That’s the sound of what you’d want a bass player or drummer to make so that if you were playing with them, you’d feel the beat from what they are doing – not only hear the note.
A certain “thump” with a depth of tone is possible on guitar…
You can do it – but you just have to want it enough and see how important it actually is.
Your Instinct is Already Perfect
My teacher always told me “musical instinct is perfect.”
I’d like to get you in touch with the instinctual perfection you already have.
It’s a perfection that you can’t copy from someone else – just like a heartbeat.
It’s in your nature and under your nose. However, intellectual ideas often cloud the perfection that is already there.
The One Thing
I was recently at the University of Milwaukee for a concert and masterclass and saw many brilliant guitar students. Wow were they awesome!
One student and I got to spend some one on one time, and our chat made me think…what’s the one thing that I could convey to him that (I think) would make THE BIG difference in his playing?
The THUMP of course – which is why I am telling you this!
Surrender & Simplicity
The instinct and “inner thump” with which you play guitar & pat your foot on strong beats, has deep truth in it.
Many musical answers reveal themselves if you simply surrender and “obey the thump.”
It’s profound, real and true. I know, it sounds like an over simplification, but truth IS simple.
Hear the Thump in Action
I play some pieces with a thumbpick, and others without – this one is without.
Use headphones or good speakers and listen to the bass – after the harmonics intro…
What’s Your Priority #1?
I find that many players (especially students) get wrapped up in small details (strings, nails, harmonics, speed, arpeggios, effects, percussion, avoiding mistakes, copying idols, living up to a previous teachers ideals, comparison to others…), and overlook the following concept:
Using one’s “basic thump” as the entire basis for one’s playing should be “Priority #1.”
In fact, I bet it’s what you are actually looking for in all these other places.
Breaking the “Imitation” Cycle
And…what’s frightening is once you commit to the thump you break out of the cycle of imitating others.
When you shift to playing “like YOU” instead of someone else – you end up in a whole other “place” mentally and spiritually.
You become the source itself and then your light shines.
Depth of Tone
Another way to describe the thump is “depth of tone.” When you play with it, there is a certain front end attack on the note that places it precisely where you want in time, with authority.
The more mature I get as a musician, the more I obey the inner “thump” as if my LIFE depends on it.
How Does it Feel?
It should not be heavy, pounding nor should it be tight, but it should have a “solidity” to it.
Imagine holding a juicy canteloupe and dropping it to the ground. It would hit with lots of “surface area” and give you a “thump.”
That’s very different from the sound you’d get dropping a cell phone to the ground (and much cheaper 🙂 )
Given the choices of an abused and mistreated canteloupe vs a cracked iphone – if you could transalte it into sound, go for the abused and mistreted canteloupe 🙂
A Vocal Experiment
Let’s use the idea of “scat singing” to investigate how different sounds can make notes feel “deep” or “solid.”
Try this experiment…say in a good speaking voice out loud (really do it, I promise you won’t get arrested) say “Boom, Boom, BOOM.”
Note…hopefully you were not screaming, stressing or straining your voice or lips to count that out loud. Yet, there was a solidity to the sounds you just made.
Your thumb (and eventually all fingers) should “feel” like that….using roughly the same level of effort, front end attack and depth of tone that you just used in your voice.
If you play notes with a thinner attack, that may sound more like “Ta, Ta ,TAH.”
Is that how you’d want your drummer or bass player to sound? No! So why should your thumb sound like that?
I’ll take “Boom Boom BOOM” over “Ta, Ta TAH” anyday!
You can do this with your “front end attack” and tone if you choose to. After all, your thumb is playing the bottom part of the music most of the time, right?
Here’s the secret. This is the “whole thing”…
If the thump makes “other techniques” uncomfortable there are 2 choices, pretty much.
1. For most music, choose your thump OVER the techniques – let everything else settle around that.
Try to use minimum effort and strength but retain the depth of tone.
You’ll find a new way – or better said, your playing will find a way on it’s own, just like nature always does.
Never compromise. Allow the thumb to be the trunk of the tree, everything else is decoration, serving that.
2. For when other techniques are needed, it’s ok to leave the thump behind – just be aware of your choices. As long as you are aware, and have choices – that’s fine.
It may mean big changes are coming up in your playing if you really do this.
It takes courage.