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A way to thicken the bass during guitar solos

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Dkerwood, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. seacouch


    Apr 21, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    Contrast is one of the most potent arranging devices available. That doesn't always mean playing louder or busier or with more effects. It can mean playing simpler, more legato, making simple tone adjustments, etc. It can be quite effective to switch from dense and busy staccato parts to sparse & legato during solos, etc. If you do listen to the great trios, I think you'll notice that they often lock into a simpler (but still powerful) groove during solos. Intuitively, players usually want to play harder, faster, louder to create contrast, but that's only one of many options.
  2. SteveD


    Feb 20, 2006
    Denver, Colorado
    Your bass player is afraid of space because s/he thinks things are falling apart. Perhaps they are. The bass and drums should play simple and consistent parts during your solos. There is nothing wrong with space within music, we need space, otherwise we are just making pink noise. The problem relates to the parts being played and/or the expertise of the players, not the insturments or effects.

    Covering up improper playing with effects is like covering up BO with cologne. The smell will be different, but it's still awful.
  3. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Where is the bass player in the mix if things sound so empty when the guitars drop out? Power trios need to have all three players contributing to the mix to a greater degree than larger ensembles.

    It sounds like either:

    a) the guitar had been compensating for otherwise lacking bass/drums

    b) the guitars were too loud/taking up too much sonic space to begin with

    These are flip sides to the same coin. You'll have to figure out which/both is to blame.

    As for quick fixes for guitars, throw in some chords. Hit the I, play around it and then hit the IV and play around it, etc. Just because it's a guitar "solo" doesn't mean you can't throw in a few chords to fill things out here and there as a roadmap for the audience and as a sonic tool.
  4. southernrocker

    southernrocker Banned

    Apr 4, 2009
    Have the bass player play a little harder. I play in a three piece and when the guitar solos, I dig in and attack a little more. Have him bring out some mids. Geddy lee doesn't use an octaver and he fills out the sound with a hard attack. Listen to Limelight at Alex's solo. Good Luck!
  5. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Me: collegiate trained bassist, now a teacher and freelance musician.

    Bassist: my kid sister, art major in college. I taught her to play bass when we started this band 5 years ago.

    This particular song is just a problem that we've had issues fixing. She is of course trying to fix it from her end, but I'm trying to help as much as I can. That's how a band works, IMHO. While the person playing the instrument gets final say, everyone in the band should help everyone else be as good as they can be. Maybe the drummer has a great rhythm for me to play on guitar. Maybe the bassist came up with a riff that would sound better on guitar than on bass. Maybe I can find a few ideas for filling up an empty sounding guitar solo that DON'T involve hiring another musician...

    In the end, I'm a bass player, I've run into a bass-related problem, and I come to TB for advice. Don't really think the lecture is necessary. :D
  6. There are a number of ways to approach this... Obviously the advice on playing is nice, but sometimes you need little more IMHO.

    OD may work - I've used a Bad Monkey with some success.
    Fuzz may work - Listen to Ben Folds Five (OK, no guitar solos, but when the bass player kicks in the fuzz, it's a whole different ballgame!
    Octave down pedal combined with playing an octave higher - expands the space you cover a lot
    Octave up pedal (especially with OD on the octave up) gives a faux rhythm guitar feel)
    You can thicken things up just by running the bass through a guitar rig (switched in for the solos) in addition to a bass rig (the Uniboss method)
    My personal favourite though is to use a 12-string bass, with OD. Fills in like you wouldn't believe.

    All approaches can be combined to taste or switched between. Your bass player needs to figure out what works best for her/the song.

  7. I don't know what the OP's song is like, but his description sounds like mine, so I'll go into a little more detail.

    In our lone 'need effects' song, the majority of the song is sparce, with a lot of mixing it up between walking lines and root notes and guitar solos and chording. This particular part of the song, by contrast, is big and full and in your face. When the rhythm becomes lead, it no longer is big and full and in your face, which kills the contrast we were targeting. The instant I added the HOG into the song it was once again big and full and in your face. I believe that no amount of bass playing, in this instance, would cover up a big, full, mid/upper range of notes.
  8. seacouch


    Apr 21, 2005
    Seattle, WA

    Right on. My only point was that sometimes our first impulse is to play harder/louder/busier/etc. to create contrast. But sometimes the counter-intuitive approach works best; play long beefy notes instead of short punchy ones, or whatever. Play something different from what preceded - the effect alone might work better than adding more decibels to the mix.
  9. You could try a chorus pedal. NOT the CEB-3 though, thats not gonna thicken it much. Try an EHX pedal (excepting small clone) or a BOSS CE-5. Digitech make decently thick chorus. Hardwire CR7 is pretty good too.
  10. Geist


    Aug 31, 2007
    Try an EHX Stereo Electric Mistress with a lush chorus setting and a slight bit of the flanger. This has worked for me in a song we have where the guitar plays a leading line (not a solo, but it's single notes on the E and B strings). as always though, ymmv.
  11. Joeykun

    Joeykun pronounced ジョーイくん Supporting Member

    Jun 22, 2007
    Shirley, MA
    The problem I have with the CR7 is the increased volume when engaged. It acts as a boost besides a chorus.

    However, the chourus is very nice. Just wish it didnt boost my signal.
  12. When you're out there on the edge, alone, soloing --> it's your rhythm sections job to support you and give you a solid foundation. I would suggest they really listen to the dynamics of your solo and bring their volume DOWN accordingly.

    I think when it's time for a solo, they also need to simplify so the soloist can really shine. Just play the root, if need be. For a little extra oomp without effects suggest to the bass player to play the root & octave together, but always be mindful of the volume.
  13. slyderhodge


    Oct 24, 2007
    Floyd, VA
    Associate Engineer: Mountain Fever Studios
    I spent 7 years playing in a Christian Power Trio and it takes alot of work and practice to attain the fluidity to come in and out of a solo like the one you described. If you listen to some of the classic trios you'll hear it. The solos might have to be changed some. Let the solo have chords and triads chords in it. The bass player and the drummer ultimately have the responsibilty to step it up. The bass player might have to find a busier walking style line to lay in behind the solo. Also the drummer should change up what he's doing. If he's just riding the HH with 1 & 3 snare and a 2 4 Kick then maybe he should go with something that compliments the solo. If you go into a solo and the bass and drummer both change up they're patterns/lines then this can really change the entire texture of the solo and open alot of new doors.

    As far as effects go. I've always used alot of effects to help fill up the space in a trio, but alot of this is because of the style of music we played, it worked. Effects don't always sound good on bass. Effects just for the sake of adding texture is a waste. Effects are a tool to achieve the sound that does justice to the song.

    My personal favorite for bluesy in your face rock was using a Wren and Cuff Pickle Pie "B" It's a really nice fuzz that's voiced for Bass and it has a blend control so you can control the ratio of fuzz to clean signal... this going into a flanger or chorus can give a really nice full tone that doesn't sound harsh or pushy.

    Currently I'm have 2 distortion 1 fuzz 1 overdrive, wah, chorus, flanger, tremolo and delay on my board. When playing in the trio, 80% of the time I stay dry during the solo. It's really about the bass player finding his own niche in the song
  14. rratajski

    rratajski Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    Mount Laurel, NJ
    I agree w/ cheapbasslovin. The HOG is what will do the trick. It's worth every penny.

    Combine this with some OD or fuzz and the tone it VERY thick. You're able to add in varying amounts of different octave combinations that fatten up anything you throw into it. Someone mentioned one page 1 that you can't play chords w/ octavers w/out blowing stuff up...disregard that comment. You can play chords on the HOG to make things hella thick.
  15. DrewinHouston

    DrewinHouston Not currently practicing Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2009
    Houston Heights, Texas
    Disclosure: I am not a great bass player
  16. JDJen


    Mar 18, 2010
    When I was playing in a 3pc band in the bars and the guitarist would go into his solos I would often times fill with triplets, chords, and bringing up the lows. Never used any pedals.
  17. raymondl3


    Dec 10, 2007
    You should record the trio and post some clips here. Otherwise all the advice is just a shot in the dark. On the equipment end I would recommend a tube amp, a clean boost, an overdrive, and a delay that you keep on all of the time ( set around 250 ms with 2 or 3 repetitions). Try to get your compression and sustain from overdriving the amp at both the pre and power stages. Beyond that, it's entirely a musical question and the blame may not be entirely yours if you have a bland rhythm section.
  18. Bardolphus

    Bardolphus Put some stank on it... Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    Check out the John Mayer Trio...they cover this wonderfully IMHO.

    I'm a busier player and play a lot like this (not ringing my bell, I'm not even close to being Pino, but who is?). Pino covers the ground left when Mayer is doing his thing and the song never looses anything. There is a tasteful way to do it though. Just simply playing louder or busier is not the answer...it's not as easy as that. Nothing says you can't do those things but you can't lose the whole groove of the song.

    As for effects, that's completely cool too. A good octave pedal (MXR BOD or Aguilar Octamizer come to mind) or something like a Micro POG or POG2 would probably fit the bill if used tastefully.
  19. alan_hill


    Nov 1, 2008
    +1 :bassist:
  20. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    You could probably use effects as a loop or synth, and/or get a tech21 sansamp BDDI or VT..

    Listen to 'New Track(Preview)' of my band, will give you an idea of how much the sansamp fills the gaps...Im also in a three piece band.

    Hope this helps..

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