Critique my playing, please

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

  1. sonic 7

    sonic 7 Supporting Member

    Aug 10, 2011
    Queens, N.Y.C.
    You’ve obviously been practicing a lot and it shows. For the next step try practicing that piece along with a drum track. Start with a basic beat at a slow tempo. Then speed it up a bit. Experiment with different beats and genres. This will help you to develop kind of an inner sense of rythm and your technique will develop with that.
    Matty Koff, BassyFred and Clyde75 like this.
  2. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Inland Northwest
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    I used to do firearms training in the Marine Corps, and one of the things I would tell people is that comfort equals consistency. Other people here have mentioned your right hand technique -- I don't know how comfortable it is for you, only you can determine that. Most people wouldn't play that way, but Carol Coleman (Kid Creole and the Coconuts) did. She looked like she was clawing the strings, but she was an amazing player. So if that works for you, don't change just because people here recommend doing it differently. Sure, try different techniques, but don't be afraid to go back to doing it the way you do it if it works for you.

    Another thing to remember is that most bass players use more than one technique. If you find you need to do something different when you need more speed (for example), that's OK too.
  3. Bonafide

    Bonafide RGJR Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2002
    Central TX
    Artist - Nick Silver Pickups, Band In A Box, D'Mark USA, Free The Tone, Carr Amps + more
    You bought a book on bass studies... you showed up, you studied, you executed. That puts you in the top % and you are doing fantastic. 'Proper' (xxx fill in the blank) with music technique is a misnomer after you reach a certain point, particularly with electric bass. There may be 'examples' of good habits to guide you, but its a continuous personal and spiral journey. Bass is the same as guitar, improvement is never's always holistic and individual. Keep it up, find what works for you as you learn from others. Your history with classical guitar is an advantage. As for any 'critique' I'll echo 'work on groove', in my opinion that comes quickest from listening to groove constantly. #welldone
    bass12, Clyde75, N4860 and 1 other person like this.
  4. J33


    Nov 13, 2021
    Your left hand is excellent for just starting out. A ton of the "flail" found in beginner and intermediate bassists isn't there. Not a lot of unnecessary left hand contortions. You'd benefit from a couple of hand strengthening exercises....but I'd hold on tight to the discipline you've attained in your left hand. Later on down the road...this will help you immensely in playing quick lines that are also clean. Fast is not quick. Quick knows exactly what it's doing. Fast is quicks dumb younger brother.

    There are two camps with the right hand. One is the style you're using without a thumb anchor...but you're using your thumb economically in order to mute the unplayed strings. You can stay with that and still be just fine. I'd learn how to do both because both have distinct advantages.

    Overall in the beginner're doing excellent. Keep doing exactly what you're doing.
    bass12 and Clyde75 like this.
  5. Clyde75


    Jul 24, 2020
    Atlanta, GA
    Wow. I wake up this morning and I’ve got all of these great responses. All are couched with encouragement too. Thank you.

    Some have mentioned that my playing looks a little stiff and robotic. I completely agree but that has a lot to do with my focus on doing the exercise cleanly with the best technique I know how (my knowledge has now increased thanks to you all). I do play standing up some. I do try to pick out songs by ear and groove (though I definitely have work to do there).

    My nails aren’t very long and I am most definitely playing through the string and coming to rest on the one below. I’d have a lot of trouble muting if I weren’t doing that.

    The movement and placement of my plucking hand forearm and elbow is a recent change I’ve made intentionally. I saw another thread on here where people were recommending the Adam Neely video on developing safe right hand technique. I’ve tried to implement his recommendations but not sure how successful I was. Previously I was resting my forearm on the bout and digging in a little more but of course my wrist was more bent. I’d be curious to know your thoughts on that video. Keeping the right elbow up is certainly more tiresome. I’ve wondered if it will be worth it. I’ve got a day job and will probably never be able to play more than an hour or two a day so maybe I don’t risk injury as much as a pro might.

    I’ve also started playing with other people some (which is a blast). I’ll have to post another video before long of me just being looser and having fun.

    Thanks again!
  6. I think you are doing fine as a beginner, but what I find missing is "feeling", and the "emotion" of the song. I realize this is just the playing of a written exercise, and therefore is not a song for which you can find a groove to focus on. While I find it hard to describe, to me there's more involved than playing notes precisely. There's the need to emphasize some notes over others, to vary the volume and duration of different notes,, and to be less mechanical in playing. And be careful not to fall Into the practice of playing too many notes. This in my view is an example of when "less is more". I also play Jazz guitar and Bluegrass mandolin, but with bass our job is to provide the foundation and groove for the other instruments in the band. If we get too busy with the bass the song turns in to just noise.

    I think bass playing, more than other instruments, is about serving the song in a way that best helps to highlight those instruments that are playing the melody. And don't be afraid to be dynamic and make it thump when the song calls for it. I don't remember anyone suggesting that you try playing along with recorded versions of songs you like; you can find songs online that are missing different instruments for just this purpose. I find it easier to identify and focus on the groove when playing an actual song. I play with both my fingers and a pick, depending on the song. And when playing with my fingers, I sometimes use my fingernails, but mostly use the different fleshy parts of my fingers. The fleshy parts of your fingers make it possible to bring out those little nuances that contribute to the overall sound. With your fingers you can also soften notes and you can harden them, which is tough to do with a pick or fingernails. Keep up the good work.

    Thump on,

    Clyde75 likes this.
  7. Good job so far. Practice with a metronome or digital drum track. You have executed playing the notes you intend to play very well, now it’s time to make the exercise musical by playing them when they need to be played so that the piece sounds smooth and musical.
    Once you have the what (notes) and when (timing) then introduce the how (technique/feel) and the most ominous of them all…the why (theory).
    scobis215 likes this.
  8. Treblefree


    Apr 8, 2016
    Upstate, SC
    Yeah man, serious kudos to you for putting a video of yourself up for people to critique. Highly impressive.

    First, I like that you're using all the strings. This is often overlooked and I think it's good to help your right hand learn how to change positions and skip strings. I can't speak for what is most ergonomic for you, but like several others have said, I generally rest my thumb firmly on the top of a pickup and use my pads on my right fingers where I think I'd be less comfortable with your current technique. I could be wrong, but it looks like you are curling your fingers a little more and bending your wrist a little more and using the upper tips near the fingernails.

    I can tell your left hand knows where to go and just the spacing adjustment on frets is what you're adapting to. I think you're pretty fluid with both hands actually for just starting on bass and your timing is straight enough. Great start.

    Also, as others have said, to me the two things I'd work on are digging a little more to pull more tone and feel out of the bass and working on different note duration, rests, etc. Find the groove. It's actually kind of unfair for me and others to say that because you are running an exercise in the video, so I'm not picking on you, but it is a little monotonous and sterile feeling as if you are not smiling while playing yet, as if you are really concentrating on doing the right stuff on time and not yet to where you are comfortable and "feeling" it and letting it flow from you (that's very normal on any challenge of course).

    Remember, you can be very expressive on bass just as you were expressive on guitar and maybe more-so, but additionally can add even more percussiveness to it as well. I'd grab a grooving song or two that are simple, but that you love and dig into them deeply really breaking down the sections and find that spot where you're bobbing your head to what you're dishing out on that instrument and the smiles will come with the groove. Pay attention to different note durations in different songs and the feel it creates with the beat and underlying melody/foundation of the song. Keep at it! Great start.
    Clyde75 likes this.
  9. tvbop


    Mar 11, 2021
    Looks good, a little bit guitary but ur accurate and that's real good. Floating thumb which ur doing is the way to go then later you can anchor when need be....the other way around takes longer to master. I anchor and float without even thinking bout it. Cut all ur nails short and try a few funk grooves even if you just play the first note of each bar, the One! It'll develop ur sense of feel and groove.
    Clyde75 likes this.
  10. ProbablyTooLoud


    Aug 1, 2020
    I'm no expert and I may have missed this in something above, but I'd say consider finding a couple friends, including a drummer, and take a shot at playing some songs. Making music with friends is a blast at any level.
    Clyde75 likes this.
  11. skycruiser

    skycruiser Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2019
    This reminds me of a video I saw on YT the other day. A guy doing a bass demo was playing finger style, and when he moved up to the D/G strings he would insert his thumb UNDER the E and A strings, I think to mute them. It looked very odd but seemed to be an intentional technique for the way he was playing in that demo. I'm sure we all pick up little odd nuances to our technique that are a little outside the box but happen to work.

    This doesn't mean there aren't bad habits that should be avoided though!
    BlueTalon and Clyde75 like this.
  12. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    I think you are doing just fine.

    Your fretting hand is open, relaxed and consistent.

    Your plucking hand could be a little smoother and groovier, but that’s probably nit picking.

    As bass12 said, try playing this exercise with different accents and feels and also try changing the location of your plucking hand (between the bridge and fretboard) to practice getting different sounds. Do NOT just find one spot and stick with it. Really listen to how changing your plucking hand changes the sound and put those into your mental bank snd think about when and where you might be able to use them.

    You’re doing great!
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
    Tanner5382, Clyde75 and bass12 like this.
  13. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    I think all this needs is a bit more confidence.
    Clyde75 likes this.
  14. TECHNICALLY it is solid. Tempo is consistent, notes are clean. Nothing objectionable. So many have cited all the positive things in your recording. But since you've asked for a "critique" you should also be made aware of where you can improve. And it goes beyond physical technique.

    What blows my mind is that there are 2 pages of reviews right now but yet not a single person has mentioned probably the most important thing, at least in my mind... MUSICALITY! I don't care whether you're playing a song or just an excerise like this one, but it has to be MUSICAL. While technically pretty close to perfect it sounds robotic and doesn't have to be... and IMO shouldn't be. Yes, when developing an exercise, precision trumps musicality. But in the refinement stages (again IMO) it is essential that one makes everything you play musical.

    In this demonstration, every note has the same volume and emphasis. Let's take one element that repeats constantly- that C octave. You could instantly improve the musicality by paying attention to those two notes. Both the emphasis and duration could be changed a bit to add interest. What if you were to make those two notes have a more solid, louder and crisper attack, with all the other notes playing the roles of lead in and lead out of those two notes? Suddenly, without making any other changes you're not playing music rather than plucking rote notes.

    My personal advice which you can take or leave, is that everything you play, even excercises be played musically so that even the most boring, mundane and repetitive thing can have an element of emotion and interest. JMO
    tvbop and Clyde75 like this.
  15. Clyde75


    Jul 24, 2020
    Atlanta, GA
    I will take it for sure. You can't hear it because I was recording direct but I am actually playing to a metronome. Next up I will drop that and focus on dynamics.

    I appreciate the feedback from you all! Great community here.
    MVE likes this.
  16. Tanner5382

    Tanner5382 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2010
    Georgia, USA
    Agreed with the others on the right hand comments. Sounding good though, nice work!
    Clyde75 likes this.
  17. I wouldn't suggest dropping the metronome. As a bass player you want to develop a solid sense of time. But it is important to note that musicality is a matter off playing IN time, not ON time. There is a nuanced distinction- but a distinction nonetheless. There is a great lesson (guitar) that I often forward to my students that you might benefit from, though not directly related to bass or the original exercise posted. I suggest you watch it and take what you can from it.

    Clyde75 likes this.
  18. stringthrough

    stringthrough Supporting Member

    It's fine.

    If I were to make any adjustments they would be:

    1. You're curlink your right hand fingers too much.
    2. Don't lift your left hand fingers so high when descending chromatically. Always keep left hand fingers close to the strings. (Unfortunately I break this guideline all too often.)

    Since you posted a video of your playing, I'll post mine. (I put this together about a year ago when looking to hook up with a band.)

    Clyde75 and teh-slb like this.
  19. sawzalot

    sawzalot Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    My critique would be to anchor your right thumb somewhere. That will give your right hand a strong base of support, which will give you control over your dynamics and volume consistency. It will also enable you to build up speed. The thumb can move up the strings (I’ll often anchor on the pickup when playing the E and A strings and anchor on the E or A string when playing the D and G strings, for example) but it really helps to have that thumb planted when you go to pluck a string.
    Clyde75 likes this.
  20. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I'm no instructor, but it looks to me like you're well on the way to solid technique. I have some comments regarding your plucking:

    Several people told you to find an anchor for your thumb. I like the fact that you're working with the floating thumb technique because it provides better options for muting than an anchored thumb technique. But I would advise that you play with other methods (anchored thumb, moving thumb (move the thumb down a string as you move down) just to get an idea of what each technique provides. But, I wish my thumb was shaped so that I could use the method you do - for me, it seems like the best overall technique.

    Anchoring your thumb does allow for "digging in". But digging in can be very overrated and in some cases a hinderance unless you're playing a style that requires it. I'm trying to unlearn "digging in" because it really slows me down.

    Once you get past the initial technique stuff (technique is a lifelong project for most of us), I would advise that you do listen to "groove". One of the biggest issues with guitar players coming over to bass is that they try to play guitar groove on bass. You'll need to really focus on how bass grooves as opposed to the guitar parts.

    Keep at it, you're progressing nicely. Welcome to the low end.
    jallenbass, Clyde75 and vindibona1 like this.
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