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How to Keep a Steady Beat on Bass Guitar

Learn how to keep a steady beat on the bass guitar from musician John Sutton in this online guitar lesson from Howcast.


When we're playing bass, keeping a steady beat on the instrument, playing with good time and playing with a good time field are the most important things we can do. Even if we don't play anything fancy at all, just playing with good time, good rhythm, you will work as a bass player and people will love playing with you. So when we're talking about keeping a steady beat, first of all the most important thing a bass player can invest in is a metronome. Playing everyday with a metronome that's keeping your beat for you and make sure that you're playing always with time in mind is really a valuable thing to invest in. When we're playing slow or medium tempos, the tendency for us is to rush and the notes will get closer together. So what we want to do is find a way to slow down our thinking about time. And it's the opposite with really fast stuff. When we're playing faster passages or songs with faster tempos we tend to slow down. So we have to find ways on faster tempos to keep the speed up. When we're playing a slow or a medium tempo, the way we can keep it from from speeding up is to keep thinking about smaller beats inside of our large beats. So when I'm playing quarter notes, I can be thinking triplets underneath it. So I can play a triple a triple a triple a triple a triple, whatever is most comfortable for you. Even one two a three four a one a two three a four a one a two a three a four one. So what I just showed you was a good way to keep a steady beat while you're playing on slower medium songs by internally subdividing the beat. To plat faster without them slowing down, we're going to do the exactly opposite of what we did on the slow or medium example. While we're playing the faster notes we're thinking of the notes we're playing in larger groups so that we're feeling it at a tempo that's more comfortable to us and that will acknowledge us being more steady. So I'm thinking, one two three four one two three four one two three four one two three four one two three four and it's easier to think that way then to be thinking about one two three four one two three four all the time and it really freezes up and makes it feel more comfortable and often will make it more steady.

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