How fast does one need to be???

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by junglebike, Jun 26, 2003.

  1. 1/16th @ 100bpm

    2 vote(s)
  2. 1/16th @ 120bpm

    4 vote(s)
  3. 1/16th @ 140bpm

    1 vote(s)
  4. 1/16th @ 160bpm (mercy!)

    6 vote(s)
  5. you can be a slug if you groove

    31 vote(s)
  6. this is a dumb poll

    14 vote(s)
  1. junglebike


    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    I know this is a shallow question... I'm a new-ish bass player but improving rapidly. I know that speed is overrated, and useless for its own sake. I'm trying to design a routine that maximizes my time, and am deciding whether or not to explicitly work on speed.

    So... I'm talkin' 'bout your opinion on sustained speed requirement for fundamental bass chops (i.e. blues, funk, rock + jazz standards). What does a working bassist need in his/her arsenal?
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I wouldn't worry about speed too much, concentrate on clean execution and technique. Then you'll have no problem to play at faster tempi.
    When you can do a part cleanly at a slow tempo will be able to play it (reasonably) faster too.
    Don't rush to fast tempi when you still wrestle with clean execution.

    Having said that, you can play most pop/rock stuff when you can do 16ths @ 120 BPM IME - this covers most stuff you'll encounter in the (near) future, but 16ths @ 160 is manageable too. Even more if you want to (you won't need it unless you have to do demos @ NAMM or Musikmesse :rolleyes: ;) ).

    Work on reading, theory, walking bass and ear training, speed is just a byproduct of practice.

    Get a teacher!!!
  3. junglebike


    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    Thanks for the advice -- pretty much what I was expecting.

    This came up 'cause the band I'm in hardly ever calls for speed, but I'm thinking about auditioning for a more classic rock style band, so I've been working on copying John Paul Jones. Sometimes I just can't bang out the 1/16ths fast enough. I'm close, though. They're around 120bpm, I think. I can do that for a little while, but I tire out quickly and start to lag behind.

    Still working on getting a teacher :( but it is a priority. Thanks!
  4. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    It takes some practice to build stamina, but it also helps to use a lighter touch. When you plug (too) hard, you risk tiring out your plucking fingers or even getting cramped.
  5. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Well obviously if you can't play Teen Town @ 180 bpm, then you're not fast enough :rolleyes:

  6. Like JMX said, it takes time to build up the stamina to sustain high tempi. Make sure proper hand posture remains a constant as you click that metronome on up. You can also experiment with using different numbers of fingers on your right hand. Some people can blaze with two fingers and some people, like me, have to have more to keep up. Just find what works best for you.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I remember the quote from a top "name" producer in a BP Magazine interview/feature. He said " I don't pay bass players to play fast, I pay them to read fast!!"
  8. Howard K

    Howard K Guest

    Feb 14, 2002
    How fast does one need to be???

    To do what, escape from prison? Drive a getaway car? Shag 50 chicks in 10 minutes?

    You dont need to play fast to be decent bass player.

    However if you wanna be a great bass player you might need to pick up some speed...

    I saw Herbie Hancock last night and some of the arrangements they player must have been well over 200bpm, the bass player wasn''t really walking, more running.. fast!

    That said, you dont get fast by practing to play fast, you just get there from playing it correctly slow, apparently.. i wouldnt know :rolleyes:
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Even so - how many bass players are going to get to play with Herbie Hancock or at such a high level of technical expertise?

    I would guess less than 1% - maybe less than 0.1% - the vast majority of working bassists will never have to play that fast - they will need to be reliable, tasteful and able to play something that fits the tune - rather than showing off their chops!!
  10. Howard K

    Howard K Guest

    Feb 14, 2002
    I'd say les than 0.00001% probably!

    Absolutley, but imagine landing the gig with Herbie, the band breaking into a 250bpm swing section and you saying "err, can we slow it down a little" :D

    No, you're absolutley completely 100% spot on there.
  11. junglebike


    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    Yeah... that happened to me the other night:rolleyes:

    very embarrassing.

    okay, point taken, guys. The way I'm thinking about it now is:

    creativity is more important than speed. limitations should encourage creativity -- if a song is quick, and it needs a bumpin' groove, and I want to play 160bpm 1/16th notes, but am not technically capable, then I need to come up with something different. This is critical, because there's always going to be a speed at which you just can't play. I guess the ideal would be having the chops to play blazingly fast, but also the ability to improvise a groove that's totally unexpected yet fits perfectly.

    cool. I won't bother with an explicit speed routine, I'll just stick to my scales, arpeggios, ear training and transcriptions.
  12. ConU

    ConU Guest

    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    Follow that and you will be able to play as fast as you want.And guess what?You'll be able to play as fast as you want and IN TIME.Lots guys here can play 1/16ths @180 but they can't do it in time.Because they use meaningless non-musical exercises that have no relevance to form or real syncopation.:)
  13. adouglas

    adouglas Guest

    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    You only need to play as fast as the music demands. Looking just at speed is silly... timing is much more important.

    Small OT ramble here to make the point: I've driven race cars in time trials, and this poll reminds me of the obsession many people have with horsepower. It doesn't mean squat if you don't have handling to go with it.

    I drove a Saab Sonnett with considerably less than 100 hp, yet I was easily able to outperform American muscle cars in the twisties because my tiny, light car handled much better. Horsepower became irrelevant.

    The point is that if you can't groove, being able to play at a million mph is pointless and will produce nothing but noise. Timing, feeling and musicality is much more important than speed.

    Listen to Santana sometime. He can do more with three notes than most metal players can do in a whole set.

    None of my favorite bass players are known for speed, but they all lay down awesome grooves.
  14. Of course you should be able to play as fast as any music you're likely to play demands, you should also be able to play as fast as you want to. For me, it's fun to play fast so I practice playing fast. Rarely, and I stress rarely, do I throw it out in a group setting but at this stage I'm still playing bass for me so it doesn't really matter to me if I don't get to show off.
  15. adouglas

    adouglas Guest

    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    Here's how I learn tough lines (actually taught to me by my bagpipe teacher).

    Play it ten times flawlessly. If you can do that, repeat the exercise a bit faster. As soon as you make a mistake, start over.

    This works ONLY if you have the discipline to start over... you have to give yourself a disincentive to be sloppy.

    Sooner or later you'll be very fast....
  16. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    What's that old saying.

    "An amatuer plays it until he gets it right, a professional plays it until he never gets it wrong."
  17. kennyhoe

    kennyhoe Guest

    Jun 5, 2003
    Toronto, Ontario
    is it even possible to play 16th notes at 160bpm......i just did 8th notes (plucked two times on every beat) at 160 bpm.....and that was alright, but double that?!?!?!??!
  18. cobrasneverdie

    cobrasneverdie Guest

    Jun 1, 2003
    moline illinois
    you can be a slug as long as you groove. i know people that only hit the one count at a slow paced song but they groove:D my opoin on this if you can play it in time and know who everything fits into the song then go for playing 160
  19. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    it is.
  20. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Here ya go, Me playing Teen town @ 180 BPM

    that's 16th notes.

    I think it sounds like ****e, but it's still kind of funny :D