Gaak! I can't nail this lick!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Byzcat, Aug 24, 2009.

  1. Byzcat


    Aug 3, 2009
    Lynn, Mass
    So, I'm torturing myself with the Judas Priest version of "Better by You, Better than me...

    basically, I'm running from an open A to the octave, then a fairly straightforward, but quickly played minor pentatonic run back to the open a (A-G-E-D-C-open A- and it feels like it's being played in triplets) and I'm going nuts. I've practiced this run about a zillion times and I'm having two problems.

    Problem 1- I end up with the open A ringing, which is a bit distracting. I've tried muting it with my third finger, but that slows me down in reaching for the octave. to make matters worse, I have a tendency to pluck the A string more strongly as I'm preparing to jump to the octave. I'm really fighting this, but I can't seem to cure myself of it.

    Problem 2- no matter how many times I practice this lick, and think I've got it nailed, when I fire up the CD, my fingers just won't do it.

    I think part of it is a mental block, I'm overthinking my playing, but there's a dexterity issue as well.

    Any suggestions on how I can mute the A string while going for the octave, and any exercises that will help my speed/dexterity?

    I used to live on the minor pentatonic, and I though I had gotten it down to where I could run it pretty quick, but right now, I'm making myself nuts. I've tried playing at the fifth fret position, and that helped a little, but creates another set of problem, because the riff starts on the G fretted on the E string, so I have to change positions in a way that's really awkward.
  2. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    To play fast, one must practice very slowly.



    If you cannot play it ridiculously slow, how can you expect to play it fast?
  3. Craig_S

    Craig_S Inactive

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    step away from it for a while, clear your head, and when you get back to it--DON'T THINK SO MUCH ABOUT IT.
  4. Byzcat


    Aug 3, 2009
    Lynn, Mass
    So, we're talking the Tai Chi approach to playing bass, then?

    I actually have practiced slowly, and built up to speed, but there's a point where it all falls apart.

    One of the managers of the music store I took lessons at many years ago was an advocate of what he called "mega-slow". I was too impatient at the time, being as how I was eighteen, but maybe I should just go ahead and practice slowly until I'm completely relaxed with what I'm trying to play. I've only been attacking this song for a couple of days now. and that's after not having played for nearly twelve years, and even at my best, I wasn't all that.

    So, what about that ringing open A string?
  5. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    Instead of playing the open A, why not go from the A on the E in 5th position?
  6. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    It's not Tai Chi, it's just the way you need to practice to nail something technically difficult. If you already have been practicing it slowly and still can't nail it, you haven't practiced it long enough. You have to give your brain a chance to wire those connections so that you can play it and sometimes it doesn't do it overnight. I have been working on a John Pattitiucci lick from "School of the Arts" for over a year now and still can't play it up to tempo.

    Very slow and accurate practice will show you what you need to change and help solve your ringing A. Impatience will only bring you more frustration. Practicing and solving problems on your own is what makes playing music fun.
  7. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Practice practice practice...

    I had to listen to it to see what you mean, and its quick, but I have to say its way easier to play on the 5th fret. No open string means no ringing.

    Keep practicing, it will come in time...
  8. Byzcat


    Aug 3, 2009
    Lynn, Mass
    No, it's definitely Tai Chi.

    The idea behind Tai Chi is that you practice the movements very slowly, so that they become ingrained in your body and brain, so that in an actual self defense situation, the body knows how to react.
  9. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    Well, I guess if you plan on fighting off turtles and the elderly then Tai Chi it is!

  10. makanudo


    Dec 26, 2008
    wow im so frustrated, i cant nail Scarified by Racer X neither.. its such a bummer but a motivation at the same time..
  11. Sensory_Rupture


    Dec 13, 2003
    Have you tried the 'floating anchor' technique? I find that using the thumb of my picking hand to mute helps tremendously (assuming you're playing fingerstyle).
  12. Mega-Slow will reveal the soution.
  13. Kevinmach


    Dec 7, 2008
    Another vote for this...

    It's mind-numbing sometimes with more challenging material, but after much labor on various instruments over the years, I've come to the conclusion that when you can only play something fast, what you're really doing is hoping the notes will come out right and leaving it to chance. If you can TRULY play it fast, then you should obviously be able to play it slow without any problem- if not, then you have simply not mastered the material.

    The obvious answer is that you're really not playing properly fast either, but that it's just not as audible when the notes run together.

    I am currently in the process of driving my girlfriend crazy, who has been literally begging me to learn more songs because she is tired of hearing the same 5 or 6 challenging parts to various songs over and over again. It may sound like I've "got it down" to her, but I know it's not anywhere near where it needs to be, and so would you.

    Like someone else said, take a break-go practice some other challenging pieces and have 10 or more of them that you could work on at any given time without being tempted to skimp on the your focused on now.

    Every now and again, try playing them at a faster tempo, and you'll see yourself getting closer and that will provided the needed encouragement that you are indeed getting better!
  14. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford Supporting Member

    Feb 15, 2008
    Im stuck on I Want You Back by the Jackson 5..

    I feel your pain my friend.
  15. Byzcat


    Aug 3, 2009
    Lynn, Mass
    Well, I suppose I could try finishing transcribing the bass line to "Smoke on the Water". That's another one that's been driving me nuts. It was one of the first songs I learned when I was taking lessons twenty-odd years ago, and I usta could be able to...

    Now I'm finding that I can play it at tempo solo, but as soon as I try playing along with the CD, it all goes away. I think it's some kind of mental block.
  16. Byzcat


    Aug 3, 2009
    Lynn, Mass
    of course, there's always the Spooky Tooth version... I was just jamming with it on Grooveshark, and could keep up just fine.

    Anybody know where I can download it? iTunes, maybe?

    Next up, the Fleetwood Mac version of "The Green Manalishi (with the Two-Pronged Crown)
  17. Kevinmach


    Dec 7, 2008
    Well, the one thing good thing (or bad, in this case :) ) about playing along with a tempo at perfect time that's forever recorded on CD, is that if you can't keep up, you need more practice. It's probably less a mental block then just getting your chops back. Hang in there man. It's always a tough thing when you used to be able to do something well and quit for a long time- it makes you painfully how the passage of time is your enemy, but through practice you can make it your friend (sorry, that was terribly cheesy, but very true).

    I do the same thing though- I play tunes that sound good when I taping my foot and think I am moving along at a very good pace, but then when I try to match the cd, I miss a note and it all goes to hell.

    Also, be sure to learn some easier songs that you can just play along with and have fun. It's obviously inspiring to play stuff you've worked so hard at, but sometimes you just gotta let loose with something that's a little less effort so you can enjoy what you're doing (that's harder to do with a piece that requires your utmost concentration).
  18. Once you've nailed that, try 'Getaway' by Earth, Wind & Fire.:D
  19. Craigmartini


    Feb 15, 2009
    Endorsing Artist: EMG pickups, Harke, GRABBIT stands.
    +1 This is great advice!!! Do this A LOT and you will get it for sure!!!!

  20. Hi! Lots of great advice about practicing at a mega-slow tempo in this thread. Are you sure about the exact notes of the run? I just listened to the song, and I think the initial riff goes like this:


    The tab is how I'd play it. Yes, there's a shift, but it's quite manageable IMHO, and you can take advantage of the open A at the end to shift back easily.

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