Musicians... what hardware do you use when playing along with commercial music?

I have a bass guitar. I played it quite a bit back in the 1990s, and then gave it up for some reason. Last week I dusted it off, tuned it up, and now I want to get back in to playing it.

I love trying to figure out the bass line to a song. When I played the bass back in the 1990s, I had a CD player with a high-performance “A-B” repeat function. This came in handy when I was trying to figure out a few notes in a song, as I could do an A-B repeat over a one or two second portion of a song. The CD player also had a pitch control. This was cool, since I could vary the pitch of the song instead of tuning my guitar to the song.

Sadly, I no longer have this CD player. :frowning: So here are my questions:

  1. Does anyone make a CD player nowadays like the one I had, i.e. with a good A-B repeat function and pitch control?

  2. Instead of investing in a new CD player, should I look at alternatives? Such as MP3s and software that allows me to do an A-B repeat and vary the pitch of the music?

These days, I’d find an app that works with mp3 or Apple format music files. I haven’t looked recently. You’d enter the app, browse and pick the song, the pick the A-B spot and loop it, or just put the playback on superslow.

And I’d find a YouTube vid of someone walking through the song.

That app is called 33rpm. Its free and works great. Or Transcribe! which is both great and expensive.

Thanks picker - nice to see you in a music thread. You back posting?

I so need this! I’m just learning to play bass by ear (all my previous music experience was classical “read the notes on the page” style) and I’ve been wanting a way to play along / loop and repeat recorded music.

Except that I relate it back to playing records on the record-player, where I could just pick the arm up and move the needle back to where I wanted it. I’ve been trying to figure out how to do that with these dern modern music systems.

Get offa my lawn while yer at it!


Thanks for the replies.

I know nothing about MP3. I don’t even have an MP3 player, and have never downloaded an MP3 song. I still live in the CD era. :stuck_out_tongue: So super-dumb question time: if I decided to pursue the “33rpm” route, what type of hardware would I actually need to purchase? Is 33rpm a program that loads onto a PC, for example?

Yea, that’s what I do. I can’t read a lick of music, so I just try my best to “play along” with a song. I can usually figure out the basic progression after a few listenings, but I don’t have a good enough ear to pick out the “faster” grooves. This is where an A-B repeat function really comes in handy. When I had my old CD player, I would often do an A-B repeat over a time interval as short as one second. This made it easy to figure out the “fast” notes.

I wouldn’t call a $39 piece of software “expensive”.

But yeah, it would work perfectly for what you’re trying to do. You can alter the speed of playback without altering the pitch, so you can work out what the notes are. Also, it displays what it thinks the notes are both as a volume envelope waveform and on a staff. And it looks like they have added extensive loop capabilities in the most current version.

Anyway, 30 day free trial. Hard to go wrong by downloading it and checking it out to see if it is what you need.

Both 33rpm and Transcribe will work on any PC or Mac with built-in sound, which includes everything made for over ten years. Basically, if you can hear the audio on a YouTube clip, it will work.

Damn, they’ve even got a Linux build of it for sale. I may buy it just because of that!

Cool. It is a very useful program.

I’ve never learned to read bass clef and tab just confuses hell outta me. I usually play with friends and I’ve mostly just been doing thirds and fifths on the chord. But there’s a few songs that I’d like to figure out the actual bass line.

FYI, that 33rpm program is Mac only, as far as I can tell.

The Transcribe! site gives a list of software if you just want to slow something down so you can hear it better. And gives instructions to do that in Windows Media Player 10 and Apple QuickTime 7.

It looks like a really nifty piece of software that would be a big help in another project.


There’s also The Amazing Slow Downer

I lurk mostly, as time permits. Post the occasional stupid wisecrack. Been really busy…finishing some studio production projects, teaching a lot, selling our house…

Getting ready for a move 6/1 to the SF Bay Area. Going to be doing some production and session work at a few studios, plus teaching and picking up as much scoring/sound design work as I can.

Should be interesting. Lord knows it’s been a stressful couple of months! It’ll be nice to settle in and get past all this chaos.

Good to hear from you! Got some cool new toys in the studio. Mostly rack gear, but just rehabbed a 1980 Rhodes Mark II - a Stage 54 model, super cool. Also been doing some fun mods on some vintage gear. Just rebuilt (and tweaked) an old Paia Synthespin Leslie simulator, modded it to accept two separate CV’s for modulation depth and spin rate. Neat little vintage effect from the early 70’s.

No new guitars, although I did build a new Frankenbass that I’m using for my jazz-funk gigs. A P-J hybrid, Warmoth neck on a P body, Seymour Duncans. Humbucker on the neck, J-bass single coil on the bridge. Rotosound Flats. Plays like butter, sounds great.

Sorry for the hijack!

Yeah, I just use my computer and some headphones. Most likely I’m listening to the song on YouTube anyways. I cue up my mouse where the part I want to hear starts, and just keep clicking it. That might be a bit harder with a bass, though.

I kinda view any more work as “cheating”, unless I just really must learn a song for a performance. But I also have a lot more time on my hands than a lot of people.

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Cool! Best of luck; I am from the Bay Area and love it. Wish I had some music connections I could throw your way. I know a few circuit-band musicians who plays '80’s covers and stuff like that out there.

Sounds like you’ve gotten some fun gear.

I just got a 1954 Gibson L-7c - an acoustic archtop. If I was going to get that 33rpm app, I would be focusing on Grant Green or Kenny Burrell tracks. :wink:

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