Bass playing in a 3 piece & Joe Satriani

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Rockin John, Dec 3, 2001.

  1. Our guitarist lent me a copy of the Satriani band, double CD, "Time Machine", saying that IHHO the bass player's work represented THE way to play bass in a 3 piece rock band.

    The first CD is done in the studio and variously features Stu Hamm, Matt Bissonette and Satriani on bass. The live CD features Bissonette and Hamm.

    I wonder if anyone has comments on the above.

    Obviously there is no correct way to play bass in a band of any size and/or style. However is there an opinion please about styles and types of playing that give "drive" to a 3 piece rock band...errr, if that makes sense?:D

  2. It depends--Satriani uses a lot of overdubbed guitars in the studio, so it's not really a "power trio" recording.

    The real way to play bass in a trio, IMO, is the way Jack Bruce did it with Cream. Naturally, though, this requires an intimate knowledge of harmony and counterpoint--which Bruce just happened to acquire through his classical and jazz studies.
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    "Time Machine" isn't a bad example, but too often Hamm and Bissonette are simply buried in the mix. If you want to hear a great Satch trio outing, get "Crystal Planet". Hamm's doing some great groove work there, and you can actually hear him. Nothing he plays is as complex as his solo material, but it complements Satch's work nicely.

    As you've said, there isn't really any one way to do it. A lot depends on how much sonic room you have to maneuver. With Satch (and Campitelli), you don't really have much; everyone else is playing too many notes. Sometimes sparseness is an asset, too; look at the Police.

    The busy approach works well in some instances. Check out Niacin or Robben Ford & Blue Lineto see how the bass players there fill out the sound. They're doing more than just playing roots.
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Amen, bro.
  5. I agree. I cited Bruce first in my 'influences' for that very reason. Bruce powers Cream perfectly.

    But what about the style of Jones, Led Zep? The best rock bassist ever IMHO. Jones' work was rather more stylish and ornate (?) than Bruce's yet the result was equally impressive. Or am I confusing myself by trying to compare bass players from, in effect, two different eras or different styles at least?

    I wonder if anyone would like to attempt some musical comparison of the two players for me: I'd appreciate that.:D :D

    I have to be honest, I really can't hear the bass in the Satriani stuff I mentioned. And I'll try to get the others you mention, Christopher.

  6. I think comparing JPJ and Bruce, at least in the studio is very much apples and oranges.

    Led Zeppelin may have had a guitar-bass-drums format, but Page's use of as many as 5 or 6 overdubbed guitar tracks on a tune, as well as Bonham's huge drum sound, didn't leave much room for JPJ to maneuver. JPJ stretches out on Zep's live stuff, though: the BBC Sessions album has some astounding work that is as detailed as anything Jack Bruce or John Entwistle ever did, but with his characteristic elegance.

    Cream, on the other hand, had a very sparse sound: Clapton would often double-track, and Wheels of Fire has some very overproduced tunes, but for the most part Bruce was free to cut loose. The simplicity of his line on "Sunshine of Your Love" is very much atypical; the countermelody he plays in "Tales of Brave Ulysses" is perhaps the definitive JB line.

    BTW, I'm going to be seeing JPJ tonight, opening for King Crimson. It will be interesting to see his approach in a true power trio context, although Nick Beggs' Stick and keyboards will add a bit more detail in what is normally the guitar's register.
  7. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Let's not also forget, Jack usually played his own bass runs underneath Clapton's chords/solos. It was just the way the songs were setupt. Besides some select tunes, such as Sunshine of Your Love and SWLABR, the must wasn't "riff" oriented. That's what made Zepplin different. The songs were based more around Jimmy playing patterns that were the basis of the songs. (I.e. Out on the Tiles, Whole Lot of Love, Black dog Ect.) I think if JPJ started playing his own little runs underneath what Jimmy was playing, it would clash. So he doubled Jimmy's lines. People don't realize how revolutionary Zepplin was for doing something so simple as the bass doubing the guitarist lines. Though I doubt they were the first to do it, they were the ones who made it popular.

    p.s. Some of the best classic rock/blues bass playing has to be the "The Lemon Song".
  8. the last (****ty in retrospect) band i was in was a three-piece (guitar/bass/drums) instrumentally with two singer/ultility persons fronting it (i.e. they occasionally played a little synth, or percussion, or blues harp). despite the synth, a lot of the songs still depended on the guitar/bass/drums format.

    i had a few different stomp boxes in my setup, the most i ever had in my career, almost a dream setup (usually have them handy anyway), so there were times when i would use a particular stomp box to fill out the sound. on pat benetar's "hit me with your best shot" in the breakdown section before the final chorus where the bass lays out, i had to play the rhythm guitar part on the top strings using double stops , and i used an ibanez tube screamer to help give the impression of a guitar. cheap trick's "i want you to want me" was in the set and i used a digitech whammy 2 set on octave up/octave down for that song to simulate an eight-string bass. since the bass version of the whammy 2 wasn't available (or in stock, apparently) then, i used the guitar model, which still worked but not past the low a-flat on the e string, so i manipulated both the bassline and the pedal around the settings.

    basically, the double stops via fuzz pedal and the whammy 2 became my two preferred tricks for filling out the sound in those particular situations.

    in a previous band that was also a power trio with a vocalist, we had covered david gilmour's "all lovers are deranged", and for that song, i would borrow the guitarist's flanger (which he only used for one song in a different set) and play the bass through it in lieu of the song's b3 organ part.

    (i also had an ibanez auto filter and digital delay but i can't remember how i used those outside of making some noise along with the whammy at the end of the last song of the last set...)