This might be a stupid question but I’m having trouble getting rhythm into my playing.
I’m playing all the songs quite well but I feel like I’m playing like a robot.
I tap my left foot all the time but I’m just not getting into the groove and it’s reflected in how I sound.
If anyone can help you it’s you guys, so any tips would be greatly appreciated.


A metronome maybe ? I’ve seen it suggested in a few different places.
I must confess if I’m not “ into” the tune being played I do play it more robotically. Same if I’m unsure of the tune


The thing is I like all the songs Josh puts up but I’m just not relaxing into the songs.
I’m not sure I’m explaining it correctly but you know when you just listening to music you sway, tap, rock with the beat and generally just get into it.
Well that’s what I’m looking for whilst playing.
If I can find that then I reckon I’ll start to sound better than the crap I’m dishing up to myself at the moment.


That’s what I do. I play the song a few times and try to feel the rhythm, especially if I don’t know the song which happened a lot during the B2B course. The songs I was familiar with, I could play well, those that were unfamiliar to me, I needed to feel it to play.
This is what I do, I hope it helps.


And don’t be too hard on yourself or self- critical ( something I suffer from)


Follow the kick drum? Maybe


Good question, and I think we all struggle with that while our brain is concentrating on learning the music. We get so lost in playing the right notes, that we have a hard time focusing on the timing.
I tried a metronome, but that didn’t do much good for me. A few months ago, I got a drum machine and that helps a lot.
Also, since I mostly stand while I’m playing, I’ve learned to put my whole body into the groove, not just my foot. I rock back and forth to the beat, or sway one way and the other, or wave the neck of my bass, or whatever it takes. Once I’ve got that groove pulsating through my body, it’s much easier to stay in time.
Josh posted a really good groove exercise video about 6 months ago, I’ve been trying to find it.


I found that drum tracks really helped me. It’s just instinctive, I just know when to play without thinking about it. I lock in; I don’t count…it just works. I tried the Drumbeats Plus that Josh suggested for IOS, played it through a Bluetooth speaker and viola!

In the context of the drum beat, the notes just started to work.

We’re all different, but that really worked for me.


And just playing and getting more relaxed. The less you have to think about what your hands do in detail the more you can think and focus about rythm/timing and dynamics.


This is different advice than everyone else, but, man, I remember you said you were into Motley Crue (been into them again myself ever since The Dirt, haha :metal:). Put in one of your favorite jams, pretend that you’re Sixx up there on stage, Mick’s just started playing one of his killer guitar riffs, Vince is about to come in with the lyrics, and Tommy’s hitting the drums, surprisingly on the beat. (You’ll probably need to look up the chord progression to the song beforehand) Then, just play the root note only to each chord progression, keep it super simple, a whole note only, the first few times through.

You’ll eventually just automatically lock in, for no other reason than that it feels good!!


This is what I would suggest when doing the workouts, since I think you are talking about having trouble playing to the workouts in the correct rhythm, and staying relaxed. If you just watch the workouts without your bass, at least one time thru, and not only know what to expect when you go back thru them WITH your bass, but you can get a feel for the tune, or backing track being used. Do it as many times as necessary for you to get in sync with the groove,
Go back with your bass. And do this a few times as necessary to get your mind and body in sync with your instrument and the tune.
Don’t be afraid to try new ways to play. You have pause / rewind / restart. Use them at your discretion. There is only the pressure you put on yourself. I do the same thing. I have high expectations of myself, so if I start getting frustrated, PAUSE, bass down, walk around, take 5, tell myself there is no pressure, deadlines, nothing saying I can’t take all the time needed to relax and have fun with it. Then I go back, REWIND- RESTART.
It comes in time, sooner then it sometimes feels, but it comes.


This is very important. Sometimes I find myself getting anxiety over it, but I just tell myself, “Look this will come, but only if you let it. Don’t fret! I mean fret, but just don’t worry!”


Good one :clap:


Thank you everyone.
You have given me lots of food for thought and I will try everything that has been suggested, especially the Motley Crue idea.
I appreciate your help and advice.


Oh and I just thought :thought_balloon: headphones and block the world out ! If I get distracted or worried about what anyone else is thinking it goes to sh*t ! If I’m grooving and like Vik said on stage with the band I don’t know if I play well but man I enjoy it :sunglasses:


Checkout drumbit.app maybe? You can set your own bpm and create a beat that you can get into - regardless of the song. And the basic version is free. Also, and I’m not saying you are doing this, but just in case - don’t forget to breathe.


Excellent, that suggestion was overlooked by the lot. Good thing you threw it in there.


Hail @rory!
I’ve got some questions on this one, because I think that rhythm is the ABSOLUTE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT PLAYING THE BASS and it can be very hard to teach / overlooked / left to individual aptitude.

Do you feel like you’re playing like a robot while you’re playing?
Is your rhythm off, or does it just feel stiff?
Do you listen back to recordings of your playing?
If so, what is your assessment listening back?
Please describe how you sound in specific rhythm terms - rushing? dragging? (Russian Dragons!) swerving in and out of time?

I’d love to offer some pointers, but I’d like them to be specific to your situation if possible.
Holler when you can!


Hey Hail,
Thanks for the questions.
I’ll answer the best I can.

  1. I not only feel like a robot but I also sound like one.
    I must admit I’m concentrating on what I’m doing so that doesn’t help.
  2. my rhythm doesn’t only feel like it’s off, it actually feels like I don’t have it.
    My wife tells me I dance and sing with rhythm but with bass I’m like I’m dead.
    3&4) Yes I do listen back and it sounds dreadful.
    I’m always out of time and it sounds very stilted. I don’t do it too often because it sounds so bad I get embarrassed.
  3. I do sound rushed and I think it’s because with my left hand disability I do take a little longer to change notes because I can’t stretch my hand so I’m always playing catch-up.
    As a result I slide my hand a lot so I get that sound also.
    I don’t swerve in and out of time because it’s like I never get in time in the first place.

I’m not sure if this info helps but regardless I really do appreciate you asking.

Just an FYI, I met a guy on the weekend via a website for Muso’s and I went to his joint for my first jam.
We sat opposite each other and he played rhythm and me bass on one of his originals and it was totally awesome and I seemed to get into the groove with him.
I watched his left hand for the changes and the song was at 200BPM so I was cranking it like there was no tomorrow.
Bloody arm killed me but I kept up and tapped my foot and bopped my head and really hot into.
We then slowed it to 180 and it was not as frantic.
I had rhythm there but at home?
Shot me.

Thank you so much and god bless


I went to a great masterclass in college from Kenny Werner. His central theme/point/everything was this: You must be able to do everything on your instrument as easily as the easiest thing to do on your instrument.

When you’re having to concentrate on - what part of the song are you at - how many times to play the riff - that hard part is coming up - what damn fret is Ab - etc… there’s no room left in the brain for any other active efforts. If there’s something in the playing that requires that active, concentrated effort, it will suffer when there’s a need to concentrate on other things.
I recommend to students, when they are struggling with rhythm - particularly if it’s during performance - to put the bass away, and do vocal, mental, and audio practice on a piece. Sing it, hum it, visualize it on the bass, listen to the bass line, and visualize it. Do everything you can to solidify the mental, musical, aural part of the learning and leave the physical part out for a bit.

The physical part can be added back in, but in small pieces, and at slower tempos. Break everything down until you can play it perfectly. Instead of tackling an entire song with unsatisfactory rhythm, try and play the first bar (at whatever manageable tempo) with perfect rhythm and playing. The first 4 bars. The first verse, etc.

I am 100% guilty of practicing something poorly over and over and over again. To tragic effect. Don’t do it! Work in small pieces until you know it and can play it as easily as the easiest thing on your instrument.

Totally understood.
And I realize it wouldn’t be at all comfortable, but if you want any more specific advice, feel free to share - publicly or privately - some examples of the playing you’re unhappy with and I’ll give a holler with ideas.

Glad to hear that this worked out.
The robo rhythm may have something to do with putting the pressure on yourself. When you’re playing a pre-existing song there’s a right, and a wrong.
When you’re playing originals, there’s a lovely creative freedom. Could be a part of the puzzle? Who knows.

Happy playing.