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tone technique frustrations

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by sonicnuance, Mar 19, 2009.


  1. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    Ugh. Frustration is setting in. I love bass when playing in a band situation, but when playing solo songs I also love classical guitar. For years I thought they were mutually exclusive due to the need to grow nails on the right hand for classical guitar (and the fact that I hate that sound on the bass). Thus I went through periods of oscillating between the instruments.

    Well, I've neglected the classical guitar for too long and need to get back into it (plus I have a wedding gig coming up). I want to be able and play both while being satisfied with my tone.

    To make a long story short, I need to find a compromise with playing bass with my fingers and not getting the "clank" when the nail hits the string. I've tried eq'ing (which is helpful), using various picks (little luck... I'm using roundwounds on a Stingray 5 btw) and modifying my technique (this shows the most promise. ie using the first and third fingers instead of the first and second fingers of the right hand)

    I could use advice... Should I try using flats on the Stingray and use a thick pick? I'm open to suggestions. I like a thick, meaty fingerstyle tone... meat and potatoes rock tone I quess you could say (John Deacon comes to mind). Please don't bother with saying "drop playing the classical guitar" as it is one of my passions along with playing bass.

    I just had a practice with the church band and the nails were hard to control on the bass... seeing that my nails still have more to grow I'm getting pretty discouraged and could use advice from those of you with experience in these matters. For the most part the tone was there, but I couldn't play all the lines in my head without focusing hard on my right hand technique.

    Thank you for your help
    Mods: If this is the wrong forum, please feel free to move
     
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Boy, that's a tough one. I tried a felt pick once and hated it. But you do get a warmer tone than nails. So I guess it's worth it to try.
     
  3. ga_edwards

    ga_edwards

    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    That really is a toughie. I too tried a thick pick, got it from a trade show. Their marketing was that you can get a fat finger style or almost tuba like tone from a pick. I couldn't get on with it either, besides, I play finger style most of the time anyway, but was searching for the perfect pick when I needed to pick.

    Anyhoo, since cutting your nails isn't an option, would perhaps a narrow band parametric eq help to hone in and reduce the clank? You won't be able to completely get rid of it, but you may be able to drastically reduce it without affecting your general tone too much.

    The other option that comes to mind is to cut your nails and use finger picks. Not the same as nails, but may work, or you may hate them. Could give a set a try though.

    Come to think of it, how much abuse can false nails put up with? If it's just for one gig, you could stick some on, do the classical stuff, rip them off (carefully) and to the bass. Assuming you don't have to switch back and forth.

    All said and done though, the pick with prob be the best option. Takes the nails completely out of the equation.
     
  4. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    Thanks for the input guys.

    I'm going to continue to attack this issue with technique for as much as I can. I may go to flatwounds if I get desperate.

    I have to admit, I'm a bit discouraged. Tone is very important to me
     
  5. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    What sort of dexterity and speed do you need in your plucking hand?
    If not much use the side/edge of your thumb.
    If you require the use of two fingers try a golfers Cabretta leather glove which is fine soft leather and snug to the hand with lots of size choices.
    You can get leather sheaths that protect finger dressings that can be bought seperate for each finger, disadvantge is you have to tie it around the wrist.
    Make a pick out of different materials, like a school pencil eraser wich is rubber.
    You get the picture, adapt, as necessity is the mother of invention.
     
  6. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    You could always switch to using finger picks for the guitar. The feel isn't quite right, but it's close, and you can grind them down slightly to get them closer to the shape of nails.
     
  7. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    I don't need much speed with my plucking hand. You have some interesting suggestions and I'll definitely try the side of the thumb idea.

    The golfer's glove is a very interesting idea. I'd never heard of that one. The eraser is also an interesting idea.

    Thanks for the inspiration
     
  8. deego

    deego

    Nov 4, 2008
    Michigan
    I have a friend classical guitar player who was talking about "tapered fingernails," which allow you to have your nails to be much shorter than the traditional style. It also allowed a more angled right hand position. I'll drop him an email in a bit and send you a PM, but anyway this may be something to think about in the meantime.
     
  9. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    I really appreciate the help on this.

    Everyone's support is encouraging
     
  10. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota

    No problems thats what we are all here for, information and ideas out with our own thinking. Just planting a seed, now how many can you think up LOL:)
     
  11. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    I recommend a pick. Don't use a thin pick, use a good stiff 1.5 mm Dunlop or something similar. EQ can totally remove the highs in the attack, and leave you with an unbelievable amount of punch and bottom.

    I am primarily a finger-style player, using fingers 1, 2, 3, but I also use thumb, some slap and the pick. These all have their charms, and I must admit that for a lot of purposes, the pick actually sounds pretty great.

    The challenge for me is to be fluid and dead accurate--not easy for a long time finger-style player, but worth it to broaden my tone pallet. There are plenty of great players, from funk to fusion to metal to pop who are pick players. You CAN get a great tone!
     
  12. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    Thanks Jim

    When I use a pick, it is actually a Dunlop 2mm, so yeah, I do lick 'em thick. EQ'ing should help, but I'm not sure what the "offensive" frequencies are to be honest.

    I have an update that I'm kinda excited about. Its a different technique, check this out.

    My index finger's first joint is almost double jointed so I don't seem to have a hard time getting a good tone even with a nail. I basically hyperextend through the string and miss the nail entirely.

    Now, here is the part that just hit me today that I never considered. For classical guitar, I grow the "i, m, a and p" fingers. Those are the index, middle, ring and thumb respectively. The pinky isn't used. Thus, when I use my index hyperextended and the pinky with NO nail, I am getting a nice tone. :hyper: The dexterity isn't quite there yet, but I love practicing and this will be my new goal. Time to whip out the metronome (yes I believe in them :eyebrow: )

    I have a church service tomorrow and will try this out.

    By the way, I tried a felt pick and didn't like it at all. At first it was too stiff and scratchy sounding. As I wore it done the tone was ok but too quiet and it felt like a wet noodle.

    I'll keep y'all updated regarding tomorrow.

    Take care
     
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Taking quotes with misspellings out of context can be fun!
     
  14. BassBob185

    BassBob185

    Oct 25, 2007
    Rocking Chair
  15. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    haaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    you got me Jimmy
     
  16. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    I'm happy to report that my revelation last night of using my hyperextended index finger (which has a nail) and my pinky (which doesn't) worked beautifully at today's gig!

    It will still take some getting used to but I am very, very happy and relieved.

    Thanks everyone for your input and support.

    Now I can persue my two musical passions

    yipeeeee

    :hyper::bassist::D
     
  17. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    Another gig and it worked great

    I'm still getting used to it and hit the string with the nail accidentally and it was very obvious.

    It'll take some time but this is definitely workable

    Using a thumb to pluck works well too
     

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