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playing fast and keeping rhythm,,,

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by calm like a bomb, Oct 2, 2000.

  1. calm like a bomb

    calm like a bomb

    May 24, 2000
    i've been having some trouble at playing at a fast pace and keeping rhythm. i don't know whether this just comes with becoming an inexperienced bassist (been playin for about 7 months) and maybe i'll pick it up the more i practise. i play with my fingers and was wondering if this is the fastest and easiest way of playing bass or should i use a plec. oh yeah if your wondering why i want to play fast in the first place it's generally cos when playing punk riffs (which are usually pretty fast, i think) i mess up on them sometimes, and some i find too fast. well, write back with any suggestions.
  2. Play it slow.

    Play it so slow you can play it perfectly. No matter how slow that is. And "perfectly" means that every note is precisely what you intended, no buzzes, rattles, squeaks, your fingers are placed right behind the frets, the whole shebang. Perfect.

    And do it with a metronome. If you have to have it set for one beat a second to get it perfect, set it at one beat per second.

    When you can do it perfectly at some slow speed, bump the metronome up. If you stumble and don't play it perfectly at the new speed, back down some. Keep increasing the metronome speed and I guarantee you, eventually you'll get it.

    I like to do the above and then even go PAST the proper speed with the metronome. If the song is at 144bpm and I can do it at 164, then when I have to play it at 144 it's easy.

    Maybe it sounds like BS, but it works.
  3. one word : Metronome learn to love that click!
    Drum machines are also really cheap these days.They will play whatever you want for hours.
    practice practice.
    slow and fast,slow and fast
    hang tough and eventually it will become second nature.
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Atom Bomb-
    There's guys that have been playing for years & still have tempo problems; SEVEN months, huh?
    Granted, I'm no expert...I do think one needs to have an internal clock goin' on; in addition, one needs to have some concept of how TIME works.
    So a little mathematics/arithmetic-
    In 4/4 TIME, a 1/4 note gets a "1" count. /1-2-3-4/

    DOUBLE it, you get 1/8 notes. /1&2&3&4&/
    -with the same TEMPO(say, 60bpm)as above's 1/4 note example, you get the illusion of playing "faster". TWICE as many notes in the SAME amount of TIME/SPACE.

    TRIPLE it, you have triplets. /1&a2&a3&a4&a/

    QUADRUPLE it, you have 1/16 notes. /1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a/

    Now bear in mind that you can have any combination of note values + the associated rests, too.
    Know that a rest is as important as a note...both take up SPACE! There's a saying, "What you DON'T play is as important as what you do play". I digress...

    Anyway, some guys(like me)will tend to feel the 1/16 note subdivisions(the 1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a stuff)& COUNT on "1" and "3". Ya gotta COUNT! I used to "count" on the drummer to keep me in "my" place. Alas, too many decent drummers began having fun at my expense. You're responsible for YOUR time! Count!

    If you get a metronome-
    Start with 1/4 clicks & play a Major scale...

    Graduate to "double time"(keep the 1/4 note "click", plat TWO notes per click)-

    On to THREE notes per click-

    Finally(for now), FOUR notes per click-
  5. calm like a bomb

    calm like a bomb

    May 24, 2000
    ok everyone thanks for the suggestions....appreiciate it. actually been playin for about 8 months now, talk about experience eh?
    don't call me an idiot or anything but what excactly is a metronome? if it costs anythin it's probably out of my price-range seeing as the only income i get is alloance.
  6. CLAB -

    A metronome is just a gizmo that keeps time for you, clicks at a specific tempo. There are many different kinds, but a good simple basic electronic metronome is more than sufficient for almost anything, and is all you'll need, at least at first. If you look around, you can find a good one for under $20 at just about any music store. Avoid the wind-up ones, they always break after a while.
  7. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    Ditto re the advice here. Solid rythym first is the most important thing, then speed, etc. Make sure your timing is perfect. using a metronome is a pain in the neck but it'll eventually make your timing impeccable.
  8. calm like a bomb-
    There are free software metronomes available. Just hit up your fave search engine.
  9. calm like a bomb

    calm like a bomb

    May 24, 2000
    i was wondering if there was some kind of free software goin round...thanks for that mm. i'll look it up.

    oh yeah another question. does anyone ever feel strain when playin bass with fingers? i think this may be something that contributes to me losing it while playing those 16th notes...
  10. hell_awaits


    May 2, 2000
    There's a handy drum machine program called the "Hammerhead Rhythym Station" that can be obtained free of charge. You can find it at http://www.technomusic.com . It's under "rhythm box" in the music software category.
  11. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    There's one other thing that hasn't been brought up here, besides working with a metronome. Actually two more points. First, are you fingering your notes on the fretboard in the most economical fashion? For example, are you making use of open notes (E, A, D, G) whenever possible for speed? Are you playing the notes as close together as possible or are you jumping all over the fretboard to find your notes? I've seen beginners do that. Another thing that slows a player down is if they take their fingers too far off the fretboard between notes. Do you keep your fingers close to the fretboard?

    Another thing, are you using strict alternation of your picking fingers? You wouldn't be picking with only one, perhaps, which I have seen bass players do.

    One last thing, when I played in a hardcore/hiphop band, I finally did give up my preferred finger style and go to a pick because it just seemed like I could play faster. It also added a harder edge to the sound. That is just my experience, however.

    And, lastly, I endorse the use of a metronome for practicing fast licks. Practice over and over and over. SPeed comes with time. As my teacher used to say, "Speed comes from slowing down."

    Jason Oldsted
  12. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    Some more good advice from Jason there, but please dont think that a pick is faster than fingers. It may work great for Jason but nothing beats my lightning fast three finger technique. in other words, save the speed for now until you get the basics in place.
  13. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Brewer9, my bass god, Billy Sheehan would agree with you. He is the first one I knew about who uses the three finger technique. I just never seemed to master it myself and admit it may be because I didn't have the patience to work at it enough. It just seemed to slow me down, but I know Sheehan is very adept at it and I am glad to know others have developed the technique too.

    JAson Oldsted
  14. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    yeah, definitely start slow and even. learn how to play consistently, slowly. then learn how to play the same thing as relaxed and softly as you can. the key to speed is relaxation. if you tighten up, you aren't going to be able to play very fast, since you will be fighting your own muscles, but if you stay relaxed, you will get much more speed.

    also, don't expect any great speed or consistency in 8 months. bass ain't playstation - it takes a lot of time to learn all the secret moves and do them right. ;)
  15. calm like a bomb

    calm like a bomb

    May 24, 2000
    3 finger's y'say? hmm.....ok then i just gave that technique a little practise and it seems like something i may be able to do. but i dunno...best not jumping to all new techniques every week eh. well i used to jump all round the fretboard tryin to get the notes but i've been workin on actually using all 4 fingers to play and it's coming around pretty good. i moved on from playing with one finger about 2 months after i picked up a bass.
    i dunno i've tried playin with a pick before and it just doesn't feel right for me. maybe when i get more experienced i'll try playing with a pick.
    well i downloaded a free metronome from some site and it's helping a lot. well again, thanks for all the advice. it's good to know there are experts out there willing to help begginers :)
  16. CLAB -

    Stick with the 4 finger right-hand technique. I use it, and it's really flexible, also allows you to do some pretty quick stuff once you get it smoothed out. I don't think it's inherently "faster" than using 2 or 3 fingers (when I was studying with Dave LaRue, he only played with 2 fingers, and he WASTED me speed-wise, among other things :D) but if you are or ever do move to a multi-string (6+) bass, you'll find it to be VERY helpful. You're right on about jumping from one technique to another when it comes to plucking the strings (with 2,3, or 4 right hand fingers), find one, perfect it, and stick with it. Working on different ones constantly will make it harder to get your technique together.

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