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Advice For The Woodshed and Working On Your Chops

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by capnsandwich, Feb 16, 2016.

  1. I've been in the shed for a few months now, trying to get some chops together as my current band is wanting me to do more bass solos at some shows. Anyway, I've been spending an average of 2 hours a day just working on rudiments and then jamming to some of my band's tracks and some YouTube backing tracks (smooth jazz are really fun) but I still feel there's some more elements out there I'm either overlooking or have yet to hear of. I'm not much of a slapper. I can slap and used to do it more than now but the music I'm talking about requires more of a fingerstyle, jazzy type of solo more than a funky slap solo.

    So, the purpose of this thread is to hear what some of you guys who have chops or work on soloing chops do to create smooth, clean, quick lines that flow well and are both melodic and rhythmic so that it draws an audience. Any advice would be more than welcome and very appreciated! I'm saying thank you now beforehand because I know there's a ton of information out there in the brains of some of you players and I know you're more than willing to help a brother out.
    JLY and mj_ like this.
  2. Colinos5


    Jan 12, 2013
    Yes, it can be rather difficult to impress a crowd as a bass player. Lucky for you, you're in the right genre. It's hard to give solid advice as I don't know what you do or don't do.

    I'd say, exchange one of those two hours for exploring stuff outside your band. Find stuff by Tal Wilkenfeld, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten, whatever your can find where you hear something interesting. Then analyze it, work it out and try to play it. Might bring you new ideas.

    Also, don't be afraid to go a little nuts. Play with your thumb, only pluck one note in a riff, throw in harmonics, completely change your EQ or just play notes from a completely different chord. You might find something you haven't used before but works.

    Playing on a different bass could also spike creativity btw

    Oh and we're not guitarists. We really benefit from our bandmates accentuating certain parts. Perhaps you should think about what others could play to make you sound better?

    Good luck. Wish my band would ask me to do more solo's ;)
    capnsandwich likes this.
  3. Icemanaroonie


    Sep 6, 2015
    Currently my band gives
    me a two-hand tapping solo, have you looked into that style of playing? Have you messed with effects, or even tremolo finger picking? There's a ton of options. My main advice would be to not think like a guitar player here. If you play a guitar solo on a bass, it won't be nearly as interesting as a piece that showcases bass technique. If you want, I have a recording of my solo I could post for you.
    JLY and capnsandwich like this.
  4. Yeah, post away! I'd love to see what you do.
    Icemanaroonie likes this.
  5. Icemanaroonie


    Sep 6, 2015
    This is the first time I played it live, it wasn't even in the set that night, but as you can hear the crowd wanted another song. The solo ends on the first chord of the next song. Feel free to ignore the small flub at the start :p

    Technicality and capnsandwich like this.
  6. If they want you to solo, how about playing the tune? Twenty four to thirty six bars of the tune - above the 12th fret should do it.
  7. I generally have a style similar to Tony Grey or Matthew Garrison, though not quite to their level but not far off, and I do a lot of fast runs and quick scales. I'd post a video if I had any but I really don't. Well, I do but it's a video of my daughter dancing and I'm just playing around with a little slap bass in the background while my daughter's grooving to it (it's really cute since she was only a year old) but other than that, there's only the stuff on my Soundcloud page. Definitely listening to Tal Wilkenfeld and Victor Wooten but I'll have to pick up some more Marcus Miller stuff. I've only listened to a few of his songs other than stuff he's been a side man on.

    You know, if you wouldn't have told me about that flubbed note, I would've never noticed but since you pointed it out, it was the first thing I listened for. lol Anyway, good stuff bro! I need to get that 2 hand tapping stuff down. Never tried that.

    I do play the melody lines sometimes but even that gets old. They want me to really stick out and be like a side attraction, kinda like our guitarist and drummer are since they're both very good players, and they want me to be at their level except on bass. Our guitarist is a reincarnation of Stevie Ray Vaughn and he's only 22 and our drummer was a touring drummer for several bands back in the late 80's/early 90's and now just does local gigs and session work. So, it looks like I have my work cut out for me. lol
    Icemanaroonie likes this.
  8. enricogaletta


    May 21, 2011
    There are so many scenarios to make a bass "solo" even if most of the people today think only about improvising ideas just as other jazz players, well first of all think about the main features about a solo, dynamics with several playing style (finger, slap, mute bass, tapping) rhythm ideas (groove & rest), melodic or any other phrase lines (scales, arpeggios, intervals), tone (creating particular magic with the right effect tool).
    So just think about what your strongest features are, try to improve what you're missing and listen several music style.
    Not all players are virtuoso style but, some of them made history with their own idea of solo, no matter what kind of music style they are. It's just a moment to express your emotion and not only impress ;-)
    I hope this helps. Cheers.
    capnsandwich and Icemanaroonie like this.
  9. I like how you said it's just a moment to express emotion, not only to impress. Kinda puts things in perspective for me. I think I look at some of these guys with chops coming out of their pores and think to myself, "I've got to get to that level!" To be honest, I think what I really need to do is to quit thinking about getting to a level and think about better ways of making the instrument an appendage of me for communicating with the audience what's inside me. Makes total sense, Enrico! Thanks for posting!
  10. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    I use arpeggios sometimes using the triads in a circle of 4ths or 5ths adding flatted 9ths and minor 3rds.

    key of G for instance: G-D-A-Em-Bm-F#dim. You can go up and back a bit and back up, work your way around the neck. When you find something interesting, play with it for a while.
    capnsandwich likes this.
  11. enricogaletta


    May 21, 2011
    Glad this helps you :) and I perfectly agree with your thoughts. Thinking in that way make you easily reach your own style and distinct bass voice. It's good be inspired from other players and have some favorite hero that can lead us to learn new concepts but the main idea of all of this is keep improving and reach new goals without forget what we can and want express on bass ;).
    If you need further help just let me know.
    capnsandwich likes this.
  12. Murdoc_420


    Jan 20, 2016
    Well, a Gene Simmons solo is running around spitting blood and wanking on all the strings once every 25 seconds.

    Someone posted a video here recently where the bass solo was everyone else laying back while he walked forward playing the same riff, but slappy poppy instead of fingerstyle.

    Running through scales and walking around the neck some could work.

    That girl (in video) above kicks in some octave during one of her solos.

    Billy Sheenan runs all over like a madman.

    Les Claypool solos the entire time.

    Wooten gets all finger tappy.

    Maybe using a looper could help get some extra action in, you could loop the last couple bars before the band drops out, then kick in some effect you don't use for anything else and play over you line more creatively.
    capnsandwich likes this.
  13. Oldschool94


    Jan 9, 2015
    Do you know your bebop scales? I'm not asking because I think you ought to play bebop – I don't. But the point of bebop scales is the chord tones land on the downbeat, so you get the sound of the chords, but you are playing linearly or in a scalar fashion, so there's a lot of excitement generated by the unexpected tension. It also helps you sound more mature and musical than just running up and down regular scales.

    Here's an example of a bebop scale over a Cmaj chord:

    C - D - E - F - G - G# - A - B - C, and backdown C - B - A - Ab - G - F - E - D - C. Now the point of this scale is if you play it in 8th notes starting on beat one, only chord tones of Cmaj will land on downbeats. This is because the bebop scale adds one extra note to the C major scale to make sure this will happen.

    Like this: the chord tones of Cmaj are C - E - G. Going up the scale you get C on 1 and G on 3. You also get E on 2 and A on 4.

    Other bebop scales include Cmin (presuming a dorian mode): C - D - D# - E - F - G - A - Bb - C
    C7: C - D - E - F - G - A - A# - B - C

    But the point of the bebop scales is you get the sound of chords made clear because the chord tones land on the downbeats 1 and 3, while also getting the sound of scales because the line moves in 1/2 and whole steps.

    More advanced bebop players would take advantage of this principal to rhythmically displace the chords, playing the final chord tone a beat early or late to surprise the listener.

    This principal of combing sounds, chord / scale for one example, creates excitement and complexity to music. I would think about practicing this, or other combined sounds to come up with solo ideas. Bebop scales may or may not be very applicable to the music you are playing depending on how the harmony operates.

    Apologies if you already knew all this.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
    capnsandwich and Murdoc_420 like this.
  14. A lot of good info here! Thanks again, folks. Taking it all in and going over everything I know and seeing if what I know matches what I read. If not, then I'd better learn it. Bepop scales, I think I understand them but I never called them that. I've heard that term but never put 2 and 2 together. Now that you mentioned it, I looked it up and yes, I do that as a feel thing when I'm flowing in a solo from 1 measure to the next. I've always just called a chromatic walk up or walk down in a scale and playing "jazzy." I usually use my ear when that's necessary, never really play bepop in any of my bands but I find that type of scale can be used in several other types of music and feel just fine.
    Oldschool94 likes this.
  15. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Start with the melody and work off that for ideas.
    capnsandwich likes this.
  16. flojob

    flojob Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2011
    Hahaha hell yes!

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