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How Many Practice Electric Bass Unplugged?

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

  1. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    I don’t see why it wouldn’t be effective. It’s not like an unplugged solid body electric bass is silent when you play without it being plugged it. I find corded headphone practice to be cumbersome, but I still do it on occasion, and in fact, I’m preparing to do it more often, since I now live in a multi-unit stick-framed building and my bass amp literally rocks the whole house.

    Maybe I should try that new Boss wireless headphone deal.

    Somewhere around here, I even have a Dragonfly stethoscope practice device, which is also kind of cool.
    zontar likes this.
  2. Frank Vozak

    Frank Vozak Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2020
    Oak Park, IL
    No commercial affiliation
    I almost always practice unplugged--my wife doesn't like to hear music in the house especially if she is on a zoom call
    zontar likes this.
  3. The most important thing to consider: you will perform the way you practice.

    If you have an amp you use when you perform, you should use that amp to practice. Or you should use an amp that is very close to that tone and response. If you normally perform unplugged, then practice that way. Otherwise, if you're playing an electric instrument unplugged, you aren't really fully interacting with your whole system. It will create bad habits and you will be surprised by things that should be run-of-the-mill. Only practice unplugged if you have no other choice.

    Caveat: If you're only a simple, root-note kind of player... you can probably get away with practicing unplugged. If you use more advanced techniques (slap/pop, tapping, flamenco, etc...) you need to know how the amp is responding to your technique.
  4. thisonegoestoeleven


    Sep 22, 2018
    I do. Hearing myself not an issue...just enjoy feeling the bass sometimes. Close my eyes and let the fingers walk.
    zontar likes this.
  5. bedrockhead


    Jan 15, 2010
    Probably 95% of my practicing is without an amp anywhere near me. Lots of times I just pick up a bass and start playing, or I bring one to work and doodle around during lunch. I've written many basslines unplugged.
    KaraQ and zontar like this.
  6. Steve Forman

    Steve Forman

    Feb 15, 2020
    I sometimes play unplugged if I am trying to learn and perfect a new run. But most of the time, I just use my headphones.
  7. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    99% plugged in*. The only exceptions I recall have been warming up for a gig in a green room, no amp available. But I hardly ever do that... usually the first few songs in set 1 are my warm up! I'm mainly a support bassist in cover bands; don't play any prog fusion or whatever.

    *My basses sound as good as any others I've played unplugged. I just prefer amplified.
  8. MPat


    Oct 31, 2008
    Central Illinois
    95% for me, too! I keep a bass on a stand within reach of my recliner, and grab it when a cool lick is heard on TV, YouTube, or music playing. I've always done this since I was much younger and now I'm 68, still have a bass in my hands for an hour or more a day, even though playing out has stopped cold since march 2020. I can hear it fine unplugged.
    KaraQ likes this.
  9. JeffChap


    Aug 10, 2017
    I do it sometimes just to exercise my fingers, not for the sound.
    zontar likes this.
  10. PWRL


    Sep 15, 2006
    Not if I don't have to.
  11. David Lakin

    David Lakin

    Aug 13, 2011
    I do pretty much all the time. I read once where Geddy Lee practiced unplugged all the time. I’ve found the volume on an iPad works great in conjunction with my unplugged bass. I’m hoping maybe someday I’ll get a GK PLEX or an Ampeg preamp, but till then I’ll keep trudging along unplugged.
  12. Peter Hess

    Peter Hess

    Aug 21, 2020
    Many, many years ago when I got my first bass I couldn’t afford an amp. I had to put my ear to my bass. I would listen to the song I wanted to learn bar by bar. Once I got it I would go onto the next bar. It could take hours until I finally learned the song. Then I got a cheap tape recorder that I could play through. That’s how a lot of us kids learned back then.
  13. The Hook 1988

    The Hook 1988

    Oct 7, 2019
    Sure ,why not? Sometimes I will during commercials while watching TV with the wife. Good for muscle memory stuff like slap/tap/pop. or just running lines/scales. My basses are almost all neck-thru and resonate very well even unplugged. If it sounds good unplugged, it always sounds great when you do plug -in. If you're doing it right should be the same amount of attack. I've never found it to make me play "too hard".
    I have a couple of different headphone amps I use sometimes too. Same thing, It doesn't change my touch when I go to my larger practice amp or my full rig.
    KaraQ likes this.
  14. TJL


    Oct 22, 2013
    Never. You will end up playing way harder than necessary, and be unaware of the noises you are making. Always best to practice as loud as is possible so you learn that pulling the string like a chimpanzee is for chumps. It makes you slower, noisier, and can overdrive the pickups.
    By practicing at a fully audible level, you will lighten your touch, gain finesse with your tone, hear if you are clicking or clacking, and you will find that you can play more complicated lines with less fatigue.
    If you have to keep things quiet, just use a headphone amp.
  15. That's a strong assertion put upon your fellow Bassist. Maybe it would be more palatable if you Changed all the 'You's' to I; especially when it comes to words 'Chimpanzee and Chumps'
    KaraQ likes this.
  16. BruceG63


    May 20, 2020
    Mainly when im just playing runs,scales,trying to write new songs,noodling around but when im learning covers I use a Vox bass plug with headphones.
    dasherf17 likes this.
  17. dasherf17


    Feb 6, 2021
    I have one of those Vox headphone amps, too...pretty neat little device...works great as a modeling box for a bigger amp.
  18. :thumbsup: I use Tascam Bass Trainor
  19. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    Very handy little things. Sometimes I bring one with me when I'm on vacation or on the road for my day job, and rent/borrow a beater bass to practice with. Counts as an amp for the purposes of this conversation, AFAIAC. But "modeling box for a bigger amp"? Not any bigger amp I've ever heard or would want to use! The Vox is perfectly serviceable for hearing what I'm playing, but the tone isn't anything I'd want to present to an audience.
  20. Demented


    Mar 10, 2020
    I used to, but when my 220 watt peavey amp stopped working , I payed £20 for Gear for Music 20 watt practice amp . . . . It is not baasy enough but I can practice and hear myself with the neighbours complaing . . . . with Covid here in England, I have only had one band rehearsal since late Feb 2020 so hearing what I am playing means I shouldn't be too rusty when we rehearse again . .whenever that may be !
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    May 8, 2021

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