Advice for guitarist playing bass

Messages
20,133
Imagine you have a collective of "starving artists" that paint pictures. Each guy is responsible for painting a specific color. The artists are responsible for coordinating with each other to make a cohesive picture.

All the colors are important, but in certain pictures there is going to be a dominant color. In some pictures, green is going to be the dominant color. In some pictures it's going to be reds. And there's even pictures where white is the dominant color.

It's important with any of these pictures that the artists all cooperate with each other. It's important that the artists understand their color is no more important than any other color. It doesn't matter how good of an artist they think are, or how beautiful and superior they feel their color is- their responsibility is to coordinate with the other artists and create a cohesive work of art.

Say you've got this collective and there's a guy who's responsible for the color red. He thinks he's a fantastic artist and feels that all pictures would benefit from more red. So the collective is painting a nice hill scene with red grass, a red prairie dog, red trees and red rocks.

Now the artist feels he's improved the picture. He thinks he's made a good work of art better. There might be people that think that picture is the best evAr. There's other artists that paint red stuff that think this artist is now the most brilliant evAr.

How are the other artists going to feel? What about that guy that does the greens who spent hours learning and practicing to do those nice delicate grass leaves? He spent hours learning the technique to make it appear like the grass is blowing in the wind. But the red guy just painted all over the top of what he just did.

Additionally, what if you have a guy that's responsible for the color red... He's also really good at painting dogs. I mean, really good. So this group of artists gets together and is going to paint a 2011 Ford Mustang. So the artists all make a remarkable Mustang, but the red dog guy puts a little red dog on the grille, and on the front quarter panel. He also gets artistic and puts a red dog in the driver's seat and then for the really artsy part- he makes the entire background a big ol' red dog face...

The dogs may be some of the most awesome dogs you've ever seen painted.

Does it make the picture better?
 

ksandvik

Member
Messages
6,331
Cream was maybe one of the best examples where three strong colors worked together.

If Jack Bruce would have taken a passive role playing roots and just supporting the drummer without the charm with is Jack Bruce's playing his own unique style, Cream would have turned to sour milk.
 

walterw

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
37,518
legend has it that one of the things that made clapton quit that band was a show they were playing where clapton just stopped in the middle of one of their onstage solo battles, just stopped playing entirely, and jack bruce didn't even notice.
 

lpdeluxe

Member
Messages
1,532
legend has it that one of the things that made clapton quit that band was a show they were playing where clapton just stopped in the middle of one of their onstage solo battles, just stopped playing entirely, and jack bruce didn't even notice.
That's certainly credible....
 

buddaman71

Student of Life
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,779
I have always ended up being the guitar player in every band I've been in since about 1986 or so, but I LOVE playing bass.

I always just strive to LOCK to the kick and be musical.
 

walterw

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
37,518
I always just strive to LOCK to the kick and be musical.
sure, but i hope no one's arguing that being "musical" has to mean being boring.

i love players like john paul jones or geddy lee. those guys can be all over the place, but it's always driving the song, responding to the other players, and fitting the vocals.

being "musical" in those power trio bands meant being pretty adventurous.
 

ksandvik

Member
Messages
6,331
JPJ and Geddy Lee are good examples of bass players that drive the band forward while still keeping the low-end. Plus their bass lines are just plain fun listening too. Perfect role models.
 

Jerryr

Member
Messages
187
IMO, Keep your notes clean..... and I'm not referring to tone. I'm always muting unused strings with my left hand when ever possible. For me at least, bass is about being precise, tight and clean. Clean simple lines make for better groove glue than pretend guitar licks :) You can't over emphasis the importance of knowing what the kick-drum is doing.

I guess I should add that I'm pretty old school ........... well old period :)
 
Last edited:
Messages
1,423
Play less.

Stay in the pocket.

Play to the drums.

Picks are fine depending on the style of music you play, experiment with both picks and fingerstyle.
 

frdagaa

Supporting Member
Messages
2,187
...You can't over emphasis the importance of knowing what the kick-drum is doing.
This is a popular response to my original question. Makes sense, but today we rehearsed and my drummer's kick drum is a bit erratic. Not out of time, just a bit unpredictable. Is that common? "Wrong"? Should I talk to him about it?
 
Messages
20,133
Makes sense, but today we rehearsed and my drummer's kick drum is a bit erratic. Not out of time, just a bit unpredictable. Is that common? "Wrong"? Should I talk to him about it?
Couple of things...

First- Do you think your drummer is a good drummer? I hate to use those "bassist" buzzwords "groove" and "pocket" but if your drummer isn't hitting where he should be hitting, there's no "groove" and there's no "pocket." Everything keys off the drums. *I know everyone is responsible for time, but the drums are THE key, the 1 that everyone is basing their time on*

Second- if you really are "new" at this- your concept of time might be off. I figured out when I got a 4 track machine that I play bass and guitar on two different times. My sense of rhythm is different on each instrument. It's not an issue if you're keying off someone instinctively- but if you're paying attention (or not paying attention) you'll find you're off.

If I'm playing with someone who's not a good drummer, or someone I've never worked with, I like to set up on the hi-hat side of the drummer so I can watch the kick- watch the foot, watch the mallet. It helps on occasion.

If it could be YOU, and you're open to the possibility that it's your sense of "erratic" that's off- you're better off figuring out if it is you before you start telling your drummer his kick foot is off.

FWIW around 15 years ago my band auditioned a drummer- the guy had this weird lilt to the way he played- kind of think of Stewart Copeland if he hit like John Bonham. I hated that. The guy he was going to be replacing was like Ringo- right there- you knew EXACTLY where he was going and EXACTLY where he'd be. Turns out that guy got hired. Fifteen years and 3 bands later, there's no other drummer I would take in front of him.

Sometimes, you just have to get used to what you've got going on- and sometimes it works.
 

walterw

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
37,518
...today we rehearsed and my drummer's kick drum is a bit erratic. Not out of time, just a bit unpredictable. Is that common? "Wrong"? Should I talk to him about it?
...Do you think your drummer is a good drummer?...
this is key. if he is a good drummer (appropriate, keeps good time, is "musical" in his excursions) then you should just learn to understand what he's doing with this "erratic" kick drum, and play to fit in with it. this does not always mean "every kick hit has a bass note on it", but your lines should work with his, either contrasting or following them. once you get a real grip on the bass thing, then maybe you can start suggesting things to him.

if he's not a good drummer, well, i won't play bass with those so i don't know what to tell you.
 

ksandvik

Member
Messages
6,331
This is a popular response to my original question. Makes sense, but today we rehearsed and my drummer's kick drum is a bit erratic. Not out of time, just a bit unpredictable. Is that common? "Wrong"? Should I talk to him about it?
You can't follow an erratic kick drum. If you are in a jam and can't control the situation, play long bass tones and just hope it all is over soon.

A good example where a vanilla answer "follow the kick drum" does not always make the sense.
 
Messages
20,133
You can't follow an erratic kick drum. If you are in a jam and can't control the situation, play long bass tones and just hope it all is over soon.

A good example where a vanilla answer "follow the kick drum" does not always make the sense.


Even if the drummer is bad and the kick is "erratic," your solution is to suit your playing to match into the kick- in effect, "follow the kick drum."
 

ksandvik

Member
Messages
6,331
Even if the drummer is bad and the kick is "erratic," your solution is to suit your playing to match into the kick- in effect, "follow the kick drum."
Trust me, you can't follow an irregular kick, instead of one bad, you get two bad. Imagine trying to follow a random pattern that fluctuates. You need a telepathic connection to the drummer's mind. Play long notes and pray the song is soon over.
 
Messages
20,133
Trust me, you can't follow an irregular kick, instead of one bad, you get two bad. Imagine trying to follow a random pattern that fluctuates. You need a telepathic connection to the drummer's mind. Play long notes and pray the song is soon over.
What is the purpose of playing long notes?
 

ksandvik

Member
Messages
6,331
What is the purpose of playing long notes?
Some bass is better than no bass.

Of all the things a bass player can't really get the band together when playing, it is an erratic drummer. Same with a drummer who speeds up or can't keep a steady pace. You could try to tell and indicate with your headstock that the drummer is speeding up, or showing the pace with your body language about keeping the rhythm. But if the drummer is lost in la-la land, thinking he or she is the greatest drummer in the universe, can't do much. Erratic and weird kick patterns falls into that set, as well. The only hope is that the kick is not amplified or otherwise dampened.

The bass player is the pulse of the band, so you could either add or remove energy into the actual sound, that's nice, for example if the drummer is somewhat sleepy-playing and don't get a up-tempo or otherwise required beat. As for erratic drummers, that's the worst case scenario for any bass player ending up in a casual jam.

Anyway, after 300+ bass jam sessions the last two years, I don't really know much after all that...
 




Trending Topics

Top