Facebook. Youtube. Instagram. Snapchat. The one thing all these formats have in common is that video content is king. We live in a day and age where anyone with a smartphone, tablet or laptop has the ability to record themselves playing and upload it to the net for the world to see (and judge) but just because you can doesn’t mean you should… In today’s lesson I’m going to talk about why I believe you should be recording yourself practicing and gigging regularly in order to become a better bass player, not a social media superstar ;)
The main reason I believe you should record yourself is so you can get perspective on your playing. When you are in the midst of practicing a bass line or an exercise, your brain is processing a myriad of things at once, “What’s the next note? What finger do I pluck it with? How hard should I pluck it? What beat of the bar is it on? What left hand finer do I use? How do I get to the next note?” etc; etc; and as a result you may be unaware of certain technique or timing discrepancies that are occurring. By recording yourself (with video for technique analysis) you will be able to see/hear the ‘big picture’ of your playing and listen in a more objective way, the same way a teacher is able to analyse your playing and give you feedback on your performance. When listening back, pay special attention to where and how you are placing your notes, are you ahead of the beat? Behind? Is that lick before the chorus a little bit rushed? Is your tone appropriate for the material? If you are recording with a DAW (Garageband/Logic/Protools etc;) take a look at the waveform created by your bass in relation to ‘the grid’ to see how consistent your timing is, even try editing it to make it ‘correct’ if there are sections out of time to hear how it should sound and play along.
Tips for better quality recordings: Make sure you aren’t clipping the input of your recorder. There are various apps for your phone that allow you to adjust the input gain of a recording to ensure a distortion free recording and if you are using an audio interface, check those decibel meters.. Use the DI from your amp and a decent XLR cable and experiment with pre or post eq to see which sound results in a clearer recording, just beware that boosting your eq or gain will affect the overall output level. If videoing, ensure you have sufficient light and that you can hear your bass slightly more than the backing music, this will make it easier to see any technique flaws as well as analyse your timing. Have fun! You might find it daunting at first but after you sort out the technical barriers and ‘red light syndrome’ you may find that recording your practice sessions become an integral part of your growth as a musician and you actually enjoy listening back to the results of your hard work.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this lesson on recording bass for practice, any questions contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be back next month with another lesson! See you next time! Craig