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I have major gripes with playing on the beat...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by ToadWarrior, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. I practice with a metronome and drum machine and I play in a few bands and have never gotten complaints, but when I listen to myself back in recordings or If I zoom in and examine recordings of myself in garageband or something I realize I'm usually off the beat slightly on either side.

    When I use a metronome I can easily make it disappear by either tapping my pick on a solid surface or clapping my hands, which leads me to believe I have at least a somewhat decent sense of rhythm, but as soon as I pick up the bass I have a much harder time making the metronome disappear.

    Theres a recording I made awhile ago, its garbagey (especially my digital guitar playing and fake drum, yikes) but at least it gives an idea of my playing..


    Any tips? How many milliseconds error is tolerable in timing?
  2. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    3.1415926 ms on either side is acceptable as that is the magic number. Any more (or less) and you might as well just give up.

    Tips? Practice. By yourself. To a metronome. To the radio/CD/mp3. With others, with a drummer. Learn to play drums. Learn to dance. Practice.
  3. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    Your playing is fine. There's a few hits I might have fixed if it were an album recording. But all-in-all, listening to that track tells me that yes, you are a human musician and not a machine of some sort. But there is absolutely NO sense of "oh my god, who is this horrible bass player with no rhythm."

    You want to improve? Good, everyone could use improvement. Keep on practicing with the metronome, and I'm sure your rhythm will get even better. Just don't drive yourself crazy with this, OK? There's no glaring suck here.

    Ed Friedland's "Bass Grooves" has some good exercises if you really want to roll up your sleeves and hit the woodshed.
  4. I think we are all able to be much more critical of ourselves.

    When I hear my recordings I can hear the tiniest (longer than 3.1415926 ms) variations in my rhythm. When I play it for someone else - they say: "What are you talking about?"
  5. Bassisgood4U

    Bassisgood4U Banned

    Jan 30, 2014
    I think the song would be better, if you laid back a little on the beat.
  6. Bassisgood4U

    Bassisgood4U Banned

    Jan 30, 2014
    And like you said, it's not much to play to. Play music that you think is good.
  7. I practice a lot with and without a metronome

    I find string skipping and swapping particularly using open strings and muting can upset the anticipation of a smooth line in the sense of timing

    But I think the very small things that we as players sense through feel and listening do not generally translate into what other people feel and hear

    Sometimes I sit for ages and go over and over short phrases and concentrate on ironing out all the little things that otherwise go unnoticed

    I find that when I then go into free style playing that everything seems smoother

    A big thing that has changed for me is that I now practice using a good set of head phones

    It's really motivated me to concentrate and improve on all the nuances that I don't pick up when sitting in my private practice space using an amp

    It seems to me that the more little things that I sort out the better I go with the metronome

    I can be obsessive by nature and that has its up and downside but with bass it works well because working on all the little snags like a lazy finger lift or a clunky shift without addressing the unwanted harmonics and these types of things can all effect the perception and sense if we are in so called time...

    Listening to the track in the link I thought it was ok with time .... And consistent with other comments above I did not sense anything that made me feel oh that is bad timing

    But what I think is most important is how you feel about it....for some if us it is hard to be happy with our own sound because we are always working on it...

    Sometimes we need to let go and not listen critically and learn to just enjoy what we produce simply for what it is...

  8. Playing on the beat is overrated... Do something a little more syncopated and add something interesting to the rhythm. Play around the beat and you won't notice the minute discrepancies in timing as much.
  9. lfmn16


    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Knowing you aren't perfect puts you above 99.9% of all bass players. Well, maybe not that many, but if you can hear you have a problem, you can fix it. Just keep recording yourself. It's the most painful, but productive thing I do.
  10. Thanks for the tips and input guys, I've been hitting the woodshed hard and It feels good, I've got a drum machine set quiet and I've just been experimenting with different kick drum placements and rhythms and trying to hit it dead on so the drum disappears.

    It's pretty harrowing how bad I am at some rhythms and how big the discrepancy between my pick and finger playing is (My fingerstyle is unintentionally behind the beat.) But like I said it feels really good, like I might actually be improving, hopefully it doesn't all just go out the window when I go to jam with a drummer/band.
  11. that 3.1415... ms, is called "the pocket"
  12. Didn't sound out to me. You're being a bit tough on yourself.
  13. Bassisgood4U

    Bassisgood4U Banned

    Jan 30, 2014
    I can understand evaluating yourself. Last thing I played on, I made sure the bass jelled with every separate track. I even made sure it ticked on it's own. I think that's why they're called "demos".
  14. sedan_dad


    Feb 5, 2006
    It didn't sound bad but rather suffered from a very lousy mix.
  15. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Did you know...

    If you are 3 feet from you monitors, it takes 3.375 ms for the sound to travel to your ears.

    Are you tracking with headphones? But then you'll have pitch problems to deal with.

    It never ends...

    Anyway, under 5-6 ms is nearly imperceptible to even the most discerning ears.