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Best way to fix my timing and plucking sound?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by, May 5, 2006.


    Feb 21, 2005
    Greetings. I'm quite new to the bass world (even though I registered on this forum quite a while ago, I did not play much bass, or any instruments on that matter, until lately)

    My problem is twofold :
    I must admit I have terrible timing :meh: but I don't know how to improve my timing/groove short of playing along with tracks. Any ideas?

    Also, I noticed that when I pluck using my middle finger it sounds different than when I pluck using my index finger. It is annoying to sound like da-di-da-di-da-di ~ how to fix this?
    :help: :help:
  2. thumbzilla


    Apr 28, 2006
    Mentor, Ohio
    A metronome is the best way to learn to keep time. Can't argue with the metronome. Practice hard to keep with it, in a band the bass drum (or you!) is the metronome. The plucking problem sounds like you are striking with different forces, one finger stronger than the other. Work hard to make the force equal with each finger.
  3. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    1. Timing - log time with the drum machine. Every day. You can't get better time practicing as a weekend warrior. You have to do it every day, even if it's just 5 or 10 minutes, but every day. Alter the tempos. Start slow, move up to fast.
    All to the drum machine or metronome.

    2. Uneven strokes - log hours and hours and hours doing nothing but alternating your strokes. It almost doesn't matter what you play with the left hand while doing it.
    Plays scales, or play some simple patterns - one finger per fret, index-ring-middle-pinkie, etc. etc. - but no matter what it is, just keep pedalling and pedalling alternating the index and middle fingers of the right hand. There is simply no short cut for this. You need to log lots of hours to make this totally automatic and even. Do it in front of the TV while you're watching the game.

    If you log the hours, it will come.
  4. As you have probably gathered, use a drum machine or metronome to better your timing. Start low playing 4ths and when you can do them accurately on highter speeds move on to 8ths, then 16ths.

    With your plucking sound, make sure your finger nails on both are cut down, my index nail used to always hit the string and it sounds terrible in my opinion but yea its dum twang dum. u get the idea. If its not your nail then i suggest sitting there playing anything you like, open e or something lol until u get the sound right, watch some tv as u do it or something lol.

    Good luck
  5. I can't add anything to the timing suggestions that have been given already really. there are more specific ways to work on speed and technique issues that lead to timing problems in the first place, but for generally weak timing, just practice practice practice.

    Your problem with uneven strokes could be due to the angle you're picking at.

    Because your middle finger is longer than your index, it will dig in further to the string, making it louder and giving a different tone. To compensate for this, point your fingers toward the bridge a little, you should be able to see that the amount of the flesh making contact evens out.
  6. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    PDX / SFO / HNL
    I just discovered that on my Mac, I have a program called "Garage Band" that includes a full drum machine (though simple) that I have been using to practice to.. and it's made a big difference in my time..
  7. steveb98

    steveb98 [acct disabled - multiple aliases]

    Mar 15, 2006
    Venice, CA
    I took some bass lesson with Jame Faunt a long time ago and one thing we did in the first lesson that has stuck with me. Set down your bass, turn on a metronome and clap the time. But the key is your hand claps if in time should make the metronome sound disappear. If you hear the metronome you are off.

    You can do the same with your CD's of tunes you are working on. Clap the time and make the snare disappear.

    Feb 21, 2005
    What do you guys play with the 'nome or drum machine anyways? Just finger exercises?

    Well, I suppose a clip of my playing could help identify my problems. The sound isn't very good, the rest of the 'band' are MIDI, and the bass that I'm using is an OLP, plus I'm using a guitar preamp :p
  9. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    Play EVERYTHING with a metronome or drum machine if you can. i believe in the immersion method. :)

    as it was mentioned earlier, there are metronomes all around us: music on the radio, on the tv, the turn signal click in your car, the ticking of a clock, etc. my advice is to use them whenever you can. clap your hands or your leg to the rhythm. begin to subdivide the beats into 8th notes and 16th notes.
  10. Hi!

    try to record yourself using any recording device such as a tape recorder and be the judge of your own performance.
  11. morf

    morf Banned

    Feb 17, 2006
    +1 for metronome. It will help your timing. Play alone with a metronome and match your playing to its beats.

    As for the plucking, that will come when you fingertips start getting wear. Make sure you pluck the right way too, try not to pluck pulling he string upward, instead try to push it with one finger. To get the movement right, put your thumb tip on a pickup, make sure the nail is perpendicular to the strings and body, and push the E string with your index so that the index lands on your thumb, like a claw that would close up. Practice that with both fingers and it should sound exactly the same then.
  12. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    We should all aspire to keep improving. But, you're kicking yourself harder than you need to. I just listened to that clip. The timing doesn't suck. Can it improve? Sure, but that's the case with lots of things in life. You wanna hear time sucking? - I'll send you some clips of some drummers I played with in the past. :)

    Now, tone wise, it would interesting to watch you play in person. From the clip, it's hard to tell if the tones issues are in your fingers or in the equipment.

    See if you can take a couple of lessons with a really good player in your area, to guide you on finger technique and tone.

    But, keep going. You're doing fine.
  13. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    PDX / SFO / HNL
    My timing must really suck then, because at least with one time around listening to that clip... and factoring out the crappy sounding (other instruments), I saw no problem with your time.. But heck, if you think you need to improve it, by all means.. work on it.. practice makes perfect!

    Feb 21, 2005
    Um, I guess I started really sucking at near the end of the song. Dunno though, I tend to play too fast most of the time when the feeling should be relaxing.
  15. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    re-picking: You're probably increasing the differences between you to fingers' sounds if you always lead with the same one (typically the index), as you'll get used to emphasising it, and letting the second finger follow.

    When you're doing the exercises sugguested above (particulary just putting a metronome on an playing one note for hours), be spend half of your time leading with each finger: imimimim then mimimimi.

    Making your weaker finger lead will make it work harder - your middle finger will catch up with your index by making it do what the index can do.

    You'll also need to be able to do it both ways later on - either because the written part leaves your fingers in the wrong place to play the next bit as you'd like to, or an improvised fill doesn't work out the way you plan, and leaves you "wrong fingered". Ideally you should be able to play equally well both ways, though of course some stuff is easier one way or the other.

  16. LarryR


    Feb 2, 2003
    Los Angeles

    I heard your clip. If you've only been playing a short while you're way ahead of the game. Some of those slides you do are very together. Your middle finger will almost always sound different compared to your index finger due to mass and length. Jamerson used his index finger only I believe. On upright I use my middle finger most ofen due to its mass - which in my head sounds the fullest on URB. On electric I alternate. Bottom line though, there's nothing wrong using whatever method sounds good to you. There's no "one way" in music. Music is creative and individual expression - never forget that.

    That track is (naturally) very mechanical. Considering it's Midi (ich!) you've humanized it well. And if you're bummed about timing issues on the last part of the song, you're not alone. I'd be bored and lazy with that "band" too, but to keep the pace of a metronome over 4 minutes is also a stamina question which you'll resolve with practice.

    Don't worry, keep playing.

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