Soft touch

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by codeine, Jan 30, 2003.

  1. Most ppl on the forums recommend to play with a soft touch (right hand) but when i do this my teacher tells me that i am playing to soft and it isnt musical.

    Is there a point where u can play too soft?
  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    isn't musical?!?!?! what the hell is your teacher smoking? don't listen to him, you can be musical without playing any notes(jamming like marcel marceu ;)

    It all depends what music you are playing, if you are playing hard funk then you will probably want a harder touch, but a soft touch can add emotion and expression, if you are playing really fast punk a soft touch will help you to pick up speed...its all about what you are doing.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    This is a point of controversy that I have come across in classes/workshops and discussions with teachers/pro bass players.

    So a lot of people like Gary Willis advocate light touch to build up dexterity and speed.

    But I have also met teachers (who may also have played Doube Bass) who say that although amplified, the bass guitar is basically an acoustic instrument where you need to "produce" the sound with your fingers - so you need to pull through the strings to get a rich and pleasing "acoustic" sound.

    I think that someone who has played Double Bass will more than likely favour the second approach as more satisfying tonally and will make you think about the sound of each note - its place in the bar and how you build a line.

    But in the end I think it is a matter of personal preference and is just another complication when choosing the right teacher for you. So - there are lots of bass players and lots of playing styles to choose from - that's how you go about developing your own personal style!

    BUt I would say that if you want to get faster, then a light touch is going to make this easier.
  4. Thanks for that bruce.

    My teacher is a jazzer though at the moment he is a guitarist, but i assume he played double and it is what he listens to.

    Are there any drawbacks to playing soft on an electric?
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    It makes it much harder if you ever want to play Double Bass!! ;)
  6. haha i struggle enough with a fretted electric
  7. Soft touch? what do you ppl mean? like touching the string softly like you do for a harmonic? I am so confused someone clear this up plzzz.
  8. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    There's a point of balance where you're hitting hard enough to get some chunky sounds, but no so hard your unable to play faster notes. That point is different from person to person and even from bass to bass. So if you're asking "how hard should I play?", the answer is "how long is a piece of string?"

    Oh and don't be affraid to experiment with different tension strings.
  9. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon Supporting Member

    May 10, 2000
    Lake Forest, CA
    i switched to a softer touch a few years ago.

    i let the amp do the work.

    i have more control over dynamics, tone and stamina.

    oddly enough, playing this way has increased my ability to play harder/dig in more efficiently.

    i've had a few people recently say that my fretted playing sounds fretless.

    something to be said for an easy touch with the fretted hand too.

  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Agreed, fred.

    Your teacher, if he is a doubler, may need to come to the realization that these are two very different instruments.

    Have him listen to Gary Willis and/or Matt Garrison and get back to you;)

    The bass guitar is an acoustic instrument first but it is not ultimately meant to be used that way... that's why we have amps and pickups. To ignore these links in the chain is counter-productive IMO. IME you have loads more control with a light touch and a much wider dynamic range at your disposal. That's why I can go from very light background music to cranking on the last set... without touching my amp's volume control.
  11. Hello? did anyone see my post? what the hell is a soft touch? I dont understand what you people are talking about. Plz help me out Im in special ed I dont pick things up as fast as you kids.
  12. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Soft touch refers to how hard your right hand plucks the strings (if you're right handed that is). Just feathering them lightly as opposed to smacking the crap out of them.......
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    A soft touch is lighter than a heavy or hard touch. Ever seen someone pluck a bass really hard?

    It's the opposite of that.

    You lighten up on how hard you pluck and turn your amp up to compensate for the lower signal produced with this technique.

    Once you get it down you'll usually find that you have more of a dynamic range available to you by adjusting how hard or soft you pluck. You can pluck "relatively" hard and get that kind of sound, usually without as much fatigue as just banging away.

    Hope that helps.
  14. Ohhhhhhh ok were talking about the right hand. Ok that clears things up. My plucking is based on how loud or soft I want the note to be. If im going into a cresendo I really dig in, vice Versa for Decresendo, So i have no clue what your Bass Teacher is talking about.
  15. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    One thing I have noticed is that I seem to hit harder as I get older. I don't know why. Aren't we supposed to calm down as we get older. Has anyone else noticed anything similar in their playing, or am I just a wierdo?
  16. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Weirdo. Definitely weirdo. :p

    I'm getting softer with age :( :D
  17. i play both upright and electric but i use soft touch when i play electric.

    it gives so much control and if u want a louder natural sound just turn up the volume. i don't see where he gets it doesn't have musicality. u have far more control over dynamics, speed, and accents while playing softer
  18. Thanks guys.

    Based on the info i think i will go back to playing with a soft touch again.