smoothing out 16th notes

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by somethingshort, Oct 13, 2003.

  1. somethingshort


    Aug 22, 2003
    Howdy ho, just had a question about fingerstyle technique. Ive been playing bass for like 3-4 months now and I can't quite get a smoothing sounding series of 16th notes. It only happens to me really when I'm playing on a single string, rather than multiple switches..dunno why. The sound that I get isn't really bad sounding but it doesnt sound fluid, it sounds like a really syncopated line instead of being smoother. I was thinking I may be digging in to much or playing to hard, but what constitutes hard? Right now I place my thumb on a pickup and then use the area in between my fingertip and finger flat to sound the strings. Should I try using more finger flat for a smoother sound? Ive played guitar for 6 years now so my left hand is doing great, just need some tips on how to get my right hand in gear with bass.
  2. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    16th and faster (!) notes come smoothly with practice, practice, and more practice. Are you playing with a metronome? A good way to get your notes sounding smoother is to set your metronome WAY slow, maybe 50 bpm, and play a series of 16th notes. Then, bump up the tempo, and repeat until you are going faster. Then, you guessed it, slow down your metronome and start all over. Smooth sixteenth notes are all timing.
  3. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Yeah, if you can't do it slowly, what makes you think you will be able to do it quickly?


    you gotta just practice, going slowly, with a metronome focusing on evenness and clarity, work through scales, songs, whatever with 16th notes.

    They key is to do it slowly though, and master that first, then speeding up will be easy.
  4. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    I have the same problem with 16th notes. Drives me nuts.

    I've been working on an exercise from an old issue of Bass Player (May 2000 - pg. 24 - "Tom Kennedy On Adding Control To Your Technique"). Ex. 3 shows 2 measures of 16th notes and 16th note rests:

    R = rest
    C and A = notes to play

    1st measure: CRCR CRCR ARAR ARAR
    2nd measure: RARA RARA RCRC RCRC

    I started as low as my metronome could go (40 bpm) and focused on the steps that were listed:

    Step 1 - The attack. (this applied to ex 1 which was 2 measures of quarter notes and basically talked about getting the click of the metronome to disappear underneath. Play with the metronome, don't follow it, as he stated.)

    Step 2 - Breaking down subdivisions. Here's where the 16th notes were brought into play. He stated: "mentally break down the...16th notes into individual increments and internalize them."

    Step 3 - Note durations. This talked about holding a note until you get to the next one. Release the note "just before you reach the next note or rest."

    Step 4 - Dynamics. This focuses on incorporating dynamics into the exercise, like increasing the volume slightly with each note.

    I work on this exercise a little every day. I'm stuck at 65 bpm right now (don't laugh! :D) with the 16th notes LOL. I get all messed up on the second measure.

    Here's another exercise from an old Bass Player:

    Hope this helps. :)
  5. Just to add a little exercise that is good for adding depth to your playing- try adding accents to groups of sixteenths.

    For instance, say your playing a measure of sixteenths in 4/4
    - play your first group of sixteenths with an accent of the first.
    - Second group accent on the second of the four 16ths... so on till four.

    Accents can help smooth out really make your playing sound steller, but in the bass and guitar world they tend to get left out.

    Usually though, for smoother 16ths an accent on the first will help identify the beat and define your phrase.
  6. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    This doesnt *sound* that tough... but I have this little feeling I'll get home tonight and it'll drive me nuts within minutes! :D

    One thing I've never been able to get my fingers around is single 16th note triplets - there was an exerise is bassplyer one month by ed friedland on hip-hop lines and it incorporated a few different grooves made up of single 16th triplets... i know if i heard the groove i could play it... but getting my head round it from notation is a killer!
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