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Do you think classical guitar helps improve your technique?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Diego, Mar 31, 2006.

  1. Yes

  2. No

  3. dump the guitar, focus on the bass only

  4. it helps "musically" but not "technically"

  1. Diego


    Dec 9, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    Hi, I just wanted to post a poll about classical guitar technique, do you thinkl it helps your overall technique in bass? (Fingerstyle in multistring basses)
  2. booradley


    Mar 28, 2006
    Sure. Most string instruments help bass playing. I find they help to keep fingers stretched out and nimble.
  3. Yes, IMO it *can* help very much (no guarantees), up to a point, at least for fingerstyle. One issue, however, is that you can't play classical without nails, and not everybody can tolerate the sound and feel of nails on bass (plus the accelerated wear). Personally, I made my own peace with that years ago, but others may feel differently.

    There are significant differences in technique, though, especially the right hand. The touch and attack are quite different. If you move back and forth a lot, you'll likely find that if you've been playing a lot of bass, your guitar playing will suffer, and vice versa.

    To me, some benefits of classical guitar for a bass player would be (1) enhancing RH finger alternation and independence, (2) improving your ability to think and hear chordally (this doesn't mean playing chords all the time, but hearing and conceptualizing them), (3) improving your grasp of dynamics and tone color, and (4) freeing you up a little melodically. One downside is that you may start to acquire what a drummer friend of mine calls, not entirely humorously, "guitar player's time."

    But I'm not saying that classical guitar is the only way to get these benefits or that it guarantees them. For example, listening to a lot of non-bassists may help your melodic sense just as well; playing piano will do just as much or more for your ability to hear and conceptualize chords; playing upright will help you with RH technique; and so forth.
  4. Diego


    Dec 9, 2005
    San Francisco, CA

    Great insight! thank you
  5. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    There's nothing wrong with your question, but whoever coined this phrase should be beaten with a large blunt object. Every bass with more than one string is a "multi string" bass. :eyebrow:

    Personally, I think having classical guitar strings will help but not that much, I agree about the nails thing. The way you attack the strings of a classical guitar is very different, in order to get a "bassy" tone out of a bass, you need to pluck the strings with your fingertips, not your nails.

    I started on acoustic guitar and tried to pluck my bass's strings the way a fingerstyle guitarist would and wondered why my sound was so thin with little volume. Someone eventually showed me how to play proper "bass fingerstyle".
  6. Diego


    Dec 9, 2005
    San Francisco, CA

    I absolutely agree with you...multistring? is a question of semantics, I just put it there because this term "is often referred to" among fellow bass player for basses with more than 4 strings (and yes everybass with more than 1 strings is multistring). Any way, every chordophone is multistring (except for the washtube bass!!!);)
  7. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Absolutely, at least as far as proper right hand technique and avoiding injury are concerned. Classical guitar technique, like bass guitar technique, is still evolving, but I think it's far further along in terms of stressing the importance of concepts such as proper instrument positioning/balance, keeping the wrists straight, using muscles in the hands and fingers efficiently, using technique (rather than equipment) to produce variations in tone, and producing the proper sound with a minimum of effort. These are all things that can be applied, with slight modification, to the bass guitar.

    If there's one area where I think classical guitar is deficient, it's on music theory. Classical guitar pedagogy is largely technique-centered.
  8. I'm with you almost all of the way, except for this point. Though things may be changing a bit now, the vast majority of the classical guitarists I've met, seen, played with, or been taught by in my life have *not* played with straight wrists--anything but.
  9. rprowse


    Dec 17, 2005
    Wellington NZ
    I think Classical guitar is great.
    One problem though... a classical guitar teacher once tried to get one of my bass students to play a jazz walking line...
    i - m - i - m!
    I know that Betty Carter would have been horrified! (from what I have read about what she wanted from her bass players)
    ...this technique makes a walking line sound like a donkey:
    "eee Aw eee Aw".
  10. That's not necessarily a problem if you can keep your "i" strokes even with your "m" strokes, which is what you're supposed to be doing anyway and what good classical guitar technique is suppsoed to teach you. The technique does not make the walking line sound like a donkey unless you're doing it badly. In which case, the fault is the player's, not the technique's. Any technique sounds like crap if it's badly executed.

    Still, IME there can be a cool kinda vibe about playing the lines mostly with one finger when practical.
  11. Geo313


    Jul 17, 2004
    Hi, many years ago I went through quite a bit of classical guitar technique study, traditional etudes and practice. In my experience I am aware that it helped me a lot with the bass, mostly with my right (plucking) hand.
    I think that if you didn't, you should give it a try and give yourself a chance to see what comes out of that. You don't have to let your fingernails grow to apply the fingering technique, that's the case only if you want to be a "politically correct" classical guitar player so, obviously, forget about that and just do the technique workout with your fingertips... you're not gonna get arrested by the classical guitar sheriff.
  12. machine gewehr

    machine gewehr

    Sep 17, 2005
    My group's guitar player has been playing classic for 6 years,electric for 2 years.I'm playing for 1.5 year and he absolutely blows me away...Oh he's 4 years younger than me BTW. :eyebrow:
  13. mothmonsterman


    Feb 8, 2006
    i voted yes just to jump on the bandwagon
  14. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    When I went to bass four years ago, I put down the guitar that I played for twenty years (not professionally), and have hardly picked up a guit-box since (a few times as pitch reference during informal vocal harmony practices).

    I'm pretty determined to become a specialist - a bass-playing machine.


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