What caused you to change your technique?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by darwin-bass, Jun 22, 2020.

  1. darwin-bass


    Mar 29, 2013
    Salem OR
    Many of us developed some bad technique as beginners. Some of us have cleaned up our act, so to speak.

    Was there some event that happened in your bass playing past that forced you to adjust your technique?
  2. I wanted to play fast so I learned 3-finger technique (IMRM IMRM)

    Moving from 4-string to 5-string I needed to improve my muting. I changed from anchored thumb on pickup to floating thumb technique.

    I later wanted more to do more string skipping/octave lines/chords so I learned 4-finger technique aka PIMA (Thumb/IMR). Faster, cleaner, better muting.

    This later helped when I learned thumb down strokes style (tonal variety) and for swapping seamlessly between slap and fingerstyle.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
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  3. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
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  4. jdh3000


    May 16, 2016
    Usually I find something that works better...
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  5. TheLowDown33

    TheLowDown33 Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2009
    Western MA
    Hearing my sloppy recordings. I thought I was pretty clean with movable anchor, and to be fair live it definitely isnt noticeable, but holy....Recording even simple lines revealed a level of slop I was ashamed of! Switched to a floating thumb for most stuff and it's been a game changer.
  6. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I started using Simandl fingering 124. At some point much of the music I was playing was very fast and technical, and it seemed obvious that using one finger per fret (OFPF) would be beneficial.

    Shortly after I started transitioning to OFPF, I also started transitioning to 5-string. Then a few years later I transitioned to 6-string. I took me about a decade as a 6-string player to feel at home. Prior to that I still thought like a 4-string player. Honestly transitioning to 5-string and 6-string was harder for me than learning OFPF. If I got confused with OFPF I found it easy to fall back on Simandl fingering.

    Adding strings required me to forget and relearn a lot of automated playing processes. It was very confusing at first to try and deal with the extra string, and it degraded my playing to some degree for an extended time. I would sometimes get lost on the finger board and not have a clue were I was. Early in the transition, it would take a few seconds to recover.

    My advice. Start on whatever instrument you plan to end on; I.E. starting on 4-string with the idea of transitioning to 5-string or 6-string later, is a lot harder and frustrating than it sounds. A lot of people never successfully make the transition. If you want to eventually play 5-string or 6-string, better to start on whichever you want to play, rather than enduring a painful and unnecessary transition.

    Throughout my career I also performed regularly on upright bass using Simandl fingering. I play both jazz and classical styles. I originally viewed upright and electric bass as similar in many ways, but now they seem like very different instruments. The way I play them each instrument requires a totally different system of fingering and shifts.
  7. Biggest influence on my technique, was studying the actual real-world technique of great players, live in concert and in YouTube videos. As opposed to letting internet "experts" tell me what to do.
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  8. grimjim


    Jan 26, 2014
    Chicago, Illinois
    Endorsing artist;DNA Amplification, GHS strings
    When I started playing in death metal bands. I had to learn flamenco and alternate fingerings to keep up with tremolo picking guitars. Also anchoring my thumb, which I already did, and my little finger on the bridge to give me a more solid base to work from. I know I've been questioned on it before but I can play 32nd notes at 120 bpm, different notes briefly, droning on a single note is a lot easier.
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  9. Bent77


    Mar 6, 2013
    Desert, Colorado
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  10. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Yeah, I was watching an Elvis Live DVD and at first I was hearing these fabulous bass lines.................the camera wasn't on the bass player very much (typical) but when it was, I'm seeing this guy hammering out these unbelievable bass lines..............plucking with one finger, the index finger.

    "Who in the hell is this guy?" Hit the computer and found out it was Jerry Scheff playing bass with Elvis and James Burton. I said WOW! One finger plucking!

    Changed my technique to one finger. Which for me is plenty good enough for about 95% of my playing. I can actually pluck faster with one finger than with two.

    One finger plucking? Ain't that right, Jerry and James!

    660f7c6661ca30c174d37a0ed09c00c8.jpg James_Jamerson.jpg
  11. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    Changing from 5-string to 6-string really illuminated the need for enhanced muting for me. I use both hands for muting. I also use primarily floating thumb at this time, but I think that came from studying some of Victor Wootens tricks that involve flamenco style plucking and double thumb. Also from studying some Steve Bailey style three finger plucking...I can't say I have mastered any of these techniques but I do benefit from practicing them.

    Another change that is related to me going from anchored thumb to floating thumb is I changed my plucking technique from straight fingers to more curved. I feel curved fingers gives a wider range of attack possibilities so you have more ability to shape the way notes develop. Curved fingers also seems to provide a puncher sound. There are still times when I revert to anchored thumb and straight plucking fingers though.
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  12. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    Buying an Alembic.

    The pickups and electronics are wonderful, but they are BRUTALLY ACCURATE: I heard ME making noises, fingerboard noises, all kinds of mulligans technique-wise that I simply never heard me doing on another axe. A lot of Alembic guys will cop to this, and the dang things will make you play better, just so you won't have to listen to all that racket.

    Alembic pickups are like studio monitors: You hear everything, and any loose ends stand out right now. Other axes seem more like great stereo speakers with complimentary EQ curves built in. I love EMG's, and they'll love you back, but Alembics are like that great friend you have with NO filter that will say anything. Or like when you record yourself, hear the playback and think, 'geez I thought I sounded better than THAT' .

    I loved mine, and even thought they're history, I'm a way better player for the time I spent with them. I'm here to tell you, Filters Will Set You Free.
  13. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    LOL! When do I change my technique? Usually when somebody asks me to play in a style I don't know. I played with some Zydeco guys for a while, I got a blister on my thumb.
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  14. I've been working on floating thumb as of late to help control muting on my 6 strings. I've come up with a bag of tricks to handle 6 string muting but want to simplify with consistent technique. It's definitely a learning curve as I've got years of muscle memory that I'm fighting against.
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  15. Artman

    Artman a.k.a. Eddy Garcia Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2017
    Georgetown, TX
    I had developed tendonitis in my hands, and I've been battling early symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

    So I switched to lighter strings, lowered my action, and learned to play with a lighter touch at both hands.
    I also lowered my straps a little bit to let the bass sit a little more naturally and straighten out my wrists. No more playing with the way high up like Mark King position. It's too hard on my wrists.
    While I was at it, I altered my fingerstyle technique, changed from anchored thumb to floating thumb. That relaxed my right hand, sped up my plucking, and made muting a lot easier to stay on top of.
  16. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile, ਵਿਦਿਆਰਥੀ Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    My current project is covering a couple Stevie Wonder tunes. I've got so much respect for Stevie as a composer, player and recording artist (and human), I'm really working on my timing and articulation/muting like never before so I can do it justice. I'm not specifically learning new technique, just putting a technical focus on bass guitar (right hand specifically) like I've only previously put on double bass and reeds.
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  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Taking lessons from Dave LaRue in the 90's. His first instruction to me was "no raking," and it was revolutionary.
  18. Jeff Hughes

    Jeff Hughes

    May 3, 2020
    I started picking up cocktail hour sets before weddings, and so I had to learn how to play bass lines for jazz and Latin standards. I had played guitar in jazz band in HS, so I had an idea about what to do.

    Luckily, no one really paid attention to us, so I was able to experiment, make mistakes, and really get the idea how to fake my way through a lot of standards pretty quickly. Doubly lucky, I played with some serious players who were just cool and helpful.

    I don’t really care for jazz much, but I started to enjoy working through the forms of songs trying different things out each time we went around.

    I learned a lot more about passing notes that spilled over into my regular playing.
  19. Bboopbennie


    Jun 16, 2019
    Hearing what you played on a professional recording. It doesn't lie or make excuses. Can be a BIG wake up call on how you play, strings and sound in general. Live recordings ( Gigs ) can revel at lot, on playing to much / fast
    or not holding the pocket with the drummer. Using a pick can change that Mojo on different types of music. Playing the neck with ur thumb vs the bridge with heavy fingers. A learning process that's endless.
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  20. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Nothing yet. My bad habits are my style. My sound. My swag