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I feel so behind!!!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MonsterBass101, Oct 30, 2010.

  1. MonsterBass101


    Mar 3, 2008
    Ok so Ive been playing almost three years now, and though I practice every day, I don't feel like I've gotten any better over the past year. My playing is still nothing special. My fingers still can't move as fast as I'd like, and I still have trouble with lines ive been practicing for weeks. What do you think I should do???
  2. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    Keep practicing, my friend. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. For a long time I practiced with a drum machine, starting off slow and then gradually speeding things up. Or maybe try to hook up with a good teacher for a while who could show you right.

    Recording yourself also helps a great deal. Do you have a recorder? A great way to improve is to listen back to yourself.

    I play at church and we always get a CD copy of the practice. I have the CD playing into one track of my 8 track and have my bass going into another. I then record myself along with the CD and listen back to see how good or how bad I was playing something and try to improve upon it. Like they say "the tape don't lie!!"

    Get some jam along CD's and try doing what I just suggested. Don't worry about speed. Some of the best bass lines out there have been the most simple.

    Keep going and above all have fun with it. You'll get there!
  3. LaklandBass


    Jan 26, 2005
    just keep at it man.... me and my old guitarist used to talk about something that we called "clicks"..... sometimes you'll go a couple months treading water and then all of a sudden something clicks while youre playing and you realize that youve gone to the next level. Just dont be put off by the time in between. These things happen... wooten has been at it for decades.
  4. Gidzkun


    May 16, 2010
    I feel the same way man, I'm thinking of getting a good teacher.. but I'm actually thinking about it for quite some time now, coz my cousin has been studying wit her instructor for like 7 months now, and she can't even play a simple song..
  5. Here's a few things I've noticed about getting more consistent and faster playing.

    First of all you have to relax. The moment you start tensing up is the moment that you wont be able to play what you're trying to. Do you ever watch any really good players that don't even look like they are trying? Well that's because they really are barely trying. They can play relaxed and fast. Ideally you can get to playing blisteringly fast without expending much energy at all. When you start to get good at playing really fast it almost feels like you aren't even moving at all.

    One of the keys to this is economy of motion. Watch your playing with both hands, are you making any movements that aren't necessary? From the sound of it you are. For example, you know that the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line. So the quickest way to travel that distance is a straight line.

    So applying this thinking to your bass playing, when you're string crossing the only distance you actually have to move your fingers is the actual distance in a straight line between your strings. So any more movement than that is just wasted energy, and extra distance that is slowing you down. When you're playing on one string your plucking fingers have even less distance that you have to cover. If you are making exaggerated looking plucking strokes then you are just wasting tons of energy. Ideally plucking one string your fingers only have to move a millimeter or two to pluck and then reset to pluck again. So if you relax and just make the smallest movements possible you can get much, much faster. For example, lets say that currently your fingers move 2 cm in a full plucking stroke on a single string. If you can cut that distance to 2 mm theoretically you should be able to pluck 10 times as fast. Additionally you would only be using a tenth of the energy as before.

    This also applies to your fretting hand as well. Any distance traveled away from the surface of the strings is wasted distance and energy. In fact, about the only time your fingers shouldn't be touching the strings is when you are moving your hand from one place to another to minimize the sliding noise. And even then they should be as close as possible to the strings. The only other time should be to let a specific finger have a note ring out. Ie when you fret with your index you need to slightly lift your other three fingers.

    All of this actually does wonders for your consistency as well. Think about it, if you're making much larger movements then in the course of that movement there is a lot more that can go wrong. Instead if you are only moving the shortest distance possible to do what you need to there is going to be less deviation from one movement to the next.

    In making these relaxed minimized movements there is one trade off, volume. Because you are attempting to use as little energy as possible you don't want to dig in, let your amp do the work. Crank it up so anything but the lightest touch rattles your houses foundation, forcing you to play softly. Once you get that down then you can expend a little extra energy to dig in a little bit more if you want. But even when you dig in try and keep your movements as concise as possible.

    In summary don't move any more than you have to, don't use any more energy than you have to, and relax. Hope this helps some.
  6. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Great advice ! ^^^

    I have being having the same problems as the OP. I have being trying to get up to speed with Ian Dury's "Hit me with your rhythm stick". I have started slowly and I'm building it up gradually, though not quite there yet.
  7. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    I am not a teacher, but helped a couple of young lads to get started on bass. Some things I noticed.

    They wanted to start off playing songs way beyond what they were capable of so got very disheartened when they made little progress. (Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Green Day etc)

    They tried to play too fast (for what they were capable of) which was fine for the simple bits but had to slow down for anything complicated.

    They concentrated on getting the right notes but forgot about the timing.

    So my advice would be get the basics right before you try the fancy or fast stuff. If there are bits that you are struggling with then practice them separately, slow each down until you can play it properly. Repeat it until you have got it imprinted in your brain, then try it back in the song. If you just cannot get it, even slowed down, then it is probably too advanced for you so simplify it or learn something else.

    When playing the full song use a metronome to keep a constant speed that you can play all the song at. Get it right playing it slowly before you try it at full speed.
  8. MonsterBass101


    Mar 3, 2008
    Thanks Guys! I have seen some good advice here, but here is some more info about this situation. I feel I can hold a groove pretty well, I can keep time, and I can play what is asked of me in my church almost all the time. Its just, lately i've been practicing some Jamerson Licks and Its like my fingers know what to do, they just get tripped up somehow while trying to do it.
  9. pedroims


    Dec 19, 2007

    In this case is all about practice, try slow lets say 80 bpm and increase to 85 or 90 only when you can nail de bassline at 80.
  10. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    I'd go over to the general instruction forum here and review all the stickies.

    Also (I'm probably going to get shot for this) search for the Jeff Berlin threads. Lots of information there on both sides of the arguments on how to learn/practice.
  11. monster, there is absolutely, positively no substitute for a good teacher. you just have to find someone that you relate to as a person and that masters your kind of music. good luck and keep at it.
  12. If you find yourself always struggling at one part of a song just break up that part into the smallest chunks you can. For each note you play there is a position where both your hands will be most comfortable playing that part. You just have to figure out what that hand position is. Then you have to work on the transitions between each of those comfortable hand positions. As others have said slow it down.

    Whenever I struggle with one part of a song its usually just one hand position or transition that is giving me trouble. When you try and play it at speed its hard to figure out the exact spot that is giving you issues. Its usually something simple, like trying to pluck with the same finger twice when you should be alternating. When you figure it out, just practice that specific small chunk until you get it down. Then you can speed back up.

    The cool part is when you work something like that out you usually wont have trouble with it again in your playing. Try not to think of it as playing a whole song or riff but rather take each note one at a time and make sure each one comes out perfectly. Often the problem isn't that your hands aren't capable of something, its that your brain isn't thinking about it the right way. You can't take anything in your playing for granted and assume it will work itself out. You have to just think about how to correctly do it and then practice doing it the right way.
  13. Rudreax


    Jun 14, 2008
    New York, NY
    Since no one asked...what do you do when you practice? How a long a day do you practice?
  14. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    Keep practicing.. Challenge yourself with other styles of music or music that is harder than what you are used to. I understand the frustration.. When I started playing again in 2000 it was very hard for me. I knew the fretboard pretty well up to the 7th fret.. but I rarely ventured beyond that.. and my slapping was pretty much non existent.. my ear was not good, I was totally unfamiliar with the music.. (The last time I had played regularly Rick James was hot.. ). For the first 3 years or so.. I didnt see much improvement in my playing.. I was learning the new songs, but my playing was not advancing much.. then .. it just clicked.. For me getting a 5 string helped because it opened up the fretboard to me just enough to let me stretch out a little more without running all over the neck.. tat opened me up musically more.. Then we started doing more challenging stuff at my church.. A lot of Israel stuff.. and while I still do not consider myself a stellar player.. I have a lot more confidence in my playing than I did 5 years ago.. and I see steady progress each year.. Just keep at it... Like some have said consider getting a teacher .. even if it is for a while to open up your head a bit.. Especially if you are relatively young.... (Not that that matters much.. a teacher is always a good thing if the teacher is good and the student is diligent ). Talk to other bass players.. I have acutally learned quite a bit by coming here and at LGlM.com.. I also picked up a lot from YouTube believe it or not.. but a lot of it was just playing.. and stretching myself with more challenging music.
  15. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    +1 constructive practice gets results. What i'm saying is you can practice at being bad and staying bad as well as practise at being good.
  16. IncX


    Jul 23, 2007
    i never had problems with speed... its kinda like working out - you just do the dang thing over and over again.

    but unlike working out, in playing bass, you break passages into small chunks... then you start at moderate speed, then your fastest possible speed, then slow down and before you know it - do it for a couple of months, and before you know it you can nail stuff at psychotic speed. now, playing them cleanly is another story for me, and is what i am working on - SLOWING DOWN lol

    my practice session was just sitting down, watching tv while playing passages again and again until muscle memory kicked in.

    my biggest problem however is phrasing ... and well, timing.
  17. Along with all the other good advice being offered here, I'd like to advise you to chill out.

    Way I see it is that there will always be cats who can play circles around me - so I focus on doing my best for the tune. It doesn't bother me if I'm not as good as (insert-name-here), and it's important to not get into a competitive mindset.
  18. BrandonBass


    May 29, 2006
    If u get stuck at a drill or a difficult passage, work on other areas then go back to it.

    For example you can work on your ear, your improvising, go on talkbass do some research on tone/gear, read up some music theory online, work on your singing and playing(very useful tool)

    U'll be surprised, the next time u go back to your difficult passage it might seem abit easier : ).

    And yeah, practise with a metronome.
  19. BillW87


    Oct 17, 2010
    Boston, MA
    If you feel like you're slumping, take advantage of the musical community. I've often found my best inspiration from watching or jamming with other bassists. Fellow players can help you identify flaws in your technique so that you aren't reinforcing bad habits in your practicing, as well as expose you to new ideas about playing your instrument that you might not have thought of yourself. Oh, and playing music with other musicians is damn fun too.
  20. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Plateaus are normal. Just work through it. The one thing that I like to do when I reach a plateau like that is play music that is WAY out of my zone - CW / Metal - change it up. If you are a big metal guy, try playing some jazz!

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