1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

How to make notes "lighter" and more "spacious"?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MistaMarko, Oct 14, 2009.


  1. MistaMarko

    MistaMarko

    Feb 3, 2006
    USA
    My jazz instructor here at my University was asking me if I could lighten up on an old swing (Count Basie) song we're playing. It's one of those fast as hell swing songs in 2...half note is about 144.

    He's just telling me to put more space between the notes, and I'm thinking that this is only possible with an upright, simply due to the nature of the instrument, but I'm playing an electric bass and it's really hard to do that, especially at that tempo. The only way I can think to do it is to mute each note quickly after playing it...but at this speed, that's really not practical.

    Any advice?
     
  2. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    If he means more staccato, you can accomplish this with a lighter touch with less movement of the plucking fingers. Economy of motion in the pluck will help you mute the string after plucking - after hammer-stroking with the first, you lay the next finger on the string in the normal way in preperation for plucking the next note. With a reduced motion, you can tighten up the notes.

    May have to move closer to the bridge where the strings are tighter and more controlled to make this easier.

    Also, adjust as necessary to pluck more horizontally to the string (i.e. use the floating thumb with curled plucking fingers). This can help with a staccato sound as well.

    LS
     
  3. TFunkadelic

    TFunkadelic

    Apr 9, 2006
    It sounds like your teacher is trying to get you to replicate the "bouncy" pulsing feel the upright bass has when played in fast bop/jazz. This is impossible to do.

    The heavy attack and fast decay (relative to electric) is inherent to the upright and the different physical technique you play it with. It gives the feel that distinctive pulse and space that is unattainable on electric because the 'superior' sustain causes the notes to push right in to one another after the initial attack rather than giving a little space to breath. If you try to mute the note, it tends to make it sound choked off and too staccato.

    The closest I've gotten to getting an upright sound on electric is palm muting and plucking with my thumb, which is to say not even close.


    Personally though, I like the sound of the electric in fast jazz just as much as the upright. It just has a relentless drive and weight behind it.
     
  4. TFunkadelic

    TFunkadelic

    Apr 9, 2006
    It sounds like your teacher is trying to get you to replicate the "bouncy" pulsing feel the upright bass has when played in fast bop/jazz. This is impossible to do.

    The heavy attack and fast decay (relative to electric) is inherent to the upright and the different physical technique you play it with. It gives the feel that distinctive pulse and space that is unattainable on electric because the 'superior' sustain causes the notes to push right in to one another after the initial attack rather than giving a little space to breath. If you try to mute the note, it tends to make it sound choked off and too staccato.

    The closest I've gotten to getting an upright sound on electric is palm muting and plucking with my thumb, which is to say not even close.


    Personally though, I like the sound of the electric in fast jazz just as much as the upright. It just has a relentless drive and weight behind it.
     
  5. Well said ^^^
     
  6. +1

    If I were you, I'd experiment with a foam mute, which might satisfy your teacher. But nothing is going to make an electric bass sound like a double bass.
     
  7. That's what I was going to say. Try it. You don't have to attach anything to your bass, just slide a piece of foam under the strings at the bridge.
     
  8. MistaMarko

    MistaMarko

    Feb 3, 2006
    USA
    I figured this was impossible as well. I completely agree. I don't want to tell him that though...so I guess I'll just keep saying "okay I'll try to fix it", haha.

    I'll just try a lighter touch, as I have been playing pretty aggressively.
     
  9. mpm32

    mpm32

    Jan 23, 2009
    We play rock this town and to me it doesn't sound right unless I jam a foam mute under the strings at the bridge. Not as good as the DB but better than the unfoamed BG.
     
  10. gregbackstrom

    gregbackstrom Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2005
    Tacoma, Washington
    I don't think this is impossible -- I have to do it all the time in the pop and musical theater gigs I play. Try playing a little closer to the neck and lightening your touch. Lighter gauge strings can also help.

    Good luck,
    Greg
     
  11. 251

    251

    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    Well, it's swing so it has to feel like you're playing each beat as a triplet. I'm betting you knew that.

    Have you tried some compression to change the attack/decay curve of your signal? Maybe some foam just in front of the bridge or a Scrucsi hair tie just in front of the nut?

    Have you made your strap an inch or 2 longer so you can more easily bend your wrist to use the side of your index/middle fingers instead of the finger tip?

    There is no substitute for a 42" long string but, there are a few things you can do & the sound of a big band should cover up the rest. With luck, some of your audience will swing dance while you play. That is a cool experience.
     
  12. bearshimmy

    bearshimmy

    Feb 14, 2005
    the closest you can get to the upright sound is to pluck with your thumb and mute with your palm, or put some foam under the strings near the bridge
     
  13. MistaMarko

    MistaMarko

    Feb 3, 2006
    USA
    Thanks guys, appreciate it. I will most likely try the hair tie, as it's the most easy to attain.

    There isn't any swing/triplet feel luckily, I just meant a swing style piece. It's nothing but walking bass (quarter notes) for about 6-7 minutes at 288 bpm (144 half note), which is why the thumb/palm mute might be a bit hard! :)

    Will try the muting methods, as that does sound feasible (or the hair tie).
     
  14. brothertupelo

    brothertupelo Guest

    Aug 7, 2005
    play it a ton of times until you can do it without it seeming fast. the answer will present itself, as well as many others.
    that's actually the answer to most questions.
     
  15. 251

    251

    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    Practicing faster can make playing at tempo feel better. Start with a chorus at 260 & increase 10 bpm until you can't play with out losing it. Back down 20, step up 10 at a time until you fail. Take a rest & do it again. I call it 'push ups'.

    At 288bpm for 6 or 7 minutes, you might want more than 1 way to use your right hand. It's a good way to improve your stamina.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.