8 Traditional Practices For Stringed Instruments To Help Improve Your Technique

Like with everything else you enjoy, you may want to improve your ability to play string instruments. Playing instruments is fun and a great way to get your creative juices flowing. Stringed instruments make it easy to disconnect from the world and have some fun.

However, the concept of chords, especially for bass guitar, can be complicated for a beginner. Although bassists mostly play one note at a time, you can spice up even a simple bassline by playing chords and double stops on the bass when appropriate.

Also, Marcus Miller infused slapping into his collaborations with Miles Davis while Flea introduced it to the rock audience during his stint with Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Although it can sometimes almost sound comical, slapping has appeared in popular culture through numerous media. You can learn to play chords through Posido Vega’s method, which is fun and straightforward. The technique involves using the edge of your thumb knuckle to hit the string against the fretboard quickly.

Popping entails pulling the string away from the fretboard and quickly releasing it to snap back against it. Although you can use the two techniques independently, you can alternate them on a bass guitar.

2. Fingering

If you want to come up with an even feel to even the most intricate basslines, it is vital to master fingering. Since any tension can make moving smoothly across the bass guitar more complex, you must keep your hands relaxed while playing.

Also, it would be best if you alternated the fingers you use. It will help you maintain an even attack on the notes you are playing. Some of the more complex technical passages you hear may sound almost impossible when you start.

However, you can make even the most technical bass lines sound effortless with regular practice that involves challenging yourself incrementally over time.

3. Pizzicato (Finger Picking)

Fingerpicking or pizzicato is one of the most common styles of playing the bass. You can watch the playing of The Who’s John Entwistle to see what the mastery of pizzicato looks like. Fingerpicking on the bass differs slightly from fingerpicking on the guitar.

While most guitarists only use the fingernail, bassists use the entire fingertip. When starting, it is enough just getting to grips with picking in one section of the string. Nonetheless, you can begin exploring the various tones offered by the bass guitar as you get more proficient. However, it would be best if you avoided picking too hard. Always pick the strings gently to prevent finger injuries, buzzy strings, or dodgy tuning.

4. Muting

Few things are better than beautiful and prominent bass lines. However, as much as you pay attention to the sound while playing, you should also concentrate on getting rid of it. When they are not muted, you will notice that the strings in your bass guitar continue vibrating for much longer than you might want them to. These prolonged vibrations can cause a muddy sound, especially where different notes blur together.

Depending on different scenarios and purposes, you can use many muting techniques to get a clean sound. Before attempting anything fast, practicing the muting technique at a slower tempo is highly recommended.

5. Plectrum (Playing With a Pick)

There can be a semblance of a purist mentality among bass players concerning the use of picks. However, guitar picks are like other tools available in a bassist’s arsenal. The major reason for using a pick is to attain a particular tone or sound.

Picks enhance the grit and brightness of your bass. Although there are no limits to what you can or cannot play, louder or heavier types of music can particularly benefit from that additional growl.

6. Concentrate on Right Hand Finger Movement

While playing the bass guitar, your left hand makes the choices for notes on the fretboard. On the other hand, your right hand is responsible for adding the consistency, the rhythmic component, and the actual drive behind your notes.

It is nearly impossible to dissect rhythm without mentioning harmony and melody. Therefore, to develop a consistent and fluid playing style, you need to create a consistent routine for working out your right hand.

7. Control Your Attack

After determining what you are playing, fine-tuning differentiates an excellent performance from a good one. A large portion of your control over your stringed instrument emanates from the initial sound source (how you physically strike the string).

It is possible to dramatically alter your sound by controlling the attack you play the note with. You can practice striking a note until you attain a desirable sound and then make the sound consistent through further practice.

8. Practice with a Metronome

A metronome is a device that produces an audible beat at a specific tempo, making it an invaluable tool for practicing stringed instruments. Setting the metronome to a slow tempo and starting with simple exercises can gradually increase the speed as your technique improves.

It will help you develop a sense of timing and rhythm, essential for playing in time with other musicians. It’s also a good idea to practice with a metronome when learning new pieces, as it can help you stay on tempo throughout the entire piece. Some metronomes even have optional rhythms or melodies that can make practicing with them more fun.

Playing chords on bass is different from playing chords on an acoustic guitar. Chords play a key role in understanding harmony, adding color to your basslines, and preparing you for possible solo bass acts. When practicing, you need to be patient with yourself. Consistent and focused practice is the quickest way to achieve high-quality playing.

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