Repeating Notes, different pitches

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SparkyNZ, Nov 24, 2021.

  1. SparkyNZ


    Nov 24, 2021
    I will start by admitting that I am not a seasoned bass player - but I do record bass riffs and piece my compositions together in Cubase. I have 5 string Ibanez Ergodyne with active pickups.

    Something I have noticed today is that when I play the same 2 notes on my E-string, each note is not in tune with the other. Specifically, the second note is always higher. I have my index finger on the 7th fret

    I don't think I'm applying more pressure on the fret when I'm playing the second note and instead of alternate picking, I've even tried using the same finger to try and get the same attack and pressure for both notes.

    I went through about 10 takes and they're all doing the same thing. I know I can consciously vary my pressure on the second note to lower the note that's produces but I'm just curious to know your thoughts on this. Suppose I should grab a pick and see what happens too..
  2. Have you checked your intonation?
    Killing Floor likes this.
  3. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Assuming your fretting finger hasn't moved, the second note cannot be "higher" (in pitch) -- but it might be louder, or you might be holding the note longer (or shorter), or your attack might be different. It's just a matter of practice to make them sound the same. With a pick it's very much the same problem -- i.e. making downstrokes sound the same as upstrokes.
    SoCal80s, FatStringer52 and SparkyNZ like this.
  4. SparkyNZ


    Nov 24, 2021
    How would intonation affect the same note sounding differently when using the same fret and same picking finger and same picking finger position?
    lamarjones, mcnach and Lobster11 like this.
  5. Sorry, thought you were talking same note, different octave.
    SparkyNZ likes this.
  6. SparkyNZ


    Nov 24, 2021
    After work I will through the capo onto the 7th fret and experiment some more. That would rule out my left hand applying different pressure. If I'm recording with a guide track in the background.. maybe I'm subconsciously changing what my picking finger is doing in relation to the background tracks.
    Lobster11 likes this.
  7. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Any kind of backing track might make the two notes sound different even if you're playing them the same way. I would try playing without a backing track first to make sure the notes sound the same without any background, and then proceed to figuring out whether you're actually plucking the notes differently or whether they just sound different against the background.
    SparkyNZ likes this.
  8. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    This can't happen in isolation, so it is something you are doing. Are you inadvertently bending the strings as you play? It might be worth checking in a mirror or pointing a video camera at your hand just to see what is going on.
    Another possibility is that you are, again unintentionally, pulling back on the neck as you hold each note...
    Either way, try loosening your left hand grip...
    AGCurry, Matty Koff and BassFalcon like this.
  9. SparkyNZ


    Nov 24, 2021
    It's an illusion. I have some strings playing in the background and these are giving the effect that the bass is shifting pitch. The strings do have a bit of phasing going on and possibly do shift pitch a little.

    It's been driving me nuts. For the past hour I've been turning my tuning pegs trying to get in tune with little luck. Once I mute the strings, everything sounds great with the bass.. I put the strings back in and .. yuck. Maybe some panning on the strings will help for now.
  10. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    I ran into some issues with this a number of years ago with a couple string patches in Reason. My bass was in tune just fine but the patch was a few cents off giving that out of phase sound. We were so adamant about the using those specific string patches. I tried re-intonating my bass for a tempered “Buzz Feiten” tuning and voila.
    SparkyNZ likes this.
  11. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Panning is not the answer. Better would be to EQ the signal going to the modulation effects such that only the mid and high frequencies are processed. Then put on a HPF to remove the deep bottom end and create sonic space for the bass.
    Element Zero likes this.
  12. themickster


    Oct 4, 2015
    Can you put a soundbite in here? Hearing it for ourselves would help us help you.
    SparkyNZ likes this.
  13. A tip to check out: When you play a note, there's an attack (few ms of very loud transient), then there's a sounding tone. The sounding tone has some pitch. After about a second, the pitch gets few cents down. The louder you pluck, the bigger the pitch difference. Softer strings probably do it more than stiffer. With longer string lenght, the pitch changes more (at least that's the case when I compare my bass guitar and my double bass).

    This is physics thing and at least I can't really hear the difference. Perhaps the ear learns to get used to it when learning to recognize the sounds of instruments? Or, we don't pluck unnecesarilly loud for just this reason? - I've met people who play fast notes when tuning, saying that it helps the tuning presicion.

    I'm using this Android tuner, where you can nicely see it.

    Don't know whether this helps, but it's interesting.
    SparkyNZ likes this.
  14. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Same fret? Technique.

    A B is a B is a B. Only difference in timbre, is how and where you hit the string.
  15. Try it with a capo.
  16. BassBrass


    Jul 6, 2009
    Boston MA
    Other than doing something physical to the bass, it could be a perception artifact based on the background harmonic context and your expectations.
    There's a jazz piece by Wayne Shorter called Nefertiti (the name of the Miles Davis album it's on) it's like a mobius strip-every time you play it it seems to rise a step. But it doesn't. It's the same notes every time. btw, the only improvisation on Nefertiti is from the drums Tony Williams, it's a drum show.
    SparkyNZ likes this.
  17. BassFalcon


    Nov 18, 2020
    I 2nd that. Play in front of a mirror or record it on your phone. If this is actually happening it’s because you are either pushing to hard and it’s bending sharp or you are bending laterally. The other thing to note is that the attack of a note is always slightly sharp, this is visible on something like a strobe tuner. That’s a natural and inescapable fact of physics.
    SparkyNZ likes this.
  18. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    When you say “strings playing in the background” are you talking about stringed instruments, like cello, violin, etc.
    If so, they are likely using heavy vibrato, which is a technique that slightly changes pitch in a rhythmic pattern.

    I play a little violin, and my playing didn’t sound “violin like” until I learned to do vibrato. It is used much more than you think to get that classical sound.
  19. SparkyNZ


    Nov 24, 2021
    Yeah I did lastnight. That's what made me conclude it's the "sum of the parts" in my current mix. Well"mix".. if you'd call it that at the moment..
  20. SparkyNZ


    Nov 24, 2021
    Oh I'm totally with you on that one. I'll post a few clips when I get round to it to show what I mean. I've reached the "I've had enough and need a break" point with this tune.. time to turn to another hobby for a couple of days :) I had a good run at recording bass for 4 tunes lately. Then I hit this riff and it's just been frustrating. Sometimes it's a good idea to walk away for a while.