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technique in general...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by nataku, Jul 4, 2005.


  1. nataku

    nataku

    Jun 21, 2004
    San Jose, CA
    so, this is kind of embarassing, but im a total noob to technique on bass. ive been playing for 3 years, ive been in a band for almost that whole time, and up until now, technique hasnt been a problem for me, so i just assumed i was doing it right. there werent any stickies in this forum, and im not sure what to search for, so i decided to ask for advice.

    recently, my band tried to record instruments separately. lets just say it exposed a lot of things about my playing that surprised them, and me, for that matter. i wear my bass farily high, im right handed, and i play a 4 string. ill break it down into all the separate problems i think im having.

    my first one would be with my fretting (left) hand. mostly, i keep my thumb up by the top of the fretboard, sometimes with it hanging over the top if i play on the d and g strings and need to mute the e and a strings. recently, ive been trying to keep my thumb on the back of the fretboard (like my guitarists), near the stripe on the back, but that makes it impossible to mute strings that i dont use.

    i also have problems with releasing notes on the fretting hand. if i want to play short, stacato (sp?) quarter notes or something, i play the note, then release it with my fretting hand, and it always gets this awkward buzz right at the end of the note. i wish i could record it, but alas, i dont have a computer mic :( . should i be muting with my playing (right) hand, instead of my fretting one? i tried that, but its really awkward.

    also, i have trouble with my playing hand. i used to play with my fingers at about a 45 degree angle to the strings, but i would get horrible fretbuzz if i didnt play extremely lightly. im trying to play closer to perpendicular now, but it still seems like i get a lot of fretbuzz.

    my last, and least important problem, is with finger alternation. i play with 2 fingers on my playing hand, and lets say i had to play a note on the g string, then on the d string in rapid succession. i would play the note on the g with my index finger, then instead of switching to use my middle finger on the d, i would use the index finger that had just come to rest on the d. (if that makes any sense to anyone...). so if i had to play 4 notes across all 4 strings, i would use just the index finger if i was coming from the g to the e string, but if i was going down, from the e to the g string, i would use correct finger alternation. is there anything wrong with this, because it feels way more natural this way, and i can play way faster like that.

    if anyone can make any sense of the gibberish i just typed, and could lend me some advice, or point me in the direction of some helpful threads, id appreciate it. :help:
     
  2. Correlli

    Correlli

    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Technique isn't that important in the begining. What's important is musicianship, getting on with others, acheiving short term goals, and having fun.

    I've been playing for close on 18 years and still make mistakes when recording or playing live. You can't get away from it.

    As for the buzzes, clicking, and rattling sounds, try and ignore it, or cut the treble.
     
  3. First, as far as the muting issue goes, some people (myself included) mute the E and A strings with the right hand, by resting the thumb on either the E or A string if you are playing either the D or G strings. Of course this takes a little practice as your right thumb is no longer "anchored" to the p/u.

    As far as your fret buzzing goes, take your bass to a tech, or read the "Set Up" forum on TB. The buzz might be caused by either a string height or neck relief issue. If the set up is ok try experimenting with different techniques and see if you can minimize it.

    You last question describes an accepted technique called "raking" many people (again, myself included) find it to be a very efficient technique. So, no there is nothing wrong with it.

    Hope this helps :cool:

    ....Jim
     
  4. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Adam Nitti has a wonderful website with free lessons.

    http://www.adamnitti.com/lessons.shtml

    It's worth checking out. He has lessons on left and right hand technique that can help you out. He does a good job of explaining things and including photos.

    For your enjoyment, there are mp3's of his playing. Do yourself a favor and download his recording of "Skitzo".

    Here's a pic of Steve Bailey and Adam Nitti playing at Victor Wooten's Summer Bass Camp:

    [​IMG]

    Hope this post is helpful. :D

    Joe
     
  5. nataku

    nataku

    Jun 21, 2004
    San Jose, CA
    in response to the first part, that sounds like a great idea, im gonna start doing that.

    for the second part, i just had the action lowered on the bass, and they checked for fretbuzz and everything, but it still buzzes when i release notes instead of muting them.

    for part 3, sweet, at least im doing something right... :D


    also, for kiwi, i cant just ignore it, im a perfectionist, and though you cant really hear it when we play as a band, i sound horrible as a bassist by myself. i already have the treble down really low, and its not like i can just ignore the mistakes on the recordings... :(


    for bassist, i wish i could see those lessons, but im on 56 k internet, so theres probably no way im viewing any vids or downloading music anytime soon... :bawl:
     
  6. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    I am on dial-up too. The lessons are simply text and images. The mp3 files aren't all that big. Just do your thing on TB while it's downloading, it'll be done in a snap. :) Don't pass up these lessons, they're very good.

    The left hand muting technique is very tricky if you've never done it before. I do it all the time, but I've done it for a long time. Don't give up. Take a look at Nitti's lessons for proper position (or at least some guidelines), then go from there.

    I know what you mean about being a perfectionist. Sometimes it can be a roadblock to progress.

    Joe
     
  7. nataku

    nataku

    Jun 21, 2004
    San Jose, CA
    sweet, im going through em now. it wasnt too hard to switch the fretting thumb position, but the movable anchor thing is a bit harder...

    im still getting fretbuzz, and the headstock started rattling again, so back to the tech it is :crying: .
     
  8. Maverick Blues

    Maverick Blues Being a Thumper is all about ATTITUDE!

    Apr 28, 2005
    Richmond, VA
    I'm a rank newbie to bass ("rank" being the operative word :spit: ) so I don't have any sage advice for you. On the flip side though, I'm naturally experiencing the same issues you are (and a big one for me that you didn't mention is string squeaks -- I'm currently trying to learn to "jump" positions a little more and "slide" them a little less).

    On the left-hand muting thing, are you just slightly releasing pressure to mute? That's the way I started, and I had the same buzz problem. I think the string was still depressed so much that it was close to the fret and buzzing against it.

    The trick for me was learning to lift my finger(s) quickly and to pretty much let the string come back to the neutral position, but with the finger still resting firmly on the string. Once I got that down the buzz with left-hand muting pretty much went away. Dunno if that's related to what you're experiencing at all, but maybe it's food for thought.

    Interestingly, the left-hand muting thing came to me almost subconsciously, I just one day realized I was controlling a couple of notes that way in a riff I was learning. It was like, "Oh, okay, that's cool"... and then I started more conciously using it when appropriate. Maybe because of that, I also notice that sometimes I mute with both hands simultaneously -- intentionally with my right thumb or whatever as I jump strings, but at the same time my fretting hand is lifting and muting.

    I'm sure my technique is overall absolutely horrid. I definitely have a LONG way to go. But ya know what? I'm having fun and I'm improving, so it's all good. I wish I'd discovered bass (as a player versus just a listener) ages ago!

    Good luck with your studies, nataku!

    'rick
     
  9. nataku

    nataku

    Jun 21, 2004
    San Jose, CA
    yeah, string squeeks are kind of a problem for me too, but to adapt to this, i usually slide from position to position (since i dont move around that much).

    ive tried lifting the fretting finger all the way up to neutral position, but it seems that the buzz is coming from when i lift the finger off the note, as the string comes off the fret. im taking it to the tech today, to check that out, and to check out a buzzing on my headstock.
     
  10. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    You may be lifting your finger too slowly. This is common when you are new to the technique. Not to worry. Lift faster; kind of like the string gives you an electric shock when it touches the fret. :eek: Remember to keep your hand nice and relaxed; relaxed in the same way that your legs are relaxed when you run. When we run, we are using muscles, but we aren't making them tense. It will come. Give it time.

    Joe

    PS. Sometime buzzing at the headstock means that you don't have enough string wound around the tuning post. The string gets pulled over the nut too high and creates a buzz. Check that out. Maybe one of the nuts is loose on one of the tuning posts.
     
  11. I'm pretty much in agreement with the buzzing issue when muting with the left hand. You need to release the pressure as quickly as possible while still maintaining contact with the string.

    When it comes down to it, you have a metal string laying on a metal fret. Some buzzing from time to time is inevitable. The solution is to minimize it as much as possible with proper setup and technique. :cool:

    String squeaks, another technique issue. It's alright to "slide" on the string, just learn to do it using just enough pressure to use the string as a guide without squeaking. Just like everything else involved in musicianship...... practice, practice, practice. :)

    For miscellaneous rattles and buzzes that may come from various bits of hardware, get a GOOD set of screwdrivers and the necessary wrenches, and learn how to use them! Periodically check all the little screws, nuts and bolts for tightness. ;)

    ......Jim
     
  12. nataku

    nataku

    Jun 21, 2004
    San Jose, CA
    the buzzing in the headstock was from the nut on top of the truss rod being loose, ive had that problem before. squeaking isnt too bad of a problem for me, because i dont move around a whole lot and when i do, im decent at keeping my fingers off the strings. as for the buzzing when muting, i tryed doing it hella fast, but it doesnt matter. it even happens when i hold long notes, as soon as i release it with the left hand, it buzzes a little. the tech is giving the neck a little more relief, and hopefully that helps with the buzzing...
     
  13. bonscottvocals

    bonscottvocals

    Feb 10, 2005
    Upstate NY
    Let's look at your questions individually:

    "my first one would be with my fretting (left) hand. mostly, i keep my thumb up by the top of the fretboard, sometimes with it hanging over the top if i play on the d and g strings and need to mute the e and a strings. recently, ive been trying to keep my thumb on the back of the fretboard (like my guitarists), near the stripe on the back, but that makes it impossible to mute strings that i dont use."

    There's nothing wrong with this, but with guitar it's easier to do muting on either the fret side of with the picking hand, where bass strings ring differently, and it's a good idea to mute with both when you can. There's absoutely nothing wrong with using your fretting thumb, and it will come in handy later when you want to do some funky, wide intervals and you can use it to fret notes as well.

    "i also have problems with releasing notes on the fretting hand. if i want to play short, stacato (sp?) quarter notes or something, i play the note, then release it with my fretting hand, and it always gets this awkward buzz right at the end of the note. i wish i could record it, but alas, i dont have a computer mic . should i be muting with my playing (right) hand, instead of my fretting one? i tried that, but its really awkward."

    Playing staccato can be tricky. You need to lift the fretting finger, true, but it also helps to be playing closer to the bridge than normal as well. The string vibrates differently, and the muting is more quickly controlled. Try playing a finger's width off the bridge and moving towards the neck and you'll see a major difference in how hard/easy it is to play staccato. (btw, staccato is the correct spelling).

    "also, i have trouble with my playing hand. i used to play with my fingers at about a 45 degree angle to the strings, but i would get horrible fretbuzz if i didnt play extremely lightly. im trying to play closer to perpendicular now, but it still seems like i get a lot of fretbuzz."

    Sometimes fret buzz is unavoidable, but it is not always amplified, so turn up the amp to 11 and ask someone else to listen to it while you stand away to see if they hear it. Chances are they may not. If they do, you need to adjust the way you play, raise your action, or play with lighter strings. I have action that people describe as "spiderweb", because it's so low and loose. My bass tech set it up that way, and I buzzed it like a saw. He played it and it played beautifully. I asked him to leave it that way and I adjusted my playing to the setup. I did myself a huge favor, because I'm a better, more controlled player for it. Now, when other bass players pick up my axe, they say "How can I get mine set up like this? It's fantastic!" All I had to do was lighten up on my fretting a little and allow my plucking fingers to bend backward at the outermost knuckle more.

    As far as your finger alternation goes, you are 'raking' the strings by using the same finger to pluck as you move from the top to bottom strings rather than aternating, and that's just fine, especially when going quickly. Strict alternation is a style, and you should use it with your own discretion. (BTW, the 'top' string is defined by the string with the higher tonality, though it is usually on the bottom as you hold a bass normally. 'Top' and 'bottom' notes are in relation to their position on the musical staff, not in their relationship to the floor. ;) )

    With string squeal, you need to move your finger slightly off the string, and this just takes practice. The new strings from Elixir do a great job at reducing squeal if you give them a try.
     
  14. I tend to mute notes with my plucking hand by resting my non-plucking finger on the string just after a pluck.

    As for alternating fingers, practice. You may want to practice without anchoring your thumb at any particular point. That way, it won't be so difficult to hit the D and G strings. Plus you can work on moving your hand near or far from the bridge to get different tones. Also, you may play different basses with different pup arrangements. It takes a lot of practice, but you'll find you can achieve many different tones and string attacks thius way.