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Bass Solo Inspirations?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by mrcbass, Nov 28, 2017.

  1. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Hi All,

    I'm playing with an original jazz/prog rock project and my band wants me to start being part of the solo rotation. That's not really my thing: in high school and college I was the bass trombone/tuba player in stage band; after that I was the rhythm guitar player, not the lead. I'm a "stick me in the shadows and let me work a groove" kind of guy. Both of my "lead" players are outstanding solists (I really don't understand why they want me in the mix) and I'm plenty content with being allowed to develop my own grooves and get more than my share of fills. I've been successfully waving them off for about 3 months, but they keep pressing and in the spirit of band harmony I'm working on developing some solo lines.

    I'm finding that I get stuck in a couple of "comfortable" patterns and when I look for other bassists for inspiration, I find that their solos are either "meh" or "are you freakin' kidding me!" - not much in between. I already got "meh" in the pocket and the other end of the spectrum is so far over my head that I can barely relate, let alone begin to pick things out to emulate. I haven't got the slap thing down yet (kind of sort of playing with it) and I'm no speed demon.

    Anybody have any examples of solid bass solos that are fun, yet not cliché or crazy pyrotechnics? I'm not looking for solos to poach, just some inspiration to help me develop my own.

    Thanks for your suggestions
  2. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    I'm not envisioning exactly what you are doing with an original "jazz/prog rock project." But I would advise you to go (1) simple, (2) melodic, (3) with feeling. So many bassists get too into trying to "wow" everyone with a solo that says nothing. I'm not sure if it's the musical direction you're heading, but Geddy Lee has some nice simple, melodic solos with feeling. Just off the Moving Pictures album, you have his short solos at the end of "Red Barchetta," "Witch Hunt," and "Vital Signs" that come to mind. If you are looking for something in a jazzier direction, Paul Chamber's solo on "Blues by Five" off the Miles Davis Cookin' album comes to mind.
  3. MCS4


    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    I wouldn't even focus on bass solos. Maybe just pick a few of your favorite soloists (on any instrument) and try to pick out some ideas based upon what your like about their playing. You can play a melodic solo on bass as well as on any other instrument, and there's no reason why it would need to include "bass techniques" like slap and so forth unless those things inspire you. In the rare occasions when I write or play a solo it tends to sound more like a relatively simple but melodic electric guitar solo.
    Passinwind and lz4005 like this.
  4. tfer


    Jan 1, 2014
    Study melodies. I’ve found the most useful are saxophone lines.
    Passinwind likes this.
  5. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    Soloing on the bass is very much like soloing on the guitar. Playing riffs and fills is part of the melody in some ways, and it almost always holds the grove and adds to it. But if you're talking soloing like full on feature parts, then playing the bass like a guitar is the way to do it. Almost all the virtuoso bass players that do solos do it just like a guitar. All the techniques are about the same. The way I learned to solo on guitar was to play note for note solos from Santana, Clapton, SRV, and a lot of the blues players. Once you analyze and get into the feel of what those artists did to get their expression/phrasing on, then you can bust out your own solos from the stuff you've taken from the greats.

    To Solo you'll need to be in a mindset of a blues guitarist. Blues is where you can start. Blues opens up a lot of soloing opportunities. It invites one to step up and throw down some licks. It's structure is easy to follow, and the major chords lend themselves to soloing over the top. It's an emotional style of music that allows anyone on any instrument to express their talent with their instrument. And, once you've developed the mojo needed to solo, you can inject your solos in any style of modern music. That's because the Blues DNA can be found in just about any style of modern music. When you trace the roots of modern music you'll find it started with the blues.

    So, That's my take on how to get into soloing. Do it like a guitarist would, and play the bass like a guitar.
  6. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Check out anything by Stomu Takeshi, or Jerome Harris.
    Also, search youtube for Anthony Jackson's solo on Steve Kahn's "The Suitcase" or Hiromi's "Water Ways Flow Backward Again".
    Tom Fowler takes a clever non-clichéd solo in the middle of a Frank Zappa 1973 (?) concert video that's also somewhere on youtube, where he makes thematic use of the creaking of the chair he's sitting in. Might be one of the Stockholm concerts?
  7. Welcome to the Forbidden Zone for bass players, taking a solo. I do understand where you are coming from, being a former groove player that was always enough until I started playing in smaller groups and more instrumental and jazz, then I wanted to be able to solo too. I take inspiration from bass players and also from other instruments and have put a lot of study into soloing. But fear not the better a soloist I became the better and more responsive and creative a bass played did I become, verily I say unto you.

    On bass I really like Jimmy Johnson especially with Allan Holdsworth, Stanley Clarke solo and with RTF, Ralphe Armstrong with Jean Luc Ponty especially for his use of effects, Percy Jones with Brand X, Jeff Berlin for his lyricism and Steve Swallow. I also listened to a lot of upright players Ray Brown, Ron Carter, NHOP.

    On guitar I had a lot of inspiration Hendrix, Kazumi Watanabe, Allan Holdsworth, John Scofield, BB King, SRV, John Mclaughlin. On other instruments there were so many inspirations Chick Corea, Miles, Cannonball Adderly, Oliver Nelson. Oliver Nelson's solo on "Stolen Moments" is what opened up the door for me to all the possibilities for harnmony and melody.

    When I reached the eventual brick wall I studied at first with an advanced upright bassist and later with two excellent saxophone players that really challenged me to be lyrical.
    juggahnaught likes this.

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