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What are Playing Habits/Techniques that Really Opened Your Playing Potential?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by RyanJD, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. RyanJD


    Apr 19, 2011
    For me, it was the fundamentals that I never really nailed when I started playing.
    Using my pinky to fret notes and my right hand position to get different tones.

    But now I'm feeling a little stagnated in the growth of my playing abilities.
    So what helped you guys become better players?
    Just practicing a lot?

    I feel like my ear could use a lot of training. What do you do to get better at that?
  2. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Get a teacher.
  3. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    Use headphones when you practice to hear a lot of details you are probably missing.

    I had a hard time getting my head around the idea that my right hand (i.e. groove, meter, timing) is more important than my left. I wish I spent more time on that when I was starting out.
    BMGecko and squidtastic like this.
  4. OldDirtyBassist


    Mar 13, 2014
    Somebody showed me a fretting technique years ago where you play with all of the finger, not just the fingertip. It helps when songs are just too hard to keep up with.

    Other than that; I think the internet, specifically youtube, has helped. If you watch enough bass instruction vids, you'll learn something, even without playing along. With youtube..you get to see a huge part of the competition that you didn't get to see as much a decade ago.
    aquamentus likes this.
  5. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Actually, the idea of keeping it simple has saved me from over-thinking. I concern myself with the root, and with making transitions feel natural. This is also key if you are going to be singing and playing at the same time.
  6. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Sticking strictly to right hand finger alternation. Changed my life and made me be able to play fast stuff smoother and faster.
    DreamError and faulknersj like this.
  7. RyanJD


    Apr 19, 2011
    Ah yeah, that's something I'm still trying to get down.
    It doesn't feel as natural for me to use my index finger unless I feel like I have to to keep up.
    I can do it fine, but I need to get more comfortable with it.
  8. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Listen to songs and play/write out the bass part. Don't check your work against a chord sheet until you've finished the whole thing.

    Or play songs you barely know with other people. You'll be forced to listen to what they're doing in order to keep up.
  9. bluesdogblues


    Nov 13, 2007
    Play with somebody else. The more the better.
  10. for me it was learning basic music theory. I still feel thats my best route as to being able to play what I want. I guess I've probably neglected physical technique more than I should but I seem relatively capable of executing what I want. Im a mostly melodic player, certainly not much of a pocket player so thats been my journey. I just wish my bandmates would be interested enough to learn it themselves!
  11. Mark_70


    Dec 31, 2013
    Sounds obvious, but correct.. I had lessons when I started for about 3-4 years. Played a bunch of gigs, thought I knew it all and stopped lessons..

    Then, after another 5 years or so had the feeling I got stuck and signed up for lessons again. Other than the fact my second teacher was (obviously) a much better bass player than I was, he was also a very different a bass player (in terms of style), which turned out to be great.
    He taught about chord progressions, how to solo (one practice I remember was this: improvise over a simple blues scheme but YOU CANNOT PLAY THE ROOT NOTE) etc.

    He never talked about how to play as many notes as possible. I don't think he even knew how to slap. Great teacher.

    So yes; get a teacher :D

  12. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Developing a lighter touch helped me a lot! I was able to go faster and not get unwanted fret noise.
    jazzyvee and Nev375 like this.
  13. bluesdogblues


    Nov 13, 2007
    The opposite of you. Raking changed my life and made me be able to play fast stuff smoother and faster.
    IMHO learn both.
    Helaskold and DreamError like this.
  14. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    For the first 20 years of playing, I only used a pick. About 15 years ago, I started using my fingers and it really made me a better player. I now switch between fingers and pick depending on the song. Learn as many styles as possible.
  15. GastonD


    Nov 18, 2013
    Belgrade, Serbia
    Having a good foundation is critical, and from that standpoint finding a good teacher is invaluable.

    Technically, my latest breakthrough came rather recently, when I opted for the non-anchored thumb and using the index and ring finger of the right hand, rather than index and middle. I picked up the "floating thumb" thing from Todd Johnson's "Technique Builders" video, and for some reason it got me into thinking about using the ring finger for the more even attack...
  16. Bondobass


    Mar 14, 2014
    Practicing slowly, stuff that's giving me trouble and even lines and changes I think I know well, I'll use my handy dandy slow downer program and go over and over them, SLOWLY
  17. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    Playing with other people.
    Some bass lines are cool by themselves, but some need other musicians.
    Playing with a recording is good too, but playing with people is better--especially when you really get to know how they play and you can lock in on the way to play that makes the song sound better.
    Most of my recent improvement has been from playing with others and playing with recordings--both for bass & guitar.

    I don't normally get to play with others a lot--but when I do it usually helps.
  18. Opposite of many, I found my potential with a pick after using fingers for years.
    kurosawa and bluesdogblues like this.
  19. I'm still working on this but I can really feel the benefits already. Really useful if you play with more than two fingers.

    Also, as mentioned previously, floating thumb.
    Left hand economy of motion, Steve Bailey style.
    Playing with a light attack.
    Learning multiple plucking hand digit configurations.
    Playing lots of different music.
    Practicing without an amp is really handy for learning to get lots of sounds using just your hands.
  20. OldDirtyBassist


    Mar 13, 2014

    JPJ shows a timing technique at 11:54 that I've also learned over the years. It rarely gets discussed here on talkbass. A drummer told me to "lay back" years ago, and I didn't understand what the heck he was talking about. He taught me how to do so, then after all those years I see JPJ discussing that very technique in this video.

    It can add feeling to rock ballads, is good for reggae etc.
    bluesdogblues and JCooper like this.