1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Locking in to a Tempo

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by TwinDad, Jun 9, 2017.

  1. TwinDad


    May 18, 2017
    I've got a tempo problem. It's being compounded by our drummer (we're new to each other so still figuring each other out)... but I want to focus first on fixing my side of it.

    Basically, even with the click track running, I find myself tending to rush the bass line a bit. Strange, because when I play drums, except for the occasional fill, I lock right in. But on bass, I definitely crowd the tempo and wind up far enough ahead that we have to turn the click off. Doesn't matter if it's fast or slow, I'm off, and I'm dragging the band with me.

    So my question is... obviously the general solution is "practice with a metronome" ... but are there some SPECIFIC exercises or practice drills I can do to help pace out my playing and get on the click? Something like "do 16 bars of 8th notes at each of 60/80/100/120/140/160 bpm in an ascending then descending speed pattern. Then repeat with quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes, then back down to 8th notes" (I just made that up as an example of a specific drill recommendation. Don't know if it would actually work).

    It's odd... when learning the songs, I'm usually playing along to a YouTube video, and stay right on... but what happens in the live band situation is that the drummer and I are following each other right off the cliff. That's something we need to woodshed together and get better at, but I feel like FIRST I need to fix my own rushing problem before solving the interaction between us.
  2. LeeNunn

    LeeNunn Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2012
    Charlottesville, VA
    Try making the clicks gradually more sparse. For example, start with clicks on 2&4. Then just on 2. Then on 2, but only every other measure. Slow the tempo. It takes practice.
  3. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Rushing the tempo is, in my experience, the result of one or both of two things. A) being not familiar enough with the bass line or bass playing in general. A lack of confidence translates to timing inconsistencies. B) being uncomfortable with the speed of the song, either too slow or too fast, but not in your "comfort zone".

    Since you also play drums, the only thing that would make sense to me would be A). To which I could only really come up with one solution... As you say, keep practicing.

    The above tip with the metronome clicks on 2 and 4 is a good one. Maybe try to slow down the tempo and really work on your precision. Zoom in!
  4. IMO time to start counting. One and two and three and four and. Then all those ah's and e's.

    C-2-3-4|F-2-3-4|G-2-3-4| After awhile you can stop as your internal clock will have again taken over. But, back to the basics, give counting a thought.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
  5. The best thing I ever did for my tempo was record stuff to a click track, listen to it, then re record it and try to fix the mistakes. On a program like GarageBand you can visually compare so I kinda made a game out of trying to line up the peaks and valleys
  6. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    Your're correct, somebody needs to be the time keeper of the band. And in most situations it's the drummer, and sometimes the bass player. Most importantly, they need to know that it's them. Once that's established things should work out well.

    As for playing good tempo some have the natural ability of it. I knew several players who just had good tempo that could swing it or play straight time under any condition and pretty much any speed from slow up to a 140bpm. I always felt these people had the natural ability to keep tempo. Kind of like they were born with it.

    For myself and others it takes a lot of work and practice to keep up decent tempo. For decades I had terrible tempo and got by playing guitar to the tempo of the other musicians. With Bass, tempo was critical for my recording. Thus, Recording showed me exactly where my tempo was off, visually and auditory. Digital Recording has helped me get better keeping tempo. And recording covers solo without a beat to follow, is worth doing to develop good tempo.
    TwinDad likes this.
  7. This is what I do to work on my time. I have a metronome that can play, then mute any sequence of measures. One measure on and 3 off can be challenging...

    A lot of times when on gigs, I imagine some mechanical device. For example, if I'm playing a swinging jazz, tune, I imagine a pendulum swinging back and forth and for funk or R&B, I imagine a pile driver. Weird, but it works for me...
    LeeNunn likes this.
  8. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    You have to relax to find the groove and fall into a consistent tempo. Plus, if you're rushing things, the rest of the band should notice and pull you back in line. It's everyone's job to keep the tempo.
    old spice likes this.
  9. The melody of the song, heard in your head as you play, can guide you and let you know if you're rushing, because it may be harder to fit in to your accompaniment as you accelerate.
    If you and the drummer rush, it's going to take cooperation to stop it.
    I think becoming sensitive to the first, slightest changes in tempo and controlling them - together with the drummer - is the goal.

Share This Page