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digging in: just how bad of a habit is it?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by JoeRules00, Aug 17, 2002.

  1. I tend to get REALLY into playing (even at 2 am when its just me and some Rush) and often will "dig in", or pluck the strings really hard. I've heard (and understand) that doing this gives you a louder sound to begin with, but sustain will suffer. However, if you don't really need much sustain (I play a lot of rock, and a lot of the songs just dont have long bass sustains) then is it OK to dig in? Is it wrong, or just another case like Floating Thumb vs. Thumb on Pickup scenario?
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Whatever suits you.

    But a lighter touch will give you better control, better tone and will let you play faster and with less fatigue.
  3. punkfunkfreak


    Dec 16, 2001
    i find it hard to dig in and play a reliable rythm. But if it worksfor you, then it does. Theres no right or wrong.

    Im sure someone will come in in a moment and shout about bad technique and bad practice..e.t.c.
    But as long as uve tried both ways...ie: digging in and using a lighter touch, and then decided you like the first option, then all the power to you.

    IMHO, Bad technique is only bad if its not compared and tested.

  4. hell, if you're gonna rock out, then rock out! technique be dammed!
  5. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I find that digging in can help you obtain tonal characteristics that can other wise, not be obtained with a normal touch. I find that digging in can pull out some growl when you need it. I agree, you shouldn't play with a hard touch constantly, that is bad tech. IMO (espcially if you play fretless), but I think digging in during certain times is just another color in your pallette of bass playing. The same as slap, using a pick, or plucking the strings in a different area of the bass. There is a reason why Casio hasn't replaced Fender, and that is expression in the instrument.

    Though if you use digging in as part of your playing, be sure to set up your amp properly, cause when you go to dig in, you might clip your amp, as where normal touch will sound fine.
  6. bplayerofdoom


    Aug 6, 2002
    play with a light touch normally so ya can use a dig in for some dynamics, say like like a well placed crash sybol.
  7. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    No opinion from a technique and sound standpoint (I play with a somewhat firm hand but not slamming), but physiologically, blasting really hard can lead to hand problems later. It doesn't for everyone, so you do need to pay attention to your body's signals. Numb fingers are NOT normal!
  8. ndjx


    Oct 26, 2001
    When with my band I play with a pick and a Peavey Milestone V (much like a Fender Jazz). I like the sound I get when digging in near the bridge pick-up. Very growly. I don't think it's bad at all if it fits the type of music you play. If you're playing rock it's the way to go.
  9. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i dig in all the time - a large element of my tone is from really digging deep. close to the bridge, too - with in an inch or two of the bridge saddle. twangy :D
  10. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I dig in to distort the amp-thats what KT88s are for ;)
  11. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    yeah, go for it i say!

    personally it depends what I'm playing. i play in 3 bands: metal, punk-rock and brit-pop-rock... I'm also TRYING to play along to 'simple' jazz standards as much as possible. For the metal and punk I really dig in to give it that over-the-top energy the music needs at points. for the brit-pop-rock guys the key is consistency so i play with a lighter touch and maybe dig in slightly for tension when needed. the jazz is whole different ball park, as it's all i can do to keep up, so i tend use a lighter touch becaue it;s easier to play that way.

    recording is a whole different thing again. when recording at home i'm slowely learning ti play consistently with a lighter touch as you get a right messy recording when you dig in one phrase and hold back on the next.

    There are some tones and feels that just cant be done with a lighter touch. playing hard sounds cool at the rigth place, as does playing softly, and vice versa on both counts? - is that confusing or what?!
  12. tomtom


    Jun 17, 2002
    Philthy, PA
    I think it's important to find a balance. dig in just enough so that you can lighten your touch for the quiet parts, but not so much that you have no room to get louder either. Same with tone..right hand placement should be in a spot where you can make your sound more trebley or bassey real quickly. music often times happens too fast to be messing with knobs.
  13. When I want an agressive tone and don't need to play fast I achive that by digging in right over the neck pickup or between the end of the neck and the neck pickup. When the strings hit the 24th fret the sound is really agressive but with almost no sustain at all.

    Edit: Maybe it's more like hammering the strings towards the frets with my fingers, but not like slapping.
  14. ndjx


    Oct 26, 2001
    Not to get off topic but what is Brit-pop? I've heard the term before but I never really knew what it was. I've even seen a preset for Brit-pop on a VOX guitar amp.
  15. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Britpop => Blur, Oasis, etc.
  16. Lowb32

    Lowb32 Guest

    Aug 20, 2002
    Melbourne, Fl.
    Hi there. Digging in is not all bad, but I do want to share a caution with you. As mentioned it will cause you to lose some of your control and finess, but with rock that is not all bad.
    A few months back our band was playing all the time. Five days a week will put a hurting on you if you dig in all the time. All this to say: I had some major tendon problems from doing that. I play a lot of rock and pop and just to be heard sometimes you have to dig in. I did not play my best like that, but it did feel good to be in the music. It looks good from a crowd perspective also. What ever works for you works for you. I would suggest that you spend your practice time getting your tone and fingers together and save the digging in for the gigs. You will find that if you practice smart, your endurance will improve and it won't take so much effort to "get into the music".
    Keep on rockin.

  17. pc


    Apr 4, 2000
    Montreal QC
    I think it's interesting to develop different techniques to different styles. I like dig in while playing Sabbath, Maiden, TOP, etc... Unfortunately my touch is VERY light, so I never could growl enough on Geezer bass lines ;)

    Britpop --> [​IMG]
  18. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    I never mean to do it, but when I play I usually do end up digging in. I've lost count of the amount of times at recording sessions or soundchecks when I've played solo to get a level, and then had to have it changed as soon as I play in the mix.

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