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Approach to Playing Style

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by mcgraham, Nov 10, 2005.


  1. mcgraham

    mcgraham

    Feb 21, 2004
    Coventry, UK
    Hi there,

    This question has been partially covered earlier in a previous thread ('Help, I need to learn to utilise more than 2 fingers..' don't quote me on that!) and answered some of my queries, however I would like to ask a question more aimed at discussion than a clear cut yes or no answer.

    When playing the bass I find my ear is drawn more to chordal playing than linear playing. For instance I absolutely love what DiPiazza is doing with the instrument (of course you guys too) but on a personal level I really connect with that particular style/element of playing. I have been using Matt Garrison's technique for the last few months with good success and finding it lends itself extremely well towards the chordal style of playing.

    My question is, what led you to using your particular style of playing? Did you find that your ear was more 'interested' in linear playing and two fingers lent itself well to that? More to left hand; did you find you preferred a smoother sound and switched to fretless (or heavy legato use) etc etc

    (Disclaimer: I don't mean that any style is less valid than another nor that any style should or should not/does or does not use a certain technique, it's all in the interest of discussion)

    Thanks for your time and thanks for reading!
    Take care and God bless,

    Mark G
     
  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Mark,

    good question! I find myself changing right hand technique so often, that I guess my answer to that is variety and control - I'm always looking to broaden the range of sounds and articulations that I can get from the instrument, and also exert deeper control over whatever aspect of playing I'm working on at that time. So switching from playing with two fingers in strict alteration to picking with my thumb and two fingers, or just my thumb, or using my finger nails, or picking nearer the neck, or whatever is all about gain greater control over my sound and broadening the possible range of sounds.

    I'm amazed at how many bassist stick with one basic tone for 99% of their playing. I went to see Armand Sabal Lecco give a clinic the other night, and it was so refreshing to see a player really exploiting the tonal possibilities of his instrument in such an expanded way - he used a huge range of picking, slapping, twanging and strumming techniques, as well as a very wide range of dynamics, to play all manner of great music on a four string unprocessed jazz bass.

    Which reminds me - for me, the processing that I do is all part of the instrument and all part of that same process of broadening the possibilities and exerting extra control over the end result.

    hope that helps,

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
     
  3. mcgraham

    mcgraham

    Feb 21, 2004
    Coventry, UK
    Thanks for your reply Steve! It's great to hear about your mindset towards playing, and it definitely shows through your playing. Your 'Grace and Gratitude' (both piece and album) is a perfect example. It's often easy to forget that dynamics, expression and just basic rests are equally as important as the note(s) we play.

    Again, I definitely agree that there are a large number of bassists (lets not be biased, a large number of musicians) that have little to no variation on their tone on almost everything they play. I won't dispute that if nearly everything a given musician is required/choosing to play demands that one sound, then it's reasonable to do so. However there's always room for tonal variation, IMHO.

    I have to be honest, heavy processing is not my bag, at least with regards to the sound in my own head (getting there!). Processing does open up a whole new world of tonal possibilities (as you and Michael have so expertly demonstrated) and with technology advancing at a rate of knots, seems virtually limitless!

    Looking at your setup, I have to ask, what is it about flatwounds that made them so appealing to you?
    I do like a good set of flats, however bizarrely enough its the feel of roundwounds that I like, hence my strings are more than a little old ;)

    Thanks for your time Steve!
    Take care and God bless,

    Mark
     
  4. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Thanks! Really glad you're enjoying the music. :)

    I like just about everything about flats - I like the fact that in a band, I end up turning my bass up a lot louder because they don't tend to produce overtones that are in the same register as everyone else, I like the fact that the narrower band of the frequency response on any one note makes them idea for looping and layering, I love the feel of them, and I like the fact that it's pretty easy to make my bass sound like a jazz guitar. And when I hear fretless bass in my head it doesn't have that roundwound nasally sound - I love listening to that in other poeple's playing (early Jaco, Michael, Jimmy Haslip etc.) but it's just not what I hear. The sound I'm generally looking for is that sound I get from the flats on my 6 string Modulus.

    :)

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
    www.recyclecollective.com
    www.myspace.com/solobassstevelawson
     
  5. jeff schmidt

    jeff schmidt no longer red carded, but my butt is still sore.

    Aug 27, 2004
    Novato, CA

    uhhh! :eek: You said the dredded "G" word on talkbass. Can't you get banned for that? :D
     
  6. Shearstown

    Shearstown

    Oct 15, 2005
    I've been very attracted to chordal playing over the past little while and I find it's one of the things I've exceled at.
     
  7. mcgraham

    mcgraham

    Feb 21, 2004
    Coventry, UK
    Agreed, flats rock.
    It really all is about the sound in your head. I was just thinking this morning how dull music would be if every musician around the world all had/used the same sound (with respect to their chosen instruments). Regardless of our own personal ideal sound it is great to hear these different (possibly radically different) tones.
    Of course for some bands/musicians I'm quite content to simply be aware that they have a different sound. I'm not especially willing to sit down and endure some sounds, endure being the operative word!

    I'm on the fence with regards which instrument I prefer playing, fretless or fretted. Not that it matters really, but just for discussions sake :p I find that the smooth attack and clean sound from fretted is just what I'm after, however the feel and expression available on a fretless is just a thing of beauty. Good thing I play both really!

    Take care and God bless,

    Mark

    P.S. Steve, glad to know that you've got your tone 'nailed' in your Modulus, it is definitely sweet!