Simple Lines Reveal Flaws

I was recording last night and the song I’ve been working on has a really simple bass line, quarter notes B descending to F#. bbbb, and down the line, 80bpm. Every pull thats different, every muting mistake, finger pressure on the fret, position of the finger, timing miscue, even the overall tone seems be glaring at me in the playback. Just when I thought that I was getting somewhere then you find out…you might not be where you were but you are not where you want to be either. On another note, from listening to a lot of motown lately I wanted to create a line that kind showed off those influences but if you have to make it fit its wrong…simple was definitely the better way to go. Getting ready to re-record the line for the umpteenth time.

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I’m in the mindset that flaws reveal flaws. and man do I hear a lot of off sounds in my playing when I listen back to it. usually its plucking to hard. I don’t have good feeling in my fingertips or body in general. but my palms and fingertips are extremely thick and callous form mixing concrete all day and handling hot and cold steel on the fence line, etc. so if I’m not careful I find myself plucking a string and getting mild slap tones from where my calluses grip onto them.

I’ve also noticed if I play a fast track. it sounds bad regardless of what I do because there just sounds like to much going on at once for a bass. but when playing a slow track I definitely can tell where I need to lighten up. but I don’t tend to hear many flaws if I’m playing closer to 140+ bpm. so I guess that’s my sweet spot.

good luck with the recording though! its a great way to train your ear and revise playing technique for sure. has helped me a ton

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flaws reveal flaws…thats awesome. When I’m string skipping, playing a little faster, really feeling like you in the groove I don’t hear it, but last night listening to it on the way home it was absolutely cringe worthy. Trying to elicit the tone I was looking for, what I was hearing while playing was eye opening…what I thought was bass heavy turned to mud while listening to it…LOL must be the recorder…LOL

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Just throwing in some food for thought:

These days, we are all exposed to what essentially amounts to “perfectly” played bass line all the time, and that seems to make us acutely more aware of our own flaws and mistakes.

However, after having had a chance to experience a little bit how tracks can be massaged and tuned in the studio, all this should be taken with a grain of salt.

It might be helpful to find isolated bass tracks of older records and listen to the “quality” there; often, that is very interesting and truly revealing. Check this out (and I realize this is by no means a “simple line”):


Is this awesome playing? You betcha! Is it “perfect”? Depends on your criteria, but it is played by a human with passion and any collateral flaws stemming from it. You be the judge!

Or this, which is the track that made it on the record even though there is a clear buzz from a not quite hit fret around the 1:23 mark - why would they leave that in?? Because everything else was so good and it just shows that it is “real” music, played by a human and not plugged together on a computer? Also, would you have noticed if I hadn’t pointed it out to you? Is it important? Again, you be the judge!

My point: keep on listening to your flaws and get better, but don’t beat yourself up over not being perfect!

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Yes, also watch the guy on YouTube that does covers on the channel Cover Solutions.
He does one track with the song, tabs provided, and a 2nd track which is bass line only, with tabs. it is very useful to learn to play the song, to hear the bass part in isolation, so I go back and forth between the two if learning a song, but the first time I recorded anything that I learned from him, I thought it sounded horrible when I listened to the bass track in isolation.
When I went back to listen to his isolated bass track, I found that many of the things that I thought made my playing sound HORRIBLE, like string clacks and a little fret buzz you hear on the isolated bass track, he had the same things going on. But when you listened to him play thru the song, it all gets lost in the mix and sounds, well right. it is a cover and it sounds much like the original song when he plays it.

So I went back to listen to my bass track, with the rest of the song and much of what I thought was Shite, ended up blending with the mix and sounding right too. By no means was I as good as the original or even as the guy on cover solutions, but it sounded way better then what I had originally thought it would when played with the mix.

Of course learn from every detail, but see much of it as progress, even if it first sounds like a set back.

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@T_dub Cover Solutions is a great channel =)

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Thanks T you may be on to something…I kept the track and once I recorded the guitar and was not listening to just the bass and drums lot of what was making me cringe sort of melded with the mix…I still may go back and redo but it is not as bad sounding as I once believed.

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Happy to help, I am here all week long :wink:

No, I am glad you were able to throw it in the mix, and make sense of it.
I do the same, where I record a take, don’t like it and record a few more.
Funny thing, I usually end up using my first take.
Often I listen to it, and think, oh, that sounds like crap. So I do another, trying to focus on correcting the things that I didn’t like, and more often then not, I make other mistakes, so I have a track that sounds better in places, but worse in others.
Then I get into my head and say “F” it, going with the first take, I was more relaxed during that one.
Of course, like you are thinking to do another take, I will re-visit is at a later date, and try to lay down an improved track.
it is a great way to measure your progress over time as well as getting a chance to lay a better track.

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