Need help tightening up the rhythm section of my band

IPC

Member
Hey guys, recently my band began recording some of our songs to make a short ep. I was first doing drum tracks, when I got there and tried the first day I had a pretty tough time getting anything done because of my timing. This came as a shock, as a drummer I thought my timing was pretty good. At any rate I practiced my timing alot and went back and had a much easier time.

Now, just yesterday my bass player, ( who happens to be a novice), goes into the studio and he can't record his parts over the drum tracks. I was very concerned but not upset as I learned that a recording session is different from jamming and rehearsing myself. Anyway, In light of this we want to do some serious, serious practice to get ourselves in tip top playing shape. So basically im looking for ideas on how we can improve both our timings. Obviously the metronome is essential but I was hoping for some other helpful tips that might get us improving at a better rate and help us make the absolute most of our playing time.
 

Grace :)

Senior Member
You say the bassist is a novice...does s/he know how to follow the drums? By that i mean if you played a beat would they know where beats 123 and 4 are? Or are they just guessing?

If the bassist isnt confident with this then try explaining with the basic rock beat bass on 1+3 snare on 2+4 and see if they can follow it exactly in time. Then make the beat more interesting for you and see if they can still find where the 123+4 is.

You could be having problems because the bassist simply doesnt know how to find the beat. If so just this should help
 

IPC

Member
Right, I'll definitely bring that up. I think he has a general understanding but that might be the case. I don't know too much about bass, but do you think that the bass should be following the bass drum? Thanks for the help.
 

Grace :)

Senior Member
Sorry i know little about bass...its something ive always said id learn but never got round to yet. Im sure someone on here will be able to help you.

But id say rhythmically your bassist could use the bass as the building blocks. I guess that would help timing too. If he took the general rhythm and expanded on it. For example if there was one note each bar where the bass and bass drum ALWAYS hit together that could also help with timing so you are both aiming for that one beat
 

IPC

Member
Awesome, I appreciate your help. It's really funny I thought I had impecable timing and so did my band but when you get into the recording studio its a whole different story.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
haha! i know exactly what you mean! my timing has gotten a lot better over the past couple years, but i still hear timing issues whenever i play back a recording of myself.

are you guys recording to a click track? that can be helpful, although it brings up challenges of its own.
 

IPC

Member
haha! i know exactly what you mean! my timing has gotten a lot better over the past couple years, but i still hear timing issues whenever i play back a recording of myself.

are you guys recording to a click track? that can be helpful, although it brings up challenges of its own.
Yeah we are, and yes it is, and yes it did. I'm actually practicing like that now just recording my self playing on the pad, and listening back lining up the hits, with the click. the click track can really be tough, because its hard to focus on the feeling and groove when you're stressed about nailing the timing spot on.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
the click track can be tricky! i play to a metronome all the time at home with no trouble, but in the studio things are different. usually we'll start the recording process by laying down a "rough track" of all of us playing together to a click. i tend to get pulled away from the click by the other guys in the band and their wanderings. i have to ask the engineer to turn up the click to ear shattering levels, and i have to grit my teeth and force myself to follow the click instead of listening to everyone else. i can do it if i really focus, but it's not so easy!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
IPC, a general rule of thumb...I base my kick drum pattern on the picking hand of the bass player. Sometimes it's good to almost mirror it, but sometimes it works better playing a steady or different pattern. They should definitely complement one another. The tighter they are the better, but that doesn't necessarily mean they should be playing the same figure.

In the case of your bass player being a novice, perhaps instruct him that he should be listening to the kick drum for clues as to where to thump his strings.
 

IPC

Member
thanks alot guys this is a ton of good information. I just got back from practice and applied all of your suggestions and it made a big difference. The challenging thing about timing is really the time it takes to develop the skill, it just takes a considerable amount of time and experience to do. But these tips have and will definitely get things moving at a great pace. Working with these principles with my bassist I found that just being aware of these sorts of things helps alot. Great community here.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
it's like alcoholism. admitting you have a problem is the biggest step. i never realized i had timing problems until i started listening to recordings of myself and it became obvious. now i'm super touchy about it and i think about it all the time while i'm playing. just being aware of it and focusing on it while playing makes a big difference.
 

mg33

Member
Is your bass player watching your bass drum [or bass pedal]?

With great bass players I've worked with, they watch your bass drum and they can see the mallet just before it hits the head. Ask him to watch you more ... it will help you lock it together.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The challenging thing about timing is really the time it takes to develop the skill, it just takes a considerable amount of time and experience to do. .
You got that right. Having good musical time...is soooo important. It's not like one day you wake up and all of a sudden your time is great. Your time feel just keeps maturing constantly the more you play (hopefully). Some people have a great natural sense of tempo/meter. Others have to work harder. (like me) Some people cannot grasp it at all it seems.
Don't let anybody tell you otherwise, having good musical time/tempo is a hell of an accomplishment.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
IPC, does your band groove live? If so, another option might be to record the track as a band with a scratch vocal. Then add the solos and vocal track later. Engineers can achieve pretty good separation with directional mics and baffles.

It's not as clean as fully separate tracks but there's not much point having a super clean sound for a song that isn't grooving as well as usual. Many albums have been recorded with most of the band playing together, notably in jazz.

If a super-clean sound is essential (ie. in dance pop) the the engineer should be able to tidy up the timing of the drum track with Pro Tools.
 

IPC

Member
IPC, does your band groove live? If so, another option might be to record the track as a band with a scratch vocal. Then add the solos and vocal track later. Engineers can achieve pretty good separation with directional mics and baffles.

It's not as clean as fully separate tracks but there's not much point having a super clean sound for a song that isn't grooving as well as usual. Many albums have been recorded with most of the band playing together, notably in jazz.

If a super-clean sound is essential (ie. in dance pop) the the engineer should be able to tidy up the timing of the drum track with Pro Tools.
Haha, you've got an interesting point there. In reality my band had always wanted to do what we refer to as "live" recording. The problem has always been finding a good environment and equipment to do this. Right now the guy recording our stuff is no proffesional, he's a knowledable friend with some decent equipment but our current setup is in no way proffesional. And we do groove live, I think we groove really well live. The whole multi-track recording thing has been a weird approach for me being so used to feeding off the energy of my band mates. The sound of our music is certainly the kind that should have live recording, it's heavy rock and roll, drawing from grunge, punk rock, and psychedelic music (among many other things). If there was a feasable way to record live I'm sure we'd get it done much faster.
 

IPC

Member
Is your bass player watching your bass drum [or bass pedal]?

With great bass players I've worked with, they watch your bass drum and they can see the mallet just before it hits the head. Ask him to watch you more ... it will help you lock it together.
Thats an awesome idea, Thanks.
 

Riot

Junior Member
if your recording, you could try doing it alltogether live...
its takes a bit more to set up and mix, but if your playing together you can feed off each others energy and such.

ive had a few problems with bass players, simply because they thought they could go off on their own
generally, i tell the bass to follow me
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Haha, you've got an interesting point there. In reality my band had always wanted to do what we refer to as "live" recording. The problem has always been finding a good environment and equipment to do this. Right now the guy recording our stuff is no proffesional, he's a knowledable friend with some decent equipment but our current setup is in no way proffesional. And we do groove live, I think we groove really well live. The whole multi-track recording thing has been a weird approach for me being so used to feeding off the energy of my band mates. The sound of our music is certainly the kind that should have live recording, it's heavy rock and roll, drawing from grunge, punk rock, and psychedelic music (among many other things). If there was a feasable way to record live I'm sure we'd get it done much faster.
I've done recordings in the past with everyone split up and it sucked the life out of the thing. My current band (me included) aren't at a standard where we can pull this off. Our setup and playing aren't pro level either.

It's also a matter of experience. What do you guys normally do? You get together and play. What do you do when you decide to record - a bunch of weird stuff that takes you way out of your comfort zone. Better to compromise the sound than the vibe IMO
 
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Kenny Allyn

Senior Member
Is your bass player watching your bass drum [or bass pedal]?

With great bass players I've worked with, they watch your bass drum and they can see the mallet just before it hits the head. Ask him to watch you more ... it will help you lock it together.
Maybe in the learning phase at a garage/basment jam ... but live I just can't fathom doing that.



For me and the drummer I have worked with over the last four years, it's like an internal click track, no matter the timing or style every four counts or so we sync/lock hard, and we play around that,
I describe it as an old beat-up truck driving down a bumpy rutted road, it kinda shakes and shimmys but stays going in the same direction. As for the recording part I hate the isolation style of recording, the groove just never seems the same, give me the old school STAX or Motown style anyday. I'll gladly sacrifice a bit of dirt in the recording for a more live groove feel.
 

skreg

Senior Member
Donny Gruendler has the best set of exercises to develop time that I've found. They might feel tedious at first, but they help SO MUCH. You will improve very quickly, too - everything you play will tighten up in a matter of days if you stick to what he says. I did these for a couple weeks, and my playing is much, much better!

http://vicfirth.com/education/drumset/gruendler2.php

I have a big post on this on my blog (link in signature). I can't advocate this stuff enough!
 
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