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How fast

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by IMsher, Mar 20, 2003.

  1. IMsher

    IMsher Guest

    Mar 13, 2002
    Coos Bay OR.
    How fast should a average bass player be able to play.
    Is 120 bps using 16 notes fast enough? Or should more speed need.

  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    There was a bass player named Adrian Davidson who claimed to be the world's fastest bass player. At least that's what the ads in BP Magazine said. Where is he today??

    Jamerson didn't have to play fast. I guess what I am trying to say is don't concentrate on playing fast. Concentrate on being musical, functional and an all around solid player

  3. IMsher

    IMsher Guest

    Mar 13, 2002
    Coos Bay OR.
    Thank you Mike for your insight in this issue. I appreciate the timely response.

    When a question like mine is asked it is sometimes perceived as being the only focus the individual has. Please understand that I strive to be a holistic musician. This is done by cultivating the attitude that all music is go and I demonstrate this by my practice of musical styles as country, jazz, funk, classical, rock, and blues. As you said "Concentrate on being musical, functional and an all around solid player", that is my goal. Still It can not be denied that speed is an important ingredient to being a good bassist and musician especially if you are to be a competent player in the music industry. My question wasn't aimed at finding the secret to being the fast bassist, but rather to find out what the general consensus of what a fair speed is to be able to play at.

    Again thank you for your time


    A.K.A Big Sherley :)
  4. christoph h.

    christoph h.

    Mar 26, 2001
    are you speaking about this guy?

    adrian davison?


    well, this interview doesn't go into much detail, but from what i read in another (german) magazine its a rather sad story.

    regarding the speed issue i think that there's a rather simple answer:

    it's the same with every technical aspect (eg. tapping, doublethumbing):
    you should to be able to execute it as good/fast as you want/need. if you hear something in your head that you want to play but can't perform, you have to work on it.

    if all you want to play is slow ballads you don't need to concentrate on speed so much but perhaps more on harmonic, dynamic andagogic concepts to keep the lines still interesting.

    that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to become a well-rounded player, of course.
  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Adrian quit because of health problems (tendinitis IIRC).

    Also, I'm not sure HE claimed he was the fastest, but the makers of the ad did.
    I don't think an artist really has much say about designing an ad campaign.

    I never read him claim this in an interview.
  6. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    Sorry if I misunderstood. I think that speed (with accuracy) is important. If you can be accurate with 16th notes at 120bpm that's pretty good and should suffice for 99% of all playing situations

    As for Adrian Davison. I don't know his story or who controlled the ads claiming that he was the fastest bass player. What I do know, however is that the industry looked at it as a joke. That is not to be mean or anything, it is just the way it was. The "concept" of the world's fastest bass player was still a bit of a joke at the last NAMM show.

    Adrian might have been or still be a great musician and bassist. Somewhere the message got really lost

  7. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I agree, that ad campaign kinda stabbed him in the back.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I remember reading in Bass Player mag about a "name" producer who said " I don't hire bass players to play fast, I hire them to read fast!!" ;)
  9. IMsher

    IMsher Guest

    Mar 13, 2002
    Coos Bay OR.
    Thank you again Mike,

    I apologize for not making my interest clear the first time. To be able to talk to musical peers is not a right but a privilege, so all the inpute I get from this site is a point of resistance to strengthen myself with. It is difficult to find other bassist to trade thoughts in my area, so this site "Talk Bass" is a sanctuary for me. I appreciate the daily effort that you and the others that mentor here give. Even though you don't see my name in this forum much, I am never the less combing through the information on a daily bassist (ha ha, I know bad pun). I don't write much here because my questions are asked and answered by others.

    Please keep up the tremendous work that is done here and long live Talkbass.

    Do you think I was a little over the top with that last statement? :D
  10. Hey IMsher,

    This is probably a little late, but someone might be able to use it when it comes to practicing/composing...

    I asked my guitar teacher the same question of "how fast is fast"? He replied that four notes at 144 bpm on the metronome is the 'bare minimum' to be regarded as "fast". I guess I just made the cut! I know guys who play flamenco and rock and they can play 208 plus. But my teacher also told me to use 'speed' no more than 20% of the time when playing. I see speed techniques as just another device for your compositional toolbox and should only be used for:

    1. colouristic purposes
    2. variation of a theme (a la Renaissance musicke)
    3. the climax of the song/solo

    But I guess you could also add other uses for speed as well, just as long as it's kept to a controlled ratio. I know for a fact that some guitarists when improvising tend to forget rests all together, so when I was young, my guitar teacher made me listen to the great jazz horn players so I could learn about phrasing and rests.

    As with fast bassists, I'm sure John Patitucci and Victor Wooten can play speeds that are up there. I can't remember who it was, but I heard one time on the radio a double bassist who played blindingly fast with the pizzicato technique. He belonged to a jazz trio alongside a guitarist and a drummer. :confused:

  11. IMsher

    IMsher Guest

    Mar 13, 2002
    Coos Bay OR.
    No the info isn't too late. All the feedback is good and it would seem that your teach has some intelegent insites. Thank you for sharing.
  12. No sweat man!

    I remember one time when Steve Lawson told me that all the "tricks in your bag" won't get you out of a rut if your composition isn't working. I guess that means that most of the time, the things we do as musicians has to have some sort of relevance in relation to the context of the song that we're playing. This might be a little old school, but when you play too fast straight away whilst jamming, it leaves you little space to go in terms of a climax (unless it's a short solo in which you really have to make your statement ASAP). When I play fast, I tend to think that it's musically better to leave the audience "begging for more" by giving them little samples of speed techniques rather than going flat out repetitively, song after song. I found out the hard way that you tend to not only tire yourself out, but you also tire out the audience's ears and attention span.

    My teacher said to improvise just like the way you talk. If you talk too fast too much, you'll run out of breath! Personally, I tend to think that you'll leave a better and more lasting impression when you utilise speed with surprise and/or in short bursts. The people listening will go "Wow, what the hell was that?! I'd like to see him/her do that again!" rather than "Oh no...heard it once, heard it all." When it comes to fast playing in general, it's better to 'tease' the listeners rather than 'going for gold' every time you get a chance. When you tease them, it leaves them something to look forward to. It not only adds variety and options to your tone, but it also makes the listening experience a little more exciting and unpredictable (therefore making them want to see your next gig :)

    Remeber that nobody is 'born' with fast fingers. And in the words of rock guitar virtuoso Shaun Baxter, "even if you don't want to be a 'shredder', developing your upper speed limit will help your playing technique when you slow down". And for everybody's peace of mind, you don't even need to acquire speed to have a prolific career, there's other things to make up for it!


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