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Constructive Practice for Bassists on a schedule...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by mz91, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. mz91


    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland
    I take it that most of us on talkbass are hobby bassists. All of us share the same love for playing but regretfully, do not have the time to dedicate ourselves to playing as much as we would like due to jobs/family/other hobbies etc.

    I find myself, in a weird situation. I come home at about 9:30, and have until 10:00 to play bass because thats when the appartment needs to be quiet. So usually, i think to myself:

    "why pick up the bass, if im going to doodle around for a half hour an' not learn anything"

    soooo, the bass just sits there... Now this has been going on for sometime now.. I tried, reading theory books on the way to work. but its just not the same withought a bass on my laps..

    Ive read the practice practice practice artikle and their is alot of construktive ideas in there!

    But i wanted to ask what the rest of you do, if you can dedicate a half hour everyday to your bass playing.. What do your routines look like? Do you find yourelf improving in such a small time frame? Any thoughts on this or some constructive help would be appreciated..

    I remember reading a thread like this months ago, but i couldnt find it.

    Thanks in advance for any replies!

  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It depends what you need (or want) to learn. For example, if you're thinking of playing with a covers band it might be good to spend some of your sessions working on quickly picking up new songs or, if you want to become a solo-tapmeister, some tapping is going to have to work into your routine.

    Define your vision of what you want to do and then fill in the details so that you're moving in that direction.

  3. Have you considered practicing unplugged or with headphones? I have to do that after the kids go to bed (family man responsibilities. Of course the sound isn't the same, but doing something is almost always better than doing nothing. I've also found that playing unplugged makes me really concentrate on my left hand technique since fret buzz seems to be drowned out by volume through an amp.

  4. mz91


    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland
    Hey Scott,

    yea, i have tried playing with headphones, And i hate it. I dont like having to play with the wire keeping it out of the way more that i actually play bass. But yea, Sometimes i play unplugged. But its definately not as satisfying!

    Hey Wulf,

    My priorities now lie in trying to understand Music better. So theory basically. I can save the tapping and what not for later :). Right now i practice by trying to listen to the basslines of songs i like. But that isnt helping me in getting to know the fingerboard. And how scales modes are built etc.

  5. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    How about this: from 10pm onwards, read up on the next bit of whatever music theory tome you're working on and think about ways you might explore that. Take notes and scribble down some ideas for possible exercises.

    The next night, do a quick warm-up and then get cracking on the exercises you thought of the night before. Some will work better than others, but you'll probably find that the half hour of playing whizzes by quickly and that it makes a difference because your mind was prepared for it.

    Finally, come 10pm, spend a bit of time thinking about how what you played related to what you studied the night before. Did you get a feel for how that theory works in practise? Did the exercises work well or did you feel there were areas left unexplored? Make a note of what you've learnt and, as you return to the books consider whether you think you've mastered something and, if not, whether you want to come back to it the next night (in which case think of some further exercises) or sometime later (in which case, make a note so you don't forget it for too long).

    How about that?

  6. When I play through headphones, I take the headphone cable down my back, and not in front of me where it gets in the way. A headphone extension cable may be needed, depending on what you have, and how far away it is.
  7. +1

    Headphones are important to me because I can play loud with them. This lets me hear the muting errors, as well as my finger noises. I have a quality pair and they work very well.
  8. mz91


    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland

    Hmmm, thats a good idea... Reading on something one day, and then Applying it the next! I really like that idea! About the writing a practice journal.. Im skeptical about that because i can imagine, that it would become a collection of unreachable goals..
    "tommorro: learn 3 new scales/ or practice fretboard familiarity for 10 mins" <-- you see what i mean?
    I dont quite see how having a notebook, will really make things better... For those of you with practice notebooks.. what kind of stuff do you write in their... maybe i just have the wrong approach to it. :)

    Scott, i dont know about the earphones, i think i would rather play accoustic than through earphones... and regardless, with earphones, i could play longer, but not much... Need to get some sleep too!

    Thanks to both of you for your input thus far!

  9. mz91


    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland
    what kind of earphones do you have?
    I have a pair of high end sony dj headphones.. and they are really heavy, and kind of uncomfortable...
  10. nemo


    Mar 19, 2004
    Good are Koss THE PLUG. They are also excellent for recording sessions.
  11. dhodgeh


    Jul 15, 2004
    Check out a pair of Koss Porta Pro II. They are a light wieght design that does have fairly decent bass response.

    They are also inexpensive (around $30) and durable. I've got a two year set that gets no respect and have had no problems with them.

  12. Youngspanion

    Youngspanion Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    In the december issue of guitar worlds bass magazine, there is a small musical number by Tommy Shannon of Double Trouble. It is a study of appeggios that when played together sound terrific. Click on the link to hear it. A half hour a day is all you will need to get this under your fingers. In your "non playing only studying" time, you can read the chords and study the notes for each bar. Great theory. Or this;

  13. I have the Sennheiser HD280. I don't like wearing them but the end justifies the means for me in this case. I live in appartment too.
  14. mz91


    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland
    Thanks for the heads up on the blues line, sounds really nice! The magazine will set me back a bunch of money here in switzerland, so im not sure if i should get it :(.

    Im liking the looks of the Koss "Plug"
    they look comfy.. But again, i know i am not one to play with earphones on!

  15. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    I felt the same way for a long time. I picked up a set of AKG K-55 headphones a couple years ago and a headphone amp so I could play electric when I went camping. I used this setup a couple of times and didn't like it. I eventually picked up a really cheap acoustic for camping, but that's a different story...

    Now that I have a 6 month old son at home I can't jack into the 210 + 115 because I'd blow his ears out, even at low volumes. So, I'm back to working through headphones for the most part. It does work and look at it this way, you could play through your rig for the first 30 minutes, then play through headphones for however longer you want to play.

    Like other posters have mentioned already, playing through headphones underlines weakness in my playing technique. Unmuted strings, clanky notes, etc. are all way too apparent when playing through headphones.

    Another thing is I use a y-adapter so I can run my iPod as well as my bass through the headphone amp at the same time. This is helping me to really be able to hear the bass and shows me instantly when I play a note that isn't in the song. When I'm not using headphones it can be a real balancing act to keep the stereo from drowning out my rig or (more likely) my rig from drowning out the stereo when I'm trying to learn new songs. Now that I've tried learning a couple of songs through headphones I find the headphones make it easier to learn the songs.

    Of course, it could be the exact opposite for you. I'm just relaying my experiences, YMMV as they say. Or, since your in Switzerland I guess it would be YKMV. :)
  16. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Yes! 280s for life! I have some Sennheiser 495s and they're a lot more comfortable, but the 280s are so nicely sealed, it blocks out everything.
  17. 7flat5


    Nov 28, 2003
    Upstate NY
    Michael, and all,

    I am also lucky if I get in 30 to 45 min. a night. Tonight I did not, but most nights I do. I almost think I get more out of 30 minutes every night than two hours on the weekend, over the long run. Warm up, practice some scales, chords of the arpeggiated variety, and play through a set of changes eight or ten or twenty times. When I am preparing for a weekly lesson, I am kept honest with a weekly goal, but otherwise I either work on a standard I already know, learn a new one, or play with a CD just for fun. Every day, even if the progress is not of the ground-breaking variety, I can see the improvement over months. It is slow but steady, and real.

    I like the idea of preparing in the quiet hours and taking full advantage of the time. I also have found headphone practicing very helpful, if a little painful and hard on the ego (I am playing almost exclusively fretless). I have a little Ibanez combo that has a headphone jack and CD inputs to blend the bass and music. I also have used some of the Jamie Abersold practice CDs.

    I figure I will still be playing three years from now (won't you?), and I will be a LOT better three years from now even if I progress at this pace. Takes some discipline, or at least force of habit, and hope for the future.

  18. cirwin


    May 2, 2005
    My wife goes to bed before midnight and after that I use a Tascam CD-BT1 with Sony MDR-7506 phones. Good for working with CD's or just using as a headphone amp. (The current model comes with a built-in metronome, for those who like to do time studies.)
  19. mz91


    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland
    Thanks for all the Usefull Information thus far!

    7flat5, thanks for sharing your situation.. thats basically the info im looking for.. I was afraid that 30 minutes a day just wouldnt cut it.. But i guess i force myself to sit at it everyday at 9:30 and see what comes of it..

    Do any of you have a Practice Diary of some sort?

  20. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Novel idea that you can only play for one half hour because your house needs to be quiet. If you said that you have to be in bed an asleep by 10pm, I could sympathize with you, however you're just lamenting over the fact that you can't play out of your rig. I say you still have plenty of time to practice and you're just looking for reasons why you can't.

    A lot of the playing I do is unplugged and that's because I'm using an ABG when I'm not playing my DB. I have no trouble hearing myself, this is true with a lot of solid body bass guitars as well. When it's dead quiet there's a lot you can hear.

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