Critique my playing, please

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Clyde75, Nov 30, 2021.

  1. Clyde75


    Jul 24, 2020
    Atlanta, GA
    Hey all, I'm fairly new to bass and new to this site. I've been playing guitar for quite a while though. Before I go to far down the road with bass, I'd like to make sure I have decent technique before I develop any bad habits that are hard to break.

    Below is a video of me playing workout 1 from Jon Liebman's Bass Aerobics book. I would really appreciate any feedback about my technique, or really anything about my playing. I feel like my plucking hand still hasn't caught up to my fretting hand in ability so I know I've got some coordination issues to work out. I assume that'll get better as I play more but maybe better technique would help.

    Thank you!

    31HZ, jallenbass, MZo and 6 others like this.
  2. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    Yes your fretting hand technique is better and more polished than your RH.

    I’m a much looser player than that. I never once worked up an exercise like that to that level of precision. I’ve done them, but never with an aim to perfect them.

    What’s missing is groove. I wouldn’t counsel you to be every bit as loose as I am, but for me, music is in the strings, not the frets. You’re sort of plucking the strings evenly with your fingernails. They sometimes miss.

    If you pronate your wrist a bit so that your index finger and middle use more of the side of the finger - the inner side - you’ll have a fatter bit of flesh to contact the string and give it a good pluck.

    This will allow you to access fat harmonic content and depth in the sound of the string. Real tone.

    And loosening up — while also strengthening that RH — will allow you to bring more muting and articulation.

    I’m off the left hand side of the screen here but you can hear how I dig in to the string and use muting to add rhythmic content — to groove and lock with the drums.

    Your clean LH will allow you to speak melodically and harmonically — but get that RH more into the act.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2021
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  3. bass12

    bass12 Have You Met Grace Jones?

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Looks and sounds to me like you're doing well. You seem relaxed and your playing is consistent. Fretting hand looks good as does your plucking hand. People might make a point of telling you to avoid sharp bends in either of your wrists but from what I can see the amount of bend is perfectly acceptable. The key is to stay relaxed and pay attention to any discomfort (of course there will be some growing pains with any new instrument, but you'll usually get an idea of what constitutes a normal growing pain and what could be a sign of something more serious). Keep it up!
  4. skycruiser

    skycruiser Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2019
    I think you're playing is very uniform, solid and steady, and across all four strings which can be tricky when getting started. I would think this is a great starting point for a bass player. I can't help much with a critique of your technique since I'm also learning, but I say keep at it and continue as your are now. You'll surely get a lot of better advice from other players here!
    Tanner5382, Clyde75 and bass12 like this.
  5. bass12

    bass12 Have You Met Grace Jones?

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I don't think there's that much to say other than that your technique is sound. It's now a matter of just putting in the time. I would avoid being overly analytical at this point. Be aware of your level of relaxation and just play. If later on down the road you want to post a clip of you playing a piece of music then there will doubtless be more to critique.
    Tanner5382, triode6L6a and Clyde75 like this.
  6. Clyde75


    Jul 24, 2020
    Atlanta, GA
    Spot on. I can really see that when I re-watch the video. I have a background in classical guitar and it looks like I'm trying to play classical guitar rest strokes.

    Great tip! I will work on that. I hear ya on the groove too. Thanks for your time!

    Anybody that can get that old couple in the background dancing like that has got groove! Nice playing.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2021
    Tanner5382 and Standalone like this.
  7. Clyde75


    Jul 24, 2020
    Atlanta, GA
    I really appreciate the encouragement. Thank you!
  8. bass12

    bass12 Have You Met Grace Jones?

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    If you want tips on just the exercise in that video then here are some things you can try:

    - play the ex. straight
    - play the ex. with a swing feel
    - play the notes staccato
    - play long, connected notes
    - pluck closer to the bridge
    - pluck closer to the neck
    - pluck right in the middle
    - play the ex. softly
    - play the ex. more aggressively
    - alternate soft and loud
    - place a slight emphasis on every second note
    - reverse where you place the emphasis
    - pluck twice per note
    - play triplets for each note
    - make up your own variations
  9. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    Ha thanks man! Here’s a demo video of one of my basses. You can see me shift my hand position a lot — straight on like your classical guitar technique, rocked outward using the outer side of my fingers, and then rocked inward to use the inner (thumbward) side of my fingers for a fatter funk tone.

    Mostly I use the inner side, but probably not so much there in this particular video because I was sitting and I unconsciously get a similar effect by rocking to the outside.

    Good to have options.
    LeFunk Machine and Clyde75 like this.
  10. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    It looks to me like you have put in a lot of work on playing precisely and uniformly and that you are probably paying attention to your ergonomics. I think the fingernail plucking sounds a little robotic, that you might want to think about incorporating other surfaces on your fingertips to coax a wider palate of sound out of your strings. I don’t know what your ideal vibe is, but I would recommend setting aside the exercises and start playing along with your favorite songs, preferably by ear. Start studying the more nuanced aspects of the bass lines that really move you. See if you can describe how they create the pocket. Try to visualize the space between the notes and between the instruments.
    Clyde75 likes this.
  11. WrapRough


    Jan 26, 2021
    How long are your nails?
  12. Low8

    Low8 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    +1 on your righthand technique.

    My two cents -- find a good anchor point for your right thumb (most fingerstyle players usually use the top edge of a pickup... or a finger rest, if your bass has one) and really plant that sucker. LOCK IN AND DIG IN! Seriously, be firm with it! In the words of the great Billy Sheehan, bass is a strength instrument. Don't be afraid to grab that bass and show it who's boss! Locking that thumb into a regular spot on your bass every time you pick it up and digging in with your playing will produce a lot of strength with the rest of your hand. This will also cut down on the amount of shifting and movement you are doing with your right forearm and elbow = economy of movement is a good thing (it will help you become a faster, more solid player).

    Also, just for kicks, you might want to try standing some when you practice. Your skeleton and muscles completely change when you're standing vs. sitting. This is greatly determined by your strap position. Find a comfy spot for that strap and try to stick with it as your back, arms, fingers, etc. all hinge on where that bass is positioned on your body.

    But overall, you're off to a great start -- keep it up!


    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
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  13. N4860


    Mar 28, 2017
    Waterloo, ON Canada
    Maybe next time don't do a 5 min drum solo. Unless you're neil peart, most audiences are not going to enjoy that.
  14. I'd work on anchoring the right thumb to a string or pickup (personally I always keep it 2 strings behind my plucking fingers, or on the side of the pickup when on the E string.) Use the pad of your finger more than the nail, you'll get a much deeper, cleaner tone and it will be more consistent.

    When you pluck, don't just flick the string, but drag all the way through it, so your plucking finger comes to rest on the string behind it (If you pluck your D string, your finger will rest on the side of the A string at the end of the pluck.)

    Your left hand technique looks fine, I'd focus on the right hand. You are doing fine, but cleaning up that technique will sound better and your playing will be more consistent.
    Clyde75 likes this.
  15. SpazzTheBassist


    Jun 20, 2006
    The issue I see with your Right Hand is that your delivery comes off as half-hearted.......Im never one to say "Your technique is wrong" and try to correct a fingering choice: If you can play with your elbow and a Q-Tip and play the strings like you mean it and are able to dig in and communicate something with passion then, by all means, play with your elbow and a Q-Tip......Left Hand is great and your Ray tone is great too...Good stuff! Just put more of your soul into your playing/plucking and say something when you play
    teh-slb, Clyde75 and Standalone like this.
  16. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Well, it's clean. You do got that going for you.

    You need to get your hands dirty.

    Loosen up your fingers, and roll through the strings. It's not a pluck, for say. You aren't playing a banjo. Roll across and through the strings, straight into the next one up. Soft, hard, muted, angry, whatever. Beat the string down, yank it off the bridge whatever. Hold a note a little, hit some muted strings, give a slide, whatever man.

    It's very clean. But, you don't have any soul yet. You're playing bass. Have fun dude. Fun. Playing = fun. It's play time. Play around a little.

    Besides that, very clean. Like, astoundingly clean. Good job.
    AncientNoob and Clyde75 like this.
  17. themickster


    Oct 4, 2015
    All I'd say is to play with more confidence and standing up right away. You will find it harder, the longer you play only sitting. Everything else looks good and great for a newbie
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
  18. NHM


    Mar 4, 2014
    Kent UK
    you can clearly play the notes, but overall it needs a groove to stop it being merely an exercise. To move this up a level, try playing alongside a simple 4/4 drum machine on-the-beat pattern, and start to improvise the rhythm of your playing to find a groove, and also to get a greater range of dynamics out of your right hand. Your left hand will then start to come alive too. Don't worry about changing the original music too much, just have fun being a bit funky.

    I think you are very brave to expose your playing for feedback, but what a great idea and I'm sure all the advice you are getting will give you some positive ideas.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
  19. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    Haha dude what’s your problem.
    Who drummed in your cornflakes?! :)
    Also… what drum solo are you talking about?
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
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  20. doran.dragic


    Jul 2, 2014
    The question is what do you want to sound like and what kind of music do you want to play.

    It's kind of hard to tell from that angle but it doesn't look like you're using rest strokes and this is not necessarily wrong because they are other successful bassists who play like this. Matt Garrison does it and another bassist who plays similarly is Janek Gwizdala:

    Free strokes have its advantages. It's easer to play fast runs in my opinion. You're also moving your thumb which is going to be helpful if you switch to a 5 or 6 string bass.

    You need to ask yourself if you playing style allows you to adjust your dynamics and consistently play quit or loud.
    Clyde75 likes this.
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