So, I’ve been working on memorizing my first official bass line, which I (think I) mentioned in a recent post. I haven’t quite got it to the point where I can play along yet, though I do remember the progression. I will though. Mostly I’m still thinking about it too hard, so when I miss a note, or fall off target, it’s very hard to get back on track again. The play-along I’ve been trying to get through makes me realize since the majority of the riff is all right around the 7th fret, if I lose my place, it’s only when he shifts to the 5th or 9th fret that I’m able to see where I’m supposed to be and pick up again. So, it’s a work in progress, but it really just amounts to repeating it another hundred times until I’m basically dreaming in ‘Stand By Me’. It really only took about 3 or 4 play-throughs to remember. It’s pretty simple, but I don’t think we can really say we ‘know’ a song or part of a song until we’re able to play along with the original recording. So, while I know the progression for ‘Stand By Me’, I won’t say I’ve officially added it to my repertoire until I can play along with the recording reasonably well.

I have noticed something in working on the riff though, in the silence with just it and nothing else going on to distract me from the actual sound coming out of my bass. There’s a variance in the sound I’m creating. Sometimes it’s a percussive thump. Other times there’s a bit of a twang.  I think since, up to now, I’ve mostly been playing whatever Rocksmith has to offer, which is, by definition, pretty much all rock music, I haven’t really been listening closely to that. When I heard it, I assumed I didn’t fret quite hard enough, or was in the wrong place on the fret.

Well, when I’m alone with my bass in a quiet house before the roomie gets up (this only lasts for about 15 minutes a day, but I have been taking advantage of it to play the bass unplugged), I can really notice that different way I’m hitting the string, and look more closely at what’s going on.

That’s when I realized the more ‘twangy’ sound is happening when my nail hits the string. I never considered that possibility because I keep my nails as short as possible. But, even with super short nails, if your finger curls inward just so, it is apparently possible, and even likely, that that nail is going to hit the string for a more pick-like sound.

So, as I continue working, I’ll be paying attention to that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your nail hitting the string if that’s the sound you’re going for, but I’m pretty sure it should always be intentional, so I’ll be using ‘Stand By Me’ to fine-tune how I’m plucking the strings, I guess, while I work on embedding it so deep into my brain that I don’t have to think about it anymore.

Until Next Time, basic motor skills are on the practice agenda. 🙂