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Dream Theater and the light touch


Chewbubba

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Ok, our drummer loaned me the DT: Live @ Budokan DVD and I've listened to the whole thing and watched about 50% of it. I probably won't keep it 6 months like he did my Snakes & Arrows DVD, but that's another story...

 

Anyway, back to DT. Sure John Myung has some serious chops, but what amazes me is his light touch on the plucking hand. How the heck does he get away with such a soft touch when I am attacking the strings so hard when I play? After about 4 songs, my plucking hand has had it.

 

What can I do to learn to play with a lighter touch and still feel like I'm not dropping in decibels to nothingness?

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking "lol how can i B as good as Myung - he roxor my soxor". I just want to feel like after 4 uptempo songs, I don't need therapy and have to recuperate with a bottle of ibuprofin.

A stiffy somewhere in the city sewer system...
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But a really good place to start would be NOT listening to Dream Theater.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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But a really good place to start would be NOT listening to Dream Theater.

 

Indeed. Your ears should be all wrapped around Steely Dan.

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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Funny you mentioned that. I have always thought that John Myung's bass was buried in the mix. I saw them here in London last year and I was on his side of the stage and saw him swapping from one bongo to another but the sound was always buried. Almost as if he had no volume at all.

 

www.myspace.com/davidbassportugal

 

"And then the magical unicorn will come prancing down the rainbow and we'll all join hands for a rousing chorus of Kumbaya." - by davio

 

 

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Chewy - amplification isn't necessarily the proper answer. I used to break strings and constantly had blisters but dude, I had great tone. Guess what. The kind of bass you play, the effects you use and the way they are set up can solve 80% of your problems.

 

That is a great DVD if you're a DT fan - which I am.

If you watch Myung he doesn't always play lightly - sometimes he attacks pretty hard and you can hear it in his tone. He also plays with floor effects.

 

 

"He is to music what Stevie Wonder is to photography." getz76

 

I have nothing nice to say so . . .

 

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But a really good place to start would be NOT listening to Dream Theater.

 

What is with all the hate on DT around here? :freak:

 

Just being a little cantankerous and teasing. Myung can play. They're all talented guys.

I just really can't stand DT. I'm not into prog.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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A good part of it can be found in your set-up. If you have a low action set up, you can play more easily with a lighter touch; and if you dig in or play too hard, it really shows in your tone. It almost forces you to play lighter IMO. On the other hand if you have your action set higher, you can play harder and "get away with it", mostly because you have too. I know I play harder, so I have my action set up higher than most people find comfortable. I can play lighter, and it shows in the dynamics; but I tend to dig in a lot so I account for it in string height. Probably a sloppy way to cover up a lack of technique; but there you have it (shrugs)

"Am I enough of a freak to be worth paying to see?"- Separated Out (Marillion)

NEW band Old band

 

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Ok, I'll check the action and see if it can go down any.

 

As far as the amp, I use in-ear monitors on stage and my amp is EQ'ed with the highs pulled out and the lows are boosted. This is so I can still 'feel' the bass even though I'm wearing in-ears. The amp volume is just loud enough to 'feel' it.

 

It may be that my 80's Peavey amp has simply had it and doesn't have enough watts to serve as a practice amp.

A stiffy somewhere in the city sewer system...
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Gary Willis is another who has a screaming rig and plays very light.

Brocko

(I totally dig DT and prog is close to frog and there is no "i" in frog but there is in pie, I dont know what that means but anyway.....)

Don't have a job you don't enjoy. If you're happy in what you're doing, you'll like yourself, you'll have inner peace. ~ Johnny Carson
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As far as the amp, I use in-ear monitors on stage and my amp is EQ'ed with the highs pulled out and the lows are boosted. This is so I can still 'feel' the bass even though I'm wearing in-ears. The amp volume is just loud enough to 'feel' it.

You might want to reconsider the way you're EQing. I've found that putting more upper mids into my rig helps me to hear the definition in what I'm playing. But this can potentially lead to problems if you're not going through a PA. It might not sound how you want it to but you can easily hear what you're doing. This is one benefit of having a separate EQ going through the PA.

 

I also frequently practice unplugged because it gets me comfortable with not hearing myself as well as I'd like to (which is frequently the case when playing live) so I consciously practice a lighter touch and learn to better internalize the music.

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(I totally dig DT and prog is close to frog and there is no "i" in frog but there is in pie, I dont know what that means but anyway.....)

 

This wins the thread. Smells like a new sig to me.

 

But you've all given me much to consider and tinker with. Except the 6+ hours of practice a day. Ain't happening. I wish I could, though.

 

I can't turn up the Input Gain anymore on my signal processor or it will start to clip. Currently, my bass goes to the signal processor, then from there, one out to the my in-ear mixer and another out to my amp. I'd turn up the gain on the signal processor, but like I said, it's already on the border of clipping.

 

But anyway, I'll take a look at the other stuff you guys have mentioned.

 

Thanks!

A stiffy somewhere in the city sewer system...
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Gary Willis is another who has a screaming rig and plays very light.

 

He also has that piece of wood doohickey. I read that he claims it helps him keep a light tough because he can't get his fingers to deep into the strings.

 

I found that if I play too hard my bass goes a bit sharp so I'm trying to learn to play with a lighter touch.

Lydian mode? The only mode I know has the words "pie ala" in front of it.

http://www.myspace.com/theeldoradosband

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DT is one of those bands that I respect more than like. Good musicians, work hard at their craft, but their stuff is a touch more cerebral than I care for.

 

I can respect that position.

 

I really dig cerebral music. I also know a lot of cats don't. Horses for courses.

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I can only speak from my personal experience, and of course I was here in my early days of bass some 5 years ago. I'm a metalhead (prog or otherwise), and a year into bass I joined a punk band. Found when I practiced on my own I was fine. When we practiced I was okay. When we had a gig, 10 seconds into the first song my hand was cramped up and by the end of the third song, it wasn't unusual for blood or puss to be flying off my fingers. Some of that was the speed at which we played. The songs they gave me to learn were recorded and slow, our practices were slightly faster, and our gigs were at double time.

 

But a lot of it was playing too hard and digging in. I came here and heard everything mentioned. Play softer/lighter and let the amp do the work. Over the few years, I've gotten a lot better at it, though it's far from perfect. It just takes practice and patience. It's not going to come over night, but once you begin working at it you'll notice and feel the difference.

 

I'm still working at it though, just keep at it.

[Carvin] XB76WF - All Walnut 6-string fretless

[schecter] Stiletto Studio 5 Fretless | Stiletto Elite 5

[Ampeg] SVT3-Pro | SVT-410HLF

 

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The person that suprised me the most was Davo, his touch is unbelivabely light. I wish I could play like that.

 

www.myspace.com/davidbassportugal

 

"And then the magical unicorn will come prancing down the rainbow and we'll all join hands for a rousing chorus of Kumbaya." - by davio

 

 

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I have to respectfully disagree with all the light touch proponents. I like to " dig" just a little and I think I get a nice sound. I tried the lighter touch, hotter amp thing but I just didn't think it sounded as good as turning down a little bit and digging in. Maybe it comes from having a double bass background.

 

Anyway, to each their own, and I am certainly not touring or famous or rich like Myung but I think there are those that make a heavy touch work for them. GEddy Lee comes to mind for example. Whatever works for you is best. Just wanted to voice "the other side" a little.

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Well, it really depends on the music you're playing. Even John Myung beats the crap out of the strings on some of their faster songs (watched him playing "Panic Attack" last night and he was beating the crap out of the strings on the blazing parts of the song).. If you're playing soft and smooth jazz, then yes, light plucking and letting the amp do the work is best. If you're playing hang banging, knuckle bleeding death metal then beating the strings to death just may be appropriate..

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Delusional Mind

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I think it's less the kind of music you're playing and more a combo of how you want your voice to come through and how much you may or may not limit yourself by technique.

 

Yyyyeaahhh. Way too deep for me dude.

 

Tone happens before amplification. This is why people say

"An amp is an amp".

Simply cranking your amp isn't going to do anything but make you suck louder.

 

 

"He is to music what Stevie Wonder is to photography." getz76

 

I have nothing nice to say so . . .

 

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