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My personal technique practice philosophy

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Tupac, Jun 22, 2013.

  1. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Hopefully I'm not the only who discovered and adopted this: Always subject yourself to the hardest conditions when practicing. If being too loud in the mix when playing to an mp3 makes you sound bad, turn your bass louder. If boosting highs makes you sound sloppy, turn the highs up. If playing without a compressor sounds bad, then don't use a compressor. A lot of people make the mistake of going the opposite direction and clinging to the things that make them sound better, and when practicing, that's the worst thing you can do for yourself. It makes your articulation poor and technique sloppy.

    It's like distance running training. If you run in high altitudes where there's little oxygen and it's more difficult, you'll be able to fly when running a marathon at normal altitude.

    So there you go :hyper:
  2. Although in my opinion you might be carrying it to extremes, in theory the concept is sound. It's the old swinging the lead pipe in the batter's circle before getting up to bat thing. I remember reading a story once in an old edition of Guitar Player magazine about the late great Roy Buchanan. He said that before a show he would warm up on an old acoustic with big strings and very high action, and when he got to playing his Telecaster, he said he could wrap the strings right around the neck!
  3. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Not sure if I agree. I always thought the reason we practice is both to sound good and play good. If you sound sloppy, why compound it by continuing ? :confused: Regardless of what you are actually practicing, if you don't like the sound/tone that you are producing it can be both unenjoyable and as a result counter productive. I cant see how your idea can make you play well at a gig or concert, because you have not addressed the cause of why you are playing sloppy.

    Also, what about the beginner who is trying to come to terms with fretting a note cleanly and evenly ? To bring your concept to a logical conclusion, he should just continue to do so.

    IMO it is an interesting, but counter productive concept. :)
  4. INTP


    Nov 28, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    I practice with no effects or even EQ, usually through headphones, or sometimes through full range (and decently accurate) monitors. I want to have accurate feedback on the sound of my playing, so I hear when I'm being sloppy, and also when I'm getting it right.

    I agree that practicing with a sound that makes you sound artificially better is not the best approach. I don't get trying to make yourself sound artificially bad, either, as you'll end up compensating in a way that could make you sound bad under normal gigging circumstances.
  5. zphreaky1

    zphreaky1 Far from good

    Apr 25, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    I don't read his post that way at all. The way I read it is: if you don't practice the things you aren't good at, you won't ever be good at those things. For example, instead of cutting your highs to get rid of fretting/string noise, crank your highs so there will be more noise, then try to get rid of the noise with technique.

    I don't think the point is to continue playing sloppy, but to practice playing clean without "cheating" do your sloppiness goes away for that aspect of your playing.

  6. pbass888

    pbass888 Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    New York, NY
    work on the tough things... well said
  7. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    Meh. I think if you play with compression all the time then you might as well practise with compression so you'll know what you'll sound like. Knowing what you'll sound like is important.

    It sounds to me like all your practise involves playing along to pre-recorded music. That in itself makes you sound better. How about you turn off the backing tracks and see how good you sound on your own? Maybe you might learn something other than how to sound anonymous while playing along to your favourite records.
  8. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    Even if he is only playing over pre-recorded music, which he never stated, who says he is playing the songs note for note? Did he say that he his not adding his one flavor to what he's playing? Maybe you could learn something by not making assumptions.
  9. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Exactly. You don't have to take it to extremes so that your tone is unbearable, just don't try to hide your poor articulation is all I'm saying. I think that a good player should be able to sound like a good player under any conditions.

    That's quite the assumption. You are correct that playing along to tracks does hide your abilities better than anything, because there's already a professional playing exactly or close to what you are in the mix. I make sure I include some plain old metronome in there to negate that, but I also end up jamming along to a track every session at the end as well. This thread isn't about what my practice sessions comprise of however.
  10. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    For me, this is the crux of why I dont think this approach is a constructive one. For example, there may be nothing wrong with your technique in the first place, but the high volume and/or high boosting makes it sound as though there is. So if you cant find the root cause of a problem, how do you rectify it ? Is this not the sole reason for practice ? Also, you may be trying to "fix" something that is not broken.
  11. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    Agreed. For example, there's a difference between learning to play better and compensating for a problem with the instrument or rig. The latter doesn't make you a better player, in my experience. If the bass is too clacky and weak, or you can only hear the E string (vintage Jazz bass for example) or you can only hear the D and G strings (Rick 4001/3).... Well, you can see where I"m going with this. The fix there is to get rid of the bass for a better one, not simply smack the thing harder or otherwise continue to abuse your already-exhausted arms and hands. That's not what practice is about.

    Practicing, for me anyway, is the process of trying to learn to play better - some new progression or new piece of music, etc. It's not for fixing a broken rig, that's a different task altogether (though certainly a necessary one).

    As for compression, that's a borderline item IMO. Uneven volume and tone without it can be both a problem with the bass and a problem with technique. If the bass has an absolutely booming E or B string (very common problem), it's not necessarily good practice to turn off the compressor and try to compensate for it. OTOH, if you sound uneven on all basses, it's probably worthwhile to explore your technique and see if it's really consistent. So that's a bit of a mixed bag.
    I use compression 98% of the time now, since my entire herd suffers from the booming E/B string problem. And I've just not addressed the task of trying to fix it due to laziness, so I just run the compressor :).

  12. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    I see the OP's point but find it too extreme.
    I practice mostly with a headphone amp, if it
    sounds good thru thatit sounds good on gigs.
  13. This thread really had me thinking about the little things I do to address issues ( like lowering the highs on my amps eq etc...) instead of working on technique.
    I think I get the spirit of the point the op is trying to make and will take it to heart.
  14. Doley50


    Sep 4, 2005
    I have read something similar once ( wish I could remember the source) it had a slightly different take. The person talked about playing outside of your normal environment , not all the time, but try a different room or outside whatever. The idea is to be able to adjust your mental state in order to be more relaxed with different playing environments. I take what the OP is saying as, take a small block of time from your practice and play using a different settings , eg. No FX, Flat EQ boost the hi's or whatever. Make it a little uncomfortable and deal with it using technic. We all know if we want more roundness to play further to the neck and all that stuff. This type of practicing will help you focus on areas that you can improve on. This is not stuff for a beginner, is a little advanced and in no way meant to replace your practice but a 15 min exercise to add to it. At least that is my take on it.
  15. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    yessiree +1
  16. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    To me a compressor is useless. I never used one and I don,t think a suffer from this, on the contrary.

    I think to many music style depends on stuff that is too artificial
  17. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    If you sound good during practice you're not practising hard enough. It's the right moment to get out of the comfort zone.
  18. I dig it.
  19. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    I only use it to fix the bass in most cases. Eg. if the string volume is highly uneven like on a vintage Fender or a Rickenbacker. With those, it's practically mandatory if you don't want to break your arms to be able to hear everything you're playing.

    The low strings on my current herd of basses are louder than the other ones (flat pickups on all) so I use compression to calm them down. The L2K has adjustable pole pieces, which helps with that, but it's still really powerful on the E.

    My Bromberg 5 will be here tomorrow; I'm interested to see if the radiused PU's in it fix the uneven volume thing..... I'd not mind having to use compression on at least one of my basses :).

  20. That's why it pays to play the bass you like a LOT. So you can learn its' quirks. I try to use very little compression on my Ric, but it also has hot pickups and I run an overdrive into a slightly dirty preamp, making it dirtier. So I already have quite a bit of natural compression before I hit DAW.

    I also find with the newer Rics is that how you set them up makes a huge difference. I guess I hit the strings pretty hard and don't know it, though. My guitarist friend watched me playing chords on my Ric and said "That's why it looks like you're trying to rip the strings off my guitars. You play a lot harder than me."