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Is it too bad...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by powellmacaque, Jun 5, 2007.


  1. ... to be a slow bassist? To be honest, I cannot even begin to shred or anything of the like without sounding like crap. I can groove on slower things, and keep up with fast punk and walking bass, but when it comes to playing Victor Wooten fast stuff or anything, I can't do it... Is speed vitale for bassists (bassists in a band situation that is).
     
  2. Jason Gale

    Jason Gale

    Nov 14, 2004
    9 times out of 10 you won't need to 'shred' or play particularly fast, but in a way if you can get your chops up together at faster tempos then you're overall inner timing will be better. If you keep tight to a metronome playing 16ths at 120 (solidly) thats a great start, 'but' also if you can play quarter notes to a metronome at 80bpm with no flamming then your timing at normal/comfortable speeds will be better, and you will find it easier also.

    Its all about your inner self timing for when you don't have a metronome or drum machine. Also its great to have more doors open in your playing.

    Practise what you practise to a metronome building up the speed gradually day by day, but don't speed it up if you're not totally tight.

    This applies to both your fretting and picking hand, they both have to be tight together, one can't be weaker than the other.

    Jase
     
  3. I couldn't shred for 9 years mate, and could still play songs such as Master of Puppets, Blackened, Angel of Death etc.

    My "ability" to even start to shred came about learning to lighten my grip and to relax and flow with it, not from the time spent hacking away incorrectly (no offense).

    IOW, for me, once I learned the correct technique and the idea dropped into place, I could shred riffs pretty quickly, and with my strong pinky and decent stretch, I can shred riffs on E up to the 10th fret no problem at all.

    Since it also sounds like mud most of the time, I choose not to most of the time too :p :D
     
  4. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    You'll make a lot more money playing less notes.
     
  5. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    I think speed is necessary but for me it's something that i bust out on occasion. I like to through some quick notes mixed in with whole, quarter and eight notes too. But if you want to get faster learn a bass line to a metronome. Then keep increasing the metronome speed incrementally until it gets comfortable.
     
  6. Gegatso

    Gegatso

    Jan 16, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    It's just another tool. I'm sure there's a point that if you were *too* slow in getting notes out in general, then that could be an issue but for the most part I think it is getting the right notes in the right place is far more important than being able to play a hundred notes a second.
    Everyone in bands respects bassists that dont 1.) Overplay 2.) Play too loud. :)

    ~MW
     
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    The sad truth about bass is it's better to be a good "slow" bassist than a bad "fast" bass player. Great if you can do both, but if you can only do one, pick the slow stuff, and at least you'll keep working.
     
  8. Deacon_Blues

    Deacon_Blues

    Feb 11, 2007
    Finland
    I consider myself rather slow too. I can't do steady 16ths@120bpm (endurance fails), only @90-100bpm. However, I still throw in those faster 16ths in my playing, but generally not more than 4 in a row. For the music I play, that's mostly enough.

    The faster you can play, the better, but it's not of a primary importance to me. I guess I'm not faster than I am simply because I hardly ever need to be. And if you don't use it, you lose it. :meh:
     
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I always remember the quote in 'Bass Player' from a top Nashville session producer, who said something like :

    "I don't pay Bassists to play fast - I pay them to read fast!" :)
     
  10. BassChuck

    BassChuck Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Cincinnati
    True. This has been my experience.

    That said, however... you really do have to have a pretty good technique to keep good time and style. An earlier poster said that 1/16 notes @ 120bpm is good, and I'd agree with that, faster if you can. When you have that kind of finger control, you'll be able to do what your inner clock tells you.

    Consider two songs both at about 108bpm. The first one is straight 1/8 notes (two notes to the pulse). The second is a shuffle time with two notes to the pulse. The difference in where the second note in the pulse is placed is not very different in terms of time, but very very important to the style of the song. You have to have the control to make that difference for about 3 minutes.

    Work from slow to fast. Keep everything steady.
     
  11. Deacon_Blues

    Deacon_Blues

    Feb 11, 2007
    Finland
    (Read my previous post before this)

    I have no problems keeping up with uptempo shuffle songs. My band's been playing a fast version of ZZ Top's "Tush" (>180 bpm) with lots of solos etc and various dynamics for over 5 minutes and I don't get tired while playing that. Samba / bossa nova beats (pattern: punctuated eight + a sixteenth note) work well too. The fact that every second note is longer make miracles to the endurance. :)
     
  12. El Bajo

    El Bajo

    Apr 12, 2006
    UK
    My band plays some dreamtheater covers and I thought being able to play fast was the s**t. That was until I watched my drummers other covers band playing the usual Sweet Child of Mine, Smoke on the water etc. And he played so relaxed and tight that he just cut through everybody else inlcudig two guitars, and made the songs work. That to me is more important, supporting the song and making it groove.
     
  13. For the most part playing Victor Wooten fast stuff is not of any use other than entertaining other bass players who wonder "how'd he do that?" :)

    Otherwise it just depends on the music you want to play. There are surely some styles that would require you to play really fast. If that is your thing then you had better learn. IF not, who cares?
     
  14. Liko

    Liko

    Mar 30, 2007
    It is no bad thing to be good at a slow groove. That's assuming you are GOOD at a slow groove. If you play slow because you can't play any faster, your timing probably suffers during fills. Your time is NEVER good enough; work on it every time you practice. Exercises like recording yourself playing one note of a scale per beat at various metronome tempos will make a huge difference. I learned some relatively difficult licks relatively early (like within a couple of months of owning my first bass I was playing the groove to Touch of Grey by the Grateful Dead), but it took everything I had to play it correctly and in time. 6 years later I went back to that groove and was amazed at how easily I could play it, because I've learned even more difficult licks that required precision at a faster tempo.

    So, if you can't shred well yet, I wouldn't worry too much. As a bassist you will probably never need to wank around as much as even your rhythm guitarist. Throw in a few extra note fills here and there and that's probably all the guitarists will let you do. But, you absolutely HAVE to be able to lock in to the tempo. You have to develop a sense of time and rhythm that rivals a drummer's, so that you can lock in without dragging him around. Usually in doing that you'll find that your maximum speed has increased through simple practice and memorization of patterns, and that will enable you to think more about what you want to do and less about how to do it.
     
  15. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Shredding isn't the bass player's job. Let the guitarists do it.

    The bass is there to groove and carry rhythm, and occasionally to add those tasty bits that put music over the top.

    Can't play a fast selection? Drop every other note and 9 times out of 10, no one will notice. But drop the groove, and it will be noticed immediately.

    The longer you play, the more facility you will gain with fast fingerings, resulting in greater ability to play more complex parts. But that's not your primary job, so don't obsess about it.
     
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    Primary TB Assistant

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