Are You a Soft or Hard Player?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Roger W, Jul 11, 2021.

  1. I'm harder than Thor's Hammer

    92 vote(s)
  2. I'm softer than a baby's breath

    59 vote(s)
  3. I have to cover it all

    151 vote(s)
  4. Carrots and Peas

    18 vote(s)
  1. Roger W

    Roger W Supporting Member

    Jul 10, 2019
    Baltimore USA
    There are some players known for playing very hard such as Geddy Lee of Rush and Chris Wolstenholme of Muse (have to include the band names because at least one person will say they've never heard of them). A large part of their sound is the way they play very hard and either bounce the strings on the frets or come close to it most of the time.

    On the other hand, some players such as Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna and Gail Ann Dorsey, mostly known for her work with David Bowie, who barely waft their fingers over the strings and let the amp do work.

    Where do you fall in this spectrum?
  2. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Fully in the Jack Casady camp. And thanks for spelling it correctly. :thumbsup:
  3. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Guest

    Nov 22, 2017
    I play way too hard; it's bad a habit I developed back in the 80's when the bass I gigged with had really high action and I could beat the tar out of it without ever making a click.

    Over the past few years I've been trying to get my right hand under control for a much softer feel, and I am making progress there, but I don't know if I'll ever fully get away from it.
    bobyoung53, One Way, DaDo625 and 14 others like this.
  4. Roger W

    Roger W Supporting Member

    Jul 10, 2019
    Baltimore USA
    Jorma Kaukonen is even harder to spell. Been a fan since the days of 8 track tape.
  5. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Boy, this wasn't about what I thought it was going to be at all! :whistle:
  6. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    I tend to hit hard - a legacy I think from playing too long at first without an amp. But also from playing upright. (And a P with heavier flats.)
    But some instruments & styles seem to respond much better to the more amp-heavy approach. So I am gradually acclimating to that as well.
  7. mapleglo

    mapleglo Ancient Astronaut Theorist Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    rickwebb, bobyoung53, Roger W and 2 others like this.
  8. Danny O Danny

    Danny O Danny Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2015
    Georgetown, TX
    I played very hard when I was younger but have softened considerably over the years. Sort of a metaphor for life, actually.
  9. beggar98


    Jan 23, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I play with a very soft touch. I'll dig in now and then for a particular tone, but in general I want to minimize the amount of physical effort it takes. I also really focus on keeping my fretting hand light, not really holding the neck as much as gliding along it.
  10. David76112


    Feb 19, 2012
    I think I'm somewhere in the middle. This is why I own several Basses strung and set differently. Sometimes I like to dig into medium action flat's. Sometimes a softer low action flat. And of course at least one set high with round's. It must be a bipolar thing.
  11. Gustopher


    Jul 30, 2018
    I play according to the song. If it is rocking I am.
  12. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Exactly. I've found that I easily fall into "the zone" when I feel like I'm barely touching anything; it feels like the bass is just playing itself and I'm just watching.

    Also, no blisters, no calluses, and no fatigue. Seems like I could play forever if I didn't need to pause occasionally to refill my drink (or....)
    j5eugene, jdh3000, jamro217 and 4 others like this.
  13. NCBaker


    Dec 3, 2020
    Portland, OR
    I play way too hard. I learned on a high action ABG, and I kinda like the sound of a heavy attack with a pick on an ABG. As I'm getting back into playing electric, however, (and trying to learn good finger style form) that initial habit isn't translating over very well! I really envy those with the fingers that float across the strings, but I feel like my hands are too clumsy for it.
    Rip Van Dan and Roger W like this.
  14. It depends on the women in audience - are they good looking? YES, of course , I am kidding.

    The real answer - it depends on the song.
  15. I used to play on the hard side. But now with chronic tendonitis in my fingers and mild arthritis in my wrists,:( I play as light as possible and let the amp do the work. At 70 I need to preserve what I can in order to keep playing. :D
  16. Softly most of the time, because of arthritis. I’ve always preferred to let the amp do the work.
    I have my basses set up low-medium action with hybrid gauge 45-100 roundcore strings,
    whether round or flat wounds.
    My favorite strings are in between. (Labella White and Copper/White tapewounds).
    All Very flexible, with lower tension.
    Oddly though, I play pretty much exclusively in the “tightest” area of the strings.
    (just in front of the bridge.)
    OpposableThumbs, jdh3000 and Roger W like this.
  17. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    If you want to learn how to pluck with a light touch I have two suggestions that worked for me. First, turn up the volume on your amp so that digging in makes you way louder than you want to be. This way you get immediate (negative) feedback when you start to wander from the soft touch. Second, try the "floating thumb" technique for your right hand, in which your thumb just lays across lower strings (and mutes them) when playing higher strings. This makes it a lot harder to "dig in" versus having your thumb anchored on a pickup or another string.
  18. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    I have played hard for most of my life. I’m working on relaxing my hands, the rest of my body, and most of all on my brain, which still believes I have to work hard to get a good sound. It ain’t so, as I’ve discovered from watching Michael Rhodes play. He uses a light touch all the time, and always sounds great. Just relaxing the left hand gives me better accuracy and more speed.
  19. Katoosie

    Katoosie Bleep-bloopin' thru existence. Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2020
    Im not sure, I like playing with quite a lot of attack because it just makes me feel badass, so I guess kinda hard?

    Depends on what im playing to be honest.