first I was really confused because I was thinking plucking with the end of the thumb which would cause the nail to strike the string on the upstroke, which obviously wouldn't sound right. The pops are just normal pops, right?

    3. Got it. I just downloaded a program called weird metronome, and it seems pretty great.

    Thanks so much, that was incredibly helpful!
  6. No prob! Remember the rule; "If you cannot play it slow, you cannot play it fast."

    When you practice slowly the things to pay attention to are the clarity of the notes, relative evenness (from one note to the next), smoothness in transitions, and of course, accuracy in timing.

    Go slow, be clear, be accurate, don't permit yourself to move forward (up in tempo) until you have mastered it.

    My experience with exercises like this is that at first, when you are not warmed up, it is very frustrating. Your instincts want you to go faster and it is very hard to resist the urge to increase the metronome a few clicks. But if you doggedly insist that you get it perfect before you up the speed, by the end of an hour you will be playing something you could NOT play at the beginning of that hour. The next day when you start over again (maybe starting a little faster than the previous day) you will see yourself getting it a lot more quickly and again, by the end of that day's practice you will be that much better.

    And NOTHING feels better then KNOWING you have improved. Nothing shows you how much you have improved better then a metronome and these type of exercises. After a month you will look back on "Invaders" and laugh! You won't believe how easy it is for you to play now and will have a hard time remembering why it was so hard before. At that point you realize that just about anything can be learned if you follow the rules.

    1) Use a metronome
    2) Go slow, get it perfect (don't cheat), increase speed
    3) lather, rinse, repeat.

    "inVAders! [dadedadeda] inVAders! [dadedadedadedada] inVAders! [daadedadeda] inVAders! [dadedadedadedada]..."

  7. Absolutely. This is exactly what I need. I sort of coming off a couple year hiatus where I played, but not much ya know? I used to be pretty good at what I did, but now I'm realizing how limited that was. As well as gaining a new respect for a lot of different styles out there.

    Lol, my hands and forearms are actually sore for the first time in several years. It feels pretty good.

    Go slow, get it perfect. I'm drumming that into my head. Technique, technique, technique!

    You know, speaking of Maiden....I've always been a big metal fan, but I used to complain about the operatic vocals (ala bruce dickinson and the like), until every metal band decided they wanted to growl their lyrics, and now I find myself going back and listening alot more old metal than new metal. I wonder if that means I'm starting to get old? hehe.

    Thanks again for your help, man.
  8. I was never a fan of metal. But if I wanted to play in a band with my friends back then, I had to play metal. Life was so "guitar-driven" back then and I was really bummed that my guitar-playing buds didn't want to play more Beatles, Zeppelin and so on... So off to the land of blazing, galloping "viking rock" (as one of my drummer friends used to call it).

    There was a really skewed attitude about what was "good" with metal bass players... They'd hear a line like Paul McCartney's in "Penny Lane" and think, "Man, that is sooooo easy! He wouldn't last a day in Metallica! He just couldn't handle it! He sucks!" LOL

    To me, all those metal bass lines were nothing more then practice exercises we used to run in the high school orchestra - this scale, that arpeggio... nothing but a series of warm-up exercises - rudiments - played really, really fast. Metal bass lines (in my opinion) are not bass lines, per se, rather they are a series of rudiments and exercise played at ridiculous speeds. The "skill" is more stamina and strength then taste and musicality. IN GENERAL - and it is just my opinion... and like arseholes, everyone has one, right?

    I have always credited metal for helping me develop finger strength and stamina. I actually think that every bass player should serve time in a metal band (kind of like boot camp) to build those things. They should also do stints in blues, gospel, reggae and as many other genre-bands as they can, but nothing like the speed, volume, length and energy of metal to get your speed and stamina up.

    The vocals - man - I actually liked Paul Diano's(sp?) approach to Maiden's lyrics - much more "real" and not so damn, "Pavarotti", ya know? "Murders in the Rue Morgue", "Killers", those songs seemed to have more genuine attitude then the epic "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" and that stuff... We were also playing a heavy rotation of Queensryche and Anthrax at that time. Now Anthrax, as metally as they were, was a band that I really did like. I still never bought their albums or chose to listen to them "offline", but when it came to songs that were fun to play, Anthrax really hit the spot!

    But back then and even today I am just not that angry, angst-ridden... LOL

    Good luck! Go slow to go fast and you will go far.
  9. I hear ya. I don't think I've ever played any beatles, but Zepplin used to be a staple of one band that I was in. Viking Rock is pretty apt for old metal, but I still like it. Maybe I am angry and angst-ridden or at least was at the time that I started listening to it. It's fun though, and it's a departure from what I'm used to playing.

    Yeah, I know exactly what you're talking about. My favorite metal band was always Metallica just for the simple fact that James Hetfield didn't follow the "povarotti-ness" of most metal of the eighties. Although I think it's actually the epic quality of metal that I do like. Good metal is like Wagner played with distortion. I always like Anthrax as well, again minus the vocals. They were one of those bands that was always just a little (or alot) different musically than the norm.

    But I have a wide variety of musical tastes. Honestly I like just about everything minus pop. I can't deal with britney spears/boy band crowd.
  10. This may seem obvious, but when I was trying to learn the clash- Police and thieves I couldnt play fast enough on my Jazz. I moves my hand down to the lower pickup and it becomes easy as pie. Now when I try and learn groovier songs I play on the upper pickup and on faster edgy song I pay on the lower pickup closer to the bridge. That might be totally obivious, but I didnt figure it out until a few days ago :p .
  11. Hmmm....That would make sense if I were digging in too hard, it would be harder to do that. Actually, come to think of it, I probably AM digging in too hard, just trying to hear myself (no amp ATM), so that could actually work. Thanks for the tip!
  12. LocrianX


    Nov 9, 2006
    Santa Cruz, CA
    The circle of fifths is a relationship between the major scales that have sharps. If you start with C major (no sharps), go up a fifth to G major (1 sharp) go up another fifth to D major (2 sharps)...etc. etc., that's the circle of fifths. It helps you figure out the key signature...for each scale that's a fifth above the last, add one sharp.

    FYI, for major scales with flats, you go up by fourths. C major (no flats), F major (one flat), etc.
  13. K2000


    Nov 16, 2005
    Don't dig in when trying to play those Maiden riffs. It's the wrong kind of effort, if you know what I mean... it's counterproductive to playing quick.

    Also, a lot of rock bass is about conditioning. The better condition you're in, the more demanding basslines you can play. Your question was almost like asking 'How can I run a marathon?" The answer is conditioning... you have to build up to it.

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