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Practising without an amp.. ..bad habit?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by jokke_v, Dec 20, 2004.

  1. jokke_v


    Aug 15, 2003
    Bergen, Norway
    I tend to practise a lot without plugging into my amp, and one thing came to my mind.
    Now, the bass isn't the most acoustic instrument, and playing it without an amp might require me playing harder..

    ..so what I'm wondering is if my habit can/will do damage to my technique...(?)
  2. pharasoth


    Nov 27, 2004
    It shouldn't do any damage to your technique.
    When playing unplugged don't play to make a pretty song, but rather focus on your technique.. practice finger stretch and slapping accuracy, as well as delicacy with your fingerstyle.. save the maestro **** for when your plugged in :p
  3. Blunk


    Aug 14, 2002
    I used to practice a lot without an amp, it kinda mucked up my slap technique a bit cos i started to slap and pop a little harder than needed to hear what i was playing - which became a bit of a problem, so i'm slowing things down a bit now.

    i practice without an amp when i'm working on fingering and arpeggios etc - so i can hear if there is any fret buzz, then i know i'm not fingering correctly...if only women worked that way eh? :eek: did i just say that?!!
  4. i rarely practice with an amp. when i'm plugged in, i can hear the notes regardless of how well i play them. when i'm playing acoustically, if i get fret buzz i KNOW it.

    also with slap bass, once I learned how to do it consistantly, the next step was decreasing the force of my slap while retaining the sound. that's helped up my speed a bunch while keeping me from trying to 'rush' through songs to keep up.

    I find it also helps with finger tapping, too. Hell, my basses are only plugged in if i'm recording or playing with a band
  5. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I estimate 75% of my practice is with no amp....been that way for a good while, too.
    What I have noticed-
    Going into an 'amped situation' with a LIVE band will require about a week or so of adjusting.
    There is something to be said for practicing at FULL volume; a lotta of us can't get away with that, though.
  6. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    I only practice without an amp for tapping. Otherwise, I will use headphones or my combo amp.
    Don't practice fingerstyle without an amp because you will play harder and that will create an inefficient RH technique. I do play with an amp when doing lefthand fingering exercises. Just put your bass in classical guitar position so the neck is nice and close to your ears. That way you won't play hard with your RH and you can still finesse your LH fingering and eliminate buzz..
    With tapping I rarely use an amp. If you work on getting a very very loud acoustic tapping sound, then when you turn on the amp you get a clear defined note when tapping. Also, the stronger your hands are when tapping the more even the notes will be, and you can use more dynamics when tapping.
  7. I play without an amp most of the time and I have to admit it encourages hard right hand technique. Because of this, I tend to play with a pick unplugged, or very softly with my fingers. It's alright, and in some cases it's less forgiving (fretbuzz, etc). But don't build bad habits such as playing so hard your fingers begin to hurt. I still experience that a lot. I also tend to prefer using a hard attack when I do play with an amp, which can cause some pain during long practices. This, simply because I'm more used to playing that way and don't practice using a soft touch much. Don't let bad habits form.
  8. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    It won't really change your technique too much. You may play harder to make your bass audible to you, but when you plug back in, you should be back to normal. The important thing to remember is that you control how your technique progresses.
  9. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I prefer to practice with an amp. Whether it is a recording or live situation, you're more than likely going to use some type of amplification. Since that's the case, you should practice for the situation you want to be perfect in.

    In addition to making your plucking harder, playing without an amp will not let you know what kind of extraneous noises that you are making. Sure, playing acoustically might let you hear buzzing frets a little better, but in a live situation it won't really matter as long as the amp doesn't pick it up or if the note still resonates as it should. The thing that playing acoustically won't tell you is whether or not you're making extraneous noises that will be heard by an amp. For example, does your left hand muting cause the string to hit a fret and cause an unwanted click? Does the way you pluck cause you hit your pickups causing an unwanted clack? Does your plucking or fingering cause any unwanted or unintended percussive sounds? You won't really know the extent of the issues until you amplify.

    Maybe a few extra clicks or clacks won't be noticed in a live setting, but in a recording situation they definitely will.
  10. bill_banwell

    bill_banwell Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2002
    I Dont have an amp in the place i stay for 5 days a week, but in a silent room i dont think i play harder.. for some reason, i think only people who are musically frustrated or something would play harder.. i read something about that, if im wrong then no worries..?
  11. praticing sans amp is a necessity for me. I practice mostly at night while my daughter and wife are sleeping(funny i call my main bass the mistress) I usally find a small room i.e. bathroom, walk-in closet to play in so I can hear my self better.
  12. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    It's possible to practice with an amp while others sleep - I do it fairly frequently.

    We have a small, portable fan in each bedroom of my home - the humming noise of the fans knocks out the sound of the bass (and other bothersome noises) for the people trying to sleep.

    Yes, I practice quietly, but it's clearly audible to me - much louder than without an amp.

    Another thing: several posters have mentioned that practicing sans-amp allows them to hear fret buzz well.

    I'm surprised by this. If I want to detect any extraneous noises that I'm creating (so that I can work on eliminating them), I simply bump up the treble freqs on the bass and at the amp.
  13. i was surprised at this as well, but after giving it some thought I guess it makes sence. I would think that an amp would "amplify" :smug: the sound your making intentional or otherwise.
    i used to pracitce with the amp by simply useing headphones but I found myself spending a half an hour looking for the damn things! so i just pick it up and play :cool:
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Many like plucking harder back by the bridge.
    Another viable technique is plucking hard over the neck pickup...this should yield a 'popping' thing(Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, etc). Control is the key.

    I know many here espouse playing with a 'light touch'.
    The bass I really cut my teeth on, a '64 P-bass, wouldn't really respond unless it was played firmly.
    FME, the few boutique basses I have played responded nicely with a 'light touch'.

    Other instrumentalists who played/play "hard"-
    John Coltrane
    Cecil Taylor
    ...I don't think either are musically frustrated.
  15. jokke_v


    Aug 15, 2003
    Bergen, Norway
    Well... Thank's for the replies guys. Nice to get some thoughts of this except for mine!

    I think I'll just continue doing what feels natural.. ..meaning that I'll plug in whenever I feel it's a necessity for what I'm practising, and play unplugged if it's late at night or if it's not necessary for what I'm practising.
  16. I tend to play without an amp often because I can play lound enough to clearly hear myself (I also play upright so I know how to make a lot of noise efficiently and I play harder than most anyway). I think it's a good thing because it forces you to get a good acoustic tone so that you are not relying on EQ and effects to make you sound good, and use them instead to make you sound better(I've noticed the EQ settings have been getting less and less extreme as I have learned to change my right or left hand technique in order to get a certain sound). Of course you need to know how to play with an amp because its different than playing without, but as long as you do so from time to time you're okay.
  17. JohnBarr


    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY
    My experience has been that you just can't hear enough unplugged. Especially if you're technique is slipping.

    Fender makes a little practice amp, a Rumble, that includes both a tape in and headphone output. So you could practice through phones.

    You should be able to get one for no more than $100 -- They list for more but sell for less. OK another way to spend money, but it may be worth it if you find you're spending more acoustic practice time.

  18. eric atkinson

    eric atkinson "Is our children learning "Is our teachers teachin

    Feb 4, 2001
    LOL you guys will laugh at this but i kinda have a answer to this question! I will grab my bass some times and play without a amp just when i have a idea for a tune! I will (ok laughing starts in a sec) Rest the head of the bass against a wall. When you play it really does kinda get a amped effect! Trick i learned about 15 years ago when i was a broke bassist! :rollno:
  19. Leafy-dono


    Dec 25, 2004
    It seems that alot of people here see the click as a bad thing.
    I have to say, when I first started playing, I did everything within my might to eliminate the click.

    But when I started listening to players like Geezer Butler, Scott Reeder and started imitating their style, I noticed how much the click is a part of their sound (esp. Scott Reeder, he doesn't really pluck the strings, he hammers them). It's due the fact that they tune down low and pluck way up the fretboard.
    So I tend to play with alot of 'click', along the lines of those players, it gives you a percussive feel too.

    I guess, if you control it, it's just another technique.

    How does everyone else her see this?
  20. Erlendur Már

    Erlendur Már

    May 24, 2000
    I have been practicing without an amp for a LONG time. My amp is broken and has been since.. 2000 or something.

    I have been able to use an amp at gigs, though.