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So, I am learning to play bass...

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  • #31
    Well, while you have all been arguing, I have improved greatly.

    Triplets are super fucking easy and I don't have issues with my fretting strength anymore. Slapping as gotten a lot better, finger style has gotten a lot better too. All I need to do now is learn a song.

    Reading tabiture can be a little intimidating to me, as I don't know the easiest path between two frets. For example, I attempted Tommy The Cat again and was still completely lost. My playing also sounds messy too, because even if I mute properly there are still a lot of harmonics going on while playing.

    Idk I'm getting better and that's all that matters.

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    • #32
      It would be a good idea to find a video on youtube of someone walking you through the process of properly setting up the kind of bass you own. I think you said it's a Squier Jazz affinity, so a video of someone doing a Fender Jazz would probably work. Just make sure the bridge in the video is identical to yours. You'll need a few tools to do it properly. One VERY important tool is a 6 inch mechanics ruler, which you can find at any auto parts store, hardware store, and probably walmart as well. This tool comes in handy for measuring the height/action of individual strings. And if you're getting lots of buzzing while playing... that's either messy technique or perhaps the action needs to be raised. I would always recommend attempting to raise the action FIRST rather than torquing on the truss rod. Truss rods can break if you don't know what you're doing. A good setup how-to video should detail all the factory recommended measurements.

      Learning how to setup your instrument is important in mastering the instrument. First of all, it's better than paying someone else to do it. Every instrument is different, and some instruments might perform better with a higher action than others. So setting up your own bass will give you a feel for how to make your instrument perform better, or at least it'll help you mold the setup to your own tastes.

      But to be honest... you're playing a Squier affinity. They are NOT just simply a cheaper version of a Fender made in China rather than Mexico or the US. The body is typically 4 or more pieces rather than 2 or 3, it's often shitty cuts of agathis rather than alder, the body on a Squier affinity is also only about 70% of the thickness of a real Fender body. The pickups are made from low quality materials, slugs, magnets, even the wire is cheaper less pure copper. The bridges tend to be made of low density chrome plated zinc or chrome plated chinese potmetal rather than more dense pure steel or brass. The tuning machines are cheapy and have a terrible ratio that makes tuning not so easy sometimes. The frets on the necks tend to be over-smoothed at almost a 45 degree angle to the fretboard. Sometimes chinese guitar makers don't shape the fret edges enough and they leave sharp angles on the fret sides that can cut your palm if you drag your hand across it too fast and too hard. Squier... they kinda over-do it though. It reduces a bit of the fret surface and the playing area. Mexican and American Fender frets are much better. Anyway, long story short, you're not playing a "quality" instrument, so don't expect it to ever sound or perform as well as a 700 dollar Fender standard Jazz bass.

      About a month ago, I went and bought an older model (maybe pre-2005ish???) Squier standard Stratocaster for 80 bucks. I thought I'd replace the bridge, the nut, and the pickups and have it sounding and playing just as good as a 600 dollar Fender strat. NOPE. I brought it home, fixed the TERRIBLE shit with the bridge (some idiot had the saddle springs BEHIND the bridge rather than between the bridge plate and the saddles, derp), tried it set it up. It didn't sound too bad with the stock nylon nut or the original pickups. But the damn bridge wouldn't balance properly. If you pressed on the whammy bar, it would downtune everything almost 2 full notes. Possibly a new bone nut and new all steel bridge would've solved that problem. But the neck was also having issues too. It was tiled back too far. I could've taken the neck off and tried to adjust it, but at that point, I was starting to get scared that I bought a 80 dollar piece of shit. So rather than keep it and continue tweaking on it, I just took it back before the 7-day exchange period was up and traded it in for a used Ibanez TS9dx Tubescreamer Turbo pedal. I'm WAY happier with the pedal. At first I thought I was gonna use it with my guitar, but I actually found that the #2 boosted setting on it works terrific with my bass and bass amp. I run the amp totally clean, and turn the gain down to about 20% on the Tubescreamer, and it makes harder hit notes kinda start to breakup to kinda simulate how old tube amps splat the speakers and distort when you blast them loud enough. I've always been a big distortion or fuzz kinda guy. Overdrive like a Tubescreamer always seemed kinda wimpy and pointless to me, and I never saw why so many people went so crazy for Tubescreamer pedals. But after finally playing one... I'm sold, dude. These things are INCREDIBLE! You can use them to get overdrive all on their own. Or you can use them to boost your signal into an already overdriven amp to make it sound even hotter. Or you can run it before a fuzz or distortion pedal to boost the signal into to it make it sound hotter too. For a pedal with a such a small subtle effect, it has a universe of uses.

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      • #33
        A little more about pedals...

        As I said before, overdrive pedals are nice. But if you're new to the game, you should be aware that not all overdrive pedals are created equal. Boss makes a 50 dollar Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive. It's actually more of a distortion pedal. They also make a 100 dollar pedal called the Boss BD-2 Blues Driver that's "supposed" to give your guitar a nice blues overdrive sound. Well... to me it sounds like a slightly less harsh version of the SD-1, and still it sounds more like a light distortion pedal instead of an overdrive. The best sounding overdrive pedals feature an op-amp in the circuit. I won't go into precisely what makes an op-amp chip tick, but basically the resulting sound is kinda close to how a tube amp produces overdrive tones. The overdrive is more dynamic, meaning it becomes harsher or softer depending on how hard you play. All of the pedals in the Ibanez Tubescreamer lineup feature an op-amp chip. They actually make a BASS Tubescreamer pedal, but I can't say that I recommend it as I've never tried it. But I have tried the TS9dx. It definitely works well with bass, because as you scroll through the hotter turbo modes, it increases the bottom end more, which is in addition to whatever tone you wanna dial in with the TONE knob.

        Another famous overdrive pedal was the old Klon Centaur that came out in the 90's. Back then, they were kinda hard to find and ran about 250 bucks, but they sounded terrific. They added a nice sparkle and slight grit to your sound. Today, if you're lucky enough to find someone willing to part with one, they go for 2000 bucks or more. However, several companies make clones of them. One of the best is the Rockett Archer Ikon which goes for about 200.

        There's also a few pedals you could get to kind of clean up your sound.

        Starting out, you probably haven't mastered "touch" yet. And this effect might end up hindering your progression in that area if you lay it on too thick. But most live performing bassists will have one of these or something similar in their signal chain and ALWAYS on. A limiter or compressor. A limiter will reduce the peak output of any notes to a certain level in order to make your playing sound more uniform. Otherwise, you'd be hearing bassists hitting every other note harder and the bass would blast harder every time and become distracting. A compressor is kind of the same thing, only it boosts weaker signals to a certain level rather than limiting the peaks.

        I "think" Boss might make a limiter compressor combo pedal, but I can't attest to it being worth a shit or not. In addition to a limiter and/or compressor, it might also be worthwhile to invest in a noise gate pedal as well. Noise gates have a threshold setting where it'll close off the signal to 0 and eliminate extra noise whenever the signal strength dips below that selected level.
        Last edited by Focalor; 09-10-2017, 01:37 AM.

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        • #34
          Focalor Haha, no.

          I can't get pedals, I rarely have 100 dollars all at once because of the slow trickle of money I get as well as my slightly reckless spending, so it would be really fucking hard for me to get pedals anyway. I had quite a bit of money a while back, but I was saving up for a 144hz monitor and I wanted nothing else, so I bought it immediately. I do not regret my purchase, as I probably won't need another monitor until some new technological advancement makes 240hz screens cheap. Or you know, when someone steals it when I'm in college. My dad also has quite a few pedals, but as usual, NO TOUCHY. Same thing with his amps, but he got me one of those little portable BlackStar amps, and it works fine since I play clean. It also has a built in compressor, but it doesn't sound very good and just makes my playing more distracting.

          My action is low right now, so the higher notes do have buzz in them. I've been meaning to fine tune it recently, but I'm a little lazy.

          I've also started to learn how to play "A Portrait of Tracy." I thought I couldn't do it, but I was surprised I could actually play some of it. Of course, it's pretty hard to get those notes where you have to stretch your hands. Half that is because my pinky has a locking joint in it, so I can't move it at all very well, and the other half is just how poorly I hold my bass. I still can't figure out how to hold the damn thing. I feel I have to rotate the neck like 45 degrees away from me to get full coverage of the fretboard. If I want to see the board, then I have to break my wrist by bending it, and then I have to somehow get the same dexterity I have when relaxed. I really need to figure it out, because it limits me to the two upper strings and playing anything beyond that is almost impossible for me to play fast enough to do anything, as well as playing more than one string. Some advice in that would be great. I see people play with their fingers completely perpendicular to the board playing fine, while I am stuck with my fingers being angled and not getting to the other half of the board.

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          • #35
            Your dad's being a dick, lol. (Unless you're one of those kids like I was that used to somehow break anything he got his hands on) Pedals aren't really breakable. You can scratch the paint on the housing of some I guess, maybe that's what he's worried about, I dunno. Most are built tough enough that you can KILL someone with them if you throw them hard enough,... and they'll still work afterwords, even covered in brains, haha.

            Pedals are one of the safest pieces of music gear to buy used (not always, but usually). In regards to dependability, you've basically got two different kinds of effects pedals and units: Ones that operate on a 9V battery, and Ones that require a wall wart cord or come with an attached/detachable 2 or 3 prong AC cord, which will always be the most problematic ones. They usually operate on a higher voltage than the 9V battery powered ones, and this increased voltage will have the ability to burn out components and render the unit inoperable. 9V is such a low voltage that there's rarely a chance for that level of charge to damage any kind of circuitry. With some 9V battery powered pedals like wah-wah's you can wear out moving parts like the potentiometer, but that's a relatively easy DIY repair that anyone can do. So if you test out a pedal in the store and it works and works PROPERLY, chances are it's gonna keep working for a long time. If it's a corded rackmount unit,... maybe not.

            Anyway, my point is that if he's got 9V pedals, most are made to be durable enough for a person to STOMP on. He should appreciate the fact that you're interested in the same hobby and maybe let you play with his toys every once in a while.

            As far as turning the bass to SEE what you're playing... maybe you've got your instrument slung too low. I know Slash plays a Les Paul slung down low enough that he can pull his dick out and piss over the top of it, but no one else in their right might should play a guitar or bass slung that low. Screw LOOKS. If you keep the strap shorter and let the bass body ride between your chest and belly, your plucking hand will be in a better position to reach all the strings quicker, the neck will be closer to your face making it easier to see what you're playing, and your fretting hand will be able to move up an down the neck easier too. As you play more and more and get your favorite scales burned into your memory from countless hours of practicing, you'll begin needing to LOOK at what you're playing less and less. I wouldn't recommend blindfolding yourself and practicing scales, that's probably not gonna get you there faster. Just hours and hours of practicing. I've been playing guitar since the early 90's and I still spend hours practicing. At night when I'm laying in bed watching TV, I'll grab my Les Paul or my bass and just lay there mindlessly noodling away without it even being plugged into anything, sometimes not even paying attention to what I'm playing.

            Finger plucking a bass is finally kinda-sorta starting to become natural for me. I hated it at first and was using only a flat pick. I prefer the sound of fingers to flat pick usually, I guess it just depends on the style of music I'm playing at the time. For heavy metal, some Lemmy style flat picking is great. But for anything like blues or classic rock, fingers sound better. A pick just sounds harsher and has more treble in the attack, whereas fingers makes a dull all-bass attack sound with no popping and clicking in the treble range. With fingers, you gotta kinda train yourself to have a light touch. You don't have to try to grip under the string and POP it, you just gotta lightly roll the fleshy part of your finger over the top of the string. Kinda imagine what it looks like if you zoomed in on the strings as you pluck them. If all 4 of the strings make a flat plane across the top of the bass body, then the fleshy part of your finger should be contacting each string at a 45 degree angle. NOT a 90 degree angle, because then you are POPPING the string. That makes your plucking hand have to work harder to not only pluck each note, but it makes it harder to mute the string BELOW it when that finger lands on the string after plucking the note. That's kinda important in that way. A lighter and proper touch when plucking will make muting the other strings more effective and easier to do. You may have to turn your amp up a little more to compensate for the lower signal that'll produce compared to popping the strings, but with some practice, you should start to notice that it'll produce a more even sound with less noise. And if you get decent enough at it, you'll even get to the point where you'll have enough control over your plucking hand that you may not even NEED to have your plucking finger land on the string under it, which will sound the cleanest of all.
            Last edited by Focalor; 09-19-2017, 02:11 PM.

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