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2 basses in a band?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by pushbuttonfour, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. pushbuttonfour


    Dec 20, 2012
    Has this ever worked? One could act like a lower lead guitar, and one a rhythm?
  2. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
  3. pushbuttonfour


    Dec 20, 2012
    to be different, I guess. Also two of my friends (really great, agreeable guys) have had a history in our band and want to play in it again, but they both play bass. And of course they're stubborn so they won't switch to guitar :p
  4. There was an originals band here that worked on the concept for a good decade. It never really worked but they were best of friends so they never gave up.

    With the right lead guitarist who gives the Eurasian continent in space to the two bassists, and two bassists who can play their roles and nothing more... who are we kidding here?
  5. Emilym80


    Sep 15, 2011
    Not really... Since you still occupy the same range, even if one plays higher and one plays low notes, it'll probably get muddy... Why bother? I think it's not really done because it doesn't work that well, to be honest.
  6. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    Maybe if one person plays double bass, or a piccolo bass. Something different enough to be easily distinguished and not muddy.
  7. Cop Shoot Cop, a sort of no-wave band from New York that partly evolved into Firewater, had two bassists and no guitar. It worked well (to my ear, matter of taste, blah blah blah) in that particular setting, but they certainly weren't using a "normal" sonic palette.

    I saw an indie-rock band in the 90s called Dianogah that used two basses more conventionally---basically one high and one low. As far as I remember, the results ranged from "meh, sounds kinda muddy" to "hmm, that bit was kind of cool".

  8. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    If you are using heavy effects like a bass synth on one bass and something else on the other?
  9. I saw Ornette Coleman (a sax player) once and he had another sax, two drummers, two keyboards, and two bass players - no guitars. It was a really great show. Not a lot of groovin but really good playing. The bass players kept out of each other's way pretty well.

    In rock it is rather rare. I have seen bands with three guitars and keys but just one bass player like Lynyrd Skynyrd. My old band had three guitars, a steel guitar, harmonica, and bass and we played jazz, swing, funk, blues, and rock. These are examples of big melody sections. My point is there is rarely enough room in a rhythm section for two bass players so usually one of them has to play mostly melody. I have played at a few jam sessions with another bass player and that's what we did. One of us was nearly always playing melody.
  10. audioglenn


    Jul 14, 2012
    "Why" is right...it's going to be a muddy, muddled, low end that won't drive the music. I'm sure you've heard the term "assanined", right? Well, this will make your band "BassinineP

    Just do the right thing....alternate between bass players.
  11. Bisounourse


    Jun 21, 2012
    Gent, Belgium
    Also Girls Against Boys (or GVSB) used two basses, and in a more 'traditional' sonic palette.

    I have played in a band with two bass players (we were 7 in total), and it worked. I do have to say that the other bass player and me have a totally different aproach in playing; she put more emphasis on rythm, I emphasised the melody a bit more. It worked for that band, and it didn't end up as mud (if someone is interested; these were the other instruments: drums/(metal)percussion, guitar, piano/keyboards/samples, violin, (alto)saxophone, vocals).
  12. I see how it could fail. But I also believe that, if executed properly, it could go down well, as well. Songs in which several bass overdubs are used come to mind, such as Yes' "The Fish" on Fragile. Of course, you'll have to work it out so that the low-end isn't overpowering.
  13. miiitch


    Nov 27, 2011
    i´m currently starting a band with 2 bass players.

    my buddy takes over the clean low end, i´m playing a 7string with effects.
    these effects include a bass-sucking tube drive and the hpf-pre, set to 140hz, at the end of the chain.

    sounds like this, with the exception that this demo´s done with 3 basses instead of only 2 ;)
  14. jungleheat

    jungleheat Banned

    Jun 19, 2011
    Just like anything else, it depends entirely on the execution.

    If it's "hey, I have this great idea for a band with 2 bass players, and I know just the guys to do it!: it could be amazing.

    But if it's "oh crap, we have one too many bassists in the band that we've had for years, I guess we'll just keep them both so we don't hurt anyone's feelings" then it could be a disaster.

    Actually, I just joined a band recently. Initially I thought I was going to be playing bass and there would be another guitarist. I brought in a drummer that I knew that seemed like a good fit. Then I found out the singer/keyboardist's brother was going to be playing bass as well. The singer wants to do some 2 bass stuff, so we probably will, but I'll be playing "lead" guitar the rest of the time (the singer also plays acoustic). The other guy plays a 5 string, and I only have 4 strings (including a fretless), so by default I will be doing more melodic/textural stuff while he holds down the low end. I'm curious to see where it goes.
  15. jetbike


    Apr 2, 2011
    Sydney, 'Straya
    Godspeed You! Black Emperor seem to do okay. Mind you, they have about 14 people on stage, two drummers, strings, two bassists and about five guitars.

    I don;t think I could do it. Too territorial.
  16. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    I had the opportunity to see two amazing local bassists jam together at a get-together. The two had vastly different sounds, one a very clean jazz bass with lots of highs, the other played my fender p through my tube amp (with flats and all the goodness).

    The result was amazing... The interplay was great, and they'd trade roles on the fly. Because they had different sounds, there was no mud at all. It was my personal bass heaven lol.

    The point is that the two were players who really listened to each other and knew how to make it work. From then on I had no more doubts a band with two basses can be done.
  17. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Yes, it's been done many times, by everybody from jazz big bands to metal. Cop Shoot Cop and Girls Against Boys might have been the most successful rock bands that did it. One I always mention in these threads is Switchblade Kittens who had three bassists and sounded like a totally normal pop-punk band. They weren't very successful, but I think with better vocals they could have been.
  18. Yeah it can work if the two bassists play differently and give each other space. Also helps if one plays in a different register
  19. TDP333


    Jan 10, 2013
    I have also seen Ornette Coleman live with two bassists. It was during Ornette's Meltdown at Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank. He played with his regular (upright) bassist, I'm embarrassed to admit I don’t know his name:meh:, and Flea. Later in the evening he was reunited with Charlie Haden but at that point the other bassists had left the stage.
    While I was unsure how effective two basses would be, it turned out to be awesome! They just didn’t get in each others space harmonically and it didn't get muddy or indistinct at any point. While the upright was holding down walking parts Flea occupied himself with melodic phrasing and fills, at a later point when Flea was playing a sweet repeating slap part, the upright player stuck with a melodic pulsing rhythm high up on the neck.
    Although I have to admit I think two basses, more often than not would be very hard to pull off! It is testament to their musicianship that it worked so well in this instance. I also think there may be something to say for the acoustic - electric partnership as they have such distinct sonic characteristics.

    By the way, that was probably the coolest gig I've ever been to! :)

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