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Your *Top 5 Tunes* for improving technique

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Howdy Folks

As the title suggests, if you were to pick 5 tunes to help build overall good technique, what would you choose?

These may be 'ability' dependent, but sometimes even the most simple of things are neglected... Either way, suggest ahead.

As it goes, I've no idea where to rate myself ability-wise as I am only in my second week of focused bass practice, but have years of guitar playing behind me.

As an indication, I am working my way through a bunch of Jamiroquai tunes and have pretty much nailed the likes of Too Young To Die and Manifest Destiny note for note - just need to clean them up a little in terms of 'articulation'.

What other tunes would be good to really nail?

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Anything by Stevie Wonder, Incognito, Steely Dan, Keb Mo and Eric Clapton.

For working on your technique, timing and groove.

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Learn to play Smile by Lily Allen. Don't stray, noodle or embellish. Get the dynamics and the rhythm spot on. Understand how the bass line groove works against the drums on paper. This is an exercise in restraint, focus and time to concentrate on technique. 

The first person to say 'oh that's easy, it's 4 notes' has totally missed the point of my post. 

K.I.S.S for a reason.

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Rio by Duran Duran is a fantastic one for improving technique, it is a challenge to get it sounding clean and consistent and also not forgetting the ghost notes, I learnt to play it a while ago but am still to master playing it cleanly and consistently

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23 minutes ago, markdavid said:

Rio by Duran Duran is a fantastic one for improving technique, it is a challenge to get it sounding clean and consistent and also not forgetting the ghost notes, I learnt to play it a while ago but am still to master playing it cleanly and consistently

Ditto, I set this as my '2010 yearly challenge' got the gist fairly quickly - but took a long time to nail cleanly.

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"Money" by Pink Floyd. The use of the octave into a classic blues scale (3,5 6,8) is a great riff for getting your fingers around the fretboard.

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2 hours ago, markdavid said:

Rio by Duran Duran is a fantastic one for improving technique, it is a challenge to get it sounding clean and consistent and also not forgetting the ghost notes, I learnt to play it a while ago but am still to master playing it cleanly and consistently

One of the best basslines ever created in my opinion. Looks simple at first and then you see how hard it is to pull off with all the ghost notes in-between. John Taylor had a genius moment when he created and recorded that.

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We Are Family, I have been trying to get the chorus clean and accurate for some time. I can do the verse - which is rather lovely. 

What is Hip.

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Hi   I play a lot of bob Marley and black uhuru which are not as easy as some may think  as there’s a lot of muting and ghost notes going on     but a great tune to play just to get timing and to practice keeping it in the pocket is  Sade ,why can’t we live together 

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Hit me with your rhythm stick. That takes a lot of building up to, it’s hard to get the feel right and play at the right speed and will get your plucking hand working well with your fretted. I have seen very few people nail it.

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42 minutes ago, Reggaebass said:

Hi   I play a lot of bob Marley and black uhuru which are not as easy as some may think  as there’s a lot of muting and ghost notes going on     but a great tune to play just to get timing and to practice keeping it in the pocket is  Sade ,why can’t we live together 

Seen BU many times..Sly Dunbar is notorious for changing the riff midway through songs too....makes doing the song true to the recording very difficult.

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+ 1 for Hit me with your rhythm stick. 

Too shy by Kajagoogoo - deceptively tricky to get just right . very melodic and low on repetition and box patterns

Club Country by the Associates for pick style. Cant think of a better bassline played with a pick

Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder -  IMO the best for getting used to moving up and down the fretboard and using all fingers on your fretting hand

Love games by Level 42 - great for 'machine gun' technique slap n' pop

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2 minutes ago, missis sumner said:

Bucks Fizz - Making Your Mind Up. 😂

Or the land of make believe 😀

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My one tip for improving technique is to rack your treble on your bass right up! It exaggerates any sloppy fingering and helps you get the notes sounding full and tight as you automatically improve your left hand technique to make it sound good and not scratchy. Playing with the tone/treble rolled off can hide or disguise these errors. Try both ways, see if they make a difference or expose any issues.

Song wise - anything like classic Elvis. When i had to learn that it really stretched me (i have an injured left hand, so i can only use 3 fingers) but brought my playing on a million percent. Its simple when youve got it, but those pentatonics etc really help improve you.

I always found red hot chilli peppers really interesting for technique. Not the over complex stuff, but things like Under the Bridge, where the rhythm of the bass is completely out there, it took a lot of getting into the song to get that right. Lovely bassline, quite simple but a very odd way of timing that worked brilliantly!

I always found Walking on the Moon helped me in a weird way that helped my lock in to the drums........ automatically id play the C,C,D ...... but then in my head id sing the high hat drum beat which would bring me back into the next phrase of bass. It helped me appreciate the drums.

 

 

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This my be my naivety talking but I find Papa was a rolling stone is good for getting me to focus on the groove..... It's so simple to play, which is great when you are at my level, but soooo hard to remain focused through the 11 minutes of the song. There's also nowhere to hide when you fluff a note 

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My Generation...but NOT for the reason you'd think.

Of course there is plenty of merit in learning those solo breaks, but if the band plays it properly, it is a song in which the bass has to hold everything together, but is also right upfront and completely exposed.

Listen closely to the original single (and the better-known live versions, for that matter). Study the bass part, but also study the guitar part. The guitar chords on that intro are actually very sparse - those droning crotchets are just being played by the bass. You have to be right up at the front of the mix - time to kick in that overdrive pedal with the midrang hump, perhaps.

Now listen to the drums. This is the other giveaway: My Generation swings. Keith Moon's over-the-top playing obscures this fact a little, but if you listen to the way the drums and the bass lock in, you will hear it swing. If you play it straight, you will fall into the same pit of mediocrity that caught out Green Day, Oasis, and countless others.

Once you have beaten these subtleties into your bandmates' consciousnesses, take some time to learn the solo breaks. Because we all know that any Who fans in the audience will be judging you on those.

 

EDIT: I'll come back with the other four when I think of them...

Edited by EliasMooseblaster

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18 hours ago, NJE said:

Hit me with your rhythm stick. That takes a lot of building up to, it’s hard to get the feel right and play at the right speed and will get your plucking hand working well with your fretted. I have seen very few people nail it.

I will never play this... and I've been trying for 10 years. I simply don't have the speed and the dexterity. I can get to about 75% speed but it's a brick wall beyond that.

I think it depends... there's a lot of classically "difficult" songs been mentioned here. However, it's always more mundane stuff that trips me up. Things like Town Called Malice spring to mind. It's quite hard to keep the syncopation spot on right through the song. I was playing Back in the USSR last night. That's damn hard to get all the notes in cleanly. And many others...

Edited by thepurpleblob

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Some more really good suggestions I will definitely be adding to my list 😎

Glad to see mentions of Stevie W - he's one of my all time favourite artists. I've picked up Superstitious by ear (none of the online tabs I've found seemed quite right to me) and really enjoy playing that one. Sir Duke definitely seems as though it will be a challenge!

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