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Getting notes to sound clean in fast, complex pieces


bass2345
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Hi. I guess that if a note doesn't sound clean it's probably because my fretting finger isn't close enough to the fret line. Is that right?

Also, even if that is right, I'm still not sure how to make sure all notes sound clean in fast and/or complex pieces like the basslines for "Under the Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers or the intro to "Lousy Reputation" by We Are Scientists. Any ideas, please?

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I think it's more likely you need to release the string earlier after sounding the note to achieve a staccato bass line rather than precisely where your fretting finger is. I also find playing closer to the bridge helps as you'll have less compliance there - the string won't move as far when you sound a note. You'll need to learn how to mute the unplayed strings as well to get a clean sound.

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Don't run before you can walk. Bit of a cliche but nevertheless true. As KB says practice a piece slowly and gradually build up the speed. If you prctice slowly you have more chance of finding where you are going wrong. Maybe get hold of some slow downer software. That can let you hear the notes in the same pitch only slower.

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  • 2 months later...

I use 'Anytune' on my iPad through a Bluetooth speaker and get comfortable with the piece at 0.8 x speed, phrase by phrase, bookmarking each phrase so that I don't waste time going back to the beginning. Once I can play it through 3 or 4 times without a flaw I move the speed up and it surprisingly only takes a few more runs to get up to full speed and all the potential mistakes have already been ironed out and muscle memory does the tricky shifts without complication.

If the piece is very technical, especially with timing/syncopation, I work through phrase at a time, very slowly, with a metronome first before playing to the backing music and then doing the same routine as above.

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[quote name='bass2345' timestamp='1412481367' post='2569210']
Hi. I guess that if a note doesn't sound clean it's probably because my fretting finger isn't close enough to the fret line. Is that right?

Also, even if that is right, I'm still not sure how to make sure all notes sound clean in fast and/or complex pieces like the basslines for "Under the Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers or the intro to "Lousy Reputation" by We Are Scientists. Any ideas, please?
[/quote]

So many varibles.... Flea isn't the cleanest player anyway and you don'r know what process it has all been through to
get to the final article...
I am guessing you haven't been playing for long so don't be too hard on yourself..
Get the note to sound how you want it and then get that consistant in a bar and then 2 bars..and work on from there.
Slower at first...as fast and hard gets very messy, very quickly :lol:

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Try the piece slow for three times , then fast for once, then back to slow for three etc. eventually your speed will develop. Speed is not the be all anyway, it's clarity of notes that's important. Speed comes naturally after

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[quote name='JTUK' timestamp='1418143427' post='2627315']
...you don't know what process it has all been through to get to the final article...

[/quote]

+1
There's loads of audio manipulation going on in the record, compression, editing etc. It's not fair to compare your home practice efforts with a fully produced record.

And as Howie says, learning to mute unplayed strings (if you're not already doing so) will make a huge difference to cleaning up your sound.

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Flea uses a lot of hammer ons and pull offs, so I guess your action could be too high?

I've just had my Lakland "serviced". It was pretty good to play before but it's so much easier to play now.

Look at getting a set up, and practice until to can easily play what you want to play.

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if you want to play fast flawlessly then you are best playing the whole thing at the speed you can manage the hardest bit, that way you will not have 'slow down' passages, you have to improve at what you're worst at, which can be hard to maintain the discipline to do.
The temptation is to play achievable passages at pace and slow down for trickier parts, which sadly prevents an even improvement, and worse, teaches you an inexact neural pathway for the material, which can be harder to undo.
Practice doesn't make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect.

Edited by jakenewmanbass
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Guitar Pro 6 is a nice little program. You can speed scores up, slow it down, loop it etc. Try to work up to being comfortable playing the piece a little quicker, say 5% quicker, than the original during practice, then the piece should feel easily manageable when you get back to playing along to the original.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There is also a lot to be said for new strings. I am not good at changing them on mine and hadn't changed strings for many years until fairly recently. When I did, I really noticed a massive difference in attack and complex passages seemed to leap out a lot more than the did on old, dead strings.

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