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Basslines making up for lack of rhythm guitar

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by descendent22, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. descendent22


    Jul 29, 2015
    I'm currently in a rock/metal/alternative cover band, ranging from the 70's-90's music in those genres. Everything from Aerosmith,skynyrd and ZZ Top to ozzy and Dio , AC/DC and Judas Priest, to STP, Alice In Chains, and collective soul to name a few examples and many more. Anyway to get back on point it's just a 4 piece band with a singer, guitarist, drummer and bass with both me and the guitarist providing some vocals as well. My personal philosophy would also have a rhythm guitarist in the band as well especially when all the songs we cover have atleast 2 guitarist. On other hand my bandmates disagree do to a sacrifice of $$ when getting payed for gigs. Not something I agree upon and I would personally sacrifice some of my share to have another guitarist but that's not going to happen. With all that said my guitarist does a decent job with playing the rhythm and leads but it's one or the other at times and when doing licks, solos and leads the rhythm all relys on me. This was something new to me when I joined the band because I always played with a rhythm guitarist. It's really changed the way I play my bassline's rhythmically, and has really made me concentrate on staying on point with the rhythm that the rhythm guitar would normally be doing. Sometimes that means less is more type of thing and keeping the basslines simple or it can mean that I have to throw some extra thump and razzle dazzle in the basslines. No matter what I'm always locked in with the drummer and that's the most important thing.the basslines that I originally learn from the album versions and then converted to my bands cover versions often sometimes are a little different. I thinks pretty cool that my band doesn't just rely me playing the basslines but also making up for the rhythm guitar and adapting my basslines to being more rhythmatic. It wasn't hard or anything but it was defenitly a new adventure learning rhythm in a different way and it has only made me a better bassist. Anyone else relate to this or understand where I'm coming from?
  2. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    It's called a power trio, and in my opinion it works best when everyone can "meet in the middle" to cover the sonic space a rhythm guitarist would have filled, or to think about how to arrange songs so that the open space works for it rather than against it. I like the format. You also need to be critical about picking songs that work. I would never try to do Yes as a power trio (OK, maybe I would try Long Distance Runaround). But in general it frees you up to stretch out without needing to worry about stepping on each others' toes so much. The drummer can be a little more free with his cymbals, too.

    It really helps if the guitarist thinks about how to solo. That sense of a song "going empty" is usually because of guitarists who solo just like on the record as though they still had a rhythm guitar under them. They switch from chords to single-notes and it's obvious. Guitarists I've played with who understood the power trio format would solo more chordally, using double-stops and chords a lot more, or some delay or thicker reverb too, to fill the space.

    I've shared this video a bunch of times before, it's one of my favorite of my own playing, but it shows what I mean. Deep Purple was a five piece but the way we interacted with each other, I don't think anyone felt like it was lacking for a rhythm guitar.

    Whousedtoplay and swooch like this.
  3. Understand these comments come from a person that plays Praise music.

    We have a lead electric guitar and a rhythm guitar in the band. We just lost our rhythm guitarist (illness) and I do miss not having him with us, however, it has not affected my playing. My main focus is to lock with the drummer's kick drum and then on the slow ballad songs I may leave the rhythm to the drums and move to augmenting the lyric word with just one root note and nothing more until the next chord change. Not saying that is THE way, just what I do when trying to augment the lyric message of the song... Happens quite often for the prayer song.

    So to hitch hike on your message --- I really do not focus on the rhythm guitar - FWTW. Giving this a few moments of thought after the drums I end up focusing on the lead vocalist. I do this by, singing along under my breath, to the lyrics being sung. Again FWTW
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2017
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  4. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Everyone has to change their playing a little. As @hrodbert696 said, the guitarist has to play more than single note solos. As a bassist, you can play different lines, and do things like holding down the fifths and octaves to get the harmonics. A good drummer also can fill in space.
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  5. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Adding octaves, etc is good advice. Another thing to think about is tone.
    There's a lot more room for upper mids in your bass tone when you're only working with one guitar player.
    Consider changing your EQ, adding distortion, an octaver, chorus or even an 8 string bass. Not in every song of course, but each of those can fill up a lot of sonic space without drastic changes to the notes you're playing.
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    You don't even have to actually play the octaves and 5ths. Just fingering them with you fretting hand, and allowing the harmonics to ring, can really fatten your sound. I've done that both when there was no rhythm guitar/keyboard player, and for a simple fix to try to get more of a "keyboard bass" tone.
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  7. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    This is the key.
    I prefer a 3 piece as well. And it does take a bit more work to pull it off. Here is a sample from my trio:
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  8. ShadowImage

    ShadowImage Guest

    Jan 12, 2016
    Playing in a band without a rhythm guitarist I find a good octave pedal to be a must.
    As others have said, play more 5ths and octave chords. Diads are your friend here.
    Rather than riding the E string, you're going to want to travel up the fretboard more often so engaging a suboctave is really useful for not losing your low end.
  9. tfer


    Jan 1, 2014
    What the bassist does in a power trio is almost entirely dependent on how good the guitarist (and occasionally, the drummer) is.

    I'd consider both Van Halen and Rush trios. In VH, because of the sonic space that Eddie occupies, Michael Anthony holds down the bottom. In Rush, Alex Lifeson takes up far less space, and Geddy Lee is required to fill in the balance.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017
  10. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    May 3, 2009
    N.E Illinois
    Do what Dave Carpenter did for Allan Holdsworth.
    At 1:52 when Allan solos Dave does a few bass notes then adds double stops on top to outline the chord progressions.
    You could tap a double stop in the upper register.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2017
  11. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    I really like your video!

    I would say there are two distinct ways we can describe the bass-line interaction with the other rhythm group participants like the rhythm guitar.
    1. The rhythmic part of the bass-line doesn't have any rests (almost doesn't have!) and can be complete by itself.
    2. The bass-line is an integral part of the bands rhythmic pattern and is Not complete by itself.
    Let's simplify my comment.
    If the rhythmic part of my bass-line is based on the constant 8th's, 16th's riff, etc..., I would not worry too much about losing the rhythm guitar to the Solo guitar, especially if the guitarist is rhythmically emphasizing the rhythmic groove of the song. Yes, there's a spectral difference when the rhythm guitar leaves the Mid range and moves to the Higher range of the frequency spectrum but it could be adjusted with some effects.
    The Deep Purple bass-line , that constant riff smooths the rhythm guitar/solo guitar switch.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  12. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    I totally understand where your coming from. A lot of super fly technique bass players look down their noses on the simple lines of Dusty Hill, Cliff Williams, Ian Hill, Michael Anthony, as well as the many blues rock bass players who played in 3 or 4 piece bands with legend guitarist. What you experienced is a great thing that many bass players will never experience or understand. Your continued success will lead to more opportunity because of what you've experienced, and what you've learned. This will also carry over in the recording environment. What you see is the larger picture of playing bass. You see and hear and value the total outcome, not just your own bass lines. Congratulations.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  13. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    It's a "bug" of "guitarization"(!) of the bass-line, even "banjo-zation" of the bass-line.

    N.B. I'm NOT free of that "bug" also but I'm fighting that "infection" that is spread with some help of YouTube "virtual reality" with some flashy bright lights.

    Once again, I am one of those "infected" with that "guitarization" bug; therefore, my comment is aimed Primarily at MYSELF and NOT at THOUSANDS of wonderful bass players all over the world.
  14. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    I have always played in bands with just one guitar, so maybe I'm just used to it. But, I make adjustments to the tone (usually more grit and growl), EQ (heavy bass and high mids) and volume. Sometimes I will fill the space (during guitar solos) with fifths and octaves, for the most part, I stick to the original bass lines, unless absolutely necessary.

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