Help! I need to develop my timing!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bambam09, Jan 23, 2017.

  1. Bambam09


    Jan 8, 2017
    hello everyone!

    I need advice and experience please! I need to develop my sense of time! This may sound nuts but I can play alright as long as there is a drummer. However, subtract the drummer and I am all over the place If I use a metronome it is hit or miss and without anything it is a real disaster! Any feedback, suggestions, advice or words of encouragement would be appreciated. I'm very frustrated at this point. Thank you!
  2. No drummer lock with the rhythm guitar. Or the lead vocalist. Yes I do not like being the beat master....
    FunWithBass likes this.
  3. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars more.

    Play until you've locked your actual time down better. At home regularly play, do exercises with a metronome. I'd start with it double-time (so you're getting 8th notes) then as you keep playing switch it out for quarter notes. Until you're actually 'hearing' that time in your head, it won't really lock in.

    I'd also start by playing parts or rhythms that don't have a lot of wiggle room...busier and uniform. Then you can expand out to parts with more space.
  4. 1954bassman


    Jun 7, 2004
    Hickory, NC
    I agree to simply practice more. I like a drum machine better than a metronome myself.

    When playing in a band situation with no drums, find the instrument playing the backbeat and lock in with it.

    Sometimes timing issues stem from not knowing your part well enough. Do this goes back to practice. Again.
  5. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

  6. Obese Chess

    Obese Chess Spicy Big Dad Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2005
    Portland, OR
    Now that Jeff Berlin has (sadly) been booted from the site I feel safe telling you to practice with a metronome.

    The other thing that's been hugely helpful is record yourself playing with said metronome, then listen back and find your problem spots. Practice the bejesus out of them. Repeat.
    NealBass and T-Funk like this.
  7. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    I just saw a vid by the la bass locks guy, there's a drum backing track that you can download that removes a beat and replaced with silence. I'm going to go find that myself
  8. dtripoli


    Aug 15, 2010
    Metronome, drum machine and play along to existing recordings, all good suggestions.
    I don't really worry much about "staying in tempo", most drummers say I'm fine but I will say,
    When practicing by myself with no accompaniment I will occasionally tend to add or drop a beat here or there. Over time that bad habit just gets reinforced if not corrected.
    I don't do scales or practice songs with a drum machine or anything else.
    Just practice a lot and play frequently. Difficult bass lines I'll play slow at first then once hand memory
    is embedded I'll speed it up to tempo.

    Athletes train most every day for their one hour game once a week or if basketball/baseball play or train daily.
    If you have a full on evening gig with 4 sets required, that's 3 hours of solid playing. If I'm not physically up for the task, my timing and creativity suffers.
    Just saying....

    The only magic bullet that I can think of when it comes to bass proficiency is, practice.
  9. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    Ok, i am now in front of a legit computer, and not my phone, so I can throw this link out there.
    Am at work, doing this on the sly, so can't preview to be sure this is the actual, right link, but remember the thing I was trying to offer was, in fact, called ignite, music training.

    From this, it looks like it's a whole musical training offering, but the thing that I was referring to specifically addresses the OPs question about improving timing.

    Not sure i'm explaining this right, but the idea is that you get a drum loop, and you get 8 beats in a phrase, which is pretty easy to play. But the next step up, is, that one of the beats is removed and replaced with silence, which makes you keep track and count of that. Then two beats are removed, and so on. Eventually you only get one beat, and have to land back in the right spot next time it comes around. If that doesn't improve your timing....

    Hope this helps!
    1954bassman likes this.
  10. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    If you can't clap your hands or tap your foot to quater note in time ... well it will be hard.

    What helped me was to read music, record, playing classical music.

    Reading music helped me read various rythm and know what it should do, like without an instrument in hands making the rythm sound again a metronome or with my foot tapping.

    Record something short if a very clear rythm. Start the recording with only the count off but no metronome. Then after that listen to it once the metronome is activated. You also record yourself playing with a song and make your sound very distinc so you can hear where you didn't play what is on the recording.

    Classical music because there is no drums there and if you play solo pieces or only with a piano, well no one will do the metronome so you have to be solid.

    EDIT : Edit to add this link which is only rythm. If you can read that while tapping your foot or with a metronome. You'll be good for sure.

    Also ... it will take time, it isn't something that will be perfect tomorrow.
  11. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    more metronome or click track time is needed....just do it. You'll lock in eventually.
    Basstards likes this.
  12. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    Start your metronome.
    First measure, play a note (any note) on the 1
    Next measure, play a note on the and of 1
    Next measure, play a note on the 2
    Next measure, play a note on the and of 2
    etc, etc

    Might sound boring but it will help you improve your rhythm for sure.
    Wfrance3 and 1954bassman like this.
  13. BassAndReeds


    Oct 7, 2016
    +1 Slow at first, then increase speed. Concentrate on evenness in rhythm, tone, timbre, accents. All the basics. Keep at it, Perfect Practice makes Perfect
  14. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    There is a method called "chunking," where you accent on the 1 beat and play chunks of 4 notes (4/4 time) or chunks of 3 notes (3/4 time), etc. The goal is for you to become your own metronome by gaining the feel and using the appropriate accents on the beat (just as a metronome would). This works great using alternate picking (with a pick) or alternating fingers. 4/4 time, always accent on the same finger, when alternating. 3/4 time, accent on one finger then the other. I know this does not cover rests, but if you start with chunking your notes, the rest will usually follow.
    FunWithBass likes this.
  15. Shamalama


    Jan 26, 2017
    New England
    Drum machine
    Or run scale drills at intervals of 20bpm
  16. funkymonk13


    Aug 22, 2014
    I always had trouble finding the "one" of the beat, and id often get lost. I started playing with a metronome with the one Accented, and that helped.

    What really helped A LOT however, was slowly coming off the metronome slowly. Basically, you play a lick/pattern/bassline and you slowly start to remove the clicks from the metronome.
    For example, Set your metronome at 4/4 120bpm; play a pattern that repeats every measure along to that. Then keep playing the same pattern at the same speed but remove the clicks.
    1 2 3 4
    1 _ 3 _
    1 _ _ _
    Then when you get to this point, cut the time in half to 60 bpm, while playing the pattern at the same speed. Which would be the equivalent of hearing the click every two measures. Then cut it to 30bpm which is hearing the click every 4 measures
    1 _ _ _ (1) _ _ _
    1 _ _ _ (1) _ _ _ (1) _ _ _ (1) _ _ _

    I dunno if im being confusing, but basically what youre doing is only hearing a reference click less and less. You have to rely on your internal clock more and more. If you went a little fast or a little slow, you compensate until you're consistently in time when that click finally comes in.

    I think the key to having really good time is being able to hear everything in your head before it happens. Now that i've gotten a little better at this technique, i just set the metronome to click on the one, I measure out the time it'll take to hear the click again and i try to come up with a lick i like and do variations/different fills on it.

    Also, practicing and understanding polyrhythms and weird divisions of time will help.
  17. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Why is this a problem? I assume you can walk in time. Can you clap to music? I'm going to guess you can. So the problem may not be your timing, it might just be your bass technique. Do you know where all the notes are? Can you move gracefully from one note to the next, or is you fretting hand jerking around or are you making extra movements.

    If you think about the difference in time from one note to the next in a good groove compared to clumsy playing, the time isn't all that much. Maybe a 100th of sec or less. If you're not really sure of where you are going and have to think about it... there's your timing difference. Learn all the notes all over the instrument. Play all scales to get your fingers moving in different patterns. Major and 3 forms of minor scales. At least two different finger patterns for each scale. Deal with modes as a point of variety. Get your hand moving freely and securely.
  18. FunWithBass

    FunWithBass Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Check out the TimeGuru app (I have it for Android). It can do all kinds of time signatures and has a random mute function that will drop out clicks as you go. Lots of choices on the click sounds with or without accent on the one. You can save settings as well. The downside is that the interface was not intuitive.

    I also recently discovered how to turn on click tracks on my my digital 8-track recorder, so I can play to the click and listen to it later to see how I did. You can also set up changes in time signature and tempo within a song with it. I plan to use that more often.
  19. TedH


    Dec 6, 2014
    Westchester, NY
    When you listen to music, actively snap/clap/tap to it. Find the 1 for every song; you will eventually start to feel it. When you play, don't think, and if you feel the timing is off, close your eyes and play. It lessens distractions and forces you to use your ears to get the time feel.

    Read this. Danny Morris is a master at time feel.
    FunWithBass likes this.