1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Working on improving timing

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by kragen, Jul 25, 2005.

  1. kragen


    Jul 4, 2005
    I'm a new bassist - I'm learning from the bottom up and I have a problem with keeping in time with a metronome.

    Rhythmicly I think im not bad - that is I can pick up and him / play the rhythm of the song while tapping my foot, and the rhythm is "right" - each not has the right relative length and when I tap my foot at (what seems to me) a constant rate, I play the notes "in time" with my foot. But when A metronome is tapping in the background, I cant seem to "lock" onto it and play in time to it.

    Obviously this isnt a rare problem! :p (I merely want to illustrate that im intrested in developing timing rather than rhythm - Just in case there is a difference, I dont know if there is a difference or not).

    My question is really whats the best way to go about tackling this? My current philosophy is to go through and play somehthing slowly over and over again until I get the timing right, but I'm not sure if this is actualy the ringt thing to do - obviously the aim is to play it right and in-time, but I get the feeling that all im doing is playing something so I can fret / play the right notes sequentialy without thinking - meaning I can concentrate on the rhythm.

    Seeing as my aim is to bring my ability to play in time more in line with my ability to actualy play the notes, I wasnt sure if this was really the best way of improving (if it is i will hang my head, run away and get on with it... :p)
  2. If you can't play in time with a metronome, then your rhythm isn't as good as you think it is. The metronome is showing you problems with your timing that you didn't know were there. Practice with it reeaaaallllly slowly, and slowly increase the tempo. If you can't play quarter notes in time at 40 bpm, then you can't do it at 120.
  3. You may be suffering from: Yo...Where da one at? (the first beat of each bar)

    When you are trying to play this song to the metronome do you know where you are time wise. It other words when listing to this song and tapping your foot are you counting the beats or just simply tapping your foot to the groove. I know when I hear a song that I am interested in, the beats are counting off in my head.

    For example, does the first note start on the down beat or is there an 1/8 th note before the first down beat. If there is an 1/8 th before..are you interpreting that as the down beat when playing to the metronome and losing your groove. Point is, it's hard to play a song to the nome unless you know where all the notes fall. The relative length of the note is important but where they start is as well.

    If this is not your problem maybe you just need to work with your metronome. Instead of playing songs, start off with practicing your scales first. Start off with a comfortable tempo and do 1/4 notes then 1/8 notes and gradually increase the bpm's. Once you get a feel for that playing a song to a metronome will be easier.

    Also, once a metronome becomes second nature to you.....make sure you get one for your drummer. ;)
  4. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Here's something to consider...

    Your time sense may be fine but your execution of it is off because you haven't been playing long enough. When your mind is distracted by things such as what fret am I on, what note should I play, what's this chord composed of, you can easily take away from your ability to play in time which takes a certain level of concentration and connection to your instrument.
  5. Good point. Not to long ago I found out that while my timing was nearly spot on with a pick, my finger style was a little off. I've mostly fixed it now.
  6. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    As others have said, start slow and work your way up. Slow tempos will highlight timing problems that you might miss at higer tempos, so don't think that going slow is wimping out, it can actually be harder! As you progress I think it's important to learn not to 'lean' on the metronome. By that I mean you need to develop a strong, independent internal clock of your own. If you don't, you will lean on your drummer when you play. You can kinda get away with this, but if you want to really get the groove happening you've got to be able to stand on your own feet. One of the best exercises I know of to help develop this is to set your metronome to half speed, but make sure the clicks are on beats two and four of the bar as you play. This makes you responsible for the 1 and because it clicks less often the metronome provides less support but still lets you know when you're drifting.
  7. bonscottvocals


    Feb 10, 2005
    Upstate NY
    As stated, unfortunately, the metronome is always right. It comes more quickly to some than others. Work as slowly as you need to, and with time, you will increase speed. It's like anything else in life, from typing to running, you start slowly and work your way towards fast and you'll master the intricacies along the way.
  8. kragen


    Jul 4, 2005
    thanks for the tips - getting the metronome to click every second beat is a nice idea, gonna have to try that when im a little better.

    I've had more success since then - At first I thought it was simply me getting used to knowing what to play next, but I think I was actualy playing the 1/8th notes too slow,I sped them up a little and it became a lot easier, lesson learnt: if im having problems its probably me playing it wrong :S

    Sounds like the "answer" is that there is no easy answer - work hard on getting used to playing in time with the metronome, then work hard on playing without it :p

    At the moment i'm not counting - tapping my foot seemed like enough to concentrate on, but counting is seeming more and more essential.