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Rock Technique

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Whit Townsend, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. Dont really know where to put this, so mods feel free to move it if needed.
    I've started playing upright in a band that does everything from punk to Americana.
    I'm comfortable with country, some blues, and have played bluegrass for yrs. I'm totally self taught, 55 yrs old, been a guitarist since high school. I started playing upright in a bluegrass context 20 yrs ago. My slap technique is good enough that Im happy with it.

    Whats giving me fits are rock songs with bass lines composed with slab. Two main issues, 1st being really fast 8th notes, typical in rock and punk, having a hard time keeping up speed, nice even timing, and getting right hand fatigue really fast.
    2nd issue is a left hand one. A lot of rock songs have signature bass lines typically played on electric up the neck in closed positions. I try yo move them to 1st pos sometimes, using open str when I can, but its not always possible or they don't sound as good. I have a strong left hand, but I give out playing in closed position for a whole song, esp at faster tempos or more notey lines.

    I've tried doubling and switching over the electric on some of these tunes but I've never played slab that much, and I find my technique suffers switching back and forth a lot. I get heavy handed and make a lot of extranious noise on electric, esp right after putting down the upright. Plus that means carrying more equipment, like an amp(I usually just play upright thru the PA).

    So I guess what Im asking is for some exercises and techniques I can work on to get more fluid in the right hand playing fast 8th note lines, and get some better left hand technique to alleviate fatigue when playing up the neck in closed positions.

    I guess I could lower my action some, its not super low but not super high either, its about where I like it for playing country, bluegrass, and slapping. If I lower it more it will cut into how I play other stuff, and plus I imagine I would loose some tone and punch for my acoustic stuff.
    I use Tomastik Superflexible Solos.
  2. Have you had a setup done? I bought a Wilfer from Ideal/bassesonline and the setup left a few things to be desired. That could help with your left-hand issues.

    In terms of the right hand, I have no problem pumping quarter- or eighth-notes using my index finger or doubling up with my bird finger if I start to tire. But the fact is that you're playing a completely different instrument, so the lines you're playing may have to be changed to compensate.
  3. The bass is set up well by Williams 16th av Nashville. Fingerboard planed, nut & bridge work. The action could be lower but it's where I asked for and where I like it for most things.
    Altering the lines to make em work has been my approach for the most part.
    I guess I should get a jazz or class teacher person to have a look to give some pointers on better technique.
  4. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    One trick I remember from my electric days to build up repetitive speed for 8th notes was to play constant eighth as fast as possible for one minute, and over time you would be able to build up speed and stamina. However, this seems like I recipe for self-harm on the double bass. another more useful tip might be to play a little bit lighter. when you dig in it's hard to play quickly (as I'm sure you know).

    I hope you get the help you're looking for,

  5. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    In the jazz band, we play some jazz-rock charts that call for electric bass and are written with 8th notes or otherwise "busy" funk rhythms. I've found that those notes just don't sound on my bass with any definition. Of course somebody with better technique might have no problem.

    So I cheat and simplify the bass parts.
  6. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    practice the misfits songs, when you get them down, play along with the live youtube videos, which are much faster, i always play finger style, but some people can play super fast doing just downstrokes
  7. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    Honestly? You are gonna have to double and learn to monitor your technique in the transition. The easy answer is the hardest work.
  8. One possible answer: play them arco. I know that seems weird, but it can work.
  9. I know exactly what you mean.
  11. Oddly I can imagine that on the fast dirt simple punk songs. I'm super green w the bow but I have pulled off easy stuff in my old Church band. I'm Gonna try it thanks!
  12. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Are you having trouble getting the bass to speak on the fast, low stuff? Or do you care more about the percussive sound (the transient) getting across. I know that I kind of slap in to get a more percussive sound when I play notey Jamerson stuff on upright.

    You might just play longer notes like fdeck said. Maybe when the drummer gets the picture he can get some closed hats inside of your sound to give lines the snap people expect.

    What songs are you concerned about?

    You know what, one of the cool things I found out when I got into the bow was that sometimes I can make it sound like I'm making feedbacky kinda noises like I'm playing electric guitar. You know, you get the harmonics going between notes while you're sliding around... I'd love to crank that **** and see how people like it.
  13. I end up just slowing things down. using quarter notes instead of eighths on a lot of things. My advice is to check out Chris Fitzgerald's Youtube lessons on right hand technique. These may be helpful to you.
  14. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    One of the first sections in Rufus Reid's Evolving Bassist is on building up your right hand and developing a strong sound. Its pages worth of nothing but open string exercise that continue to increase in intensity from whole to half to quarter etc. Even though I've moved past this part of the book, I continue to use it regularly in my practice. I'll pick passages and practice them with a metronome, increasing speed as my hands continue to warm up and adjust. I'll also practice parts with alternating fingers and without.

    It sounds like could use something like this. If you start slow and build your way up through that book, you will see real improvement.