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Urgent!!! Help me get a lighter touch

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by gillento, Oct 8, 2010.


  1. gillento

    gillento

    Oct 15, 2005
    Luxembourg, Europe
    Nordstrand pickups
    I am new to this forum, so please bear with me if this subject has been discussed a lot before. My search did not help me find a thread about this.

    I am bass player for 20 years and I play in a rock/funk cover band but also with a rock oriented original singer/songwriter.

    I've come to realize that during the last few years my plucking touch must have gotten harder and harder.

    I also have been using a pick (because of its precise sound and attack) more and more during the last 3-4 years.

    Now, even my finger plucking has become harder and harder to the point where a decent string setup is very difficult (and I am using Sadowsky basses!!!)

    How can I go back to a more medium/light touch in order to get a lower setup?

    Can anyone direct into the right direction?
    Exercices? Mind tricks?
     
  2. pedroims

    pedroims

    Dec 19, 2007
    Michigan
    What about practice unplugged? I found that its the easier way to me for practicing dynamics.
     
  3. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    MEXICANADAMERICA
    lower the strings now. it will force you to lighten up, IME. gl.
     
  4. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    lower your action until it buzzes.. turn up the amp..

    Loosen up.
     
  5. gillento

    gillento

    Oct 15, 2005
    Luxembourg, Europe
    Nordstrand pickups
    Wouldn't that favour the opposite? Plucking even harder?
     
  6. gillento

    gillento

    Oct 15, 2005
    Luxembourg, Europe
    Nordstrand pickups
    That's what usually happens when I got a new Sadowsky bass that has a perfect setup.
    I don't touch the setup, rehearse, play a gig...... and the I am terribly annoyed by the buzz.
    So I raise the action .... and the circle continues :(
     
  7. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    (By "decent string set up" do you mean "low action?")

    I'd say to set up your action the way you want it, then plug in and practice playing with a lighter touch — get your hands and ears used to the difference until it becomes your regular method. You need to re-program your muscle memory and there aren't any shortcuts for that. Good luck.
     
  8. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Hmm! For me, it'd be the opposite, b/c the my ears the amp is going to give me a truer idea of how I'm working dynamics. Different strokes....
     
  9. Im not sure what your current technique is but if you aren't doing this already start pulling the strings rather than bringing your fingers down on them.
     
  10. pedroims

    pedroims

    Dec 19, 2007
    Michigan
    Practicing unplugged make easier to me to hear any fret buzz , I can also ''feel'' better my plucking, if I want to be loud then I will let my amp to do its job.
     
  11. gillento

    gillento

    Oct 15, 2005
    Luxembourg, Europe
    Nordstrand pickups
    That is why I am looking for exercises precisely to do that.

    I am not looking for a low action per se, but medium would be right:)

    In the studio in July I had a very hard time to keep the intonation right even though the octave/harmonic/saddle thing was perfect (Just to show you how high the action is right now)
     
  12. jschwalls

    jschwalls

    Sep 4, 2007
    Savannah GA
    A super bad ass Reggae bassist player I saw at Sea World in Orlando years ago told me how to get a lighter touch.. crank the $%# out of your amp.... his amp was super loud it was crazy.. but when he played it was heavenly.... he had so much control and such a light touch... his action wasn't super low like some guys I've seen.... and he used both hands to mute as he was playing.. best 3 minute bass lesson I've ever received IMHO

    Now.. to learn how to keeps things quiet... practice playing through headphones.. you can hear every little noise, squeek, and bump that's going on.
     
  13. DJJazzV

    DJJazzV Gambling is illegal at Bushwood sir... Supporting Member

    May 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    How about stacking a 2nd pickguard? That will raise where your thumbs rests about 1/4" or so, and your thumb will now be closer to your plucking fingers. Less reach, less effort. Good luck.

     
  14. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    There's the root of the problem. If you want to soften your finger attack, you have to get that action back down low and adapt to the instrument, not the other way around.

    And no special exercises -- just keep practicing until you find the touch. Then practice the touch until you lock it in. Then keep practicing until you can't lose it. You can totally do this.

    Basketball analogy: The great free-throw shooters are great because they put up hundreds of shots every day to lock in their muscle memory. Larry Bird could knock 'em down blindfolded.

    +1 on cranking your amp. You'll soften your touch pretty quick that way.
     
  15. pedroims

    pedroims

    Dec 19, 2007
    Michigan
    When uplugged I can calibrate my plucking and my feeling to be consistent and I will use my amp to amplify that sound. To me the problem is that in a live situation if I don't hear myself as louder as I want, I would start to pluck harder. I came to the idea that what I should do is focus on the feeling of my plucking and let the sound guy to adjust the volume as needed.
     
  16. Humabass

    Humabass Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2002
    Northern Virginia
    Well I'm certainly not qualified to give any "instruction" on bass but I do play with a light touch, low action, and light gauge strings (40-100) and can get any sound in any style I need. I usually suggest to practice unplugged and play only just hard enough to produce a good pitch. In other words, play as lightly as you can while still being able to produce a clear tone.
     
  17. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    I get it. Makes sense when you explain it that way.
     
  18. gillento

    gillento

    Oct 15, 2005
    Luxembourg, Europe
    Nordstrand pickups
    Thanks for your advice so far.

    I am alreday doing the headphones/IEM thing (rehearsal and gigs).
    Maybe that's the origin of the increasing action over the years: hearing buzz -> compensationg with raising the action, -> digging harder, ->.....

    I'll set one of my basses with a second PG and lower action and try rehearsing unplugged
     
  19. +1- that's how you do it. Turn your amp up so it's WAY too loud and force yourself to compensate with a light touch. See videos by Gary Willis for an expert's inside tips on this.
     
  20. Skitch it!

    Skitch it!

    Sep 6, 2010
    ^ As above, increase the volume to a level where you lighten up your right hand technique and still kick, the only real issue to practice with this is to try for better muting due to every nuance being amplified, a compressor may be very useful if you consider going down this road maybe?, But yes, let the amp do the work imo.
     

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