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How hard do you play?

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

  1. AccolaStudios


    Nov 24, 2011
    I feel like I play (fingerstyle) fairly hard. I'm able to play just as fast as I can while playing lighter, so I suppose I'm mainly playing hard to get a my desired tone. But how hard is too hard when it comes to this? What are your opinions?
  2. styro


    Dec 22, 2011
    As soon as you rip the strings ... I guess it's too hard ;-)
  3. I'm a hard player. I spent a few years playing in a hard rock band. We tuned down to C standard, and occasionally we'd drop to A# on the bottom string. I developed a pretty heavy handed approach from trying to get the desired tone out of those big heavy strings. I'm no longer in that band, and don't play with that setup, but my technique hasn't changed a bit. I like that I've got a broad spectrum of available tones. I can get everything from a thumpy, rich tone to a striking, piano-like attack. And it's all in my hands. Any bass, any EQ, and I can pretty much get the tone I want.
  4. It's hard to break bass strings. Even if I've seen it happening, suspect the bass player seldom switched strings.

    Yep, when you get good you start to realize that one of the best pedals you have is your fingers.
  5. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    Hard is a relative term I guess. But my experience has been that my playing got a lot better, smoother and more musical when I backed off a bit.

    Sometimes I play harder during rehearsal and during a show than when I'm at home. Slowly I tried to develop the ability to turn up the volume a bit and play a little less aggressively (in general, not always of course). Even with rock music, sometimes a more relaxed attack seems to make the song flow better, gives better tone etc.

    Everyone has their own style. But in general an easier, smoother attack has brought me better results, more control, and a much better "experience" of the music I'm playing.
  6. shaft311

    shaft311 Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Mt. Juliet, TN
    Depends what I'm playing, but I like to dig in deep, which sucks because I also like the action to be really low.
  7. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    If you are blistering your fingers or otherwise injuring yourself after 4 or 5 hours of play, you are playing too hard. You might also be opening yourself up to an repetitive strain type injury in the long term.

    Having a light touch will enable you to play faster, but it will not be immediate, it takes time and practice to develop that kind of dexterity.
  8. I have always played very hard. When I play in small jazz groups I lighten up and move over to plucking near the neck, but otherwise I dig in hard right over the bridge pickup.
  9. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    I play very hard. I try not to, but I do. When playing with my fingers, by the end of the night my fingertips hurt, and I sometimes get cramps! Then I have to finish the set with a pick.

    When I'm not in a live situation I still pluck pretty hard, because I like the tone it gives.

    I also use pretty low action, and have no problems playing fast and hard, just that I get sore after a couple of hours. Listen how hard Stanley Clarke plucks the strings while playing lightning runs.
  10. Skitch it!

    Skitch it!

    Sep 6, 2010
    It's difficult to say really, I play with enough plucking force to get a positive feel, the immediacy and resonance when it needs it. But it all depends, I try to pay a lot of attention to the dynamics required of whatever track/line/piece I'm playing. That may include playing at different points along the string, damping down, harder/softer etc. I leave myself the room to play with.

    I have been practicing the 4 finger tech for some time which works well for some stuff, but overall is still a little bit light for me.

    I used to hit it harder years back, blisters, snapped strings, notes choking out, resonance disappearing some. Best to find somewhere in between so you can go either way.
  11. I use a pick and really dig into my strings and play hard because I love the tone I get in doing so. At first my hand would kind of hurt when done, but you get used to it after a while and amazingly enough I have yet to brake a string.
  12. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I play hard enough that I break a few strings every year, but I don't let stuff like that get to me. I understand dynamics and incorporate them...but when things are getting hot, I hit the thing harder than most people do.

    C'est la vie.

    I think you're hitting the strings too hard when you knock the pitch a 1/4 tone sharp when you play your lower notes. That's very easy to do on a shortscale bass - that's where I really have back it down to make it work..
  13. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I say I caress the strings, no need to hit them like to owe you money. I let the amp do the work.

    One of my teachers said that I play my bass like a soloist and it makes me very happy because this is what I am.
  14. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I think it is too hard when you injure yourself, or it interferes with your ability to play what you want.

    I have a very light touch and prefer to let the amp do the work, only digging in when necessary, but you should play the way you like.
  15. only dig when it is called for other than that I have a very light touch amplification does the rest. However I have been know to break strings including the E and A if I am enjoying the digging too much usually snap the core and it just un raffles
  16. john grey

    john grey

    Apr 19, 2011
    Oracle, Arizona
    As time has gone on I've played lighter and lighter. Even when I started I didn't have too much trouble with my right hand energy but I liked to "see" the notes. That's most likely the reason why I like fret-less.

    I seen a lot of really good people play gigs and when they jump around and entertain the audience, mostly they are playing much simpler stuff then when they get serious. I knew a studio musician who very rarely played with bands he also played very lightly. I don't think there is a "good" or "bad" to the energy level or how hard one digs in - but I do think it becomes modified to fit the occasion or where the guy's at in what he likes to do with his music.
  17. barebones

    barebones Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Denver, CO
    I think you just have to listen for what is called for in a particular song, band, style, etc., and also be conscious of what your body is telling you. I used to play nothing but hard rock, and I still love the sound of really digging in finger-style when I play the heavier stuff. (I still play in a couple of groups where a heavy style is what's called for.) These days, however, I play a wider variety of styles, so I've learned to back off when appropriate to the song, which gives my hands a little rest. I'd say just don't box yourself in to any one way of playing, use your ears, and be aware of any fatigue you may be experiencing, as this could lead to injury.

    Also, I read a Billy Sheehan interview when I was a kid, and he talked some about the athletic component to playing. He recommended stretching and warming up a little before playing, as well as stretching after a gig or rehearsal, just like athletes do. I've found this to be helpful in any sort of repetitive motion scenario with my hands--playing bass, typing, wood working, etc. After 20-plus years of playing fairly aggressively, I'm happy to report no permanent aches, pains, or injuries to my hands or wrists or the muscles, tendons and whatnot associated with my playing. Even when playing upright bass, which I find to be far more physically demanding than playing electric, I've been able to maintain my overall hand "health," so to speak.

    So, in short, two points: Play for the song, and be aware of your body's needs.
  18. bassmanrudi


    Dec 29, 2011
    Over the past 25+ years of playing and touring I have obsessed extensively about technique.
    I hope you find the recomendations on the following pages helpfull.

    Bass Logic
    or more exactly

    Attached Files:

  19. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca
    I play as light as possible, it's really helped address the RSI I had. RSI forced me to quit playing and when I came back to the instrument I quickly began to have problems so I spent alot of time teaching both right and left hands to play with a light as touch as possible and it's helped tremendously. I let the amp do all the work now.

    I've been on vacation the past week playing 6-8 hours a day and no problems whatsoever.
  20. Tehrin Cole

    Tehrin Cole

    Mar 6, 2009
    Brooklyn,New York
    Endorsing Artist:Kustom Amplifiers
    I play with a firm,yet relaxed touch!

    By taking advantage of the bass guitars high dynamic ceiling,this allows me to control the dynamics of the music with my hands! If I go to the instrument for anything,it's usually to change the tone!

    This is especially helpful to older players!

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