ways to improve timing

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by sadfan82, Dec 28, 2007.

  1. sadfan82


    Dec 28, 2007
    I have been playing bass for about 4 years now and had lessons since I started. One thing I'm having difficulties with is improving my timing. It's not bad by any means, but it's not great either. Everyone says "PRACTICE WITH A MET" but when I'm playing I don't notice when I'm not totally locked in at times, I can only tell when I hear recordings of myself so I'm not sure how practicing with a met would help when I don't realize what I'm doing. What do you guy recommend doing to improving timing?
  2. the_fooj


    Feb 15, 2007
    Chevy Chase, MD
    Well if you're noticing you having trouble when you have the metronome, then slow it down until you're rock solid and then bit by bit speed it up. You also said you noticed your timing issues on recordings. Recording yourself is one of the best things you can do to figure out your flaws (even is that's not the intent of the recording). Learning to play to a click or locking in with a drum track and then listening to it will do wonders.
  3. I started using my metronome thats built into my Line6 GearBox software. Its cool because I can easily change tempo and the types of beats and their combos (kick drum, toms, snare, high hat, etc), which helps to vary what I'm playing with. My Riffworks recording software also has a drum machine/metronome so I can record what I play with the metronome and get immediate feedback on my timing. This is all done through my computer.
  4. Agilulfo


    Nov 14, 2007
    South Orange, NJ
    Question: what do you listen for when you are playing with a drummer?
  5. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Agilulfo is asking the right question and to take it a little further, when you practice with a metronome or drummer, or any other musician, you should be listening to the entire musical landscape. If you are not locking in to your environment, then you are playing in a vacuum, the fact that others may be playing or a metronome may be clicking time may as well not be happening if you are not intamently aware and involved with that.

    You need to practice listening before you address your desire to improve your time. IMO
  6. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    A good drummer.
  7. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    An old trick...
    Record a metronome track at a slow tempo (like 60 BPM). while you're recording, mute the metronome for a bar (so there's 4 beats of silence) then cut it back in. Do that a few times so there are a few "empty" bars. Practice keeping time during the empty bars so that you are still on the click when the metronome drops back in.
    When you get really brave, make the empty spaces 2 bars long. :D

    The nice thing about this is you can work it off the bass (because timing is a *you* issue, not a *bass* issue). Pop the tape in the car and work on it on your drive, or etc etc
  8. WRBass


    Dec 10, 2006
    Houston, Tx.
    I have another idea and I'm working with it now to see if it will help my timing. I just bought a Boss Loop Station RC-2. It has 33 built-in drum patterns (guides). And of course, it can record up to 16 minutes. So, while you are practicing, you can use it like a metronome and a recording device, all using your bass amp and speaker. So, by just tapping the device with your foot, you can practice a line, record it, and play it back.
  9. Marcury

    Marcury High and Low

    Aug 19, 2007
    Mid Hudson Valley, NY
    You can set the at half the speed you want to practice,so for example if you want to practice at 60bpm, set the metronome on 30 and use the metronome clicks as two and four. This accomplishes a few things, it really makes you pay attention because you have to make one and three happen, it mimics the backbeat and onec you lock in it really helps to improve your swing feel.

    Listen to the bass drum pattern and try at first to lock in with it playing the same accents. The only problem with this is over the years I've encountered a lot of drummers whose foot is weak and only play strait four or on one and three which doesn't give you much to work with. Once your comfortable with that you can start to play around their bass drum hitting some accents and playing in the spaces or not playing at all on some. After that listen to their cymbal work and runs and see what they offer for alternate places to sync up.

    click on two and four. So that when you play one and three there is silen
  10. You might have to see a doctor about this. Do you usually find yourself ahead of the beat or behind the beat?
  11. dreadheadbass


    Dec 17, 2007
    drummers can play in time?!! when did this happen???:eek:
  12. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I said ...good..... there are a few. :rolleyes:
  13. jamesblue


    Mar 27, 2005
    If you playing with other musicians it's a give and take, some guys have better timing than others. As the bass player I've found myself pulling the others to my groove/feel. If a drummer is off or players don't gel the music will suffer.
  14. Blackbird

    Blackbird Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Counting out loud when practicing and counting internally when performing is usually the best way.
  15. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Wow I sound like a broken record.

    The old school guys developed their skills by playing with good players, transcribing, and playing along with recordings.

    And those cats (need I name them, really?) would school 98% of the guys today with all the toys and gizmos. For real- people used analog metronomes for centuries with no complaints!

    If your time ain't happening, there's very few purchases that will improve it.

    Make sure you are *actively* listening to music. Can you count 1,2,3,4 when listening to pop music? Can you identify the snare, and beats 3,4?
  16. This is one of the best tricks out there I know of.

    Also, don't try to intellectualize the beat, try to feel it. It really works, and lets you groove in the big picture rather than trying to "line up" every note individually in rhythm.
  17. canshaker


    Dec 15, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown/ESP/Dunlop/Line 6/Normandy.
    Learn to play drums!

    What I mean is...
    By learning how to play at least basic beats on the drums, you learn to have a better feel for the rhythmic pulse of a song.

    ehh, worked for me...
  18. jimbob


    Dec 26, 2001
    Charlotte NC
    Endorsing Artist: Acoustica Mixcraft; Endorsing Artist: DR Strings
    I find not counting along as I play my meter will drift. Record yourself and listen critically to what you are doing. Sometimes a drum-fill or guitar lick can throw you/break concentration. Active listening was mentioned earlier and that is vital as well.


    Jan 1, 2008
    Every night turn on the metronome and fall asleep listening to it, count the clicky sheeps and the ones in between!