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A way to thicken the bass during guitar solos

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

  1. TheEnthBass


    Apr 9, 2010
    I've worked in various trios for the past ten years or so from rock to metal to fusion and I have encountered the same thing in every one of thas bands and this is what helped me some.

    1. Taking a closer look at my bass line and my confidence in delivering it. Making that chug really chug etc.

    2. Adding more notes, working with arpegios or throwing a little melody under the solo. I have heard a lot of people use chords very well. Me not so much.

    3. My tone which ended up being fixed by getting an amp that had greater presence and eq-ing in a way that took up more sonic space. ie more mids and i needed to boost some highs to get more cut. Also looked at using a pick vs fingers in parts to gain more attack which made me sound more present.

    4. Finally the guitar player worked on his eq and volume during rythm sections making his tone a little less thick by dropping a little low and dropping the volume a touch.

    This also had the final effect of making our verse and chorus have more punch, the bass had more definition in the song overall and in the process it left more sonic space in verse and chorus by pulling some low out of the guitar that made the vocals pop more and the tom work on the drums clearer as well.

    I think it helped me to look at the whole sonic presence of every instrument in the band. Do I have most of my attack and definition in a frequency range that is not being heavily populated by another instrument, repeat for everyone. Tune drums differently, eq on guitar bass and vocals. aphex aural exciters usually used in the studio for vocals worked well with bass and guitar to excite ranges that the other wasnt exciting giving evefyone their little niche frequency range in a subtle but very "felt" way.

    Thats what I've found to work and watching good engineers live and studio and picking up tips from them was a maor help in trouble shooting those things over time. Every time I start a new project it tends to start running through the same check list and getting everyone to create an effective sound together.
  2. Holdsg

    Holdsg Talkbass > Work Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    Listen to Rush Freewill and really listen how Getty adds to Alex's already awesome solo, making it one of the great solo breaks in all of RNR. The bass completes the solo. That's what many of us here are saying.
  3. Bingo

    I think this is where you start. The bass should be carrying the bass + "rhythm" sound so when the guitar drops out the sound stays full.
    You might think the guitar sounds thin but with the bass being really full the guitar steals some of that for itself in the mix.
  4. Joebone

    Joebone Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Los Angeles
    Lots of good advice here, but I'd like to stress the importance of using a change in register to provide some thickness and texture under the solo.

    The real issue is providing density under the solo. Hitting a distortion pedal is one way to do it, but let's also consider musical solutions that can provide musical energy under the soloist.

    More notes, counter-lines, digging in a bit more are all good things...and if backing under an extended solo, you'll certainly want to do these things as you play off the soloist and also try to egg him on toward a structured solo where the energy increases over the course of the solo.

    Shifting into higher frets is a great two-for-one solution, as you get a fatter sound and also start to fill sonic space previously filled by the low end of the guitar chords.

    I have not checked out the soundbites, but am guessing that the standard basslines for the OP tunes are largely in the bottom octave. If the bassist can shift into centering between the 7th and 14th frets during the solos, while also hitting some low notes so as to maintain continuity with the pre-solo groove, you'll get the benefits of fatter timbre from playing higher up the neck (e.g., compare D on the 10th fret of the E string with D on the fifth fret of the A string), and also start playing some higher notes, which likely cover for the bottom strings on the now-absent chordal presence.

    I don't know that I'd advocate "chords" per se from the bassist, as those can be hard to integrate with the groove, but double-stops can add a lot and are very flexible - I favor fifths and tenths when trying to add some texture in such circumstances.

    Finally, a +1 to whomever suggested reviewing the rhythm guitar parts that proceed and follow the solos. If they are really thick and dense, the contrast problem increases accordingly.

    Good luck with the project!

  5. These points resonate with my thinking on the matter... especially #1.

    I've played in trios as well and the approach I take to keep the sound full when the guitar player drops into a solo, is to play with confidence that boarders on aggression (without speeding up of course).

  6. Joeykun

    Joeykun pronounced ジョーイくん

    Jun 22, 2007
    Shirley, MA
    Who is this Getty guy you speak about? :bag:
  7. Not sure if this is what most do, but it is what I do.
    I normally pluck towards the bridge (I play a P bass). During those solo parts that start to sound thin, I move my plucking hand towards the neck and let more skin touch during each pluck than I normally do. Less attack and more umph.
  8. PunkSweeper


    Jan 23, 2010
    As a drummer as well as a budding bassist, I'd recommend the drummer use a more "enveloping" cymbal to ride on during the solo, ex- open hats or crash-riding a big crash.
  9. I am surprised, this being TalkBass, that the first thing that many people thought of is that the problem is that the bass and drums don't have the right tone... My first instinctive thought, given the power trio line-up, is that the guitar has too much low-end in its tone. Lots of lows and low mids in a guitar tone makes the rhythm and chords sound chunky and full-bodied, but that fullness disappears once the guitarist starts soloing. So my first solution attempt would be to dial out the low end on the guitar amp. Let the bass handle that area. If the whole band mix sounds too scooped after you dial out the lows on the guitar amp, then the bass needs to dial in some more low mids. If the whole band mix sounds too thin (almost no lows at all) after you dial out the lows on the guitar amp, then the bass needs to dial in some more lows and low mids or maybe just needs to turn up louder. But if the bass sounds OK already, then dialing out the lows on the guitar amp will make the difference between rhythm and solo parts not seem so drastic.
  10. newbold


    Sep 21, 2008


    When it's time for a solo, the supporting members need to have not dug in as hard as possible before to add more gusto.

    Guitar needs to be a layer until the solo, then solo tone needs to be bigger.

    You shouldn't need to add girth to compensate for a thin solo part, the solo should be able to be played overtop of a standalone rhythm section...thus, the guitar is superfluous and sweetens the rhythm section.
  11. amfmsb


    Dec 16, 2007
    I am of the opinion that the bass and drums (and vocals) should sound full enough on their own. I would work on your mix without any guitar first. Then when you add guitar on top of that, you achieve "eleven-ness". Also, if your music is very rythm guitar heavy durring the rest of the song, except for the solos, it'll sound like something is dropping out, or at least too noticeably different (if the basss suddenly kicks on some octave and fuzz).

    When you look at power trios that have a full sound like Rush or Cream, its the way they wrote their songs that allows them to sound that way, not JUST their awesome tones. You don't hear the guitars chuggin along on chords up until the solo, when its time to play single notes, the guitar is usually playing riffs/fills throughout, or playing something completely different than the bass creating polyphony. On the other hand, rhythm heavy bands like ACDC can't function without 2 guitarists, because thats the way their songs were written.

    Solution: revamp your old song arrangements to fit in to your current band line-up, or get a rhythm guitarist. Bass tone probably isn't your problem.
  12. Kromwarp


    Sep 16, 2008
    Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan
    Master Luthier: Ironclad Bass Guitars
    He could try a bass boost like the EHX Mole, they're $40 new, or an Akai Unibass, to add a 'second guitar' so to speak, that or any harmonizer run with a distortion pedal.
  13. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    I completely agree with amfmsb...I play in a progressive hard rock trio and i think tone is the most impotant thing to fill up sonic space more than playing more notes... Even a low end rumble with some cutting mids can really fill that gap, infact it can be full even without the guitar..
    Im saying this after playing through a sansamp and it really works amazingly..!! Listen to Karnivool - Simple Boy
    and see how dominant the bass is in the mix..!! even though they have two guitars..
    In the beginning of the song, theres only bass and drums and it lacks nothing..!!
    Having a full big tone in your song or only in the solo, will completely cover up and sound full..
    My 2cents...
  14. I am in a power trio and find when the guitarist is solo it is time for me to keep a very solid bass line going (normally eight notes). in the past I have used a chorus to fill it up.
  15. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    No offense intended, but you're thinking like a guitarist. Heck, even a lot of bass players around here think like guitarists - namely using effects as a sort of all-purpose crutch to try to get around issues with the fundamental sound.

    IMHO, effects should generally be used only to flavor or embellish a basic tone that is already solid and squared away. If it is not, your bassist should be looking first at his playing technique, then his instrument set-up, then his gear (amps and cabs), then his amp settings, instrument settings, string type and gauge, etc. etc.

    Once the basic sound is already strong and solid, then some subtle effects can be added to give it a little extra girth and substance... :meh:

  16. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    Lots of good ideas here. I go for simplicity. Play the upper register 10th fret and above for thicker tone. If you don't know how to chord or be creative with arpeggiation, play what the rhythm guitar was playing during the solo in the upper register and pluck near the neck. The combination will sound thick and provide a deep foundation for the solo. No need for effects if you do this.
  17. I don't know if he does, but has he tried/used flats?

    I had trouble with being heard in a mix until I started using flats more often. I noticed a HUGE difference in a band situation.

    I play a P with flats, and it comes through every time.

    Check this out (If you want, you can skip about the first minute to get to the tune). Sorry for the slightly awkward moments of movement as well....:)

    I would recommend not watching the video and just listening to the audio.
  18. And that's with a bad camera mic through an old Sunn cab.
  19. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    I do not agree with MysticMichael..but i dont disagree totally...

    Yes you do need to have a good 'bass' tone to start with but using effects to give more than subtle differences in my opinion is NOT thinking like a guitarist..!! To me, im a bassist BUT more importantly, im a musician..its about the music and whatever makes the music sound good works...I dont believe in being a purist and not ****ing with the original sound of the bass and being true to its tone. Shaping may or may not be required for ones style of music.. The OP wants to thicken his tone, nothing guitarist about that..

    Many people are like guitar should do that and bass should do that...Do what makes the music sound the way you want it to...A bass or guitar is a piece of wood helping you make music, shaping its tone, or making it sound alien isn't wrong..

    No offense whatsoever to Mystic Michael intended :) Im a very peaceful person :smug:

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