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Online Guide E-Basses
Playing techniques

 

As a beginner you should listen closely to the work of your idol. Of course, at first you will be just in awe, but remember that even those heroes once started from scratch. Maybe their possibilities were even more limited than yours because nowadays you can easily get a decent-sounding instrument for relatively little money while in the past it was an exception for somebody to have a reasonable instrument from the outset. Dare to have a look at the jazz-department too as
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
players within this genre are true masters with a double
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
.

It is your part to support the groove of the whole band right from the beginning. This creates the collective feeling of a tune; the togetherness in feel and sound. A common mistake of beginners is that they focus too much on themselves and the notes they play.

Listen to what the other musicians are playing – especially the drummer. You’ll need to follow the drum-pattern closely, so try to figure out exactly what the kick drum is doing. For most types of rhythm the
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
drum counts on the one and accordingly, the stressed
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
note should occur here as well. By and by, you will improve your technique and therefore be able to move more freely around the root note. Always keep one ear on the drummer, however. It is okay to take minor excursions on your
FingerboardThe part of a stringed instrument against which the strings are pressed when playing. Usually called the fretboard on fretted instruments.
fretboard
as long as they end up in line again.

As a
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
player you should know about scales and chords and it is here you will find the proper notes for your
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
runs. A famous
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
player once said in an interview that the most important thing is to be able to recognize the root notes of the chords in a
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
pattern. Of course, you can do really wild stuff on a
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
guitar, but I think that the
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
is primarily designed to be the
Daisy ChainThe patching of the output of one piece of equipment to the input of another, which can be repeated indefinitely in theory. Common practice with guitar effects pedals, and with MIDI equipment where the Thru of one device is connected to the In of the next and so on.
link
between the different instruments in a band.


Using a pick

On the
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
we distinguish between three different ways of picking the strings. Using a pick is common for beginners and there are special
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
picks of convenient size and robustness. Some are thick and firm for a crisp
AttackThe beginning of a sound. Attack defines the time taken for the sound volume to go from silence to maximum level; a critical consideration when applying processing such as compression, gating, etc.
attack
, others are soft and flexible for a rounder and richer sound. Playing the
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
with a pick is practiced and handled in the same way as on a guitar. Practice both down and upstrokes equally.


Finger picking

Another alternative is using the fingers to pick the strings. This technique doesn’t refer to any classical style – it represents the way of the professional rocker. If you take a look at The Who’s video of their rock opera, Tommy taken in the summer of ’89, you will see a perfect example of John Entwistle’s masterly finger picking technique. Now, that’s how you want to play the
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
, isn’t it. Who knows, maybe you have the power to learn playing it that way!

BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
Bass
finger picking is achieved slightly differently to guitar finger picking. The thumb will basically reinforce the picking hand. Most
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
players use only the index and middle finger to achieve a consistent double strike. You’ll have to try these things out for yourself in order to develop a proper finger picking technique.


Slapping

Slapping is a common technique as well. Suddenly, the thumb becomes a very busy fellow as it is slammed into the string producing a very
DryA signal or recording that has no effect applied to it. Effects units often incorporate a control to adjust the mix of dry and 'wet' signals.
dry
and punchy sound. This technique is used for downright funky rock and allows you to reach an incredibly high speed on your riffs. The only thing here is that you need to
Hit1) A successful recording. 2) A single sampled percussive sound, as opposed to a loop.
hit
the string precisely at the right point. The player can add some interesting accents by pulling a higher string on the off-beat with the middle finger - at an octave to the thumb-slapped note, for example.

Of course you can also combine all these techniques in order to achieve a larger repertoire. As a matter of fact, you can’t come up with slapping on each and every tune because at some point it starts to get really annoying. Slow blues tunes or ballads require a restrained yet enriching way of playing. It wouldn’t go amiss to have different techniques up your sleeve to surprise your band mates with.


Fingering

FretA narrow metal strip on the neck of a guitar or other fretted instrument, against which the string is pressed to produce a precisely tuned note.
Fret
finger technique is a very individual matter. Purists will advise you to develop an accurate technique using all four fingers of the fretting hand while the thumb stays hidden behind the neck as a reinforcement. The fretting fingers are placed on the
FingerboardThe part of a stringed instrument against which the strings are pressed when playing. Usually called the fretboard on fretted instruments.
fretboard
at a perpendicular angle.

In practice, things are often slightly different – even in the pro’s department. The little finger is hardly ever used as a
FretA narrow metal strip on the neck of a guitar or other fretted instrument, against which the string is pressed to produce a precisely tuned note.
fret
finger here. The perpendicular fingering is also often disregarded in order to save space on the
FingerboardThe part of a stringed instrument against which the strings are pressed when playing. Usually called the fretboard on fretted instruments.
fretboard
. The entire
FretA narrow metal strip on the neck of a guitar or other fretted instrument, against which the string is pressed to produce a precisely tuned note.
fret
hand lies
Flat ResponseTerm which refers to equipment that does not colour the frequency spectrum of a signal passed through it.
flat
on the
FingerboardThe part of a stringed instrument against which the strings are pressed when playing. Usually called the fretboard on fretted instruments.
fretboard
, which enables the player to immediately reach four notes in a single
FretA narrow metal strip on the neck of a guitar or other fretted instrument, against which the string is pressed to produce a precisely tuned note.
fret
, either simultaneously or one after another. Single fingers come into play only when lower notes than the ones beneath the
Flat ResponseTerm which refers to equipment that does not colour the frequency spectrum of a signal passed through it.
flat
hand are to be played. This technique lets you control the length of a ringing tone as well.

It is always advisable to learn a proper academic playing technique, though, of course, your own way could result in interesting innovations as well.

But what does a
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
player practice in his room at home? First of all, scales of all types; the information given in the guitar section might help you here though it depends on your favourite musical style what you play within a band context. We distinguish between two basic playing styles: tied, or
LegatoItalian for 'tied together': notes that are played smoothly, flowing from one to the next with no gap; the opposite of 'staccato'. When implemented in MIDI instruments, the 'attack' portion of the sound is not replayed when moving to a different note.
legato
notes and short, accented, or staccato notes.
LegatoItalian for 'tied together': notes that are played smoothly, flowing from one to the next with no gap; the opposite of 'staccato'. When implemented in MIDI instruments, the 'attack' portion of the sound is not replayed when moving to a different note.
Legato
can be characterized as individual notes running into each other. Look for
LegatoItalian for 'tied together': notes that are played smoothly, flowing from one to the next with no gap; the opposite of 'staccato'. When implemented in MIDI instruments, the 'attack' portion of the sound is not replayed when moving to a different note.
legato
playing styles in jazz music and also in rock ballads. Staccato playing emphasises individual notes making them more distinguishable. It is the right choice for funk and heavy rock music, though there are, of course, infinite possibilities between both extremes mentioned.

It is advisable for a beginner not to concentrate on playing particularly fast riffs to start with, but to focus on accuracy. It is always useful to have an underlying rhythm to practice to when not rehearsing with a band.

A
MetronomeA mechanical or electronic device which produces a tick or beep at a precise tempo, for reference or use as a practice aid.
metronome
or drum machine is definitely advisable. If you’re not having lessons, make sure you at least have some good teaching literature to hand in which you can find the
FingerboardThe part of a stringed instrument against which the strings are pressed when playing. Usually called the fretboard on fretted instruments.
fretboard
figures as well as note sheets and
TablatureA system of music notation used for stringed instruments such as guitar and bass, where notes are represented by fret numbers placed on a stave, with each line representing one string. Many different forms exist; published TAB usually combines tablature with standard notation, whereas the (mostly illegal) 'tabs' found across the web are musically incomplete as there is little or no indication of rhythm or structure.
tablature
. The four lines display the
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
strings whilst the vertical lines display the bars. The small ciphers on the strings show you which string is
Hit1) A successful recording. 2) A single sampled percussive sound, as opposed to a loop.
hit
on which fret; so 0 stands for an open string, 3 stands for 3rd
FretA narrow metal strip on the neck of a guitar or other fretted instrument, against which the string is pressed to produce a precisely tuned note.
fret
, 5 for 5th
FretA narrow metal strip on the neck of a guitar or other fretted instrument, against which the string is pressed to produce a precisely tuned note.
fret
and so on; I = index finger, M = middle finger.

 

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