Critique my playing, please

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

  1. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    You technique looks very.....right angled. Everything is oriented and moving perpendicular to the string. If I were to design a machine to play bass, I think I'd make it move like your fingers.

    My technique looks a lot different - right hand in particular. My fingers are seldom lined up perpendicular to the string. Why? Well, the two fingers I use to pluck strings are different lengths - if I play with my hand perpendicular to the strings, my middle finger has to curl up more, and it doesn't work as well in that position. So, when I'm doing alternate plucking, my hand is tipped over so that both fingers are in more similar shapes - each one curls up about the same amount. That helps me with consistency, and therefore speed - not that I'm a speed demon, but I work my technique so that speed (or rather my lack of it) is not an issue. Good ergonomics doesn't always lined up.

    There are times when my fingers line up more perpendicular to the strings. I play a lot of octaves - two strings apart from each other, the higher string gets plucked by my middle finger, the lower one by my index finger. To do that, I need to align my wrist more like yours.

    My point is you're a human, not a machine. At some point, you will find places where a different technique (that might look less...."formal") works better. Music is about communicating with sound. How you get there isn't as important as that you get there. There are a lot of shredders that play guitar with perfect ergonomics - economy of motion is huge if you want to play fast. There's also Keith Richards, who looks like the poster child for poor ergonomics - he makes playing guitar look hard - he's always bent over, twisting his hands in ways that look unnatural. Yet his way works, and has for decades. So, loosen up a bit, make music the goal, and technique a tool, not a goal in and of itself.
    Clyde75 likes this.
  2. smurfco

    smurfco Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2007
    Norwalk, CT
    It sounds good to me. My only advice would to be to practice with a metronome, with this video in mind. It's only 27 seconds long but to me it was revelatory.

    This video has helped me immensely. There is a difference between just playing to the click of a metronome and actually making the metronome sound good. If you can do the latter you're going to be a great bassist! Keep it up!
    jallenbass, Matty Koff and Clyde75 like this.
  3. teh-slb


    Sep 21, 2018
    It shows :D I really had to consciously work on getting the classical guitar technique out of both of my hands over a couple of years. The plucking hand was harder to get under control than the fretting hand. Someone previously mentioned "curling" of the plucking fingers, which I think hit the nail on the head. It's precisely the dreaded tirando that I had to unlearn:

    What helped me with unlearning it is blasphemy in the classical guitar world: plucking the strings with a single finger (index) while keeping my wrist as close to the body of the bass as possible. I also spent some time copying the late Jim Stinnett:
    Clyde75 likes this.
  4. TideSwing

    TideSwing Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2014
    I cant critique your bass face from this video.
    SunByrne and Clyde75 like this.
  5. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    The right-hand technique is not allowing for the notes to speak. Someone asked, "how long are your fingernails?" Answer: too long, you hear them clearly and it's not pleasing. The fleshy part of your finger will produce a warmer, more musical sound. The number one most important thing we can do as musicians is make a beautiful sound. Whatever exercise or piece you are playing, always make it sound beautiful. Figure out who you think has great sound and touch and analyze and mimic what they are doing.

    Scott Devine takes you through the anatomy of several different sounds and how they are achieved... worth watching.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
    vindibona1 and Clyde75 like this.
  6. Clyde75


    Jul 24, 2020
    Atlanta, GA
    I've gotten so many great ideas and thoughts from this thread that it will take me awhile to incorporate them all, but the one immediate benefit I'm seeing is this idea of straightening my fingers and playing with the fleshy part. Holy cow does that make a difference in tone! I find that the floating thumb goes away and I'm anchoring with the thumb now. It feels good and it makes me want to groove more!

    High five to you all.
    WrapRough likes this.
  7. SunByrne

    SunByrne trained monkey Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    Pearland, TX
    Geez, you are a brave man, posting yourself as a beginner. I mean, who does that? Kudos to you, sir.

    I've been playing a couple years and still think of myself as a beginner, so what was most interesting to me is seeing what everyone else said about your playing to see if it lined up with my reactions. And (whew), I'm in line with the general consensus. Fretting is really great (probably better than mine, honestly); it's obvious you've played a guitar of some kind before. Right hand, less so, for all the reasons already mentioned. I found this page (and especially video) useful when I first started out, maybe it'll help you as well. (I showed up to my first bass lesson having been working from this and my teacher was surprised I already had basic plucking technique more or less down.)

    So here's my one tip that I don't think anyone else has said yet: don't just try not to play with your fingernails, trim the fingernails on your right hand really short so you CAN'T play with them. I know classical guitar types play with their nails and if you have training there, it's a hard habit to break—so just remove the temptation entirely.

    Your fretting is so good for a beginner that once you get that right hand worked out, you'll ROCK. Keep it up!
    Clyde75 likes this.
  8. Evets1987


    May 20, 2020
    Nothing wrong with your technique. I always anchor my thumb somewhere but a lot of great bass players do not. Your taping your foot while playing. I think that’s more useful than a click. Keep up the good work.
    Clyde75 likes this.
  9. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    I don't get this at all. But there are different ways to play apoyando I guess.

    I would take most of the comments with a grain of salt. There is a good amount of bad advice.
    jallenbass, scobis215 and BlueTalon like this.
  10. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff Inactive

    Aug 21, 2014
    This sounds like the Hal Leonard bass aerobics first or second lesson.

    Are you playing it along with the backing track?

    If nothing else use a click track. The reference will probably tighten you up in the few spots you get a little loose.

    Otherwise you seem to be doing pretty well with that exercise. Just a couple points to clean up that you probably already hear yourself. Maybe a little more focus on evening out the dynamics, i.e. the loudness of each note and developing some confidence in your feel for time.

    But I personally always always always do an exercise like this with at least a metronome, pretty much anything sounds tighter when I have some kind of reference for time.

    Tapping a foot works but in a band setting chances are you're going to have an audible reference helping you keep time. Counting works but in most musical situations I'd play in.. the only time I have to count is when there's a pause in the beat. Let something else do that thinking for you in my book.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
    Clyde75 likes this.
  11. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    Do you really want to play those notes with your pinky all by itself?

    I realize people are divided on this. Some will say that playing one fret per finger is what they do and others like me advocate playing notes with the pinky supported by the ring finger and changing hand position rather than painfully reaching for that upper note with the little finger on its own with the ring finger orphaned, hanging in the air for nothing. Your pinky is your weakest finger. Do you want it to do all that work by itself?
    Clyde75 likes this.
  12. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff Inactive

    Aug 21, 2014
    That's a habit brought over from double bass were your strings are twice the distance from the fingerboard than your average electric bass guitar is set up over the frets.

    Make that pinky strong imo. Let it be it's own digit.
    Clyde75 and scobis215 like this.
  13. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Inland Northwest
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    You have apparently added another tool to your toolbox. Congrats! If the new technique allows you to play more freely and it's comfortable for you, then great. If it's more comfortable than the technique you used on the video, then you may certainly use it.

    But I'm not part of the crowd telling you you need to change. If you find your earlier technique works better for you for some things, don't be afraid to use it.

    And using your fingernails is a perfectly legitimate picking technique, so don't be afraid to do that either when it's appropriate.
  14. I have never heard anyone suggest differently before this thread… 4 strong fingers moving along the board make it easier to play in positions and patterns. As you said… gotta do the little bit of work to make that pinky finger strong and it’s worth it.
    Matty Koff likes this.
  15. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    Clyde75 likes this.
  16. GeorgesEric


    Mar 24, 2021
    A couple of things based on a following rule of ergonomics: maintaining a natural position, comfortable.

    Right wrist “breaks” over the bass body at a sharp angle. That looks uncomfortable and could bring injury down the line. Stay away from that if you can.

    Left hand, I was taught to use the middle finger as the “foundation” so to speak. For example, that scale exercise can probably be done by having the hand at one position (the g note on the E string played with the middle finger) and letting the fingers “travel”.

    And have fun playing, don’t worry too much about books - do your thing, man!
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
    Clyde75 likes this.
  17. Clyde75


    Jul 24, 2020
    Atlanta, GA
    Ok y'all. Here's take two. I'm standing up, my nails are cut, and I'm using the fleshy part of my fingers. Hopefully the tone is better.

    Dbassmon, jallenbass and Treblefree like this.
  18. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff Inactive

    Aug 21, 2014
    Your right hand work kind of makes me :eek:. I mean it's not that bad, but it looks a little awkward. Study up on floating thumb technique imo, also the best video I found on right hand technique came from Scott Devine. I

    Floating thumb

    Right hand technique raking/alternating

    Other than that you are already playing this exercise from Bass Aerobics much much faster than the backing track. The point is not to rush through and play them fast but to use them to build various techniques, playing to a metronome, sight reading, and developing the coordination to do this with confidence.

    Put the metronome on. SLOW DOWN. Relax, breathe. Nice even strokes Focus on developing your right hand technique. This could take hours, days, weeks, the rest of your life to develop to your liking. Yes. Metronome. And slowing down is really where you put the work in, and the secret to being able to play fast.

    You're doing great. ;) I'd stop trying to get ahead of yourself and focus on developing that right hand.. getting every motion down pat at a slow tempo before speeding it up. It's working for you now, but develop the good habits early rather than correct yourself later on. Fixing bad habits can be difficult.

    Also.. remember this is an exercise. Not likely something you might perform.

    And please take nothing I say as something to be discouraged about. I've heard far worse.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
    Clyde75 likes this.
  19. SunByrne

    SunByrne trained monkey Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    Pearland, TX
    Yes, without a doubt—nice work. I'm definitely impressed by the improvement just from reading a TB thread. :woot:

    I think you could slow down and still dig in a little more—pull THROUGH the strings, not just on top of them—but that's hair-splitting compared to the difference between nails and fingers.
    Clyde75 likes this.
  20. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    It is not that unusual.
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