3 Piece band -- how to get more sound?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by davefrommound, Aug 12, 2006.

  1. davefrommound


    Jul 21, 2005
    Hey everyone,
    I play in a 3 piece band and didn't think we were lacking anything until I started checking out more live music... so call it sound envy if you will, but we sound almost hollow compared to bands that have a rhythm guitar player. So here's what I'm wondering...

    I used to have a Morley ABY pedal with the intention of being a 3 piece punk band (drums, bass AND guitar, vox) where I'd play the bass lines into the Morley and split it: one line into my bass amp, the other into a distortion pedal, an EQ pedal, a delay pedal and then into a guitar amp.

    I never got to test it out fully (missing delay and EQ pedals) before having the Morley stolen from me (by a guitar player, no less)... since then I haven't toyed with the idea but after seeing 4 bands last night that all had rhythm guitar players I'm starting to reconsider.

    Thoughts? (on both the aforementioned setup or alternative ways to get louder sound)

  2. try using a 5th string if possible and simple chords (root n 3rd). i play in a band that sometimes practices as a 3 piece (guitar bass n drums) and it actually sounds TOO full sometimes when i combine my low b string with 3rds. just a suggestion
  3. I bought a 6 string, and started playing chorded lines.

    (playing the same line on 2 different strings at the same time...)

    it takes awhile to play 2 different lines at the same time, im working it tho... it'll be tight.
  4. davefrommound


    Jul 21, 2005
    i might try the 5 string suggestion.... did i mention that i sing lead too?
  5. hartke20g


    Apr 12, 2006
    miami, FL
    backing tracks. i'd stick with just intros, outros, or maybe a particular instrument constantly in the background.
    example: i'm also in a 3 piece band (guitarist wants punk...but not gonna happen) and we're working on covers to learn for gigs. one of my suggestions was "new born" by Muse. as you may or may not know, there's a piano intro- we don't have a piano. so when we get a PA of our own, we're going to play that backing track at the beginning.
    that was a long post, but i hope it got the point across. oh and also, i use very bassy distortion EQ'ed at about bass-9, mids-6, and treble-2 (pedal EQ, not amp) to be able to use a lot of fuzz and still keep a lot of bottom in the song.
  6. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    If you really wanted to get fancy, get yourself a pitch shifter (or two) to achieve the following - raise your pitch an octave and add a fifth above it.

    Then send that to your distortion pedal. Presto! Instant rhythm player.

    However, I would simply suggest putting everything through the PA. That will smooth out your sound a lot. Sometimes, if my ear can localize sound sources (ie an amp), the band seems smaller to me. But hearing the same band through a full PA? Sounds much more "full".

    Also, know that as the bassist, you need to play a few more notes to fill some space. The drummer also needs to realize he has a role in filling space, especially if the guitarist decides to back off on a quiet section or something.

    Hey, or you could always just add a rhythm guitarist. They're a dime a dozen at the local Guitar Center.
  7. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Oh, just remember when doing bass chords that everything below middle C (which is everything below 17th fret on the G string) tends to get muddy when combined with other low notes. Don't believe me? Try to strum a full E chord down at the nut. Or go to a piano and play a chord down at the left hand side of the keyboard. Yuck.

    That doesn't mean that you can't play chords, you just have to be more careful.
  8. AdlerAugen


    Aug 9, 2006
    make it a 4-piece and find a keyboardist with training that was heavy in chord types and progressions as well, that way they can figure out somethin to do that sounds good, has a bass line, and is different from the bassline played by the bass guitar already. The training he needs is also a good idea for anyone that wants to compose for anything...whether they're a guitarist, bass guitarist, etc...drummers are dumb anyway so forget them...
  9. cb56


    Jul 2, 2000
    Central Illinois
    I play in a 3 piece band with a non player lead singer out front and we never sound empty. I also never use effects. I think it has to do with how your guitar player plays and how you and your drummer fills in behind him. Listen to some early SRV to get th idea. Also, who says everything needs to be filled up with notes all the time?
  10. The best playing years of my life (so far) were spent in a 3 piece. You can play whatever you like and not step on eachothers toes. But, the minute you add that 4th player (guitar or keyboard) things start to get crowded.

    Enjoy your freedom, it probably won't last long.
  11. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I have only played in three piece situations for the last couple years.

    The two things that have worked for us have been guitarists who like effects, and when need be, samples. My current outfit has a number of songs that contain backing tracks. Mostly an additional background vocal or just a guitar strumming, but it fills out the sound just like a fourth member would only unlike a real player it's consistent and knows how to play whatever instrument we need.
  12. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    I also do 3 piece with a simger ... I find it VERY important to make sure that the instruments sit well in the mix relative to each other. That means the drums being tuned to the correct pitches (good drummers know this) , the guitar knowing NOT to crank in too much bottom ... and bass using more mid bass frequencies.

    As far as my sound and playing ... using sometimes more notes during guitar solos to help fill, and or a slight shift in the way I play ... helps to have a drummer that can read what your doing and add their accents to it.

    Finally I used to only plug-n-play (bass straight in to the amp) ... now I do use a couple of pedals ... a BBE Sonic Maximizer to add a little extra presence to to the lower bass on some song sections and a FUZZ when doing some old skool tunes to kinda add that second guitar sound.

    :D ... Old Skool and proud of it.
  13. 3 pieces are the best
    Runnerman and Crazy_Jake like this.
  14. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005

    Proper EQing will make your instruments sound HUGE - not only in a three piece, but wherever you go. Of course, it's more noticable in a three piece...
  15. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    There are a few suggestions to play "bass chords," i.e. powerchords or root-3-5.

    But the best way to play a "chord" on bass is playing the root on the E string (say you're in the key of A minor) - A - and then the 3rd (or rather the 10th - the 3rd up an octave) on the G string - C. You can do whole lines like that, and it just fills up space.
  16. I love playing trio gigs (especially guitar/bass/drums in a rock setting).

    I'm going to take a different approach here. There is NOTHING that personally sounds worse to me than a bass player 'filling space' in a trio by playing busy or using a lot of chording and other 'tricks', or even worse, using octave dividers, choruses, etc. to try to 'fatten the sound'. (although a lit bit of chording, like Roscoe Beck with the great Robbin Ford Blue Line Trio can sound nice if done with taste).

    Listen to Stevey Ray Vaughn, Robbin Ford, Hendrix (!), Van Halen (!!!), etc. Those bassists focus on good time, a nice fat tone, and quite simple technique. If anything, I play more simply in a trio setting, trying to drive the groove and, as mentioned above, sit in the mix appropriately.
    FloridaTim likes this.
  17. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    I'd more or less agree on this route too.

    A little use of effects can be fun, but once you start throwing octave pedals and fuzz into the mix you have to stop playing bass and play the pedal which is the exact opposite.

    Effects SUCK tone - use the absolute miniumum to fatten things. It can help to spread your cabs (and the guitarists) around the stage, so things like chorus have the maximum effect for the minimum amouht of processing.

    Get the basics right - a BIG sound means a GOOD sound. Make sure your lines are good, and groove with the drummer. I often hit an octave on the snare when pedallng routes - makes a big difference to keeping things rocking.

    Check out Steve Baileys Rock Bass book - lots of stuff on 3 piece playing.

    Don't be afraid of space. I would play more busy, but not to exclude space all together - why are you so afraid of space, that you need to fill it? SPACE is great. That space is the fourth member of the band! It creates a unique interaction between bass and guitar that gets totally trashed when you add a second guitar.

    Embrace the space!

  18. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006

    TIME ... Point well taken I should have mentioned that.

    You can play around the structure, when I mentioned fillin in around the guitar solos, it's about passing notes double pumping a phrase and short funky R&B type fills ... but never get caught out of the groove ... it's IS what drives the whole locked in freight train thing ... around here we refer to it as "hittin the 1"

    :smug: ... Never lose the groove!
    Stumbo likes this.
  19. steve21

    steve21 Banned

    Maybe digitech whammy w/ octave up harmonizer?
  20. Hookus


    Oct 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    Muse actually plays the piano lines on guitar, using MIDI. Everything they record, they play it just the same way live. It is pretty amazing.

    I use an 8-string bass with a tube overdrive, just for a bit of grit. It plays like a freight train, there is a fellow TB'er JRDuer that came to one of our shows. When the 8 string gets kicking, there is no lack of sound. If you listen to the songs on our myspace page, there are some tunes recorded with it. When recording, we use sparse keyboards, but the core is still the three piece.

    The EH English Muff'n is my secret weapon. I don't really use enough gain to sound like real distortion, just a very gritty tube amp.