A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Soundcloud & my first recording

I didn’t get any actual practice done tonight. Instead, I figured out how to record my bass. I originally tried doing it from my phone. Its an LG G2 running Android 5.0.2, which is apparently called Lollipop. I actually plugged my bass into my amp, which is a rarity for me, and tried 3 different apps, Smart Voice Recorder, Audio Recorder and iRig Recorder. I’ve used the first 2 to record conversations with clients or the team at work when I needed to make notes later for development. The last one is something I grabbed tonight. None of them worked well. They didn’t pick up the bass at all, but got my fingers sliding on the strings with no problem. It makes me wonder if the internal microphone on the phone isn’t able to grab sounds below a certain frequency. I’ll have to look into that later. But it could also be that the volume on the amp was really low to avoid waking the baby.

What finally did work was when I went to the PC. I used my old Rocksmith cable. I haven’t touched it in maybe 2 years. It seemed to work with the Sound Recorder that’s built into Windows 7, but the levels were low. I turned to Google and it led me to Audacity, which I’ve used in the past for instructional stuff for work, and the LAME encoder, which Audacity needs to save files as MP3. Both of these (Audacity & LAME) are free.

So, I adjusted the volume level of the Rocksmith cable using the Windows Control Panel and tried recording. It worked. 😉 I’m not plugged into an amp, so its like I’m playing unplugged with my electric bass. This will, of course, affect the sound quality, but for practice purposes, its fine. Later on, I’ll see if it can use the cable while its plugged into my amp. That’ll be interesting if it works.

So, here’s my first recording, and my first upload to Soundcloud. Its just a test using the minor triad and the first 3 notes of the minor scale. I started on E (5th fret) on the low B string on the fretted 6-string and played a pattern/few notes on the 1, 4, 5 and 8, so its relatively simple. I tried using that “rolling fingers” technique from the Hal Leonard book as well, because it gives me problems, which are apparent in the recording. Its a little sloppy, but I only just picked my bass back up after more than 1/2 a year, so it’ll likely remain that way for some time.

I’d say enjoy, but… its not at that stage yet. So, witness the horror instead. 😉

Wow. The Soundcloud image makes me twice as ugly! 😉

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7 responses

  1. Shelby Stronger

    Funny, smart voice recorder is what I’ve been using and it hears the bass fine. It hears my fingers on the strings great, too. I’m not-so-secretly happy the fingers on strings thing isn’t just me. 🙂

    My phone does have front facing speakers, which might make it better equipped for sound, though. That was the main selling point for me when I got it.

    November 11, 2015 at 8:44 am

    • vishalicious

      It might be that I had the volume way down on the amp, but I could hear myself with no problem. I don’t think its the app, regardless, because with 3 of them, I had exactly zero bass. Maybe sometime this evening, I’ll raise the volume a bit and try again. I won’t be able to record with it much though, if that’s the problem, because at night I won’t be able to raise it.

      And, I hear fingers sliding on strings all the time when I listen to people on Youtube. Some people are just better at muting and switching positions than others. I’m sure I’ll get it eventually. Now that I can hear it, it makes me more aware of it. 😉

      November 11, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      • Shelby Stronger

        Yeah, mine picked up the bass even unplugged, so sounds like your phone just doesn’t want to be a bassist.

        I find it so weird that the strings sound so loud on the bass when I switch, since I never hear that on guitar and the strings are made of the same stuff, more or less. The first time I tried to record the bass though, I was like ‘holy heck, I knew I could hear it, but that sounds awful’. It actually had me wondering if some strings are louder than others. The clicks don’t happen TOO often, but that finger slide. Yuck. I have a long way to go on that.

        November 11, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      • vishalicious

        Apparently, its a bass thing. Guitarists might experience it less because of some kind of rubber mute and because they generally use picks instead of fingers (although I thought it was from my fretting hand, not my picking hand). Here’s something from How the Fender Bass Changed the World:

        https://books.google.com/books?id=1m2kRBQscfoC&pg=PA113

        Its the last paragraph. It stops right before the Slapping section.

        November 11, 2015 at 2:43 pm

  2. Shelby Stronger

    Yeah, it’s definitely a difference in hand position, that I’ve talked a bit about, I think, but there’s some difference in the strings themselves, too. Maybe the thickness makes them louder, but you’d then think that it would be less apparent on the A string, which doesn’t appear to be the case. It’s definitely fretting hand for me. I have no issue muting neighboring strings, which that article mentions. It’s specifically that my fingers apparently need to come completely off the strings when switching frets, which seems to lack any economy of motion. But, so far, if my fingers so much as ghost along the string, that sound will show up on a recording. It’s pretty cumbersome to find the right balance. Everywhere else, I’m doing ok with muting, but moving from one fret to another, that’s a pretty blatant sound to my ears, with amp or without. It’s probably my main bass hang up at the moment-trying to reduce or eliminate the zip chord sound when moving up and down the neck.

    November 11, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    • vishalicious

      Its the same for me, and from what I’ve seen reading Talkbass and other places, it seems to be common to all bassists – especially when starting out. I guess I was able to ignore it longer than I should have because of not using my amp.

      I think you’re going in the right direction associating it with string properties. I don’t think its necessarily the thickness though. I think it might be the length. It probably helps sustain the vibrations more when we glide down the string accidentally. That probably helps it get picked up more easily… so we have to be more perfectionistic with our technique. Yay…

      November 11, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      • Shelby Stronger

        Well, logically, all other things being roughly equal, it sort of has to be something about the strings. Obviously, I haven’t got enough hands on experience to know whether it’s thickness, length, or what, but it’s good to know I’m not nuts and this is a thing that most people have to figure out.

        November 11, 2015 at 3:18 pm

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