Playing insanely fast metal

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by gsys, Jul 4, 2005.

  1. I'm not sure if this specific issue has been covered before or not (searched a little), but I need some advice. The guitarists in my band have been writing faster and faster riffs as their technique becomes more and more developed. For a large portion of these riffs, the appropriate thing to do on the bass is play what they're playing, at least rhythmically. The problem is that it's getting too fast for me to play (32nd notes at quarter note = 120 is the current milestone they have acheived).

    Right now I'm a finger player, I've never learned how to play with a pick. I started throwing in my ring finger a long time ago. I'm pretty sure I could benefit in some ways from lighter gauge strings, as they are quite thick at the moment.

    Basically, what I'm asking is this:
    Would it be worth the effort and would I be able to gain the speed I need learning to pick?
    Can I get fast enough with my fingers?
    Are there any other alternative techniques that would be worth checking out?

    Thanks in advance for helping out a newbie to the forum.
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    You don't need to double the guitars all the time. Play something that "fits around" the guitar parts - you can also play 16ths or 8ths instead of imitating the 32th pulse of the guitars.
  3. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    It will sound like blurp of you play that fast...

    I would rather play 8th's or 16th's because then you have way more headroom to groove in too, another thing i noticed is that if the guitarist or drummer(bassdrum) is playing twice as fast as you it sounds like you're playing at the same speed, just more groove..
  4. paz

    paz Banned

    Jun 26, 2001
    Seaton, Devon, England
    i think they will probably prefer it if u doubled up with them, in which case grab a pick
  5. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Have you tried playing upstrokes with your fingertips and downstrokes with your fingernails? Either with two or three fingers. The notes do easily turn into a blur, especially in the lower register, but it's s great technique for tremolo-picking long notes. Whether it's better to double the guitarists or play 8th or 16th notes really depends... what sort of metal are y'all playing and how's your bass strung/tuned?
  6. hmm, sounds like death metal maybe? i'm starting to run into this problem too...i want to be like the guy in origin or something, ha.
  7. ArtisFallen


    Jul 21, 2004
    If i need to play something so crazy go nuts fast that my right hand locks up, i do this. Cut the motion in half, by hitting the string a second time when your finger returns to the downstroke position like PK said.

    It does tend to get blurry in the lower registers, but it's kind of cool because, once you get the technique, the upstroke is less powerful than the downstroke so it turns into a really fast throbbing rather than an ugly blur. like PK said, it works sounds tremlo picking in the upper registers.

    that way you don't have the hassle of picks as well
  8. Jonki

    Jonki I will not slap my Bee!

    Oct 14, 2003
    Arendal, Norway
    using fingerstyle in fast metal is totally cool, if you want to use you fingers, it only one way to do it,is practice.
  9. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland

    This, for me, is the real "secret" of playing metal bass. At high speed bass notes blur into nothingness, we don't have the super high end overtones that guitarist has to give us clarity (unless you EQ for tons of high end, and even than doesn't really help that much).

    So ditch the 32nds. If you play in perfect half-time you have far more presence and punch, and the difference in speed is never noticed.
  10. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I would leave, and find a band that is fun play to in. Sounds like the guitarist is going through an ego trip.

    Do you want to be apart of this?

    By the sounds of it, I think not.

    Edit: english again
  11. protoz


    Nov 30, 2000
    +1 for playing around the riff.

    Before I left my metal band they were starting to go down the death metal route which really turned me away from the band.

    I was trying to double the guitars but I really wanted to be able to have some breathing room to get a little groove in there or a fill...maybe go along with the vocals.

    In death metal the bassist really doesn't have much breathing room I found out, and we basically back the guitars as much as possible but you could easily half time it and it will sound fine and make it a little more tasteful because something musical is actually going on than playing as fast as possible. Make sure your drummer doesn't start doing blast beats...I hate those more than anything!
  12. obviously...Kiwi isnt big on THE POWER OF METAL! *lightning strikes*
  13. bassuser35


    Mar 25, 2004
    Listen to

    then listen to

    then listen to

    these men play with their fingers at insanely fast speeds. it doesn't sound sloppy like some people above mentioned. it takes practice. BUY A METRONOME, PRACTICE REALLY SLOW WITH 3 FINGERS THEN GET BETTER AND PLAY FASTER. It might take you 2 years of really playing everyday before you can play well.
  14. Thanks for the replies advice everybody.
    Here are a few more specifics:

    The music is a kinda schizophrenic genre-spanning departure from hardcore. Mostly riff-based heavy stuff thrown together with a few laid-back interludes here and there, but we’ve been moving in a more death metal direction, and also in a more space rock direction, which sounds contradictory, but has been working well so far. We just finished up recording an album that’s surpassing all expectations, and I’ll probably post a request for feedback (thinly-veiled shameless plug) on the tracks available for download when the CD drops in a month or two. Playing in the band is challenging, but rewarding.

    I’ve been doubling up whenever I can get away with it and make it sound good, but many of the figures aren’t composed of notes grouped conveniently into numbers divisible by two.

    I’m tuned A C# G# C# F# low to high. (Yeah, I know the major third in there is weird.)

    Today I tried doing the thing pklima suggested hitting the string on the upstroke, which I remember reading somewhere on here before, but I forgot about it apparently. Anyway, I found that it comes pretty naturally for me playing middle finger down, index finger down, middle finger up, index finger up, rinse and repeat, so thanks for that suggestion.

    I probably should get around to learning to pick just to know the technique at least.
  15. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    With music like that you can use a variety of techniques, whatever's appropriate for a particular part. That's good, too - playing with one technique for an entire two-hour set takes a lot more endurance than when you're able to use a variety of motions.

    With a tuning as low as yours you should definitely be playing in half-time or quarter-time on the lower notes. Playing straight 32nd notes on open A at fast tempo can't produce a clear pitch due to the laws of physics. Let's say you're at 120 bpm. That would be 960 32nd notes per minute or 16 per second. Your open A will be around 30 Hz. That means it won't even have time to make two full wavecycles before you hit the string again.

    Someone once said something like "bass is like being close to absolute zero temperature - weird things start to happnen".
  16. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    go fingerstyle, you won't regret it.
  17. protoz


    Nov 30, 2000
    I played in Drop C (CGCF) for years and learned that when your guitarists are shredding along you can't always play that fast and keep it sounding clean. I run thick strings (.45-1.05) to cope with the tuning so that might slow me down a bit but it shouldn't slow me down too much.

    For those spaced out rock riffs I hope you are laying down some thick groove and the guitars are taking a bit of a back seat to you :)
  18. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    "Blast beats", now this is a new one for me. I've honestly never heard it before. Could someone elaborate or give an example of a song with this kind of beat?
  19. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    I'm trying to improve my fingerstyle speed, so even though I'm not heavily into this type of music, the thread intrigues me.

    I'm guessing that you must pluck the strings really lightly and make contact only with the very tip of your fingers. The less flesh impacting the string, probably the better.

    Also, remaining as tense-free as possible is probably important.

    I'd try keeping up with the 32nd notes the guitarists are producing (but I've no experience with this type of music)!

    Good luck.
  20. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    Go here. The Red Chord

    Listen to the Antman clip. It starts blasting at about 30 seconds. A blast beat is just alternating bass drum and snare hits.