Critique my playing, please

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

  1. Treblefree


    Apr 8, 2016
    Upstate, SC
    I played a lot of my early years doubling up like you mention or sliding up and using my ring finger. When I really started trying to play faster and clean, I started incorporating my pinky by itself more and more and practiced smooth scales, and guess what; it got strong all on it's own. I can use it just as easily as any other finger now and I don't even think about it anymore. I'm talking I can easily hammer on and pull off with my pinky and it never crosses my mind which finger I'm using. It just takes some time to get there.

    This is actually my downfall on guitar though. My fingers are so strong that it slows me down on guitar if that makes any sense. You can barely touch a fret on a guitar and make the note ring. I have to try the light touch approach to speed up. Amazing how little force it takes to fret a guitar.
    BlueTalon likes this.
  2. I have some trouble with that as I sometimes (but less often now) play acoustic guitar. But my solution is to wear gloves, like Scott Devine, but on both hands. I find that the gloves keep the attack warm, but I can dig in a bit through the glove and get a little crisper attack when needed, which for me at least increased my tonal palette. The glove thing isn't for everyone, and when I want a harsher attack still I just ditch the right glove. But Scott is on to something with that left hand glove! Just so much easier to get around once you get used to it.

    I would discourage tapping the foot in most settings. It can be wildly off of tempo and inconsistent as well. I recommend training to count in subdivided beats. IMO subdivision is the best way to approach rhythmic accuracy. I think subdivision is critically important skill for the bass player when it comes to complex note/rest combinations. The sooner you start subdividing with easier stuff the more it will become part of your musical DNA and make the complex stuff easier. JMO
  3. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff Inactive

    Aug 21, 2014
    The first metronome was around in 1812, and people have been using a quarter note click since then without a problem. Aside from that, tapping a foot is a pretty well known trick by musicians.

    If you can count "1 2 3 4" while in time.. you can tap a foot in time. Let's also mention that at high tempos a single quarter note reference is probably going to be preferable to 16th note subdivisions. The latter just being too much information too fast to really be beneficial, not to mention it's rare you're going to be in a band situation where a drummer is going to stick to providing a rhythmic value for every single note you might play. It's the gaps we leave between beats and subdivisions that make music musical imo. Otherwise we'd run out of ways to get creative.

    When I'm playing music I'm typically not thinking about ANY of this.. again.. unless there is no reference, i.e. no drumbeat, no click track. And then I'm going to choose the option that requires the least amount of thought so my brain is free to think about the chord progression and what the musicians around me are doing.

    If you can't tap a foot in time, you should work on your feel for time. It's important to being able to groove. A groove is something I typically feel/hear, not count. To be able to groove around a quarter note reference can be fun in of itself. The biggest thing that probably contributed to my feel of time was tapping out drumbeats I was hearing in my head with my hands and feet, as drums were the first reference of time I adhered to. The metronome came later in life.

    I'll agree, it's a good skill to be able to pinpoint exactly where you might place each note in a given subdivision of a beat. Develop ones ability to count that. It's useful. But when it comes down to actually playing with other musicians in a rock band and improvising bass lines I've never played before, I personally don't have room for that line of thought. I have to trust the feeling for time I've developed over years.

    This exercise from Bass Aerobics? Full intentions of being played to a quarter note click at the very least, if not the provided backing track.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2021
  4. WrapRough


    Jan 26, 2021
    Well, you'll definitely be in time with yourself...
    vindibona1 likes this.

  5. I agree on some of your points, but not entirely. I've played in professional level orchestras and concert bands, with far more varied and often more complex rhythmic note structures, and foot tapping is pretty much verboten. Period. And yet the more professional (and larger) the ensemble, the tighter every player has to be.

    While you might not be cerebrally subdividing with fast stuff, you damned well better be doing it in your head subconsciously. And that means learning to do it at slower tempos so that the subdivision is in your DNA and a subconscious act. "Maintaining a groove" assumes that you have the basic tempo going on in your head. And yes, the drummer might in fact produce the aural subdivision you need. But if there is no drummer, you might be the guy who has to set things up for everyone else.
    WrapRough likes this.
  6. WrapRough


    Jan 26, 2021
    Tone is much better, yes. It still looks like you are not quite sure what to do with your thumb. What might help is to take the fretting out of the equation and just focus on the right hand for some of your practice session. Something like this might help:

  7. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff Inactive

    Aug 21, 2014
    That's great. In an ensemble like an orchestra where the only reference you have is a guy waving a wand and the appearance of professionalism is of the utmost importance. Sure. You need all that. A quartet might have all members tapping a foot with no other reference. If the quartet is a vocal quartet they might snap their fingers. It's also a different scenario where you guys are likely all reading from specific pieces of sheet music. Where me myself I mostly play in situations where there is a lot of improvisation and I need to be paying attention to what the people around me are doing rather than focus only on what I'm doing.

    Time is also something that can be felt, and in a typical rock and roll band type setting you're going to have that reference far more often than you will not. My ability to play in time without thinking "1 e and UH 2 e AND uh etc etc is pretty stinking reliable. It's always easier WITH a reference. But the feel gets me through 95% of the time without any at all and when I need the help.. I can tap my foot to quarter notes or count a simple 4 count all while placing notes wherever I want within the beat.

    Like I said.. you have described a very useful skill. But so is being able to play without relying on it.

    For the sake of the OP or others venturing into this world, I'm simply of the opinion that making use of and being familiar with the feel of at least a metronome or drumbeat or counting/tapping/dancing is an important aspect of developing one's feel for time.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2021
  8. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    OK, I am putting my college hat on.
    Your technique looks excellent.
    Your time is pretty good. Some hesitancy which is understandable.
    You are playing in a monotone. Would you talk the way you play. That exercise is intended to be musical.

    Suggestion, SING the exercise. Make the phrasing you. Then go play it on your bass. This exercise will take some time. Dont expect results in an hour or expect to find an app.

    What you will gain will put you way ahead of the heard (herd).

    Play your bass the way Frank Sinatra sings or Jack Nicholson talks.

    So there is the truth.

    Go play and enjoy music.
    vindibona1 and Clyde75 like this.
  9. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Inland Northwest
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    The first video you posted made me think of something I want you to see. This is Carol Coleman. I want you to notice how her fingers are curled much like yours, and how she uses her fingernails. Amy Humphrey of Clatter is another player who uses her fingernails. Not saying you have to play that way, but many here have said you need to not play that way, and I don't necessarily think that's true. This video is an example of why.
    IamGroot and Clyde75 like this.
  10. I pretty much said the same thing above, but I think you provided a better way to mentally visualize playing "musically". The thing is, even to sing "musically" you have to know what that is. Some folks just have it in their DNA (i.e Michael Jackson). Others (like me) had to be coached to understand musicality. Getting good quality in-person lessons from people who don't necessarily teach just bass but teach music is worth every penny if you care about really playing, as opposed to playing at bass (as I do with piano :( )
    Clyde75 and IamGroot like this.
  11. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    This guy - Joe LoCascio - is exactly what you described. He teaches privately and also at HCC. The insight he brings to teaching music is stunning. You are right, Its not all in some book.

    Joe LoCascio – Applause to the Musician

    Last edited: Dec 6, 2021
    Clyde75 likes this.
  12. If someone asks me if they should take up the bass, I respond with a few questions. What are your overall goals? Is there a particular style, genre or sound that inspires you to play? Do you want to gig, do studio work, play on your own? Are you looking to be a jack-of-all-trades, or do you think the bass will be your primary instrument?

    Understanding what motivates me to play helps inform my practice. I can’t do everything, nor do I want to. This isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate feedback or seek advice from players more skilled and experienced - that’s needed. I just want to spend my time effectively, and in order to do that, I have to have some clear objective.

    Watching your (the OP’s ) videos, I see a and hear an individual voice developing. There’s musicality, ingenuity and consistency in the playing. Given your experience as a guitarist, you have prior knowledge and understanding of the pedagogy that accompanies learning an instrument. You know what to do. Keep developing your skills, but not at the expense of your own voice. You've got something unique to offer.
    Clyde75 likes this.
  13. Clyde75


    Jul 24, 2020
    Atlanta, GA
    Wow. What a nice response. Thank you!

    I definitely won't be able to put all of these suggestions into practice (and as you say, nor should I try to) but I am experimenting with many of them and getting some great results so far. I'm really happy with the tone I am getting now.
    WrapRough likes this.
  14. Clyde75


    Jul 24, 2020
    Atlanta, GA
    It feels a bit gratuitous to post again but I'm pleased enough with the results that I can't resist. Many thanks for all the input. This is me playing the second exercise in that book. I know I can work on dynamics more but hopefully the tone is better and the performance is less robotic.

    wysiwyg248 and BlueTalon like this.
  15. Wow... The string quartet is very "Hindemith-ian".
  16. Big improvement Clyde. Now try to take this out of the realm of exercises and do something with it musically. I currently hear that every note has the same length and stroke emphasis. That's excellent consistency and accuracy and perfect timing. But see if you can identify and make phrases of it, thus making music out of an exercise.

    As a bass player it is up to you to find the style, phrasing and style. Even written music is no more than a skeleton of what you as a player could or should do. One more very nuanced thing... Instead of thinking of playing "on time" try thinking about playing "IN time". Mentally it's like flowing with the stream rather trying to just keep up within the stream. That's what musicians often call "playing in the pocket".
    Clyde75 likes this.
  17. Great technique, keep on practicing and you will get to Carnegie Hall. I was going to comment about anchoring your RH thumb somewhere -pickup, string- as I do, but this is not a must. I'd encourage you to practice raking the strings as well as plucking like in classic guitar manner, see video below on these two observations. The previous comment is right on, as a bassist our goal should be to swing/radiate a piece of music entirely by ourselves without a keyboard or drummer -Rufus Reid stated this on his Evolving Bassist book-.

  18. tvbop


    Mar 11, 2021
    This too. I can get huge volume with barely any finger movement....technique, it can take a while but keep practising.
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