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Bass Lines I never thought

#1 User is offline   Izzy 

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:38 PM

I've play melody on guitar and rythm so I figured, "Bass ain't gonna be hard to figure out." Mind you, I am not talking Les Claypool or Flea caliber bass lines. I know those cats are a whole other thing, but I figured giving a bit of bottom to my music would be nice and I....

First, tried using the low end of the piano to find the notes, even followed the low key of my melody...boring.
Second, I watched tutorials on how to build a bass line...realized I need learn theory but got the idea...still not able to come up with something.
Third, realize that building a bass line differs from creating a counter melody, consults forumites.

I know this is a guitar forum, but many guitarists play bass, or have a feel for it at least...do ya'll have any tips?
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#2 User is offline   Twang Gang 

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:58 PM

Well I think you are sort of limited by the tuning of the six string to begin with. But I have played a few live gigs without a bass player just out of necessity and just two guitars and a drummer so I would just use as many bar chords as possible and make sure I hit that low E string when I strummed. Or when playing an open chord just make sure to hit the lowest root note you have available in the form. Unless you are one of those advanced fingerstyle players that can run a base line with their thumb and keep either a rythm or lead line going with the other fingers? That is out of my league. But I admire your desire to change and improve.
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#3 User is offline   rct 

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:10 PM

I play bass on all of my stuff. I'm the quintessential guitar player overdoing it on bass. It is first and foremost a physical thing, so practice a lot.

For me, the best thing I've found is to record everything but the guitar solo(s) and slide stuff if there is to be any, and any drips and frostings of synth or B3, do all those things very last.

But when I have the whole thing done with the rough bass just holding it down, I can the bass and get the whole song in the headphones and start over, I let the song dictate how much I'll over do it. If it's one of my songs, I just let the chords tell me approximately what to do, and go at it over and over until I have a verse I like, move on to bridge and chorus, like that. Over and over, that's what it usually takes. If it's a cover, I either do exactly what the original was if it needs it, or I learn the original part and mess it around enough to sound like me thinking I sound like Squire. Once I have the parts done and they work well together, I'll play the entire thing front to back on another pair of tracks, until I get the thing done seamlessly all the way through. It really is my favorite part of it all.

It isn't so much counter melody, or contrapuntal as all that, but that does work in spots. What the other instruments are doing matters, that's why I leave if for the full band, I can move around the keyboards and whatever guitars. If I have particularly weak chord inversions I keep that in mind for when the bass part comes along, try to prop them up a bit with some solid roots. It is also good to play mid keyboard thirds and fifths with higher guitar thirds and fifths with only the bass filling the roots up, and some minor or major emphasis, makes it sound big. If you've got some big ol' below fifth fret major/minor "power chords", that is, root and fifth only, with some snarling B3 down low as well, move the bass up, get the texture of the 7th fret on up, roots and thirds to fill it all out.

Using the piano to get some ideas is good, but as you've figured out without maybe knowing you've figured it out, the texture of bass guitar and the dynamics are quite different, slurring and sliding around, pulling and even the way overdone popping, and the chords of a well amped clean bass are just fun. It is good to know the piano part completely, so you can play around those parts, be part of it instead of stomping on it.

Everyone has their faves for sure, and Geddy will be mentioned any moment now. As I mentioned, Yes is for me the absolute best arrangement of all the instruments with that Squire dude just in a whole other dimension, but it all fits somehow. He arranges all of their parts and the vocals, so he has the whole thing going on in his head as he puts his part on it, it really helps to do that and it really shows.

Good luck and have fun. Practice! I use a yankee Jazz and a yankeeP, I love those two dearly, usually have one upstairs with me to fool around on and stay physically comfortable with it. I will not ever be a bass player, they are way good at what they do and they never get the credit they deserve, but I like playing it.

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#4 User is offline   FirstMeasure 

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 08:18 AM

I actually learned bass before guitar. Only tip I can think of that would fit in a paragraph would be to forget what the guitar is doing and think about what the drums would be doing. Even if you don't have any drums or drum tracks there's a beat to the song, when I play bass I try to lock into that beat. Of course your note choices have to jive with the guitar, but the rhythm should be more like a drummer.
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#5 User is offline   buliwyf 

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 08:37 AM

I learned bass also before six string like firstmeasure did. My bass teacher was a big Paul McCartney fan so he had me learn a whole bunch or Beatles tunes,McCartney was a genius on bass, his lines were incredible.He is definitely up there with the best bass players (IMHO).I was taught "eight days a week" first and what a cool bass line,I would never come up with that one.Playing bass is a whole different mid set.

#6 User is offline   Murph 

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 08:42 AM

I've played a lot of bass. It's totally different. Many very good guitar players simply can't wrap their minds around it. Then singing, and harmonizing while playing bass really stirs the pot.

But, I enjoy it a lot.

Best of luck.

#7 User is offline   stein 

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 11:56 AM

Izzy, you ask the best questions. Stuff that makes a guy think.

For what it's worth, I think I suck at Bass. But that could be because my standards for it are high. I have a LOT of respect for bass players and the "bass line". And I have thought for a long time that if the bass player is the best musician in the band, that's going to be the best band than if the guitar player(s) are good and the bass player sucks.

For one, I think the bass player and the bass line is THE defining instrument when it comes to the chords and the rhythm. When the bass player moves a note, it takes everything else with it.

Also, the bass has a bigger impact on the rhythm, in that, when the bass player is off a bit it becomes very obvious. If the guitar player is a little late on a note, it sounds like he is behind in the tune a bit, if the bass player is a little late, the whole tune is late. Also, when the bass player stops his notes seems to be as important as when he begins his notes.

I don't know that the bass requires more thoery or knowledge, but I do believe it requires more concentration and attention. Things us 'guitar players' take for granted matter deeply to a bass line. (Deeply..lol). little things such as how many times you strike a note, how long it carries, or what is left out or included, that can all be on one "note", but these things matter and have a solid (solid...lol) impact on what actually happens for the tune.

Not to mention, the whole thing is harder physically. It may be one note at a time, but it takes more effort and strenth and control. And one thing I notice about a single "pluck"- it isn't so much when you strike the string, it's when you leave the string that the note begins.

Anyway, I'm kinda in the same boat as you, kinda not. I like blues and jazz a lot, so bass lines for these are easy to come by and copy. But for coming up with tunes or where to go, I'm just as lost as you are, if not more.

I am absolutely fascinated at a couple bass players, particularly John Taylor. How and where he comes up with his stuff is beyond me.

#8 User is offline   milod 

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 03:33 PM

I think Firstmeasure really hit it: Think 90 percent drums and 10 percent guitar.

Some ideas from Joe Pass, who was incredible at doing bass lines with guitar - far more complicated than I can do for sure.

But, as a guitar player, you already know where chords are rooted in your bottom four strings that are the same as on a four-string bass. The simplest start is to use the bottom end of guitar chords and alternate. You hear a lot of that sort of thing in rural "folk" music of all styles, whether basic blues, "country," Bluegrass - even Mariachi.

When you're "walking," consider what Pass has to say. I think it works for bass guitar as well as our six-strings.

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#9 User is offline   RaysEpiphone 

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 08:09 PM

Good points here Izzy, I think it will depend on the material your playing as to how to approach beat's and rhythms, they all work together to make the whole but by them self can sound odd and/or plain and empty. There are exceptions as some song's can fill the whole score with just a singer and a simple accompaniment of any particular instrument that was written for the part.

So to recap you have to have a context before to can say it must be done this way or that way, and it has to fit properly too, fit in time, dynamic and frequency.

And yes Izzy, you must learn/except some form of theory to get it.
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#10 User is offline   Izzy 

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 09:12 PM

Thank you all for your input. Joe Pass plays SO pretty, and it felt strange to hear him say, "the most imprtant thing in playing bass is the bass line." It seems so obvious but I guess we do overthink these things. Is that what I've done, but he's not following the melody's low end exactly...

I will point out that I am not (yet) looking to buy a bass guitar or an upright bass. The reason is that reording bass is a bit different from playing it (I researched). There is more to it than just playing it and having a mic set up or a room treatd. The sound will bounce off walls and return and do things that in the recording will impact the sound and I am not ready to be a bassist.

I was attempting to make bass lines with either a bass synth or a bass VSTi. Heck, even the low end of my guitar...though as firstmeasure pointed out, nothing has the TEXTURE of a bass guitar and I won't ever be fully satisfied with just low notes from another instrument.

The main points I took from here are:

1. Bass is beats and rythm. Sure you keep in time when you play anything, but the bass and drums dictate. I listened to several songs and it almost feels like if you clapped to the bass line your clap would be a metronome.

2. There is nothing wrong with just following the deep end of the melody around. I don't know why I felt like doing this was cheating a bit. I have heard it done regularly, specially when rockers want to give the power chords a more agerssive sound, but...

Have ya'll ever heard the song "Our House" by Madness? The bass changes notes right on the beats but in between...I guess they play with all the notes of that chord.

3. You can scrap and start over, experimenting isn't bad (thanks rct)

4. Get out of guitar mentality because it is different from guitar. Challenge accepted.

The song I was taling about starts at 30 sec:
https://www.youtube....ayer_detailpage
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#11 User is offline   rocketman 

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 11:11 PM

Great song to pick. I still love the 80's. While you're doing this you should try some piano. You can "see" everything playing the piano, most importantly the bass lines. I remember for one of my auditions my jazz instructor told me to pick a Jaco tune. I took his bass part and had to learn to fit it around the melody. Playing piano made my right and left hand think independently.

The bass gives the foundation for the entire song. It also is used to fill in "gaps" when a piano player isn't there. Geddy obviously is great at this and having Peart with him probably makes for the best bass/drum combo ever. But I would listen to Donald "Duck" Dunn. He made it look so simple.


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#12 User is offline   stein 

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 12:24 AM

View PostIzzy, on 03 February 2013 - 09:12 PM, said:

Have ya'll ever heard the song "Our House" by Madness? The bass changes notes right on the beats but in between...I guess they play with all the notes of that chord.


That's a GREAT bass line and song. I have always loved the way that guy plays.

I think you totally get this stuff. I think what you are hearing in that tune is the way a Bass line can "lead" the whole tune by the choice of what the bass player plays. But, I would also point out, that during the verse part of the song, he mainly lays on one note...it's the way he makes the rhythm that makes it interesting.

Another think: I have heard some pretty convincing bass lines from a Hammond organ that can be every bit as fat and round as a bass guitar. Think The Doors, and maybe Styx? I've seen it done as well, by some in Blues bands.

#13 User is offline   stein 

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 12:28 AM

View Postrocketman, on 03 February 2013 - 11:11 PM, said:

Great song to pick. I still love the 80's. While you're doing this you should try some piano. You can "see" everything playing the piano, most importantly the bass lines. I remember for one of my auditions my jazz instructor told me to pick a Jaco tune. I took his bass part and had to learn to fit it around the melody. Playing piano made my right and left hand think independently.

The bass gives the foundation for the entire song. It also is used to fill in "gaps" when a piano player isn't there. Geddy obviously is great at this and having Peart with him probably makes for the best bass/drum combo ever. But I would listen to Donald "Duck" Dunn. He made it look so simple.



His playing slays me almost every time, if not at least get me moving.

I like what he does on "She Caught the Katy".

And of corse we can't forget this is THE guy who gave us the line on "Green Onions" by Booker T and the MG's.

#14 User is online   Bender 4 Life 

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 12:52 AM

after playing guitar for about 15 yrs,I just wasn't satisfied and switched to bass for a while...thought maybe permanently at the time.
that's when I realized how important it is for a bassline to make SENSE, and how hard it is to "make it so"(as Capt. Picard would say).
I met some amazing local bass players that after jamming for a while told me I should stick with guitar because I was better at that than bass....I too tended to "overplay" and P everyone else off....because I played "gibberish".
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#15 User is offline   Izzy 

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 03:18 AM

Sorry in advance for the ressurection:

I've been at it now for three days with just the top strings of my guitar (a poor substitute but I'm working on the beat rythm thing) and I've noticed that the hands-on of strings rather than keys makes it easyer for me to get a feel for how a bass should progress in the song.

Thing is, I'm not ready to commit to another instrument. It feels like I already have two wives (keys and guitar) and being mediocre at a third wouldn't do me any good. I got a VST bass to learn more and...

I'm still not comfortable with my bass line. It occured to me that I didn't mention I don't use drums on my tracks...or have not yet, rather.

Is that why I'm having a hard time? Should I fill in drums first?

I did consider buying a bass and THIS came up:
My link [scared]
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#16 User is offline   cookieman15061 

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 04:49 AM

View PostIzzy, on 05 February 2013 - 03:18 AM, said:

Sorry in advance for the ressurection:

I've been at it now for three days with just the top strings of my guitar (a poor substitute but I'm working on the beat rythm thing) and I've noticed that the hands-on of strings rather than keys makes it easyer for me to get a feel for how a bass should progress in the song.

Thing is, I'm not ready to commit to another instrument. It feels like I already have two wives (keys and guitar) and being mediocre at a third wouldn't do me any good. I got a VST bass to learn more and...

I'm still not comfortable with my bass line. It occured to me that I didn't mention I don't use drums on my tracks...or have not yet, rather.

Is that why I'm having a hard time? Should I fill in drums first?

I did consider buying a bass and THIS came up:
My link [scared]


There was a bass in that ad?? Hmmm I'll have to look again.
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#17 User is offline   milod 

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 01:43 PM

Izzy...

I just got my wife a short-scale Epi SG bass. She sez it works far better for relearning than the big Fender Precision she used a cupla years in the late '70s, then sold it and dropped playing entirely those years I was on the road so much 'stedda playing weekends in a trio. She has small hands - used to be a nurse, too. Sez it just plain feels nice to play. Ain't that bad looking, either.

I have a long scale bass and a short-scale Fender Jag bass that's quite inexpensive and plays and sounds quite nice. In fact, ain't uncased the long-scale in a cupla years.

A lotta folks will say there's no need for a short scale bass 'cuz the long bass only would take little more hand movement even if you had only one short finger and should (at least in theory) sound better. Whatever... I'd gig with either short scale before the long scale if I hadda play out next week with a band doing stuff I've an idea how to play with.

m

#18 User is offline   rct 

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 02:20 PM

View PostIzzy, on 05 February 2013 - 03:18 AM, said:

Sorry in advance for the ressurection:

I've been at it now for three days with just the top strings of my guitar (a poor substitute but I'm working on the beat rythm thing) and I've noticed that the hands-on of strings rather than keys makes it easyer for me to get a feel for how a bass should progress in the song.

Thing is, I'm not ready to commit to another instrument. It feels like I already have two wives (keys and guitar) and being mediocre at a third wouldn't do me any good.


I have two wives, The Mrs of 32++ years, and Music. The instruments are just the ride to the other wives house!

View PostIzzy, on 05 February 2013 - 03:18 AM, said:

I got a VST bass to learn more and...

I'm still not comfortable with my bass line. It occured to me that I didn't mention I don't use drums on my tracks...or have not yet, rather.

Is that why I'm having a hard time? Should I fill in drums first?


You need a jazz or a precision and you need a drum machine. Think about it, once you have it all, you don't need other people to make music. After almost all of my life in bands, relying completely on others to make the music along with me, it was quite liberating to be able to do it without anyone else.

rct

#19 User is offline   Kelvinator 

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 04:48 PM

View PostFirstMeasure, on 03 February 2013 - 08:18 AM, said:

I actually learned bass before guitar. Only tip I can think of that would fit in a paragraph would be to forget what the guitar is doing and think about what the drums would be doing. Even if you don't have any drums or drum tracks there's a beat to the song, when I play bass I try to lock into that beat. Of course your note choices have to jive with the guitar, but the rhythm should be more like a drummer.


Absolutely right. [thumbup]

In addition to the excellent advice above, two suggestions that will never get you in trouble are: stay in the "pocket", and don't over-play. As Eric Clapton once said "sometimes less is more". I've been a bassist for over 40 years and constantly work to improve my playing. Some are impressed by those who play twice as many notes as they should - almost soloing through entire songs, and I'll admit that I've done that in the past. Several years ago I listened to live recordings with bass parts that I thought were great, and those tapes were a real education... Impressive? - maybe. Did it make the band sound better? - Absolutely not. Now I think about every note and make sure that each one counts. Feel is so important for a good sound. Along with the drummer, It's my job to lay down a solid foundation for everyone else to build on. The bass player needs to drive the bus... Let the guitarist take the Vette out!

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