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How Many Practice Electric Bass Unplugged?

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

  1. So, if you tend to pluck harder when you’re not plugged into an amp or headphones are you aware that you’re doing that? Several of you have said that you are. Just what are you “practicing” if you’re oblivious to or you’re not correcting such a serious bad habit? You know you’re playing in a way that’s either wrong or not helpful to your playing, so DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! e.g. It’s not only about hearing yourself, you should develop awareness of your touch (both hands) when playing.
    swink likes this.
  2. acleex38


    Jul 28, 2006
    I used to a lot more than I do now. Part of that has been quarantine. I'm not playing out, so the head stays plugged into the practice cab all the time. Before, if the head was in the case, I'd grab a bass and practice without.

    I actually think it *helped* my touch and approach to the instrument. I have a much more "acoustic" approach to my sound. Once I plug in, it's about making the things I want happen with more volume and less work.
    mihu and SLO Surfer like this.
  3. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    I will check out a bass for heft/ergonimics/action in a shop or a studio without plugging it in, but I never practice electric bass without at least a headphone amp. How and where I strike the string relative to pickups makes a difference in tone that I want to have integrated with my practice and rehearsal. There *is* a downside to this, though. Most of my home practice is under headphones where I can ignore mechanical string noise on the neck that doesn't get transmitted through the pickups, so I've become a bit less careful about it.
  4. Yes, often, with certain basses. My Moollon and Warwick actually sound glorious unplugged! My Stingray and Fender P...not so much.
    zontar likes this.
  5. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! Supporting Member

    When trying out an instrument , it must sound and feel good unplugged .
    Then I plug in to hear it's full voice.
    zontar, swink and Bushmaster like this.
  6. I used to, then I started recognizing that dynamic is something I need to actively practice.

    Not saying that's what you need, but it's what I need, and plugging in helps.
    /\/\3phist0 likes this.
  7. Bushmaster

    Bushmaster Guest

    Sep 11, 2007
    Practising while watching TV or listening to the radio (or reading books with other than suitable musical content) never would have occurred to me.
  8. Cheez


    Apr 13, 2009
    I do finger exercises unplugged before gigs, but not really "practice". I like to plug in for practice....so I can actually hear the tone/sound, buzzes, slop, etc., that I might miss unplugged.
  9. I always play my basses unplugged. I rarely use my amp..
  10. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Mill Valley, CA
    I don't play any different unplugged, because I can hear myself just fine.
    KaraQ likes this.
  11. swink


    Jan 10, 2019
    Always, No hard attack, and my wife still hears every mistake I make ... Even when she's in another room (Why did I ever married a music teacher? :banghead: ) :laugh:

    FWIW: I like the sound of my unplugged #1 Bass so much, I try to mimic it with my amp setting.... And yes, unplugged it still sounds as a Ray.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2021
    Fialka and lermgalieu like this.
  12. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    Even Billy Sheehan plays unplugged.

    zontar likes this.
  13. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    Well who said anything about all your practicing being unplugged?

    maybe somebody did, but if that happened I missed it.
  14. nilebodgers


    Nov 25, 2017
    I always practice plugged in, mostly with headphones. My reasoning is that I want every string perfectly muted except the note I am playing and it is not possible to hear to that accuracy unplugged.

    If I ever got to the point of having perfect instinctive muting technique then I’d loosen up, but that is very unlikely!
  15. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    I used to do this. But then I came to discover that it was a "mistake" - at least for my goals. Unplugged you tend to play much harder with both hands than you need to for proper technique and you'll also generate lots of unwanted noise and note bleeding.

    I'd say to play with an amp and learn to play with a light tough and to control the dynamics and length of your notes and to play with a clean sound.
  16. FollowMeDown


    Feb 8, 2019
    Learning songs at home is about my only use for my acoustic bass. Its nice to be able to just grab it without have to plug in etc.
    I find playing an electric bass unplugged doesn't give enough feedback to make practicing that way worthwhile.
  17. dasherf17


    Feb 6, 2021
    New to the "house"...
    I do if I just want to plunk around. Usually I plug in to plunk...
  18. Peter Hess

    Peter Hess

    Aug 21, 2020
    All the time
  19. Herald Becker

    Herald Becker

    May 22, 2019
    Sometimes I do, but it just sounds ughh.... I usually plug in to practice because it gives me just a bit more feedback on what I'm playing. The basses I own have pretty resonant bodies so it's not that I don't hear anything, but it's just differrent. Since I play bass in a (hard) rock band and a Gothic Metal kinda band it just doesn't cut it, I guess.
  20. ltownbass


    Feb 16, 2014
    I practise unplugged and I think it's best to do both
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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    May 8, 2021

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