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Given an ultimatum

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by LuckyPants, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. LuckyPants


    Mar 7, 2008
    I'm not sure if this is the right section for this.

    About 6 months ago I was looking to join a band and in my musolist advert I emphasised the fact that I was an average bassist, quite limited in technique but with a good understanding of the instrument and a motivation level that cannot be matched.

    A band got in touch and they're 3 musical geniuses who play EXACTLY the type of music that inspires me. We have 19 incredible original songs all perfected and I enjoy practice a lot. I also practice for 6 hours a day outside of band practice (which is 3/4 times a week) because I want to improve.

    Last night they delivered an ultimatum, that I had to improve my technique drastically because we're going into the studio in 6 weeks and they don't want to waste money and have me not be capable of performing. My problem is that I have horrific self-esteem and as far as I'm concerned, I'm the worst bassist to pick up the godly instrument (I've been playing 9 years though). So I can't exactly practice anymore than I do and I don't think I'm going to improve in 6 weeks.

    I don't want to quit a perfect band, I write amazing basslines for our style of music (their words, not mine) and I am as solid as a rock at gigs but they don't trust my recording ability and I don't think I can improve that in 6 weeks.

    Should I just quit instead of holding them back?
  2. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Dude, you have only one choice. Start believing in yourself. Ask them what are your problems? Are you letting strings ring too much? What are the exact, precise physical problems with your technique? Get in touch with a better player; record yourself playing to some songs and listen to the result; let's IDENTIFY the problems and fix them.

    Horrific self-esteem? Time to get over that, and I'm not kidding, and I'm not being trite. You are apparently good enough that they have played out with you all this time. You can take the next step, and I recommend you do it.

    NO FEAR.

    I want you to post back here soon that you have done something about this, OK?
  3. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Get the band together to go through the songs so you can find out the BPMs of each one. Write those numbers down, go home, and just woodshed them as much as you can.
  4. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Something doesn't add up here. You write amazing bass lines and you are rock solid at gigs but they don't trust you in the studio because of your technique? AND you've been playing for nine years and you practice six hours a day and they expect you to make drastic improvement in six weeks? Why would you need to improve your technique if you can already nail all of the parts? This doesn't make any sense.

    Sounds to me like you've already been replaced, they are just looking for an excuse to kick you out ... Unless there is a specific problem with your playing that you haven't mentioned.
  5. LuckyPants


    Mar 7, 2008
    Thanks guys. The thing is I know the lines, I can play them and everything. Their problem is in stuff like fret buzz when I play high notes and also string noise when I'm moving along the fretboard i.e. the noise the strings make if you slide on them without pressing down. My bass always sounds good under the rest of the track but then they'll listen to it soloed and they'll notice things like this and pick me out on it.

    My timing is very good, it's an area I'm comfortable in. I make the odd timing mistake but I assume every musician does. I'm also the only one of the 4 of us who can nail a song in the first take and I've often sat down and recorded 3 songs perfectly in half an hour to an hour. But I'm not very good at creating sounds, especially when it comes to adding effects. I've tried reading up on it but I don't particularly understand it, I created a thread on here but no replies as of yet.

    My worry mainly is that I don't have their support. One of the songs we're doing in the studio is a big bass-driven song focussed on a complex riff that did take me a while to record when we did it roughly on pro tools. I'm worried that if I don't go into the studio and nail this song within 4/5 takes, they're not going to come and tell me to take my time, i can do it, etc. they're going to mutter to themselves that they've wasted their time and they should look elsewhere and I'm not entirely at ease with that mentality. At the end of the day, I appreciate it's serious business but I want to have fun going to the studio, not be in a high pressure meltdown situation for what is our first EP!

    I do appreciate the help.
  6. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    +1 to mellowinman's comments about identifying what you need to do, precisely. What are the problems they perceive with your technique from a recording point of view? Fret buzz? Inconsistent dynamics? Muting issues? Sloppy timing? You need something specific to work on. If you can play the songs live you can play them on a recording with a disciplined approach.

    Is there anything else that might be behind this that you are aware of? Just curious.
  7. LuckyPants


    Mar 7, 2008
    as I said in the post after yours, it comes down to a few errors in tracking songs and a general lack of knowledge towards sounds. I can get a normal sound that I (and they) love but when asked to put some distortion on, I very rarely get the sound they want. Same goes for other effects too.

    It's possible they have already replaced me but I think they just don't have belief in me. I'm a very quiet person so they sometimes think I'm not bothered or apathetic, when it's the exact opposite I just get too afraid to talk (I have social anxiety disorder). I think I'll just have to talk to them and tell them that I'm doing everything I can, if it's not enough then maybe they're better off with someone else
  8. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    By the way - do you practise unamplified, by any chance? If so, try practising using headphones and no backing track if you want to tackle fret buzz, string noise and muting issues. Practising unamplified can often mask problems with this sort of stuff that need addressing. Just a suggestion.

    To tackle timing, work on stuff real slow at first and try to get it spot on in this respect before speeding up. Use a click or a backing track for this. Often it's actually harder to play bang on time at very slow tempos than it is at faster ones, so this can really challenge you and help you to progress.

    In the studio, just get the stuff laid down straight first and then worry about FX afterwards (or let the engineer do that for you).
  9. eyeballkid

    eyeballkid Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2009
    if it sounds good in the mix it IS GOOD. I love what I've done in the studio and the finished products, but I cringe a little when I listen to the soloed bass tracks. little flaws that are not noticeable in the totality of the song stand out horrendously.... YouTube search isolated bass tracks and listen to the flaws of the pros.
  10. LuckyPants


    Mar 7, 2008
    I have done. For example, "Everlong" has a lot of noise from strings, "Butterflies and Hurricanes" by Muse sounds horrific and "Chop Suey" by System for a Down is absolutely painful to listen to.

    But they don't particularly understand this (and tend to compare stuff I've done going through a DI into Pro Tools to stuff that Adam Clayton has on an album that has been produced in one of the world's best studios by one of the world's best engineers, a slightly unfair comparison).

    The only reason I haven't called them out on this is because I'm obviously not their first bassist so maybe their last one did sound good isolated and that's what they expect from me
  11. The guys you are playing with might think they know what they need from a bass tone on a recording but they probably don't have a freaking clue. Make them listen to other solo'd bass tracks.
  12. TC.65


    Dec 20, 2008
    Carbondale IL
    Sounds to me like they are just nitpicking. You won't hear the fret buzz or string noise in the mix. So why does it matter? I've listened to many famous bassist's basslines out of the mix and they all have some kind of noise. Some of them sound pretty horrific outside of the mix. I would definitely talk to them about this.
  13. eyeballkid

    eyeballkid Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2009
    then tell them to man up with the wallet and hire Adam Clayton.;)
    (he's kinda local to ya!)
    sounds like theyre being :crying:s
  14. Even pros tracks have noise in them when solo'd.
    Try halfround or flatwound strings if its a problem for you.
    Playing with a metronome or click is the way to get your timing down. It must be near perfect. Start slowly and work up to tempo.
    I believe 6 hours a day to be totally unnecessary if your practice regime is ordered and thorough. 1 to 2 hours every day of the week will suffice. Practice is not running through stuff you can do well, it's running through stuff you cannot do well. If you concentrate on playing your songs to a metronome for 1 hour, starting each one real slow and slowly building up tempo, then practice scales and arpeggios all over the fingerboard while concentrating on finger placement and getting as noise free as possible, you will improve.
    You said you've been playing nine years? I think your practice regime is not the best. I was a fulltime pro bassist within 1 1/2 years of getting my first bass, although I did play guitar for 2 years before that. It all comes down to what your practice regime is.
  15. LuckyPants


    Mar 7, 2008
    They're perfectionists, which I admire 99% of the time because it's exactly what you need to make it in music BUT it's bugging me.

    They say that the studio engineer we're hiring is an absolute pain who has to have everything 100% perfect and hates any sort of noise, this has me worried but I mean there's only so much I can do. The way I see it, there are machines and computers that can produce perfect basslines, you get humans to play you expect things like this.

    Thanks all for the advice, it's nice to see I'm not alone in my opinions. I tend to never stand up for myself but I will have to this time
  16. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Well, some of your problem here is anxiety. You need to take it from me that you should do your best, and in order to do that, you are going to have to quiet your fears. If they are all standing there going, "you're wasting time," while you are trying to lay down a line, they are jerks. And as such, you can't stop them from being jerks, but you can forgive them, ignore them, and forgive yourself for whatever weaknesses you feel you have.

    That's a huge part of it. Anxiety has no place in the studio. Fear has no place in music. Do some deep breathing; and definitely continue working on your technique. It is never a bad idea to play better, but really, there are going to be squeaks and squawks and buzzes no matter who is playing bass.
  17. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Obviously I don't know the whole situation, but given how much trouble it is to find a new bass player, particularly a GOOD bass player, it's hard to believe that they are going to replace you for the reasons stated.
  18. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    I agree with all of this. Maybe they have more of a problem with your self-defeating attitude than they do with your playing. In order to play well, you have to have some degree of confidence. I think they have already found a replacement and are using the studio booking as an excuse.
  19. LuckyPants


    Mar 7, 2008
    Marty, as it stands I do:

    1-2 hours of theory and reading, studying scales and sounds, etc.
    1-2 hours of playing songs I like, this is mostly so that I enjoy my practices but I find it helps me a lot. I don't just play simple songs I already know, I try push and learn harder songs too.
    1-2 hours of hand exercises and techniques that I got from online places like studybass
    1-2 hours of playing to a metronome

    I haven't been practicing this hard for 9 years, just for the last year or so. For the first 8 years I had poor and lazy technique that I've had to improve significantly (and I believe I have). But I don't have experience tracking songs and it's not something I can particularly practice at home so things like eliminating fret buzz or string noise is proving an obstacle.
  20. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Is your bass set up properly?
    How are the fret's?
    I would have a GOOD tech check it out. If you have to have the fret's leveled and a new nut it would be well worth it.

    Victor Wooten or Geddy Lee would sound bad using a bass with un even fret's and a bad set up.
    Some strings make more noise then others. You could try some bright flats for the studio.
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