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Should I turn the amp up or dig in harder ????

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bunny10, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. bunny10


    Mar 11, 2006
    Last night I played a gig with a band (classic rock) that had a very loud sound and in order to be heard I played much harder than usual to be heard (I dug in like a soldier) I didn't turn up my amp because I thought all I had to do was play harder and I would be ok. When I finally got through the night I noticed my right hand was exhausted, and I seemed to lack any speed or finess all night. Today I thought about it and I realized that I was digging in so much that I couldn't play with any feel or dexterity since my muscles were working overtime playing hard.

    I guess my question to all of you is really this. Given the choice to be louder would you dig in harder or simply turn up the amp. Not just for a passage in a song but as a style. It seems to me that in order to dig in more you would have to raise the action on the strings, which seems to me would make playing even more strenuous.

    I want to be loud but keep my touch. Any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated
  2. ryanl


    Mar 28, 2005
    i am all about turning up and playing softer. i find that i...

    -articulate more and am more clear
    -play faster
    -don't get as strained muscle wise, it can lead to carpel tunnel and things of that nature (or so i am told)

    plus if you are playing normal at 65% of your max it gives you a chance to actually play harder when you need to be louder. if you are playing close to as hard as you can all the time, you will have a hard time geting louder for a part if you want to.
  3. Vengoropatubus


    Oct 28, 2006
    I have this exact problem in my high school jazz band actually. We have a sub-par monitor system, and the director decided to take away my amp and send me through the speakers, but now I'm coming through the same monitor as guitar and keyboards, and we dont have any sort of board operator to turn me up in the monitor mix, so I found myself digging in real hard just to hear what I was playing, and my solo turned out absolutely horrible.
    I also reccommend turning yourself up.
  4. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    Go ahead and crank it. If you have to play extra hard like that, over time you might start developing CTS.

    Nothing wrong with digging in if you want an aggressive sound. Easier to let your rig do the heavy lifting. You'll probably get better tone playing they way you regularly do.
  5. tmax


    Dec 2, 2005
    Hallowell, Maine
    The Great Gary Willis always says to let your amp do the heavy lifting. If you are not aware of it, he has an invention called a "Willis Ramp" that fits under the strings that will not allow you to dig in. Digging in also effects your intonation, so turn it up and play lighter. If you have to buy a bigger rig!
  6. markjazzbassist

    markjazzbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Lakewood, OH

    great advice. i agree on all points.
  7. ireidt


    Mar 6, 2005
    I will have to say a combination of both. Do not play hard enough to hurt yourself though!

    Put your amp at a resonable level, and play as you would normaly do. Then play harder, enough to make your playing louder, but not enough to distort the sound in any way. You will get more dynamics that way, and you wont kill your hand!

    But if you want to be loud without killing your hand at a gig, just turn that knob!
  8. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    Like 'loud' everyone has their own idea of what constitutes digging in, but I think that talking about playing hard/soft as if one is better than the other is missing the point. Use the touch that you need at any given moment to get the dynamics and tone you need. Touch has as much effect on tone as volume. It's a case of adopting the technique you need to get the result you're after. Check this groove master class from David Dyson. He's digging in pretty hard at around 4:10 and that's got a lot to do with the way it sounds. The idea of putting in a ramp so that you can't dig in seems absurd to me, but different strokes I guess.
  9. user101


    Oct 15, 2006
    Well, i rarely go for the cranking option (usually i'm loud enough). Unless it's a piece that requires a subtle sounding bass. Otherwise i enjoy the sound of the strings when they are plucked with a certain amount of strength. It gives a more "guitarish" feeling. Otherwise, it sounds too much like a midi track or some synth bass (just for my personal taste of course). I play mostly funk. Good ol' one chord funk.:smug:

    But of course if you find you are straining your muscles to the point of injury then by all means turn that knob! :p
  10. 64jazzbass


    Sep 5, 2002
    Chicago, Il
    The theory that digging in more will lead to stronger hands is wrong. Save your hands. Besides your ears, they are your most important piece of equipment. Turn up and play softer. It's hard at first till you get used to it, but your hands will thank you at the end of the day.
  11. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    Turn up the amp. Leave the digging in for when you need some dynamics.

    Just like your car, running at 100% all the time is just going to lead to a breakdown very quickly.
  12. anonymous_111514

    anonymous_111514 Guest

    Oct 24, 2006
    I usually turn pickup volume to around 80 percent so it mixes in with the band really well playing at an average intensity level and then when things really start picking up instead of digging in I can krank that extra 20 percent

    haha reminds me of spinal tap "you're rockin out at ten and its great but where can you go from there?"
  13. emblymouse

    emblymouse exempt Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2006
    I still have to remind myself to lighten up when the impulse is to start wailing on the strings to up the ante. I find playing harder will get me the opposite of the desired effect- I lose low end and therefore I lose ground in the mix rather than gaining.
  14. Swimming Bird

    Swimming Bird

    Apr 18, 2006
    Wheaton MD
    Well, does your sound come from your amp or your hands/bass? Dynamics are important, so digging in can be song appropriate.

    Anyway, your question begs the answer of 'turn up your amp' so I'll say that too :D Playing doesn't have to hurt.
  15. eboe


    Jul 14, 2005
    Columbus, OH
    having had Carpal Tunnel in both hands, and now feeling a bit of tendonitis, I would say be careful about digging in. I have problems with this, and I use a pick. I found what really helps me if I do dig in is using a THINNER pick. Sounds crazy, but when using a thicker pick I meet more resistance when digging in. And that causes the hand to fight the string. Although I did totally fracture a pick at a gig the other day. The thinner picks have led me to feel less stress in the right arm.
  16. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    No question: turn up the amp. At some point playing harder just chokes the tone. The fattest tone is produced by a very light touch.
  17. I agree with everbody else. I used to play in a really loud band. Turn it up and take care of your hands.

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