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Ska/reggae technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by pagourix, Jan 18, 2014.

  1. pagourix


    Dec 30, 2012
    hi guys..
    i want to ask you for some tips. i am in a band and we play ska. when the quitar player plays something i always play what he plays. EXACTLY. can you tell me some ways to build up my playing or to change it over the others playing?
  2. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Your guitarist is playing single note lines like Peter Tosh?
  3. ImNotJoel


    Jan 12, 2014
    In ska since it's fast, triads and arpeggios are the way to go. Reggae is more groove oriented you can leave some space for the upstroke a (up beat). Study bass lines in reggae you can lay down a groove in one key that travels but in ska it's more follow the chord progression with arpeggios, triads to give it that feel. Depends too if it's old school or third wave (more punk imfused basically American ska).
  4. pagourix


    Dec 30, 2012

    this is one song for example. the other is Ska P. This type of bass playing! guitar player is not playing something very difficult...
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  6. ImNotJoel


    Jan 12, 2014
    This song brings a good point I forgot to mention ska can also have a walking element. Glad you made this thread I haven't played ska in a few years and it is great for chops and fun.

    So I hear you taking about the guitar but it's the drums that should really concern you.

    Reggae is the one drop beat so emphasis the one and two beat that's makes the beat move so be there for the kick and snare but feel free to flow around but meet with the drummer.

    Ska is a punk beat so the like punk the hi ha (eight notes) need to be filled and in ska the bass is does it in a sort of walking or I like to say running depending on the speed. It can be a bass walk with out a swing.

    Bottom line study scales, triads, and arpeggios and get your speed and dexterity going. Good thread man you made me want to listen and play some ska!
  7. bass12

    bass12 Fueled by chocolate Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Unless you're talking third wave (which I hesitate to call "ska") the vast majority of ska is based on a one drop pattern.
  8. DeivoxCarnal

    DeivoxCarnal Supporting Member

    Jul 21, 2010
    Dallas, Texas
    I had a question about ska that I'd been SKAred to ask, but might as well even though this isn't the theory forum....

    What is it that makes a ska chord sound so... ska-ish? I'm just starting to teach myself theory and I'm not a very good teacher, so sorry for the off-topic noob question.
  9. ImNotJoel


    Jan 12, 2014
    Yeah you're correct the example op gave had a third wave feel third wave is really ska punk but I guess they call it third wave ska to give it a more polished title instead of a punk or ska sub genre.

    Third wave qualifying as ska is a whole different thread. Which may be interesting you bring up a nice gray area.
  10. ImNotJoel


    Jan 12, 2014
    To answer that major bar chords same goes for reggae chord sounds too.
  11. pagourix


    Dec 30, 2012
    i have a great speed because i play metal. my problem is the creativity part. in other words, how to make the bass like the song that i posted. not the same but generally in the same way.

    by the way, the song is talking about boobs and girls. βυζια means boobs in greece :D
  12. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    At the OP in a lot of 2 guitar reggae/ska situations one guitar usually doubles the bass line so it can still be heard on small speakers while the other guitar plays the "skank".

    At Deivox. in a lot of Reggae/Ska situations the guitar plays 3rd inversion minor chords on the 3 high strings as you can do them with one finger (G, B, E is a minor triad) in the second octave of the neck.

    Rev J
  13. ImNotJoel


    Jan 12, 2014
    Haha yeah I did the same kind of thing but opposite I was into the numeral thing then hit up ska reggae and funk then started the fast metal which made my chops up to par.

    So the techniques there which is half the battle but yes two different worlds. I would suggest immerse your self in ska make more major riffs or you can try and make a ska progression with root notes then add on. Pretty much make it groove instead of make it brutal it will click just keep trying.
  14. Ah OK. I thought that was your tune and you wanted to know how to improve it.

    That feel is really simple. Bass on the downbeats, guitar on the upbeats. If you are actually playing the same thing as your guitarist then this is something you can work on.
  15. pagourix


    Dec 30, 2012
    i can only think the same. root notes and then i will i add on! i wasn't going to make it brutal or generally metal because in this type of music is not the best. :bassist:
  16. pagourix


    Dec 30, 2012
    now i understand. but i have a question. if the guitarist is playing something based in E for example, i will ''analyse'' everything i play around E?
    thanks for all the answers guys :smug:
  17. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    Yes and no. It's certainly a good idea to play in the right key, but if it sounds good it is good.

    When I was in a ska band, I found that it was mostly a lot of fast jazz-ish walking, except with a lot more major pentatonics.

    Try playing in the major pentatonic scale, and maybe throw in some chromatic passing tones. For example, a basic line in E would be

    g: - - - - - - - - -
    d: - - - - 2 - - - -
    a: - - 2 4 - 4 -2 -
    e: 0 4 - - - - - - 4

    And, most importantly, don't forget to give it some bounce!
  18. Also remember the ska musicians were listening to 50's soul, jazz, blues, and pop music from the USA. Learning bass lines from the #1 doo wop and rock-n-roll hit classics would be a good place to start as far as understanding the foundation of bass in ska music. I found transcribing bass lines with a rockabilly feel, like Bill Black from Elvis' "Blue Suede Shoes" a helpful exercise in improving my ska feel.

    What really changed in the transition to ska is the "skank" or rhythm guitar; the bass stays anchored into a 4 or 2 feel. Especially at the fast tempos, it is important to give motion back to the 1 and not get bogged down counting each quarter note individually.
  19. bass12

    bass12 Fueled by chocolate Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I would say that the one drop pattern was equally, if not more, instrumental in giving ska it's identity as the skank (I've heard R&B with piano on the upbeats but never heard a one drop in anything preceding ska). Good suggestions on the early rock & roll. Also check out guys like Fats Domino and Louis Jordan (both of whom were bigger influences in Jamaica than Elvis).
  20. bendy


    Sep 21, 2011
  21. leche


    Feb 2, 2009
    In a 3rd wave ska band (like the one I was in for 4 years) I'd play mostly walking bass lines during upstrokes changing notes every 1/4 note. If that was getting boring I'd say "Hey drummer let's do some sort of syncopation here or there!" If distortion the guitar player ever kicks on his distortion I'd be playing more or less straight ahead 1/8th notes.

    With Reggae you have freedom, but never underestimate the interaction between I and V. Also, you can get a little more crazy in walking sections, but be careful not to overplay the reggae parts.

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