How Many Practice Electric Bass Unplugged?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by KerrywAZ1, Feb 7, 2021.

  1. KerrywAZ1


    Nov 13, 2019
    I have noticed that sometimes I just want to grab the bass and sit on the edge of the bed and practice unplugged. It's so simple and easy with no cables, no headphones or wireless electronics to worry over.

    I was wondering how many other folks do this and if it is considered an effective way to practice?

  2. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Not even with my acoustic basses.
    Fuzzbass, bassista6, smogg and 5 others like this.
  3. msb


    Jul 3, 2002
    Halifax,N,S. Canada
    It's hard to develop your touch without hearing the bass amplified , I almost always turn the amp on , quietly , but so I can hear my touch .
  4. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 Life is short, buy the bass.

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    Quite often.
    Bruno1950, jerry, Hover-Rich and 14 others like this.
  5. Resonance129


    Feb 15, 2011
    I do that sometimes. It's an interesting change, and seems to force me to consider dynamics a little more.
  6. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    I used to. It created many bad habits that it took me a long time to unlearn, all based on playing too hard in order to hear myself.
  7. blowinblue

    blowinblue Kind of not blue. Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2006
    SoCal USA
    I rarely use all caps, but...BORING!!! :thumbsdown:

    M. M.
  8. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    i do it, and i'd say "yes" on effectiveness, but it really depends on what i'm trying to accomplish. i can practice certain things/ways without an amp. other things/ways i need to hear it well.
  9. Chicken Wing

    Chicken Wing

    Mar 26, 2017
    smogg and aus_bass like this.
  10. jdaunt


    Jun 30, 2016
    Grand Blanc, MI
    I do pretty regularly, especially on my fretless with a tuner on the headstock just to work on my intonation.
    Joebone, pacojas, /\/\3phist0 and 4 others like this.
  11. thabassmon


    Sep 26, 2013
    New Zealand
    Very close to all of the time, I only plug in when playing with others, recording or if I want to use effects.

    This subject has come up before and I noticed a lot of people stated that they couldn't hear themselves properly and developed a bad habit of playing too hard. I wonder how much of that is due to hearing loss, and because of noisy environments.

    I find it is easy to hear myself playing unplugged, I have practiced this way since almost from the start. At the very beginning I used a little Yamaha Budokan 50W guitar amp, then I used a Park B25 MkII 25W bass amp.

    When I started to get more serious about playing, I used an amp less and less (when practicing), my feeling is when it's just you and the strings, with no setting, eq, gain stages etc. There is less opportunity for excuses, you can focus on your "real" sound, learn to manipulate the strings to produce different timbres. Basically if a note is flubbed, out of time, uneven volume etc. It's you. And that is exactly what I like about it, you play crap and you have to say well I played crap today, and not blame any piece of equipment.

    Early on I read an interview with Ron Carter talking about how players these days rely on equipment and don't take the time to develop their sound from the bass and strings themselves.

    Although he was referring to double bass, I see no reason why that idea couldn't be applied to bass guitar. A lot of other instrumentalists work on tone production so for me it's a little bit about borrowing that concept too.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2021
  12. oaklandthumb

    oaklandthumb Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2014
    Dupont WA
    All the time, don't have problems with having to play to hard to hear, it's more about the tactile calibration and getting your hands into it. Should note that this is for warming up or a quick noodle, never for extended periods or alon with music.

    Also, don't go adjusting your action or setup unplugged. All those weird buzzes and clangs aren't generally coming through the amp and may be what makes your tone so good if they are.
  13. ShawnG


    May 2, 2020
    Ft Worth, TX
    I know I shouldn’t, but I do.
    Bassaga likes this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    I do.
    jerry and thabassmon like this.
  15. Guitalia


    Jun 7, 2008
    Baltimore, MD
    I've always practiced unplugged. Helps develop calluses. Never any trouble transitioning to playing on stage.
    Mickey666 and thabassmon like this.
  16. I do practice unplugged some, but I do prefer to be plugged in. I’ve had the same Hartke 30w practice amp for 20 years so I know what it is and isn’t capable of. I’ve grown tired of the tone of most of my basses through it, and I thought it was because the amp is getting old, but I just plugged in my new Jaguar and was astonished at how much better it sounds than all of my old basses. The only exception to this is my frankenP that has some ancient dimarzio’s and sounds fantastic through anything. The bass itself is a bear to play but it sounds so good.
  17. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    I don't see the point of not hearing what I'm doing. If I need to practice quietly, I have headphones.
    AFRO and Marlon Carbone like this.
  18. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I do quite often but usually that’s when I grab a semi hollow or my ABG.

    Comments about technique are valid. But I usually reserve unplugged for rolling with ideas or just noodling.
    31HZ likes this.
  19. N4860


    Mar 28, 2017
    Waterloo, ON Canada
    I most often practice through headphones (I mostly play at night when my 3 young kids go to sleep), but lately I've been practicing every morning for a while when my oldest is doing her online school classes so I can help her if she has any issues with the computer. I have no problem hearing myself so I don't find that I have to play more aggressive. I also just generally run through some warm-up exercises just to loosen up the hands so it's not like I really need to listen closely to the notes I'm playing.
  20. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    By far, most of my practice is unplugged. I've been doing that since I started over 50 years ago. Never had a technique problem I could blame on playing unplugged.