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I have plateau'ed and need help

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by ajp1991105, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. ajp1991105

    ajp1991105 Supporting Member

    May 1, 2011
    Albany, NY

    Let me first start by saying that I have been playing for many years and have tried my best to cover a wide variety of styles and techniques in that time. I have been taking private lessons for 10+ years and was even accepted into the Berklee College of Music (too poor to go).

    Some more background on my playing style. I would venture to say that I am quite proficient using 1, 2, 3, and 4, fingers on my right hand in both straight (4321) and alternating styles (such as 12131413). I play 6 string basses in both traditional and dropped tunings. I can play many different chords, inversions, and variations of the chordings. I can also "sweep pick" rake style with both hands.

    For maybe the last 6 months to year I feel like no matter how much I play, practice, or try to learn new things, I feel like I have not been able to make any measurable progress.

    I was just wondering if anybody had any ideas about how to overcome this stage in my playing or where to try to look for inspiration in relation to both technique and creativity.

    PS. Sorry if this post is a bit ramble-y, I'm just trying to find the words to express my thoughts on my issues of late.
  2. OldDirtyBassist


    Mar 13, 2014
    Go back to square one, and play with your treble up all the way on your bass and amp. Try to make it sound clean.
  3. BassMoley


    May 20, 2013
    I just got Alex Webster's book Extreme Metal Bass a few days ago and it's pretty good. You can do a lot of things he explains in the book but maybe take a look at it, you might draw something out of it. Alex Webster is the bassist for death metal band Cannibal Corpse if you don't know. Even if that's not really your music I'd recommend giving it a shot.
  4. Your description talks about technique, but not music.

    I'd listen to some music, maybe a style that you are not familiar with or one that you are not proficient in.

    I might suggest a different teacher, to get a new perspective.
  5. 5sicks


    Sep 27, 2010
    Victor Wooten's tutorials were very helpful for me...gettin the thumb involved
  6. joelns


    Mar 10, 2014
    How are you at applying this while playing with others? That might help. Just a thought.
  7. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Find people as good or better than you on other instruments. Play with them.
  8. ajp1991105

    ajp1991105 Supporting Member

    May 1, 2011
    Albany, NY
    I play in two metal bands at the moment, one is straight "Death Metal" and really keeps my speed chops up. Most of the songs clock in around 200-220 BPM. The other band I am in is more of a "Traditional/Progressive" metal style (very little screaming, odd time signatures, a lot of melodic playing) and that is my main project that keeps me challenging myself by writing different parts.

    I have been quite lacking in my jazz studies and I feel as though it's just a hard place for me to break into. I have a degree in Music and I believe the study I did for it is ruining my perception and ability to get through a chart "correctly." The analytical part of my brain is always trying to put multiple bars and changes into 1 or 2 keys and it stunts my playing.

    I have been slowly working toward proficiency with many of the Wooten style techniques like the double thumb and some other things that Evan Brewer does as well. The tough part for me is that I feel as though I have no feedback as to if I am actually learning how to use these techniques correctly or if I just think I am.

    I have been trying as of late to find just about anybody to get in a room and play music with. For some reason, even working at a music store, it seems quite difficult to find people who are open to the idea of just playing. Maybe it's a regional thing?
  9. arjune


    Oct 8, 2006
    SF, CA
    +1 to MrDos

    I also recommend getting a teacher in a style that you don't usually play. Sounds like jazz would be the best for you, as it's the hardest place currently. Finding the thing that I can't do well and just sucking it up and getting to work has always been what got me over plateaux.
  10. Learn to play left handed; then you could be our version of Michael Angelo Batio. :bag:
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Stop thinking about "styles" and start working on musical fundamentals - conception/understanding (music theory)/hearing (ear training)/relaxed, tension free physical execution (technique). If you understand how harmony works, if you can hear construction and function of 4 part chords with 2 tensions, if you develop the wherewithal to easily execute anything you can hear, internally and externally, on your instrument THEN you can hear your voice in any style.

    This "I have a degree in Music and I believe the study I did for it is ruining my perception and ability to get through a chart "correctly." The analytical part of my brain is always trying to put multiple bars and changes into 1 or 2 keys and it stunts my playing." is an incorrect assessment, whatever background you have obviously didn't spend any time with functional harmonic analysis or you wouldn't be trying to do that. What is "stunting" your playing is a lack of understanding and a lack of work at hearing what that intellectual construct sounds like.
    What does your teacher have you work on?
  12. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Stop taking lessons. Start sitting in with blues and funk bands.
    Seriously. It sounds like you're being way too analytical. You've got the math end of playing covered, now's the time to work on groove and feel.
  13. dickfitts


    Jan 18, 2012
    :bag:Step 1...get the heck out of Albany, if you can. Worked magic for me...:bag:
  14. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    This right here. Whenever I used to get into a rut, I just stopped playing and did a whole lot of listening. Absorbing everything. Went to concerts and studied bands. I then would hear things that would challenge me and I'd delve right into it. You can practice scales and modes until you're blue in the face. at some point, you should have some fun in your playing.
  15. greggster59


    Oct 31, 2006
    New Jersey
    Have you ever worked with Simandl's book? Even seasoned players I know find it a formidable challenge and skill booster.
  16. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Cycle through the radio stations, and jam along with each station for an hour (whether you like the music or not). Learn not just the bass lines but also the vocal melody, guitar/keyboard "hook," horn part, etc. (Too many "advanced" instrumentalists ignore or underestimate the incredibly valuable musical skills they can learn from pop singers. Miles Davis for example learned a lot from transcribing Frank Sinatra songs.)