Can't play with others like practice at home

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Rockin John, Mar 28, 2001.

  1. I received some great advice on these boards but I'm a bit worried that this question is going to come over as kinda silly to all you experienced bassists. So please be tolerant. Anyway, here goes.....


    I getting back into bass after about 25 years off. There's one or two of us from the old days who get together to play (amplified) with drummer etc. It's just for fun but with the possibility of a gig or two at some later time. We use a clubroom so it can be loud.

    I practice @ home (no amp) a couple of half hours per week. No more time, I'm afraid. I mainly do finger exercises then try my bass lines. It seems to work out quite well.


    I just cant seem to play to the same standard @ clubroom as I do @ home. Both hands seem to run out of stamina very quickly @ clubroom. I seem to pluck hard with the right hand (perhaps to hear myself) which, in turn, seems to make the L/H finger much harder.

    I'm becoming frustrated and demoralized by this because I can't figure out what's going wrong. Therefore I don't know what to do to cure it.

    Help please.

    Best regards.

    Rockin John
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    If you are plucking harder to be heard you need to turn the amp up (or adjust the EQ so you can hear it better), if you can't turn it up further you need a louder one or get the others to turn down.

    You should be plucking lightly AT ALL TIMES and letting the amp do the work.
  3. Hello Brianrost, and thanks.

    Hmm. Interesting. I tried turning up last night and it certainly seemed to be easier on the hands, possibly for that very reason.

    Trouble is, louder amp means all sorts of resonances and mics noises.

    I'm damned if I can remember how I went on in the old days. I must have encountered it then.

    Perhaps you're suggesting that my basic technique need improving and, if so, I fully accept that.

  4. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    John, I came back to bass after a break of 18 years. To get back into the shape, I practice either at loud volumes (if nobody is at home), or with headphones. That way, I don't need to play hard, plus I can work on my technique since every mistake, fret noise, sloppy fingering/plucking etc is amplified. Also, I practice every day, 1 hour minimum, plus I play with some friends 3-4 times a week - the entire setup is in my basement.
  5. Hello Brooks, and thanks.

    I had wondered whether accoustic practicing was part of the problem. There's not that much I can do about that, though: family matters and all kinda stuff.

    Quite obviously the whole feel is quite different, amplified and not. And I did kinda suspect that I might be fooling myself into thinking things were going OK @ home when they might not have been.

    Are you then perhaps agreeing with Brianrost that R/H and L/H should be played lightly?

  6. Throw my vote in with brianrost about light playing. When I first started out (which was only about a year ago :p) I used to keep the volume on my bass & amp pretty low, and my hands got real tired real fast.

    Then I read a lot of people here say that you should turn up the volume, and play with a light touch - I tried that and it worked wonders on my playing! When I first started I had to raise the action of my bass so that I didn't get fret buzz and/or the strings clicking against the pickups. Now I've lowered the action, and I never hear the strings hit the pickups, and get little to no fret buzz when I play. :)
  7. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    This is sort of a shot in the dark and probably does not apply, but I thought I might ask anyway.

    When you practice at home, are you sitting down?

    When you are at the club, are you standing up?

    Only reason I ask is I recall when I first started playing bass, I encountered the sort of thing you described. Initially, my stamina was much better when I practiced at home...sitting down. I discovered that as I began playing with others, I was always standing and my fingers would get fatigued and tighten up.

    Not that you are a beginner, but I wonder if the time away from the bass could set back the clock on your stamina a bit. I thought I would just share that since I remember feeling this frustration when I started out. As I practiced more with people (standing), I gradually improved without feeling like I had 'the claw'.

    Either way, I'm sure it will work itself out as you get back into playing. If increased volume is what you need without amplifying peaks and such, I wonder if some slight compression might help. That way, maybe you could squeeze more overall volume out of the rig while limiting the 'incidentals'.
  8. Hi Seamus.

    No. I stand @ home and @ club. I realised soon enough that playing is easier sitting but one wouldn't do that on a gig so stand always now at home.

    I agree on the compressor. I'm working on that anyway.

    Perhaps the real answer is to just keep at it.

    Thanks again.

  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    From my experience-
    I also play "acoustically" or with a headphone amp @home. That means low volume. Playing LOUD requires a break-in period(IMO).
    Too, gigs require "something else" vs. sheddin' @home...everthing is up a notch(volume, adrenalin, intensity, anxiety, etc). When you're playing/practicing with others, your senses are heightened by what goin' on around you.
    Here's an analogy: You can practice basketball all day by yourself, making shot after shot, dribbling like there's no tomorrow, blahblah. Now, in a real-time/game situation, the situation is different. A whole lotta variables are introduced into the equation. In short, you're INTERacting & not merely reacting(say, practicing to a recording that you know by-heart).
    What chops(cough-cough)I might have are honed when I gig A LOT.

    ...and put me in the camp that probably plays "too hard". ;)
  10. BassDude24


    Sep 12, 2000
    I never stoped playing the bass, I haven't had time to give it up yet. But I have noticed that when I play with my buddies, I just don't seem up to par with what I can do alone. I am slowly realizing that it is an amplification issue, so I'm bummed cause I don't have the cash to get a nice rig.
  11. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Don't worry! it's not a gear issue. You're going to be less accomplished @ the gig than you are @ home untill you've been performing a L-o-n-g time. Simply put, you're not as relaxed on the gig. You'll be more tense, and won't be able to pull off the same things you can do at home.

    So what's the remedy? Practice. You'll get better. and you'll be able to do more at the gig. And gig more, you'll get more comfortable. Eventually, the gig will feel quite comfortable and you'll be able to play whatever you want........
  12. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    John, most practice amps, effects boxes etc have headphone output, so playing load without bothering others is not a problem. And yeah, I agree with others who suggested that you should learn to play with a lighter touch and more control. It will not only reduce fatique, but also help you develop better control of dynamics.
  13. I think It's probably a combination of a number of things.

    Over the last couple of evenings I've been trying to take a close look at my methods and techniques (being self taught doesn't help but there's not much I can do about that!).

    First, I don't feel comfortable with how the bass slings when I'm my standing. I've tried chest, waist, and everywhere in between. I adopt the 'classical' L/H technique so the attitude of the bass plays a great part in the left wrist position. I've studied Mark King's playing (technique rather than music). His bass being almost in his throat seems ideal for a good L/H position but I realy dislike the way it looks.

    Second is that my bass is neck heavy (Squier P-Bass Affinity). That means I have to press down on the body with my R/H rather than support the neck with the L/H, to stop the neck swinging towards the ground. Either that or I add about 4 pounds to the bridge end of the body as a counter weight. The bass then hangs great but it's too darned heavy. Either way there's fatigue creeping and an increase in either weight or pressure on the left shoulder. Can't do much about the bass cos can't afford anything else.

    Third, I have no practice amp so practice at home has to be fully accoustic. I'm working on that, though, so we might be able to get something sorted soon.

    Fourth, (being self taught) my R/H technique leaves something to be desired. I'm trying to work on that, too. From the help on this board I'm now conciously trying to lighten R/H technique and ease off with the L/H.

    So thanks, y'all.

    I'm going to start a couple of new threads to see if there are any solutions to the neck-heavy business, and for advice on a good L/H position.

    Best Regards,

    Rockin' John