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I play way too hard...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by paf77, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. paf77


    Dec 3, 2008
    My playing and everything is great when I'm just practicing alone, but when I practice with the band and play gigs I get way too into the songs and dig into my bass way too hard. My drummer told me to take all that energy and put it into moving around and stuff so that my bass isn't buzzing and my amp isn't getting overloaded and distorting. I thought that was pretty good advice, but I was wondering if anyone else had any advice on keeping my playing nice and clean?
  2. Mavweenie


    Sep 28, 2009
    concentrate on your technique. use self control. this won't feel natural at first, but just like everything else... the more you do it the more it will become part of your actual technique. i actually wouldn't advise moving around more. this will just cause you to get more excited and hit harder. Plus... its harder to play soft if you're jumping or moving around because your body is tense from the workout.
    just my 7 cents...
  3. Gord_oh

    Gord_oh Midtown Guitars Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2008
    ive walked away from a gig with bloody fingers before....it happens.
    self control will save you, plus your technique during gigging will eventually fix itself.
  4. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Here's what I did.

    I purposely lowered the action on my bass so that it was almost unplayable if I plucked too hard. Made me lighten up my touch over time.

    Another thing is to raise the action on your bass. My "live" bass is set up with higher action because I tend to get excited when I'm playing out and dig in a little more than I do otherwise.
  5. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Concentrate on relaxing your hands. The more you relax, the more easily your fingers move and the less hand fatigue you experience. You can play faster and you tend not to dig as hard when you concentrate on relaxing.
  6. i have this problem to in that at soundcheck i think my guitarist and drummer play just slightly softer than during a show and i end up realy digging in. if your having the same problem as me maybe turn your amp up alittle so that if you do dig in youll hear the harshness then instinctivly play softer, but still at an apropreate volume.

    hope you get this figured out
  7. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Turn your amp up louder on the gig.

    What I sometimes find is that I try to keep the stage volume down by not turning up quite as much as I'd like, but then I can't hear myself next to the drummer and rhythm guitarist (who are showing no such restraint) and end up playing a lot harder to make up for it. Blisters, cramps, and buzzing result.

    I turn up so that I can hear myself without playing so hard, and wind up relaxing a lot more.

    You might also make some adjustments to your setup, raising your action and dialing in a touch more relief, so that even if you do end up getting excited a playing a bit harder, you don't get buzzing.

  8. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    Firstly, a soft touch can produce an aggressive tone, so you don't need to sacrifice your edge to play with a soft touch. You will also find that with a soft touch you can keep better time, and a better groove.

    From my experience, you are suffering from not being able to hear yourself. The comment that your amp is distorted is very telling. Your rig is trying too hard, it's already as loud as it can get. In a gig you can't hear yourself well enough so you pluck harder in a subconscious effort to make it louder.

    In the short term, maybe you could find a way to position your amp to improve how you hear yourself. But what you really need is more, more power, more speakers. You need a rig that will hurt you and your bandmates if you pluck hard. That will get you to learn a soft touch. :)

    What kind of music are you playing, and what are you and your bandmates playing through?

  9. Subs


    Jul 20, 2009
    I agree with jbybj^.

    I can swamp the rest of the band without to much volume so I have picked up a bit of restraint.
  10. I'll agree that it's probably that you can't hear yourself well enough. When I switched to in-ear monitoring, my playing, tone, and groove improved dramatically. I think IEMs are the greatest thing ever.
  11. jam.majors


    Mar 24, 2009
    Louisville, Ky
    I turned up my amp wicked loud when practicing at home. I can't stand it wicked loud, so it makes me practice with a more gentle hand to compensate.

    Also, get a louder rig for going out so you can play the same way live and not ruin your amp when you dig in too much!
  12. KramerK


    Jan 26, 2008
    Denver, CO
    Immm listening for ideas on that . . . I know its been difficult for me to get that nice edgy sound unless there is a certain amount of dig in my fingers. I do feel however, that sometimes it limits my speed, but not the groove. In fact, i've noticed that when i play less hard, the rest of the band can "feel" the difference, and especially the drummer kind of just gets more tame, which makes me feel like the bottom of everything is dropping out. I suppose, this could be just because of what I/they are used to from my playing.
  13. SpamBot


    Dec 25, 2008
    St. Paul, MN
    +1 to the above, and get a ramp. It'll keep you from digging in too hard.
  14. It comes with practice. It's tough when you're pumped while doing a gig. I remember having the same problem. Now my playing is so soft that I've been told that it almost looks like my right hand isn't moving.
  15. paf77


    Dec 3, 2008
    Thanks everyone! Lots of great advice and it's helped tons. :)
  16. Playing with a lighter touch is better in so many ways... not to mention these two important ones: your tendons, and your frets. Both will end up costing you a lot if you don't stop bearing down so hard when ya play.
  17. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    +1 to raising your action a little.

    I'm of the opinion that there's nothing wrong with digging in some live, as long as your notes are strong and articulate. Obviously you want to hear yourself and you want dynamics, so you can't just hammer the thing, but playing strong with control is a good thing. Jeff Berlin sure as hell does it. :cool:
  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Ya, digging in can be cool. It's a whole different vibe than playing lightly, so I like to do it when appropriate. It does sound like you could benefit from relaxing a little more and not getting carried with it, though.
  19. BillMason

    BillMason Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2007
    How loud is your amp? Maybe it is underpowered and you're digging in trying to hear yourself. More volume at the gig is my advice. And practice at home with your amp turned up, so you get used to using a lighter touch.
  20. And there you have it. When I was starting out, I had a little amp and suffered the same problem when I started gigging. Bigger amp, or position it better(tilting it back with a block of wood helps.)

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