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Help me get over a hump...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by capnsandwich, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. I've been playing bass for something like 14 or 15 years now. I started with a pick, coming from guitar, and forced myself to play fingerstyle with no lessons or books at all. Some Youtube links provided me some understanding but they were at most 5-6 minutes long and there was no one there to correct my technique. I've simply come up with my own style, using 3 fingers and occasionally incorporating my thumb.

    The problem is that I want to get faster at soloing and plucking rudiments. I'm wondering if I missed an important step in learning fingerstyle because I seem to only go so fast and, while my solos are usually pretty melodic, they lack speed and can get monotonous from one song to the next. I've been studying modes and incorporating thinking more theoretically when soloing. Problem is, however, I always seem to come to the same place.

    I've been at this roadblock for a few months now and it's getting me to the point of losing interest in picking up my bass at all except for when I rehearse with bands or play gigs.

    Any help or advice would be appreciated.
  2. Bueller?
  3. Raw Amateur

    Raw Amateur

    Feb 9, 2011
    My name is not Raw Amateur for nothing, and yet I feel like I may be able to help...so here goes.

    Sounds like you are mostly self taught. If possible it might be worth having an experienced instructor take a look at your technique and evaluate your weaknesses. By 'experienced' I mean someone with at least several decades of experience. Ideally someone that also helps studio players and other professionals. Instructor is probably not even the right word for someone at your level....like a coach who takes a look at what you do and offers some changes and excercises that will rectify any bad habits you might have developed.

    It may be hard to find such a person where you are, but it sounds like you could really benefit from spending a couple of sessions face to face with a solid coach.

    Not a direct an answer, more of a suggestion, hope it was helpful.
  4. mc_muench


    Sep 28, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    I also self taught for the most part and have always had the same problem, my fingers only go so fast, I have been able to speed up a little by using a lighter touch to the strings and actually by using just my pointer finger and doing up and own strokes like a pick but not because Im not strumming, just pivoting at the base knuckle.
  5. GarrickLindsey


    Dec 28, 2011
    Fingerstyle "guitar" lessons worked for me.

    I abandoned a pick within a year or so of picking up bass. Found my fingers were much faster than a pick. But I do love that percussive attack that a pick brings.
  6. Yep, self taught for everything bass-wise. There's an awesome college here in Columbus that has a very highly acclaimed music conservatory. I play with a couple guys who went there. Maybe they could hook me up with a bass teacher or someone who's able to teach at that level.
    I tried using my index finger like a pick. The down stroke always sounded different than the upstroke and the fingernail always got in the way.
    Never thought of guitar lessons helping me with bass. I've been a guitarist for over 20 years but almost all but abandoned it when I picked up the bass. I know flamenco would not work. True flamenco fingerstyle always leads with the pinky first.
  7. mc_muench


    Sep 28, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    This also help me...
  8. lweastdad


    Feb 5, 2011
    Agree with the fingerstyle guitar playing. I spent two years learning how to properly Travis pick a guitar and it helped a lot with my bass playing.
  9. This is how I'm getting faster too- single-finger, I use my index, "flicking" back and forth at the string.

    I am amazed at how fast some people can play with a two-finger or three-finger plucking technique, but I also find I can only do it but so fast myself.

    The other thing to do is to use a pick for songs where you know you want to play faster.
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Strict alternation of fingers, regardless of whether you're skipping strings or not, is a major key to speed. If you rake, eliminate it and force yourself to strictly alternate in all circumstances. It is not the only thing to do to build up speed, but I guarantee your speed will improve if you do.
  11. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I'm a little surprised you can't get where you want to be with three. It's allowed me to play faster than I (or anyone else) wants to hear.
  12. Yeah, I'm working on it. I'm getting it down but the speeds not coming yet. I've also been looking at Matt Garrison's 4 finger plucking method which involves thumb, index, middle, and ring all in a sequence. Yeah, I've got some work to do on that still.

    I am definitely faster with 3 fingers but sometimes I seem to get a little sloppy with it. I know, I'll get better over time and practice but I see so many other guys out there doing 16th notes like mad with just 2 fingers. The sloppiness I'm getting with my 3 finger method is due to me not fretting and plucking the string simultaneously. I tend to almost sound like I'm faking it and just wailing away.
  13. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca
    +1 on that
  14. I'm also taking a course on Adam Nitti's website Welcome to Music Dojo! on jazz improvisation. This is forcing me to use proper technique all the time (4 fingers, 4 frets). It's also reintroducing me to some things I knew but showing them to me in a different light. Right now I know a lot of stuff that he's teaching but there's 3 weeks left in this class so I'm sure it'll be over my head in no time.
  15. LayDownABoogie


    Jan 3, 2012
    Practice simple exercises to a metronome
  16. LayDownABoogie


    Jan 3, 2012
    For 15 mins everyday, slow at first and gradually increase the speed, making sure it's at a pace where you can keep up in perfect time...... You'll be lightning before ya know it.
  17. LayDownABoogie


    Jan 3, 2012
    As well as everything JimmyM said.
  18. Randyt

    Randyt RAAPT Custom Wood Productions

    Jul 21, 2010
    Barrie, Canada
    a few things that helped me out...relax your hand, lighten up on your touch, make sure fretting hand/finger resets to the lowest distance between finger and string (the odd time I will catch my pinkie pointing out in space)
    check your action on your bass
    use a metronome
    alternate fingers on plucking hand..critical technique to master
    and what the other guys said....
    just my 2cents.
    Good luck
  19. One thing that helped me is that one day I realized that I was thinking of my right (plucking) hand as being the one that dictated the speed of my lines. unless I'm hammering away for a full bar on one note, then it really helped me to think of my fretting hand as the one that actually set the pitch and the rhythm.

    If you feel like your just speeding into a garbly oblivion that sounds like indistinct and sloppy shredding, I really suggest you try approaching it like this. Use your fretting hand to really dictate the rhythm within the phrase and let your fingering hand sort of follow and pluck once your left hand is in the right place. I found it really helpful and realized that I could already play as fast and accurate as I wanted to, I was just thinking about it wrong. In essence, focus on your right hand a lot less and your left hand a lot more.

    One more thing, are you being very clear within your phrasing where the accents are? working very hard to make the downbeat (or what have you) accented has really helped my speedier lines become distinct phrases instead of just a stream of notes.

    I hope I'm being clear with what I mean.
  20. I think this is more my issue than actually getting my fingers to move faster. I mean I can always pluck with 3 fingers but it just didn't sound clear and clean at all. I do dictate my speed with my right (plucking) hand. It sounds like a long process of getting myself to think like this but I think this may be a big step in getting to where I want to be.

    Thanks for this. You made me start thinking, and that's hard to do.

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