Electric for Salsa

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by gimmeagig, Jun 6, 2010.


  1. gimmeagig

    gimmeagig

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2004
    Location:
    Coeur D'Alene,Idaho
    I posted this question on the Basses forum but I just realized that this might be a better place for it.
    I have a 35" scale heavily modified KSD 5 string bass.I just put a set of DR flats on it( my first flat set ever) I have another set of Sadowsky long scale flats on order because I first tried the DRs on a 34" bass and i cut them too short (so stupid!)for the KSD.I'm worried they might slip off the posts on a gig.
    I want to use this bass specifically for Salsa and want to get something close to the big fat Ampeg baby Bass sound where the fundamental just hits you in the chest.
    Are there any salsa electric players here who could give me some pointers on setup/technique/EQ on this subject.BTW I'm not a beginner. I'm working my way through Stagnaro's Latin bass Book and Funkyfying the clave and other books along those lines.I'm also trying to download everything from youtube I can find.I know a lot about how to get that Marcus tone but this Salsa thing is kind of unfamiliar territory for me.
    I live in Northern Idaho so there isn't a great demand for Salsa( or Marcus) unfortunately but I still want to get this together.
  2. rbolanos

    rbolanos

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2006
    Location:
    Ontario,Canada
    Hi,
    I just to be in your position a while back, and before I had an ampeg baby bass, I used to have a RBX yamaha bass with medium to high action, right hand closer to neck pick up to simulate that thump....in reality as you know nothing compares to the real deal, but some of these tips might get that vibe.
    I would probably try some DR lowriders nickel....
    good luck
  3. ugly_bassplayer

    ugly_bassplayer Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2009
    Location:
    Québec
    Foam mute works great IMO.
    It helps for getting the low sustain thud of the Baby bass.
  4. elgecko

    elgecko

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    Anasleim, CA
    Flats are good. You can stuff some foam under the strings near the bridge. For EQ, boost bass and low mids and cut the treble.

    Of course, I've heard some newer salsa-esque (timba?) recordings where they're using modern, hi-fi basses with roundwounds. :confused:
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  6. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2000
    Location:
    Bucaramanga, Colombia, South A
    Here's a couple examples:

    I created recently. :)
  7. kdel

    kdel

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    Feb 24, 2010
    Location:
    San Diego
    +1 on rbolanos' comments

    I never could find a baby bass at the time I really could have used it, but I've made do and it has really made me explore the tonal possibilities of bass guitar. I definitely need higher action to dig in. For cha cha cha I sometimes play with my thumb and use the side of my hand to mute the strings. Never liked what foam did to overtones. I usually play on or above the neck pickup and boost the bass a tad, but for modern merengues or timba, sometimes the treble pickup sound is a good sound.

    Couple of things I would add. It's all about time and feel. Play with recordings as much as you can to get feel, sustain, learn how to play with edge without rushing, get comfortable with tumbao, etc. i would also learn the basics for all percussion parts (and piano rhythms). Understanding how that all works is crucial, and you might wind up only being able to hear (or see!) one percussionist while holding it down during a loud timbale solo, and you need to be able to know where the time is from any single instrument in the ensemble. Finally, if you are learning out of books, you will have to season to taste as real world applications are very different from ideal situations (typically you might have less musicians than the ideal salsa line up).
  8. kdel

    kdel

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    Feb 24, 2010
    Location:
    San Diego
    +1 on Alvaro's link to a post on string selection for fingerings.
  9. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

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    Jan 21, 2006
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    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    Disclosures:
    Union card-carrying liberal academic musician
    +1

    Great points/advice. I also would second going with a modern 5-string electric tone. Boost bass a bit, and low mids, use a light touch, and add a small dash of compression. Learn as much as you can from greats, but don't be a prisoner of their tone.
  10. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2000
    Location:
    Bucaramanga, Colombia, South A
    Great point.
  11. gimmeagig

    gimmeagig

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2004
    Location:
    Coeur D'Alene,Idaho
    Thanks for the advice,you guys.I really appreciate it.
    BTW I did buy a set of congas last year and I'm working out some patterns.I've got a long ways to go though.
    As far as the feel goes, I guess I'm ok for a white guy from Germany :) but of course compared to the"real guys" I'm a total hack.But still I can cold a Tumbao down no matter what patterns and syncopations the percussionists throw into their solos.I can feel the clave and I can hear the difference between 2-3 and 3-2 or the rumba clave.
    So I'm not hopeless.
    I know what you mean about Timba using modern bass sounds.
    I am very used to the sound of the modern 5 and the Timba music of Alain Daniel Tiempo Libre Paolito FG Osvaldo Chacon is something that appeals to me very much.
    I'm just thinking that like in funk where I didn't immediately jump into Marcus Miller stuff, I got the Jamerson thing the James Brown and Tower, then Paul Jackson,or in Jazz I worked out a lot of standards and having that background made me a more seasoned player.
    I don't have that same background in latin music.No real roots.So I figured if I can start by really altering my sound and listen to the more traditional stuff.Hector Lavoe,Fania All Stars, the music that came out of New York I might just be able to get it together in a deeper way.
    By the way,
    I found some stuff on youtube where guys play along with salsa tunes and it names the title but not always the artist.
    What are some of the "must have" salsa record of that time?
  12. Scott McC

    Scott McC

    Joined:
    May 13, 2006
    Location:
    Toronto
    "Dance Mania" by Tito Puente is amazing. Its on upright, but the lines are universal. Bobby Rodriguez is amazing!
  13. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2000
    Location:
    Bucaramanga, Colombia, South A
    This one is a true must for sure. And this is a great compilation of Willie Colón hits.
  14. gimmeagig

    gimmeagig

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    Feb 25, 2004
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    Coeur D'Alene,Idaho
    Here's a guy on electric that I found who I really like even though it is a bit more on the modern side

    I can't really tell, does he use a piece of foam?The strings must be flats.
  15. kdel

    kdel

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2010
    Location:
    San Diego
    Yeah, the 70s sound on electric was definitely jazz bass. I like the bassist on the first clip, but I would never play a lot of ghost notes. you have to remember that there are typically three percussionists (not counting clave and guiro) playing subdivisions, and when they're hitting drumheads it is very low/mid-midrange stuff. To put a bunch of punchy bass ghost notes in there seems excessive; I mean, conga and bongó are playing literally streams of eight notes, and their feel swings and is not metronomic. If i was playing congas and i had a bassist playign a bunch of thumpy ghost notes behind me it would annoy me and I would ask him to stop.

    The thing that I hear some Cuban timba bassists do is play funkier and do tutti/unison fills (and man do they have chops), but they also play with space, let some deep notes really ring at times. Merengue players also do that, and also explore the B string for some sustained notes.
  16. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player Supporting Member

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    Bucaramanga, Colombia, South A
    FYI and according to the video description, that guy is trying to apply what he learned from Francisco Ocoró, currently considered one of the best (if not the best) Salsa bassists from Colombia. You can see/hear him here.

  17. line6bassist

    line6bassist Supporting Member

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    this guy nails it pretty close imho

  18. gimmeagig

    gimmeagig

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    Feb 25, 2004
    Location:
    Coeur D'Alene,Idaho
    This is great,thanks for turning me on to Francisco Ocoro. I found this clip and this is totally the sound I'm after and the style I like.

    I saw a band called Cobanismo a few years back and the bassist played an EUB.There was so much punch and power in the basslines that I wanted to get an EUB but when I tried a few I realized how difficult it would be to learn how to play it well.So I gave up on that idea.
    But this clip shows me that you can get that same kind of drive with the electric bass guitar.
    The Bobby Valentin tune Cuando Uno Se Enamora played by Slikk Tim is great too.
    What CD is that from?
    KDEL, interesting perspective on the ghost notes. So you are saying that to sound really authentic and not get in the way of the percussion section it is better to stay away from those.Makes sense . But In a small ensemble I guess the ghost notes could substitute for some missing percussion instruments, right?
  19. kdel

    kdel

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    Feb 24, 2010
    Location:
    San Diego
  20. kdel

    kdel

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2010
    Location:
    San Diego
    Well, for my taste, it has more to do with space. Really the bass is always associated with the bass drum, whether salsa, 6/8/, samba, etc. and so you are on tumbao, so you are doubling with the conga drum, and depending on how big your rhythm section is, those main notes are already doubled by bongó and possibly the weak hand of the timbales. When things get stripped down, it is usually the timbales or drum set player that starts to double on musical rolls; bass stays with its part, but there is more space. I think of it more as space and less sonic density. If you play with a huge band, there is less space for everyone outside of their basic parts, and if the ensemble is smaller there is more space.

    Truthfully, I think I am also reacting to a couple of bad backline/house PA experiences where there were subwoofers kicking in and even ghost notes were moving a lot of air. Really, great players will make it work, take my statements as an opinion with a grain of salt. "Gua Gua" Rivera is one of my old favorites and he plays sweet ghost notes without seeming busy.
  21. gimmeagig

    gimmeagig

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2004
    Location:
    Coeur D'Alene,Idaho
    I just installed the set of sadowsky flats that I had ordered.They Have a tapered B string.In addition to that I fabricated a damper.I used a wedge shaped piece of wood, shaped it some more to fit the contour of the strings for even pressure,put some plastic feet under it to help keep it in place under the stings and a put a piece of mouse pad foam on the other side for damping. I put clear lacquer on the piece of wood so the glue on the bottom feet sticks better and the damper also looks more like it is part of the bass.
    I think I'm there as far as my sound goes, now I just need to get through the Latin Bass Book...:)

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