- One approach to playing is to sing the tune you want in your head, then learn to match the real-life sound ... to the note in your head. An approach that probably won't work is learning the angle of the staff that results in a "D", then how much to change the angle to get an "F#", etc. Loosening up, having fun, jamming to other musicians or the radio, and using your ears is the way to go.
- If [all your equipment] is in order and you have practiced, then relax. You don't have to be perfect - you have the element of surprise on your side. Have some fun! Smile, let your body move - look like you are having fun and the audience will be totally on your side by the third note.
- Practice playing along to the radio or TV - whatever is playing (your favorite video, or better yet, something you don't normally listen to), try to add something that makes it sound better - or else just listen carefully for a while. Other musicians will want to play with you if you can improvise to their material and make them sound better.
- The first, best and technically easiest trick is to learn when to not play anything. If you aren't sure of a note, or if you are tired or lost, shut up and listen to the rest of the band for awhile. When your bass comes booming back in, the effect will be dramatic and exciting.
- 'Vibrato' is a good trick. Rather than hitting and holding a perfect pitch, alternate quickly between being a little bit sharp and a little bit flat. As long as the correct pitch is somewhere in the middle, the ear will hear the correct pitch.
- The ear hears and judges the note you reach, but is not as concerned with how you got there, as long as you do get there. If you are aiming for a high note, overshoot the mark and fall back. If aiming for a low note, start a bit too low and come back up. It is as if you have first proven that the note is within your range, which earns you an extra moment to slide into a final adjustment. However, trying to work up to a high note without quite reaching it sounds bad - as if you are straining hard but will never get to where the audience wants you to be.
- The longer you hold a note the more the ear wants it to be in tune. Short, crisp notes can be out without anyone having time to judge them.
- If you do need [help with your playing], since the bass line is so important to the other musicians, you may make more friends at a jam session by sitting out until you are ready. (Don't be shy, but there is no need to be pushy either, because it will be the best musicians who first invite you to join in.)
[The above eight bits of advice were salvaged from Dave Walley's now defunct Electric Inbindi (tubless wtb) site. ]
- If you want to hear yourself above the rest of the instruments, just place the thumb of your "stick" hand into your ear, much like one would do when singing, to check to see if the pitch is correct. The vibrations are carried up the stick and through the hand. You don't actually shove your thumb in your ear, but you hold that (for want of a more accurate anatomical term) "flap" down, sealing the ear opening. Use light pressure, and I think that you will be pleased with the results. (Uncle Bee)
- A bass instrument can often be heard better from 20 feet away than from right on top of the thing, as I learned through embarrassing experience. And discerning bass pitches in the midst of general musical uproar can be extremely difficult to do with accuracy, especially among guitars, whose low notes may overlap into bass range and with superior audibility. (LFMiller)
- [I asked Washtub Jerry how he was able to play the WTB and the ukelele at the same time. Here is his entertaining reply. --- lfm] I use a simple strap (leather) around my arm and the washtub bass pole. This strap allows me to keep the pole against my shoulder as my shoulder establishes the correct pressure against the pole to produce the correct pitch. This way my left hand is free to fret--the ukulele (a Martin tenor uke, 1963.) So, the songs were recorded as we perform them; me playing the uke and tub simultaneously-- I can't play the parts separately.
But why!? Some one challenged me to play the uke and tub at the same time. So I did. The uke was my first adult instrument. I switched from uke to tub not knowing that it would take a dozen years before humans would let me play with them. [Meanwhile] I played with the radio.
- It may depend on the particular culture and personalities involved, but at least in the US it's an unspoken but generally understood rule that there's no more than one bass player per group. This makes some sense, especially for jam sessions, since given the simple line basses usually play in this context, a second bass is at best redundant, and at worst will muddle the chord-change and rhythm functions expected of the bass. So if a group already has a bass, you should be cautious about joining in, even if it's agreeable to the original bass player (and don't be surprized to find that it's not.)
- [Here's a] method of gutbukit'n that I've never heard anyone else suggest before (at least online). The trick is to use a glass jar (beer bottle?) as a slide. This makes for very accurate and fast tone control. It's much easier than pulling back on the handle and gives you a lot more range, too. You have to tie the loose end of the string around your leg or body or jug player to keep the handle stable. With this method, you can play above or below the slide to get two different notes (complement to each other.) Good luck! (Josh Seitz and Tyson)
- To get better control over your notes, the secret is to make the neck (stick) long enough so you can rest your head against it. One, this lets you hear what you are playing much more directly, and two, this gives you much more precise control over the tension on the cord. (Keith Ramsay). [Click for pic.]
- I play with a plastic box cutter, which acts to pluck, strike, or bow the string in a variety of ways, running my box cutter's handle across the string like a very short bow. It's a plastic grip styled after a serrated edge, so it grips and releases about 30 times per bowing action. A poor-man's bow, which increases the pitch and attack of the string drastically, making the sound gritty-- some might say a little painful! There's still not a lot of sustain, but it gets some of the feel of a quickly bowed passage. Usable, in its place, and good for my ritual-industrial style of music. (Benjamin Hockenberry)