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Criticize My Track

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Lone Tardigrade, Apr 8, 2017.


  1. Lone Tardigrade

    Lone Tardigrade

    Apr 8, 2017
    Hello all. I've been familiar with this site since I got my very first bass (and very first instrument in general that wasn't a toy) so that would be for 4 years now (I've made a new account since then.) I started playing when I was 14, I am now a young 18 year old, but I still feel like I'm just not good enough. Leaving personal details aside, I seem to leave my bass for months on end (which for sure contributes to why I'm stuck) and every time I get it back on my hands, I finish the session feeling like I'm still that 14 year that could barely play two notes.

    Now that I've given some background information and self-criticism, I need a brutally honest opinion on the track I'm about to share. I need a stranger's point of view because my family is obviously biased. Now I know the notes I played are very simple, as is the drum track, and the audio is definitely nothing special, but besides all that, what do you guys think about it? How can I achieve better audio, bass sound etc? Give me as in depth a review as you can please, I think a second opinion will definitely give me a push into the right direction.

    The instruments/equipment I used:
    Casio CTK 6250
    Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass Sunburst
    Acoustic B15 15W Bass Amp
    Microphone Array (I've got a Neewer NW-800, but it wasn't working properly at the time and while the quality is much more superior than the Array microphone, it's no Shure SM57)


    As you can see, the actual track is 2 minutes long, and nobody wants to hear that....
    Osdu0Npr.png
    ....so I've compiled highlights of the track:


    ANY comments, positive or negative, will be greatly appreciated.

    If this post is in the wrong thread, please let me know.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
    Michael Schreiber likes this.
  2. smeet

    smeet Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    There doesn't seem to be anything there (in SoundCloud).
     
  3. Lone Tardigrade

    Lone Tardigrade

    Apr 8, 2017
    Oh damn, really? I've never made a post with an audio file before now. I'll see if I can get it to show.
     
  4. smeet

    smeet Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    No I mean I went to your soundcloud page and it said there were no files to play...
     
  5. Lone Tardigrade

    Lone Tardigrade

    Apr 8, 2017
    Anything now? Thanks for making me aware of this minor issue, by the way.
     
  6. smeet

    smeet Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Yep, it's there now.

    The recording sounds decent, except that every now and then there's a loud ping/screech kind of sound, not sure what that is. What are you recording into? I assume you have a DAW/sequencer program or something on your computer, correct? You might try recording your bass direct instead of using a mic. It might lose some of the personality, but it would be quieter and cleaner, and it would have more low end. RIght now it sounds like a guitar, since you're micing a 15w practice amp. Or you could mix the direct and mic'd signals.

    Your playing has a fun B52s vibe. I'd try playing some different grooves, both slower and faster. Try to play some lines with more varied rhythms and melodic ideas, instead of just riding 8th notes. Play some fingerstyle (you're playing with a pick here, right?). Focus on grooving with the drums (especially the bass drum). Otherwise it sounds like you're doing well. Find a drummer and guitarist to play with. That will help you grow more than anything else. And it will motivate you to keep playing.

    Good luck!
     
    old spice and Michael Schreiber like this.
  7. Lone Tardigrade

    Lone Tardigrade

    Apr 8, 2017
    That pesky little beeping sound is my fire alarm and it's low batteries :laugh: I actually remembered that I recorded this particular track with my Neewer NW-800 microphone, not the Microphone Array that comes built into my Microsoft Surface Pro 3, so that's why you seem to think the audio is decent enough. Had it been the Array microphone, well, that would have been a different story.
    All I've been using for about two years now is Audacity and it's various tools. I'm working on getting a much more decent recording software.
    How would I go about recording my bass "direct?" Sorry, I know you're not Google, but you seem to know a lot about what you're talking about.
    I used to be a big finger player, but then the pick got me. I'll take your advice and switch up the playing style, notes, rhythms, and drum grooves, definitely. My twin actually plays guitar and we jam when we can. I'll brainstorm with her much more, for sure.

    I'm quiet grateful for your constructive criticism and the time you took to write it. It was much more positive than I ever thought it'd be and I now have the push I wanted. You are also far too kind with The B-52s comment, which I honestly can't seem to hear. Anyways, thank you!
     
    Michael Schreiber likes this.
  8. smeet

    smeet Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    No problem! Recording "direct" just means going from your bass to the recording device electronically, without any microphones. Some amps will have a "DI" or "line out" or "send" in the back, and you can plug that into your computer's input. If not, sometimes you can plug your bass directly into the computer, although that might not sound good depending on your computer hardware and bass.
     
  9. Lone Tardigrade

    Lone Tardigrade

    Apr 8, 2017
    Ah, I got it now. I'll look into recording my bass without a microphone. Thanks again and good day/night to you, sir.
     
  10. Michael Schreiber

    Michael Schreiber Commercial User

    Oct 14, 2014
    Kassel / Germany
    www.frau-kapitaen.com
    Cool, I don't know about the song context, but I like that bass line. Simple but effective and has the groove!

    @smeet already gave great hints. Though, I'd encourage you to keep playing with the pick, if you like. Depends on what you want to achieve, and whether you feel a pick gets you there - or not. Of course, trying and learning different styles can be killer, sure! Just mentioning, so you don't let yourself press into a style you don't feel right. Chris Squire, Joe DiMaio found picks quite useful. It's one of many techniques. No bad or wrong there, except for what you feel serves best, IMO.

    I could provide some tips about mixing and bringing the bass into the mix, but that'd require the song context. What's the song gonna be like; shall it be just drums and bass, or is there a guitar, vocals, or other tracks planned, as well? Or do you deliver the bass track and someone else does the mixing?

    Anyway, well played!
     
    smeet likes this.
  11. smeet

    smeet Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Just to clear up any implied criticism, playing with a pick is of course not a bad thing. In many styles, it's the best way to get a good sound. I'm probably 50/50 pick and fingers these days.
     
    Michael Schreiber likes this.
  12. Michael Schreiber

    Michael Schreiber Commercial User

    Oct 14, 2014
    Kassel / Germany
    www.frau-kapitaen.com
    No problem, I didn't intend to criticise your hint. Just mentioned, so it might not be misread like urging one away from pick to fingerstyle. Now, reading that there's someone playing 50/50 pick/fingerstyle, I feel this is a very useful hint to encourage trying out and combine what feels best rather than sticking dogmatically to one style. Glad you mentioned that!
     
  13. smeet

    smeet Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Cool. By the way, I didn't think you were criticizing my hint. I wanted to make sure nobody thought *I* was criticizing pick playing... OK then.

    :)
     
    Michael Schreiber likes this.
  14. Lone Tardigrade

    Lone Tardigrade

    Apr 8, 2017
    Hey man, excuse my late reply.

    Thanks for some more awesome tips, any and all advice is obviously so appreciated, as is encouragement to keep playing as well as positive comments on the bassline on this track, which I never really considered to be even slightly above average.

    I forgot to mention in my original post that the base for this track came to me a few minutes before I decided to record. The rest I just kind of came up with on the spot along to the drum track as I was recording, which is why you can kind of hear me go into a different note in a delayed manner on track V just as the ride comes in, so it just came out to be bass and drum track since it wasn't something that I was working on for days with goals in mind.
    Is this a good thing or a bad thing, the improvisation I mean? It seems that almost every time I decide to come up with a proper structure to a track (intro, verse, pre chorus etc,) whether that be through my keyboard or bass, I always just end up frustrated because I can't seem to stop trying to perfect a note or a sound, whereas almost all of the time when I just jam freely, I can come up with something like this that doesn't feel forced, robotic, and stiff.

    While I jam and record with my sister occasionally, I played and recorded this one on my own and I believe there was little to no mixing, as I don't think I've quiet dipped my toes in that yet.

    Again, thank you both for all of the helpful advice.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2017
    Michael Schreiber likes this.
  15. Lone Tardigrade

    Lone Tardigrade

    Apr 8, 2017
    Also, if I may ask just one more thing, how did you both listen to the tracks? In other words, how did you react as you were listening? I want to know if it made you, even slightly, tap your fingers or bop your head? Or did you just listen without really noticing anything? Odd question, I know, but I feel like I've got to know these things.
     
    Michael Schreiber likes this.
  16. Your time is good. The bass needs more low end in the timbre for me. Your sound is the first thing anyone will notice, so try to get it as close to ideal as possible. It's your "voice." A great player can be identified by a single note of that voice.
    You can get better sound with recording software that includes equalization and compression, but the sound coming out of your amplifier is the place to start. Make sure it's where you want it. If you were using this timbre in a band you would be almost entirely in the guitar area of the sound spectrum, and the bass frequencies would be missing. I prefer a timbre that can (amongst other things) mesh with the bass drum. When that meshing happens you can get people dancing. You are looking for that, it seems.

    I would have preferred to hear the unedited piece as a whole. As someone once said, you need to tell a story, and this editing forbids that.
    A story has a beginning, middle and end; in musical terms, intro, verse, chorus, break and so on. Or theme and variation.
    You're not alone in having difficulty keeping form and improvising at the same time, but keep trying. Improvising is worth it. Maybe, start simple and add things as you get comfortable.

    Since there's only bass and drums you can and should add more melodic ingredients to add variety and sustain interest.
    Rock on.
    Study your favorites.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
    Michael Schreiber likes this.
  17. Lone Tardigrade

    Lone Tardigrade

    Apr 8, 2017
    Thanks for the advice. I'm looking into better recording software.
    I guess I put a little too much distortion because without it, my bass has a nice deep tone.
    The reason I didn't share the whole track was because there was some talking in the background (it was the only time I was able to record) and what the highlights you heard repeated throughout the whole track, which is something I most definitely have to work on.
    Thanks for the encouragement.
     
    Michael Schreiber and old spice like this.
  18. Michael Schreiber

    Michael Schreiber Commercial User

    Oct 14, 2014
    Kassel / Germany
    www.frau-kapitaen.com
    Now, I am late, sorry!

    IMO, the improvisation is good, and a very useful to start creating a song.
    As for myself, I often have the chorus/refrain suddenly popping up in my head, then making a song of it.
    But, through Jam sessions we came up with so many cool riffs and ideas, which feels like a very musical approach to me, since it's spontaneous action and reaction based on the vibe/feeling, alone.

    So, yes: A very musical approach, IMO. And obviously it worked very well for your bass playing. Though, I do miss the context, some other things goind on. For a demonstration of the bass line, I find the tracks flawless. As a song, I miss other instruments, and a balanced mix.

    Not odd at all!
    I listened through PC speakers, then through headphones to better hear your playing (attack etc.).
    I didn't think much, I just felt my body moving to the groove. No kidding. It's a simple bass line, but played as it should be to have me drawn into it. It felt good, so I saw no reason analyzing it any further, like were the notes "lifetime" played well, meaning did they start / last / and end properly - I felt no flaws that disturbed me enjoying listen to the bass. Just mentioning that I'm reviewing as a listener, not an academic critic.

    Fazit: As for me, you have a cool bass line, you can definitely play it to make it feel cool, to me. For a song, I am missing other instruments mixed in balance to the bass line. When listening to the tracks as they are, as a listener, I consciously realize only the bass line.
     
  19. Michael Schreiber

    Michael Schreiber Commercial User

    Oct 14, 2014
    Kassel / Germany
    www.frau-kapitaen.com
    I had a similar problem when I started using fuzz. Someone gave me the tip to use the fuzz in parallel to the original signal, and mix both to have the full attack and low end. Since then, I am playing through a blender looper which does that job. If you don't do live, for recordings you can simply do that in your DAW; for example, send the recorded bass to a second track where you use a distortion plugin, then mix both together in a group/sub mix channel. If you like, give it a try, made a very significant difference for me, might as well work wonders in your case.
     
  20. It's a lovely little thing mate. Perhaps, I'd use a cheap Focurite system to more accurately enunciate your playing; without the background noise. Although I'm one to overplay upon a wide number of songs (simply check my last posting), I'd recommend adding a few more embellishments to liven up the musical background.

    To provide background upon my musical history, I've been playing bass since I was sixteen and am now seventeen, but have previously played a wide array of instruments: saxophone, guitar, synth, etc. (Since age eight!)

    Oh, how lovely music is.

    Best wishes, Pauly
     
    Michael Schreiber likes this.
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