So, listening to that sample you posted, let me try my hand at constructive criticism:
You ain't shabby; what you played shows that you've put in practice.
Now that we're talking about practice, here's some things to think about:
-metronomes. use 'em. metronomeonline.com if you have to. the more you practice with a metronome, the more you gain a sense of time--and having a good sense of time means quite a bit--you play more consistently, more accurately, and if you're not worried about the beat you can play relaxed (which means playing better!) When time is less of and issue (and nobody's time is perfect) that means you can concentrate a lot more on groove (arguably, groove is how you bend time (dragging/rushing/playing ahead or behind the beat/etc), and you can't break the rules without knowing 'em cold) and melody.
-From what it sounds like, what you played moves around the neck. Those shifts need to be fast and precise. It sounded as though you were rushing the start of the phrase a little bit and that's probably because you don't have as much uh... confidence? i don't quite know the word for it... in your shifts.
My go-to song for practicing those kind of things was this. It jumps around a lot during the verse.
-cleanliness is next to godliness. Those little clanks have their place, but again, gotta know the rules before breaking them. A person who can play notes really cleanly can also play them in their full clanky noisy glory; the reverse is rarely true. So, first just listen to the riff you played (literally, just listen to that recording a few times) think about what the noise is. Play that riff again and there will probably be less clank cause you're thinking about it. Think about WHY those extra sounds are there--usually hammerons and stuff are clanky, as is raking across multiple strings. If you know the source of the sound you can eliminate it.
The "cause you're thinking about it" thing is damn important. If you're conscious of something often enough it'll eventually become an unconscious reflex. That is a good thing, usually. I'm majoring in bass performance at college and I think that *my* weakest point is that I stop thinking about the music and go into autopilot, which causes mistakes (relaxation is one thing, autopilot is another), and I have to remind myself to stay conscious of timing, groove, etc. Shit's tricky but that's what I'm in school for, know what I'm sayin'?
That's the best I got to give just judging from that sample. It's not bad! Don't think it's bad! Keep playing and you WILL improve--or at least, you'll get better at playing the way you're playing. You're at a stage where there's nowhere to go but up, provided you don't have any terrible habits (which I doubt, because you've been reading books, which is great!) That's the thing about practice, though: you can practice anything. The more you pick out songs by ear, the better you will get at it. The more you consciously play very cleanly, the more you will naturally play very cleanly. The more you practice with a metronome, with a constant timekeeper around you, the more you will be able to be that constant timekeeper.
Keep on keepin' on dude, you sound really good!
It's only cool if no one's heard of it.
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