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Hearing Your Bass

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by kwd, Apr 30, 2004.


  1. kwd

    kwd

    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    I've been relegated to the garage for my practicing (family men will understand). I really don't mind it, it's become a kind of tawdry home for me. My only complaint is the acoustics. I find that I have to lower the peg position on my bass to hear myself when playing pizz. I assume that's because the sound dissipates too much before getting a bounce off the concrete floor. I'm thinking of building a small raised platform so I can hear better. Has anyone done this?
     
  2. Before breaking out the hammers and nails try facing into a corner. It sounds strange but really seems that you hear yourself better by playing into a corner from a few feet away.
     
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    You can't hear yourself when you're all alone in the garage? Or you're just not getting the resonance that you want?

    I practice in my kitchen all the time, especially since it's a bad sounding room. My intent on this is that if I can get a good sound in a bad room (bright and dry in this case) it's a cinch in a good sounding room...
     
  4. I practice in the kitchen too, but only because its closer to the refridgerator.
     
  5. kwd

    kwd

    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    I can't hear myself. I think I'm getting enough resonance because it's adequate in other rooms. The garage is without a doubt the worst room in the house. I threw something together this weekend and it seemed to help, but hardly worth the trouble. I had much better luck crowding the garage door. I can't get close to the corners as tools and bikes are stored there.
     
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Maybe it's that you're required to fill a bigger space in the garage as compared to the rooms in your house. Do you play out acoustically a lot? Perhaps this is an opportunity for you do develop some more sound out of the bass?

    One thing that my father, a horn player who teaches a lot, tells his students is that you'll develop a good sound in the size space that you practice in. If you only practice in closet-sized practice rooms, then that is the only place you'll get a good sound. This makes pretty good sense.

    To add to that, my own experience moving the The Big Hassle. Back home in Ohio, you almost never play acoustically as the rooms there are much too big. When I got here and had to played acoustically a lot my sound almost doubled in volume, and tone-wise has gotten richer as well. I've actually gone off the deep end a bit on this wherein I'm trying to lighten up my touch and get a prettier sound rather than a room-filling blat all of the time.
     
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    If you're finished with your room filling blat, can I use it for awhile?

    Not to continually wax poetic, but damn Ray, anytime I've heard you, you got a great sound. Big yes, but pretty warm and round too. I know I can only hear what's on the outside of your head and not what's on the inside, but I would never have described your sound as harsh or strident...
     
  8. What did you rig up? I was thinking a couple sheets of ply wood and a couple hinges and you could make yourself your own "corner" that would fold flat when you're through with it.
     
  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Well, thank you, Ed.

    I guess what I mean more specifically is that I tend to play mono-tonally, volume and tone - wise. Kind of a bad habit that's easy to develop when you're at FFF all the time to keep up with the band. There is a whole range of sounds that are possible from the fiddle and I want to get back to having these in my arsenal. Charles actually brought this up at a session the other day and has been kinda floating around in my head anyhow, so now it's officially a goal of mine.
     
  10. kwd

    kwd

    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    I used a 2' by 2' piece of hardboard with four dowels as feet to give it an angle of about 20 degrees. I think the problem is that the hardboard (1/4" thick) doesn't have enough mass to bounce the sound back.

    After posting this thread, I had regrets. I thought it was a pretty stupid thread but a lot of informative posts have resulted. I need to focus on my technique and why I'm not getting the sound rather than trying to build some silly apparatus or injure my back by setting the bass too low.

    I was setting the bass to different heights depending on whether I was playing arco or pizz. How insane is that?
     
  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I find myself changing the endpin height all the time, depending on what I'm wearing (the thickness of the sole of the shoe, how tightly my jacket fits), what I'm playing (arco, pizz, acoustically, amped), etc, etc. My general rule is, if'n it ain't comfortable, I move it.
     
  12. kwd

    kwd

    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    I agree with changing the height to adapt. I was referring to my changes of 6" or more, not mere adjustments. It seems insane to me now because my teacher has me working in a book that stresses the full range of the instrument. I worked on one of the exercises diligently with the bow until I became more confident in that range. Then I played the same exercise pizz with my bass lower. I could find the notes using the thickness of neck but only after making adjustments for the different angle of my wrist/forearm.
     
  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    On this topic, I recommend that you drive your hands more with your ear than trying to train your muscle memory to get the note, you'll have much better luck playing in tune. I can explain further if you like, but we should start another thread for that.
     
  14. kwd

    kwd

    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    I agree. Indeeed, I spend a lot of time with that glissando arco exercise that we've all come to know and hate. That exercise puts the ear in front muscle memory. But isn't it true that if you change positions you need to rely on some physical factors before you actually stop the string and allow the note to emit? And, wouldn't you want your training to get you as close as possible?
     
  15. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    There is something to the physicality of it all, but I think it over emphasized. The muscle memory should more be in the relationship of one note to another. Remembering where the note is on the bass can set you up for failure because of myriad reasons; aging strings, different strings, different basses, strings going out of tune in the middle of a tune (or piece), playing with maddeningly variable-pitched instruments (like guitar), the well tempered clavier, on and on.
     
  16. kwd

    kwd

    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    Ray

    You're right. Eschewing the ear and relying on physicalilty guarantees that I'll never be in tune given the factors that come in to play.
     
  17. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    For me I think I arrived where I am on this because for me, finding physical landmarks only served to set up and feed fear-based habits and ultimately didn't fix my intonation woes. My first bass, the bass I played for 15 years, had a knot on the neck right around where your thumb goes when you played a C on the G string with your fourth finger. I loved that knot! It caused years of grief, though, as I spent a lot of time looking for other physical landmarks on the bass, and there are a few. The shape of the neck, like you mention above, where your thumb meets the heel of the neck, when your hand hits the body, etc. These landmarks set up 'home bases' where I felt comfortable and 'the rest' of the bass where I feared to tread that I might miss the note and (ommugod) play out of tune. I even had a name for the area between the knot and the heal of the neck -- No Man's Land!

    The less I could hear myself when I started playing acoustically more, and after changing through a couple of basses, the whole physical approach had really developed into a fear-based moonscape of physical letdown, and I decided to find a way to deal with it properly. The simple and obvious answer really started to culminate when I got serious with the bow (and also Alexander Technique, but this would be a long one to explain) -- that answer being that if you want to hear a note badly enough, your body will give it to you.

    But, to really get this to work for you, you have to drop any fear or thought of 'blowing' the note. The instant that the thought surfaces in your mind, you're doomed. Also, good, old-fashioned practice will build your confidence and accuracy.

    I'm rambling and will stop.
     
  18. kwd

    kwd

    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    Ray,
    I don't mind the ramble. The fear thing is real. I'm open to any wisdom that can help.

    kwd
    san jose, CA
     
  19. This thread is great!

    I have to admit, I used to be affraid of letting my ear guide my hand. I always thought that my internal sense o' pitch would let me down, or I just didn't have "the force" with me like the guys who always swear by this idea. But amazingly enough in my practice I have tried doing just this, letting my ear guide me mostly on etudes or things I have heard and played enough to know by ear. What a difference I feel 100% better, hell I'm even doing this from time to time on gigs, with good results even.

    I know this post isn't informative at all, but I just wanted to post it.
    Mike
     
  20. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Affirmation is informative. :)