I had a few questions on how to develop technique while playing covers.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by petchimps123, Jul 30, 2009.

  1. petchimps123


    Mar 28, 2009
    I usually NEVER memorize or play along with the whole song... Sadly, I only learn a few riffs here and there. I've been lately getting into Slayer. At first I thought the bassist do anything special on bass so it would be easy for me to play all the slayer bass lines... boy I was wrong.

    I attempted to play Raining Blood and my hand was about to fall off. My rhythm was completely off and my hands were cramping up. I was playing with my fingers (i dont like using picks). The other slayer song I tried was At Dawn They Sleep and I was frustrated at first when I tried to play along with the song while following the tabs. I got frustrated on that one as well, but I turned off the song and started just playing the main riff over and over again. I think it's safe to say I improved speed wise on that riff.

    Here are my questions about what I should do to get better speed wise on bass:

    1. Should I start covering songs all the way through?

    2. If I want to improve vastly, should I cover Slayer songs?

    3. Will Slayer songs improve my speed and accuracy on bass as well as being able to improve my ability to improv?

    4. What is a good approach to trying to play these fast songs? Just practice the riffs over and over again and then play along with the actual song?

    Ive been playing for 4ish years and I just really want to improve since I feel like I haven't improved at all. Usually I doodle around on bass for about 5 minutes and then just put it down. Even when I practice, I just play what I know. I just dont know what to do.
  2. Kuark


    May 10, 2009
    I felt the same way, I had alot of trouble getting the timing to songs down when listening to ear so I could never force myself to learn a whole song. I would just practice my left and right hand technique alot and never really have a good sense of timing. The thing that really saved me was I bought a bass groove dictionary busted out a metronome and started practicing off sheet music. It did wonders and has improved my playing more than anything else I have tried over the past 6 months. Plus seeing a physical description of the tone changes vastly improved my ear. Everyone always says tabs are great way to learn but after finally understanding sheet music I really dont think any other way of self teaching can compare.

    Playing fast is good but the best way to develop a sense of timing is to bust the metronome down to 60 and try and play eighth notes till you can feel the pulse in between each beat. Once you get that down you will find playing at 120 tempo is a piece of cake compared to 40.
  3. Rather than playing along with the song, you should try watching the bassist. You can pick up some valuable lessons.

    And i wouldn't just stick with Slayer stuff, it's fast, but there's only so much you can learn from it. Try learning some Blues. Blues is a true asset to any bass player
  4. Lulz


    Jun 5, 2009
    It certainly gives a boost to your endurance.
  5. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Maybe you should concentrate on good technique as a separate part of your practice. It seems you are trying to nail two things at once, i.e. the song and technique. Use a portion of your practice for technique (pick a particular one that you know is weak ). Practice slowly, then build up the speed gradually. Then later, try your technique with the songs.
  6. James19


    Jun 16, 2009
    Aarhus, Denmark

    I use that site a lot cos I threw away the metronome I had. Definitely a good thing to practice with, as was mentioned before.

    And are you running through the riffs before you play along to the song? You made it sound like you put the song on, then play from the tab without having tried it out solo first. If that's what you're doing, obviously it's hard, cos most tabs need a bit of fiddling with before they match the song.

    Always Listen, playing isn't just about the notes you're hitting.
  7. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany

    That's why I like stuff like Guitar Pro, Tuxguitar etc. Lower the tempo and you can play to a backing, learning the riffs along the way.
  8. scootron


    Jul 17, 2007
    Moved to Texas
    Play the whole songs, whether it is Slayer or someone else.

    It's easy and fun to be a "riff player", but it is not a skill much in demand. Bassists have to keep the song together from beginning to end.

    I have played with several guitarists who were 'riff' players. They could give you a great 30-second sound bite, but were weak in playing an entire song, keeping it fresh, etc.
  9. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars


    If you are serious about getting good at playing I would highly recommend that you learn to read music as well as you can read and write (even better if you only read/write at a 2nd grade level ;) ).

    Also, "accuracy is the key to speed," when you're talking about playing an instrument. Like some of the other guys have said, slow down the riffs, licks and phrases that you are learning until you can play them perfectly, then speed them up little by little.

    And by "perfectly" I mean that you can play it in your sleep with your teeth and tongue alone...

    okay, maybe not quite that good, but you get what I mean.

    Any time that you are playing, remind yourself that you should use only the minimum amount of force and tension necessary for the tone and pitch you are trying to produce when fretting, strumming, slapping, etc. Using just a tiny bit more force/tension than necessary will definitely slow down your playing. Also, make sure that the rest of your body is completely relaxed, from you little toes to your shoulders, neck and facial muscles. Be as relaxed as possible when you play.

    Good luck improving your playing petchimps123!
  10. You only need a few riffs to play some songs. One is enough, two would be better, three would be great, but one is enough to get started. I think some help with how to use those riffs is in order. Take the chord names off and put in their place the Nashville number, i.e. I IV V etc. You have to already know the tune as you will have to be humming or singing the tune under your breath. OR -- following along to someone else singing the lyrics so you know when to change chords. Key to using fake chord sheet music is to follow along and change chords when the chord change word comes up in the song. Now using the I IV V progression lay down a basic Root, R-5 or R-3-5-3 to the chord progressions - and yes to the entire song. For example:
    The song is in D which will be the I (D) chord, the IV (G) chord and the V (A) chord.

    I try so hard my dear to show that you're my every dream
    but you're afraid each thing I do is just some evil scheme
    a memory from your lonesome past keeps us so far apart
    why can't I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart

    It's not rocket science, three chords and just follow the lyrics.

    Why use Nashville numbers instead of chord names. I find it easier I only have to know how to hit the key root chord then use my patterns (Root, R-5 or R-3-5-3). Plus if playing with others and they want to play the song in another key I find it easier to function in I IV V than taking D G A to C F G or A D E, etc. on the fly. Just a suggestion..........

    See if that helps. If you need help with the I IV V thing, just ask. Someone will jump on it.
  11. In case you are still interested. Patterns with fake chord sheet music.
    Root note with the I- IV- V chord changes
    Where is G-C-D
    Where is C-F-G
    Where is A-D-E
    Where is D-G-A
    See the pattern?

    Root-5 --- The root or 1st and then the 5th note in the scale.
    Where is G-D
    Where is C-G
    Where is D-A
    Pattern is still there.

    Root-3-5-3 --- Here you add the 3rd note in the scale.
    Where is G-B-D-B
    Where is C-E-G-E
    Where is D-F#-A-F#
    Again see the pattern.

    Pick the pattern (riff) you think will go best with the song being played, and right at first stick with it through out the entire song. The fancy runs, etc. can come later.

    Have fun.
  12. Byzcat


    Aug 3, 2009
    Lynn, Mass
    Actually, I've found that transcribing a song into tablature then playing it solo until I've got it nailed is a great way to improve technique. Start by playing mega-slow, and gradually build up speed.
  13. gregmerrill


    Jul 27, 2009
    find the groove on your drum machine that best pics the groove your trying to learn even if its just a basic rock groove that should be ok. Then practice the lick or segment over and over at a slow tempo till you start getting it. If you dont have a drum machine then make that your next investement. They now cell mp3 players that slow the tempo down without changing the pitch. A good Right hand isolation exercise: Start with quarter notes just on one string for 4 bars then 8th notes for 4 bars then triplets for 4 bars then 16ths for 4 bars. Then go backwards 16th, triplets, 8ths then quarter. Try not to deviate from the click as you go to the next rhythm. When you can get thru a cycle then speed up a few clicks. Each day log where you get to and try to get to that level and better each day.
  14. There's your problem right there.

    5 minutes a day of noodling is never going to result in being able to play anything. Put it this way, at current schedules it takes you 12 days to add up to an hour's practise - you don't have to be a Maths genius to work out that at this rate, even if you've played every single day day for your four and a half years you've only got around 140 hours invested in learning an instrument that takes years to master - or to put it another way, if you had started a new job or school on Monday August 3rd and you work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, you'll have done 140 hours by around the 24th August. Is that enough time to have learned anything worthwhile?

    Furthermore, if you simply repeat what you can already do in each day's 5 minute session, you are never going to learn anything. Repeating the same thing over and over is never going to change anything - you need to practise the things you can't do. If your goal is to play fast, you are dooming yourself to disappointment because you're not giving yourself the chance to build up any dexterity or stamina - at the moment it's like you're training for a marathon by taking a dash from the couch to the TV once a day.

    Learn some songs all the way through, learn how different notes relate to each other, play slowly - learn the technique first, then add the speed. You'll then find you may get all the way through a song, then two or more, but you've got a lot of work to do.

    Noodle for 5 minutes a day and you will only be able to noodle for 5 minutes a day
  15. Zodd42


    Jul 28, 2009
    I think he wrote doodle, Jools.
    Noodle means something else . . .

    Good speach though. I'm trying to teach myself bass and I totally suck. Not getting anywhere I want to be. bought the Hal Lenard book 1-3 for begining bass. It's helped some but MAN is it boring. I really need to find a way to get fundamentals and instruction from somebody and just hit that for a while.
  16. I suggest learning scales. They help with your finger positioning, your speed and your knowledge of the fretboard. Plus, they're really useful to know.

    Learning songs is good, but i'd suggest learning some theory too, even if it's only the basics. It'll give you so much more understanding of the music itself.
  17. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I recommend this DVD by Todd Johnson (he has his own forum here in "Ask a Pro".. ). He is a great teacher, and shows you all the basic technique in an easy to understand way. Money well spent IMO.