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Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by kattus, Aug 16, 2012.
play with a pick..
that souns its characteristic of fingerstyle...
Without hearing your example I would suggest -- pickups are too high? Check to see if the string is smacking the pickup when you strike it.
The variations of sound you get when you play fingerstyle are part of the reason TO play that way. You want to learn how you make those sounds and start using them on purpose. This creates your style.
Also, you should be able to vary the strength of your attack, and how much of your finger hits the string. After years of practice, I've developed a way of striking the string with just the very tip of my finger, which produces a different sound. It took a long time to develop, and was done (for the most part) unconsciously, as I only started noticing it recently and I was already able to do it by then.
You really don't have to hit the string hard to play fast. You'll be faster if you don't. You just have to practice a lot to get it down.
In general, I'm afraid the answer to every technique question is, "more practice."
I'd suggest spending some practice time experimenting with how you pluck the strings. Vary the force with which you strike the strings, (as above) the amount of flesh on the fingertip which contacts the string, the amount of fingernail (you might try trimming nails short, and compare to having nails grown out a little), and -- biggest of all, IME -- the angle with which your finger contacts the string. That last one affects fret noise and envelope, both.
IME, there are some huge tonal variations created by those variables in fingerstyle technique! When you find the approach which gives you the tone you want, practice it consciously until it becomes an ingrained habit.
One more thing: running a lot of bass boost on either the bass or the amp will tend to emphasize the thud you describe.
Focus on technique your striking too hard, let your amp do the amplification not your fingers. I know how you feel, I still feel I get too much finger noise, but I assure you it is common up to the pro level.
Try plucking in other areas. Near the bridge, near the neck. Over the neck. Still thudding?
Vary your technique, hit, pull, brush, scrape and pick the string. Thud still there?
Is the string hitting the pickup? What is your eq like? Do all strings make the noise?
So in other words try to determine if it is your technique or a physical attribute of the bass.
Both can be modified and improved.
Please report back!
Sick of finger noise? Try flats!
Flats will cut down fingernoise - but will play and sound differently.
Try playing measures with quarter notes . . . play with your usual two finger technique focusing on evenness of tone. Try playing with one finger for a while - it should sound very even - this is a benchmark...
Get it pretty consistent in output and tone - esp fingernail noise - before speeding up.
A metronome has improved my consistency quite a bit. Drum machine is a bit better IME - and a consistent drummer you're familiar with even better, but try getting them to play simple lines at a lope while you dial in even sound!
I can't get 'even' at speed. I'm not sure you ever can get 100% even. It's kinda like palm muting - If you keep the hand in the one spot the damping is more extreme on the lower strings as the hand is softer there. So too a pair of calloused fingers have different impacts on the tone (a bit) that are hard to compensate for fully. IMO.
Sounds like your treble is up too high and/or you're using a compressor/limiter with the sensitivity set too high.
Sometimes you really want the thud to be present. In this example
View attachment Phantom of the Opera (finger style).mp3
I clearly wanted to hear the thud, as it resembles a bass drum. I had to hit the strings quite hard to get that specific sound. I think it all comes down to how and where you pluck the strings. Try turning up the volume to a level which is clearly louder than required. Now you have to have a soft touch in order not to be too loud. Maybe that's the way to learn to control your plucking technique.
To me, it sounds like you're "rubbing" the strings more than you actually hit them. I had some issues with my right hand techniques lately and I know that over time bad habits can become like second nature. Take some time to carfully analyse how you pull and release you fingers until you can clearly understand what you're doing.
To rectify myself, I began to use the tip instead of the flat fleshy part of my fingers. I was more perpendicular instead of parallel to the strings (more bent than straight) and it gave me more control this way with regular practice.
In addition to the techinque things that have already been mentioned, keep in mind that you are listening very closely and critically to the sound of your bass all by itself. Many things disappear and change when other instruments are added into the mix.
For example, try listening to the isolated bass tracks of the many recordings of popular music that are available on the net. You may discover that some of those great famous tones sound "not so great" when heard solo. All sorts of noises and clicking and thuds and such are going on.
Be careful when hitting strings hard that your eq is not boosted in the lows, especially if you are at gig volume. My 112 combo's speaker will clank when there's a spike going through like that. Not good for the speaker.
Are you plucking so hard that the strings that are thumping are hitting the pickup? It seems like you might just be playing too hard in general and maybe your EQ is accenting that.
You either need to set up your bass or refine your technique.
You can still play fast and hit the strings lightly by boosting up the volume knob. Watch someone like Gary Willis or Janek Gwizdala which play with a very light touch, they are always talking about economy of motion and this is important. If you want to play fast you need to use the least energy and space allowing your fingers to move quicker.
Now, both Janek and Gary play with great basses, so if you think that your technique is good and you still get those buzzing noises then it might be your bass that needs a setup or maybe you just have a "tougher" bass (less finess than say a fodera) but technique is the cheapest and best way to fix the problem.
I suspect you just have to practice more. It sounds like a technique issue. It will go away as you get better.
As I read this, to me it screams "technique".
It sounds ok slow, but not as you speed up?
Irregular sound from one finger compared to other(s)?
It all indicates to me That you know how to play, but you are not yet able to play well at speed: technique.
Continue to practice at slow speed, focusing on getting a consistent sound from each finger you use, without that thud you don't like.
It may seem frustrating... but don't speed up until you sound good at a low speed.
Increase speed little by little.
It may take you two weeks. It may take you two or six months. But If you do it slowly, paying close attention to getting the right sound... you will eventually be ok. And it takes much less time than It seems at first.
Just resist the urge to go faster than you can with a clean consistent technique.