Cleaning up rhythm

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Rimantas B., Jan 7, 2013.

  1. I've been trying to record stuff lately and it turned out that my timing is just all over the place.
    Statistically, I'd say my notes are on the beat "on average". However, I get some kind of random jitter in my rhythm, and most of the notes fall either ahead or behind the actual beat.

    I guess it is, to some extent, normal for bass recordings performed by human beings, but in my case it's really annoying and makes most of my recordings sound like crap, even though I don't miss notes or so and have a reasonably decent overall technique :/

    Does anyone have any quicker suggestions than "learn stuff correctly from the start"?
  2. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    This is a really awesome lesson that might help you break things down into more manageable chunks. And as always, practice with a metronome at least a little bit every day if possible!

  3. Do some time excersises? Play with metronome?

    Saw a really nice time excersise with Victor Wooten. Something with KORG.
  4. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    Here's an exercise that helped me when I was younger. Take a metronome and set it to a fairly slow tempo. Also set it so that it beeps on every down beat (or the 1, 2, 3, and 4 of each measure). Start off my just listening to it and internalize how the pulse feels. I highly suggest tapping your foot along to it as well, and be sure to be counting either out loud or in your head. Again, you want the tempo to be quite slow.

    Now take your bass and play whole notes on top of the pulse. Let it ring out for the entirety of the beats and then hit another whole note when the next 1 comes around. Do this until you nail it 100% of the time. Don't cheat and move on until you get it either, because you'll only be cheating yourself out of having better internal time.

    Once you have that down you can start doing half notes. Again, let the note ring for the full two beats and then hit the next one at the proper time. Break it down again so that you're now doing quarter notes, and then again for eighth notes, and then one more time for sixteenth notes.

    I highly suggest that you stick on one note for the entire duration of the exercise at first. If it proves to be too easy then you can try doing scales or arpeggios on top of it, but again, it's best to keep things easy so that you can focus more on your time than on your note choice.

    Hope this helps!
  5. Listen, don't fret. I've found that all my life I've played ahead of the beat. I now realise that I like it that way. Recording is essential here. Play a real slow beat 50-70 bpm and play along and relax ... breathe. Get used to hitting it dead on the button. Do this each practice for a short while. Keep it slow and record it.

  6. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    are you using a metronome or backing track when you're recording?

    when I was trying to learn piano, my first recordings' timing was all over the place, because I had been playing alone w/o any timing device -- very elastic sense of time.

    I started practing and recording with a drum backing track with a strong beat on 1 and it helped a lot. I had to open my ears and learn to listen for that while I played.

    I did much better with a more or less realistic drum track than I ever did with a metronome.

    All that has carried over into learning/practicing bass.

    A lot of this is a symptom of the home studio. Playing with others one learns to listen -- even better if the others have a solid sense of time.
  7. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    + 1 to the suggestion, above, of Victor Wooten's Groove Workshop DVD. Well worth the bucks, IMO. He had a very interesting approach to developing a sense of time.

    Got something to add, related to that--or derived from Vic's material, I should say.

    Feel the groove inside your torso, before you start playing a line on your bass. Then let your fingers follow the groove in your body. This is a mindset thing, and I think you'll find it cleans up a lot of the timing problems you're describing.

    And it's great that you're asking the question in the first place, because it indicates that you're hearing the nuances in your rhythm! I've worked with a lot of people who, sadly, weren't clued to that subtlety--and for a bassist, this is a crucial skill.
  8. The interesting (and sad) thing is that I've been playing a while and I've been playing with people almost as long as I've been playing the bass on my own :) I guess it was the metal noise and the general rock'n'roll that prevented me from taking appropriate notice of it until I started serious recording.
    Thanks for the tips, I'll check out the Wooten DVD and see what I can use. Started the whole note thing already!