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Old 07-31-2013, 05:20 PM   #1
Rawshik
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Right hand speed

The greatest thing that bothers me about my bass playing is how slow my right hand is. The maximum speed I can get (been playing 3 years) is 16th notes on 120bpm and that's only on good days. I've always felt like I was a little crippled or something in that area because I'm left handed playing righty. Is there any way to improve this? I figured tons of practice would just get me past it eventually but playing so long and still being the same speed is extremely discouraging.

I use the three finger technique of RMIRMIRM. And I've been trying to play songs that are even just a little bit faster but I can't do it (I can't even play Metallica lol). Any advice?
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Old 07-31-2013, 05:59 PM   #2
Sickz
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It's a tough topic to give advice on, cause there could be so many things holding you back from playing faster.

The most common things i can think of are:

Posture. How straight is your right wrist? I often see bass players who are resting their forearms on their bass, which results in an angled wrist. This is a very common reason why people can't learn to play fast/end up hurting themselves. The wrist needs to be as straight as possible in order for blood circulation.

Another thing could be how relaxed you are while playing. If you are tensing up while playing that limits you aswell. I often give students the advice to practice and play at the max speed where they can take flowing deep breaths in and out without messing up playing.

Lastly, practice. Now this is a two parter. First part would be how you practice. You should never play anything wrong when you practice, or feel uncomfortable. Practice is ment to program your fingers for playing. Practice =/= Playing.

The other part would be that your simply just not there yet. You've only been playing 3 years, that's not long at all. As you get better you start working on harder material, and harder material takes more time to learn, even when you are experienced.

Well, i hope that helped in any way. Good luck!

Cheers
Sickz
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Old 07-31-2013, 06:59 PM   #3
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I play faster with offset basses, or holding basses in the offset position (if they are light enuff), that is with the neck pointing upwards parallel with my body as opposed to across it, and my fingers almost hanging over the neck as opposed to down by the bridge...I play a lot faster with two fingers than I do with a pick or 3 fingers, but thats likely because my 2 finger technique has been worked on more, saying that it is very idiosyncratic, as I'v never had a teacher but rather worked out my own way of playing...for better or worse...my advice is find a comfortable position, and work from there
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:53 PM   #4
Rawshik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sickz
Lastly, practice. Now this is a two parter. First part would be how you practice. You should never play anything wrong when you practice, or feel uncomfortable. Practice is ment to program your fingers for playing. Practice =/= Playing.


What is proper practice for this? I've tried just sitting down with a metronome and playing, and slowly moving up and up but I always get stuck at the same spot.
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Old 08-01-2013, 04:47 AM   #5
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Well proper practice contains a few things, some i've already mentioned.

1. Your technique should be as good as possible when you practice. What that means is be aware of what you are doing. As said, keep the right hand in a good angle, relax your body, sit with good posture, don't apply more force then you need to produce a note etc.

2. I'm going to be honest with you, i rarely use a metronome when practicing. I often use a time interval practice method and let my breathing decide at which tempo i should do it. As said in the last post, i always practice at the highest tempo where i can play perfectly and relaxed while being able to take deep breaths properly. What i mean by interval practice is that i often take what i am working on and set a timer for 10 minutes, play the thing nonstop for 10 minutes, then have a 5 minute break, and then repeat. It works for me.

That said it is important to practice to a metronome or a drum machine once you know the thing you've been working on. I start using it over drum tracks once i've gotten it down a little faster than the original tempo, cause then i can play it really easily.
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Old 08-01-2013, 11:40 AM   #6
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good advice from Sickz.

16ths at 120 is eight beats per second which is pretty fast, I only play one song anything like this speed. I resort to using a pick as I can't reliably finger pick at that speed, it's the only song I use a pick for. At this sort of speed a pick helps separate the notes.

Do you have to do this as part of a song your band wants to play or is it some sort of exercise you don't want to defeat you? I have found in the past that when revisiting something that blocked me 6 months ago I've made enough general progress to make the whole thing do-able. If it is just an exercise don't get fixated.
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Old 08-01-2013, 03:35 PM   #7
Rawshik
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I'm not currently in a band, it's just something I want to be able to do because metal is my preferred genre. 16ths at 120 I think is pretty average. As I said in the original post, if I can't even play Metallica how can I expect to one day play Decrepit Birth?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sickz
2. I'm going to be honest with you, i rarely use a metronome when practicing. I often use a time interval practice method and let my breathing decide at which tempo i should do it. As said in the last post, i always practice at the highest tempo where i can play perfectly and relaxed while being able to take deep breaths properly. What i mean by interval practice is that i often take what i am working on and set a timer for 10 minutes, play the thing nonstop for 10 minutes, then have a 5 minute break, and then repeat. It works for me.


This is interesting. But how does playing it at the speed that I'm already comfortable with (if I can take normal deep breathes) going to help increase the speed?
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Old 08-01-2013, 03:45 PM   #8
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Right-Hand Speed is a term that covers a lot of ground. When bassists say they can't play fast enough with their right hand, what they often mean is that they cannot play fast for the entire length of the song. Guys like Steve Harris definitely moved the goal posts for metal bass players. His ability to play blisteringly fast triplets (with two fingers, no less!) throughout an entire concert is quite a feat.

To build up right-hand speed for fast playing over the course of a gig involves more than just dexterity training. You have to include endurance training, too. Guitarist John Petrucci of Dream Theater is the only one I know of who addresses this important aspect of playing. He has said in interviews that in the weeks before the band hits the road, he works on building up his hand strength. Good advice.

If you are looking for the ability to play a lot of different notes at a rapid pace, then chromatic exercises with a metronome are essential. When you have a piece or a passage down, bump the metronome up a few clicks. It is as boring as hell, but it works. It also produces results a lot faster than you might think.

Now, if what you want to do is play eighth notes or sixteenth notes on the root at warp speed, then you might be better off playing with a pick. You can strike the strings faster, and your hand does not become tired. Some pretty fast players out there use a pick for this reason.

Good luck!
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Old 08-01-2013, 05:40 PM   #9
Rawshik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatalGear41
Now, if what you want to do is play eighth notes or sixteenth notes on the root at warp speed, then you might be better off playing with a pick. You can strike the strings faster, and your hand does not become tired. Some pretty fast players out there use a pick for this reason.

Good luck!


I want to be able to do both. I don't think a pick is really required. Alex Webster seems to pull it off. Plus, I'm pretty awful with a pick.
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Old 08-09-2013, 01:33 PM   #10
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For a long time I felt the same way as you do with my 3 finger speed. Eventually I realized I was digging in too much and playing too hard for me to go much faster. Try playing lightly, letting your fingers just sort of graze the strings. After a few months of playing like that I was able to dig in and play a little more aggressively. Also have you tried learning songs that you know are out of your league? That always helped me, to pick some dream theater song with a bunch of crazy riffs and work through them and keep practicing them until I got them up to speed, even though they were to fast for me when I started learning them.
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