evolving dexterity, precision

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Fliptrique, Sep 4, 2002.

  1. Fliptrique


    Jul 22, 2002
    Szczecin, Poland
    Endorsing Artist: Mayones Guitars&Basses, Taurus Amplification

    I`ve been playing bass for just over a year now... I think that right now I should mostly contentrate on evolving my right hand dexterity.
    When I record myself, I see that my playing is very uneven, chaotic - I can`t keep a constant volume and tone and I also ocasionally loose the rythm while playing some faster stuff. Are simple, slow (50-80bmp) chromatic excersies enough, or should I try something different? I`ve been doing them for about a hour a day. I`m simply afraid I`m loosing time on this.

    Oh, and yes - my finger alternation is ok, that`s not the problem here:) Floating thumb helped a lot, too, yet still...
  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Don't confuse the issue by doing anything with your left hand - just find one note on one string and hold it down. Record that and see how you sound.

    This will focus purely on how your right hand is doing. Is it even? If not, what's the problem? One finger sounds different to another? Drifting away from the metronome (and are you drifting ahead or behind the beat)?

    Practise other stuff as well, but it doesn't hurt to occassionally remove all distractions and focus on just one factor.

  3. Fliptrique


    Jul 22, 2002
    Szczecin, Poland
    Endorsing Artist: Mayones Guitars&Basses, Taurus Amplification
    . Fingers sound the same. When I record songs I know, everythyng - except a bit floating volume level, is ok, but When I just pluck the same note with a metronome, I ocasionally drift before the beat. It sorta wierd to me - while playing songs, I`m even (Recorded myself and checked it in cool edit pro - it`s precise). When I focus myself on playing even, i drift. Not much, but I do.
    Thanks for you advice.
  4. I sympathise. I play both guitar and bass, and when I come back to the bass after a week or so focusing more on guitar, my right hand chops always need work.

    I've worked out a few things I can do.

    The first and most important one is a pedal excercise which I ripped off a Steve Bailey book I found in the state library. Start off with an open A and hold down the E on the next string, a fifth higher. You play notes in two lots of three, hitting the pedal twice; A-A-E-A-A-E Then move on to the next series of six notes, keeping the pedal the same; A-A-F#-A-A-F#. Etc.

    Go slow and keep the volume very even. This practises moving between strings, staying on the same string, and it exercises the same part played with both RH fingerings because you keep strict RH alteration.

    Then you can play the same "shape" with a pedal A, but playing the notes on the G string instead.

    As for the timing thing, you might try programming a drum machine or some rythm software to give you a 3/3 beat with every other bar missing the minor beats. Like this :

    !1 2 3 !1 (2) (3) !1 2 3 !1 (2) (3)

    where ! is bar line, () denotes silence.

    Then you fill in the gaps and try to sound exactly on.
  5. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Aha! My diagnosis would be that you're probably tensing up when playing the exercises; when playing the songs you're either relaxed or more concerned about the overall sound than the details of whether you're going too fast or slow.

    It's not to say that concentration is wrong but there's a point at which you become so tense that you actually set yourself up to make mistakes.

    Ideas for helping to overcome this?

    - relax more (I know, easier said than done ;) )
    - listen to the sound you are creating; trust your fingers to the details of how they make it happen (as maybe you do when playing a song)
    - can you hear your breathing on the recording? If so, does it sound like you're holding your breath? Maybe you could try concentrating on relaxed breathing while playing the exercises?

    It might also be worth asking about this on the 'Ask a Pro - Steve Lawson and Michael Manring' forum; I know Steve has given quite a lot of thought to developing a relaxed control over his playing and the 'inner game' of music.

  6. Fliptrique


    Jul 22, 2002
    Szczecin, Poland
    Endorsing Artist: Mayones Guitars&Basses, Taurus Amplification
  7. I faced some problems previously also, being able to play in time for songs, but drift for metronome playing.

    For me, its the internalizing of the song. When I am playing songs, I can actually memorize the sound that I am supposed to create, and I just play it, without counting at all, if you ask me, to write out the notes length for each notes, I wouldn't be able to.

    But when I am playing, and counting, 1-and-2-and-3-and-a stuffs, I will drift a little. I think as someone mentioned, play with the metronome, count, get the sound in the head, and don't count after that. :)
  8. Dynna


    Oct 23, 2004
    Much to Jeff Berlin's endless (retarded) lament, I would recommend trying a different approach with the metronome.

    Instead of doing 1 or 2 notes with a metronome at 50-80, trying doing triplets. Then try doing 16ths.

    Better yet, play one note per click at 160. Make the click disappear. Turn the metronome to 80. Play 2 notes per click. Then turn the metronome to 40, and play 4 notes per click. Once that is comfortable, play 2 notes per click @ 40. Then ONE note per click @ 40. And make the click disappear.

    If getting an even tone is an issue, one thing I modded from Steve Bailey and Billy Sheehan is to run your LH fingers in a 321 repeating pattern(if you use three) and play 16th notes at a slow enough pace that you can accent the 1st 16th of each 4.(you can always work on shifting that to accent the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th 16th's later if you want).

    If you only use 2 LH fingers, then run triplets and accent the 1st of each 3.(then the 2nd-which is strangely hard, then the 3rd)

    If nothing else(and it does a HECK of a lot more), this will teach you to listen outside what you are playing(for time), and teach your fingers to work "independently together".
  9. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Great post! This approach to time keeping comes naturally to some players, but regardless of how you've come across it, if you can't play using the most fundamental mental/motor skills of the bass -and slowly- you can't play your best at even more comfortable tempos.