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Technique advice for a beginning player.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by lonestarwings, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. I've been playing since the beginning of the year (about 10 weeks). I was wondering if anyone who's bored and has time could check out this youtube video and offer me any technique advice.

    I think my biggest problem is plucking the strings too hard and getting a lot of fret buzz as a result. That could partially be a result of the fairly weak practice amp I play on.....hopefully it doesn't develop into a bad habit. The buzz is also probably attributed to not having the shifts down pat, sometimes I land too far behind middle the fret rather than right on it. I also get noticeable noise during shifts from my fingers sliding down the strings. I'm playing with fretmaster strings which are supposedly burnished over the fretboard and fully roundwound over the pickups.

    Anyway, don't hold back, give me your worst so I can concentrate on areas to improve. Thanks.
  2. shatterd


    Feb 24, 2008
    Dude you are doing fine for 10 weeks. Just keep at it. Put the bass in your hands every day and always strive to go to bed at night a better bassist than when you awoke that morning.
  3. AlphaMale


    Oct 30, 2006
    Ventura County
    Dude honestly,
    You might be better than I was, I'm not sure. The fret buzz could be because you're playing too high on the fret, your bass's action (don't mess with that yourself) or truss rod (that either). Or it could be because you're not pressing hard enough. Dude as soon as I get a new bass I'm going to practice extra hard because of you.
  4. ysand


    Mar 26, 2005
    Very good for 10 weeks!
    I have one comment to make. I can't see very clearly but it seems that u're using the pinky to press the fret that is 2 frets away from your index. The advice is to try to use the 3rd finger. Do some more 1-2-3-4 (finger -fret) excercises up and down all strings.
    apart from that u're on great way ;)
  5. psychotiger


    Feb 24, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    Builder: Moore Custom Guitars
    I see you are in Austin. For $45 ( I think ) the guys at Bass Emporium will set your bass up if you haven't done that yet. They are awesome and it will make a big difference in playability. That may take care of the buzz and you won't have to press too hard to fret the string. If you still are getting buzz, check your right hand technique. How are you plucking the strings? More parallel to the face of the bass will produce less buzz than plucking down or out (creating a string vibration directed more toward the fret and therefore more buzz). You may want to take a lesson or two just for technique. Lots of good teachers in Austin ( Austin School of Music, Bass Emporium, etc etc). Having said all that, you are doing great for having only 10 weeks under your belt. Damn, son!
  6. I can't really tell but make sure your fingers are directly behind the fret. and work on not plucking hard you barely have to pluck to get out a sound just run your finger over the string and let it fall back. I've been playing 11 weeks :p
  7. +1 to everything so far!

    A good setup is a great suggestion. It can make a WORLD of difference. A lower action will help with hand fatigue because your bass will be much easier to play. It'll also elminate excessive fret buzz due to an out of shape neck.

    A stronger amp might help... It really works for me to play with my amp quite loud and control dynamics with my fingers. However, it might not be feasible if you've got people around you and nowhere to play loud. A headphone amp might be a better option to keep those around you happy.

    The muscles in your hands are still new to playing/stretching/fretting notes. Scale exercises will definitely help with buzzing due to shifts... go slow and focus on getting your fretting fingers in the right place, right behind the frets. It might seem a bit tedious, but you'll be much happier (and a better player) in the long run.

    Noise from finger shifts is a natural side effect of having roundwound strings. Good scale exercises will help, but focusing on good shifts (without sliding your fingers on the strings) is another thing to work on. If it's still a problem, you might try a set of half-rounds or even flats, but that WILL alter your sound.

    Just remember not to work on too much all at once. Take things a little bit at a time. When you sit down with your bass, focus on one thing at a time. Eventually, everything will become second nature and all you'll have to worry about is playing music!

    Good luck and keep at it!

  8. Yeah, I usually use the 1-2-4 finger method especially below the below the 5th fret, but I do need to work on using 1-2-3-4 more often, especially on that song since most of it is played in 5th position.

    Thanks for the advice. I may take it over there eventually. I asked my teacher how he thought the bass was set up during my latest lesson, we switched out instruments and he said he liked the way my bass felt....he's plays a 70's model p-bass and I thought mine felt pretty similair to his. The action is pretty low. So yeah I'm taking lessons once a week, I'm just looking for further advice and criticisms on here. My instructors big advice for me is always "musicality" and playing less robotically....he's trying to get me to let the notes flow more and stop playing everything so stacatto.

    I think I'm plucking the strings pretty much at a 90 degree angle to the strings. The motion is mostly upward (toward the cieling) but there is a backward component to my pluck (toward the pickup).

    Yeah, that's good advice.....I need to work on the accuracy of my shifts, of course I'm right on the fret when I start playing, but after a few shifts I get off a little bit, and if I don't stare at my left hand forget it, I'll be all over the place. That's another thing my teacher is trying to get me to do....look at the music or somewhere other than my left hand when I play.
  9. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    I think your set up and amp situation are the least of your problems. You are really rushing that rhythm and it takes away any of the groove that Moby Dick is supposed to have. Listen to the recording and then watch your own video and compare they two. You are rushing pretty bad. Just because you can play the notes in the same order as JPJ doesn't mean that you are playing the song. You need to work on your time.
  10. Cool, I re did it, focusing on the timing (and using a different recording to play with, previously I was using a little more up-tempo live version). Please tell me if this is any kind of improvement in that respect (I know I kind of flubbed the riff at the end of this one, but other than that I think I got the timing slightly better).


    Thanks again for your criticism, it's much appreciated.
  11. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Yeah man, not bad at all for 10 weeks! One thing that I definitely recommend is to get a metronome and do 80-90% of your practicing with it. You don't necessarily need to have it click on every beat (a lot of musicians find that a little too robotic, and hence they come to hate the 'nome), but for rock if you set it up to click on the 1 and the 3 and practice your tunes to that, you'll find you've made a *world* of progress by the time you hit week 18-20, and you'll have established (maybe even come to enjoy?) practice habits that will set you well apart from a lot of other musicians.

    Good luck!

  12. Slax


    Nov 5, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    Amazing for ten weeks! I'm completely impressed. Do you play any other instruments besides bass? either way... bravo man.

    Not so much advice I can give based on the video, but practice I enjoy doing is plugging my amp into my computer so I can hear myself through computer headphones. Then, take a song (in this case Moby Dick) and pop it into a recording program. (I use Audacity, it's free and works for any operating system...) Play along to it while it plays. If your sound card allows, you'll hear yourself playing while the track is going so you can hear when your off... even better is that you can record it, play it back, and get a real listen as to what you just did. It helped me wonders with my playing.

    Best of luck!
  13. Thanks for the kind words. I played clarinet for 7 years in grades 6-12 in the public school system, and was a pretty mediocre player (usually 2nd or 3rd chair in a 20 piece section). I never played it again after I graduated in 2001. I could never really get into the instrument that much. I played piano a tiny bit when I was in 4th and 5th grade.

    I will look into the computer hookup....that sounds like something convenient since I usually play in from of my PC anyway

    Thanks, I'll try and use the metronome more. Lately I've been playing over actual recordings for most of my practicing. The hal leonard books I use have accompaniment with most of the exercises so I use that to help me keep the beat. Apparantly it's not working all that well since my timing is kind of off. I'll concentrate on just practicing with the metronome to help get things back in rhythm.
  14. mothmonsterman


    Feb 8, 2006
    Hell of alot better technique than i did after 10 weeks :p
    pinky? NO WAI!!!
    Seriously your look good for such little time.
  15. tswd


    Jun 20, 2007
    The only thing I noticed is that you tend to have to shift your hand pretty quickly. One thing you can try is to shift your hand at different points to make the transition smoother between sections.

    Watch his left hand in this clip.

    I can't tell if he's making use of open strings or not, but that's one thing that can help switch. Use open strings, or the notes in a different location, to transition in/out of each section.
  16. shooter


    Mar 4, 2008
    Saw 1st video - well done but may I ask....are you plucking with fingers 2&3 together? (ie. finger 1 then 2&3). Kind of looks like that to me.

    I usually have fingers 3&4 tucked up and out of the way (maybe I shouldnt.)
  17. I was sure that I wasn't, but sure enough I re-watched the video and it certainly looks like I'm plucking with my 2nd and 3rd fingers....I'm on the road right now so I can't pick up the bass and take a look, but in the video it appears that my 2nd and 3rd fingers are practicaly glued together. It maybe a function of the low frame rate on the video, but good catch, I'll see what I can find out.

    Cool, that's actually the recording I was following along with in the first video. I'll experiment a bit with open strings and see if that can help the smoothness of the shifts.
  18. You sound pretty decent for only playing 2.5 months. Your fretting is a bit off, but it isn't a deal breaker for now. Not all bassists play with 1-2-3-4 fingers per 4 frets. A great example is Rocco Prestia from Tower of Power.

    Your biggest issue is TIMING. You should be playing everything with a metronome, in order to get used to playing with a steady beat (what happens when you get to play with a drummer?). Lack of a metronome is not "more musical". Try finding a tune (other than classical) on the radio that does not have a steady tempo.

    Scales - a must. If you can play scales you can play any kind of music, as everything is built from scales & scalar patterns. Scales increase your dexterity & will also help you make your notes consistent, so no one note is accented more than another.

    Fretting hand - after you decide what fingering you'd like to use (1-2-3-4 or otherwise), play exercises (WITH THE METRONOME!!!) where you alternate your fingers (1-2-3-4, 1-3-2-4, 1-4-3-2, 4-2-3-1, etc.) There are 24 different variations. This will increase your right hand strength as well.

    Make sure your teacher shows you theory & technique - not just how to play different riffs. If you take the time to learn the theory & proper technique, you can play any riff you want. If you only learn to drive to work one way, what happens when there is a traffic jam? You'd have to take another street, but you would know how to do this because you know how to turn the car, etc.

    Don't give up! Everyone was a beginner at some point, and you are doing well for just starting.


    P.S. I'm surprised you are on TB & playing for 10 weeks without succumbing to GAS for a really expensive bass!!!
  19. Good advice, I've definitely been working on scales and theory with my teacher, major, minor, blues, pentatonic (major & minor) in all 12 keys, plus triads and a bit of chord progression. Right now he has me playing the melody from "in the hall of the mountain king" as a minor scale exercise.

    On timing, I have played with a drummer twice, and I agree, I do have a bad tendency to rush, especially pieces that have more technically challenging sixteenth note runs and fills. I think we were playing green day's "when I come around" when our drummer mentioned something about my rushing. I can usually hack it okay on the songs with straight eighths though.

    As far as GAS, I told myself I'll only upgrade my bass if I play and consistently improve for a year. Right now my technique and skill is probably not good enough to justify anything nicer than what I currently have.

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