A Thought on Technique
There is so much information online for electric bassist (and even more for upright players) on proper technique, how to hold your instrument and so on. All of this information is very useful and helpful. There’s one thing I’ve noticed, there’s only a few very basic things that this information agrees on.
I’m not referring to using your pointer and middle finger to pluck with or you push down the strings with your fretting hand. I agree with all of that, but it’s the insight on where to hold you bass, such as on your chest, abdomen or below the belt etc. Or don’t use your pinky finger to walk a line and so on. What about posture? What about finger pressure? What about popping with my middle finger and not my pointer finger? There are so many opinions out there and they are all correct. That’s right, they all work.
Now, what works for you is something completely different. It’s funny to see the bass masters out there, pick any three and compare. Notice how they don’t all hold, press, posture, shift, slap, tap, sweep and so on exactly the same? Pretty weird huh? Even for beginners it won’t take long to figure out what is “comfortable”. There’s the magic word. “Comfortable”. If playing isn’t comfortable, many won’t stick with it for long.
There’s two big approaches to this, force your self to be comfortable with something or play how you want and adjust your technique in a way that is comfortable for you. I know that during some bass lessons, I’ve observed technique that didn’t sit right with me. It wasn’t normal, traditional or generally accepted, didn’t mean it didn’t sound good or groove. If you’re a stickler on “proper technique” I urge you to learn about Quintin Berry. Yup. I’ll just leave that there.
Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t learn the basics and learn to play in ways that allow for future growth, but after you get down the brain capacity to separate your left from right hand and some muscle memory knowing how hard you need to press on the strings without over exerting yourself you’re cut free from the basics shackles. If you’re not comfortable you have no reason to figure out how to do what you’re looking to do and be uncomfortable. Please, don’t confuse being uncomfortable and needing to practice something. They are two different things all together. If you’re physically comfortable while practicing you’re on your way. You may get tired and this don’t mean bad technique necessarily, perhaps it’s just a little chops building that’s needed.
There’s more than one way to play the bass and sound great and most importantly sound the way you mean to. Mix it up, you might just stumble into something new that no one else has yet. =)
Good luck! Keep it funky!