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been forced to learn something in a matter of seconds?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by g.roy, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. g.roy


    Jan 11, 2008
    i was doing a gig once with a band i was in. before hand we had been drinking fairly heavily. it came to our last song of the set, which also happened to be the fastest. due to the influx of alcohol, my guitarist started the song much faster than we usually play it, the drummer was perfectly able to keep up, but as a finger picker i kept missing notes as i just couldn't move my damn fingers fast enough, which obviously made the song sound awful. the only thing i could do was to start picking with my ring finger as well, which i had never done before. but due to the pressure on me i managed to pull it off and kept in time. i'm glad it happened now though as it means i can play with more dexterity.

    any similar experiences?
  2. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I learned that I couldn't take Charley Chambers in a fair fight back around '78 or '79. Funny how perceptions can change in the blink of an eye like that...........
  3. need4mospd


    Dec 22, 2005
    I played an entire 4 set gig without knowing a single song beforehand. No sheet music, no chord charts. Sure they were all easy 3 chord songs, but it was still pretty challenging.
  4. been forced to learn something in a matter of seconds?

    Alot of jazz gigs can be this way!:D
  5. chroma601


    Feb 16, 2007
    Sylva, NC
    Wow, that's tough! We have to supply the bottom, which is tough if we don't know the chords! At least most times when I had to play things out of nowhere, I was given a chart.
  6. Welcome to the reality of the gigging bassplayer

    As i posted over in another thread, this is commonplace in jazz where you either sink or swim.

    You want gigs?...you learn to swim

    I did a recent gig with a guest hornplayer who called a tune that i'd never heard before

    Anyway... I asked her if she could give me an idea of how it went ( as we all know, everyone expects bassplayers to be psychic and just 'know' how a tune goes...so you often have to ask!)

    Her reply was 'blues in F'....I waited for the drummer to count in (up tempo) and hit it.

    At the end of the tune she turned around and said 'I really enjoyed the way you played on that': In reality, I played no differently than I would play on any up tempo blues but i suspect that shes never really played with a half decent bassist before. This was the exception. Most people wont offer compliments...they just expect you to do your job as a bassist, which is fair enough. If you want smoke blown up your arse...play guitar.

    My point is, that if you are well prepared, you can get yourself through most situations that you find yourself in. But you will be expected to cover any situation that arises.

    PS...I refuse to play with other musicians who drink on gigs to the point where it affects their playing. That kind of behaviour is completely unprofessional and if you are serious about your music.... you dont need it either
  7. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    I've been loose from drinking before at practice and been able to pull off amazing techniques that I didn't even know I had - crazy fills, slap techniques, and serious runs on the fretboard. Even on the recordings when I listened to it the next day sober it still sounded amazing...

    Then when we get to the next practice, it's like, "okay, do it again!" and I simply couldn't - I just wasn't as loose as I was when I was half-smashed.

    *I'm not condoning playing and alcohol, because as loose as you may feel, it will certainly turn against you in the long run!!!
  8. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    I've done that a bit myself. THIS is why I recommend a bassist learning a little guitar. The only reason I could pull this off, I knew my basic guitar chords and could watch the guitarist's hand and play along. A little behind the beat, but I tried to make it sound on purpose. :D
  9. Heck, I've lost count of how many sub gigs I've done that were just like this.


    Part of being a "gigging musician".
  10. GabeN


    Feb 27, 2006
    Chugiak, AK
    I was asked to stand in for this band who's bassist was on vacation. I was given a list of songs that they wanted me to learn but when I showed up, they didn't play a single song on that list. At practice I had to learn every single song that they played on the spot. I did a fairly good job of it but I refuse to go back and play with them again.
  11. Are you suggesting that you have to look at a guitarists left hand to figure out what chord he is playing?

    I have a simpler approach. Develop your ears... that we you can even have your eyes shut and STILL know what chord the guitarist is playing.

    Honestly if you have to rely on looking at a guitarists hand to figure out what chords hes playing, your ear still isnt developed sufficiently for you to be able to handle an improvisational situation.

    This is not meant as a personal criticism, but suggesting that a bassist needs to learn guitar to appreciate chords is, in my opinion,missing the point....develop your ear....you'll be set
  12. g.roy


    Jan 11, 2008
    yeah mate, that's fine. but if you don't know where the song is going i.e there may be a weird chord that you're not expecting then you have to watch the guitarist. it's all good. man, if you reckon you can just play any song by ear then you are not a bass player. you are just a cocky **** and i wouldn't want to play in a band with someeone like that.
  13. The hand starts to move before the chord is played....this gives the bassist who is following the guitarist a chance to actually be on time, and not behind the beat. Developing your ear is great, and can lead to your anticipating the chord change based on familiar song structures, but it is also good to be able to watch the guitarist and follow along. IMHO it leads to a quicker change.
  14. Slax


    Nov 5, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    Not to be a jerk, but two of my friends have perfect pitch and can play almost anything on the fly with only hearing the song once... Some people do have that talent / ability, it doesn't have anything to do with being a "cocky ****". I just comes natural to them. (Though I know, coming from someone who doesn't, how annoying and jealous causing this situation is. :))
  15. There have been several times that there's been a song on the set list that I've never even heard of before...lead/trail notes are my best friends in those instances.
  16. Other than Jazz arrangements (where i read charts until i learn the tune) I learn and play nearly everything by ear .

    Otherwise....How does playing by ear NOT make me a bassplayer ??

    Ive used this approach since...well ....since i started playing in the early eighties and the fact that my gig diary is booked solid for the next three months attests to the fact that developing an ear as a bass player WORKS...I get gigs

    I can assure you...i am not cocky and the fact that you wouldnt want to play in a band with me doesnt disappoint me in the slightest...
  17. Read: Jazz :p

    Also i play a bit of metal and rock here and there, subbing for my mates thrash band last Sat, the singer says "We have one more song...fluffy!" turns to the band "Suprise motherf*ckers!", I say to the rhythem guitarist "You guys haven't taught me that" he says "I know." And they start the song. Thankfully it was a pretty basic song, but still.
  18. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Cover bands can be known for this. A few guys in the band know a tune and you dont ..they say its easy we'll count it off you will catch on just come in :rolleyes:

    I did this on stage one night we had like a 20 second go thru before the sound check. The guitarist says "yep sounds good we will do it. Latter in the show he calls it out (song) the band never played it before. The song went well...go figure.
  19. not_jason


    Aug 4, 2004
    I've done a few improv jams at the local open mic where I've had to play songs I'm entirely unfamiliar with. Usually I lay low in the mix until I get a feel for what's happening, at which point I put myself forward and just try and keep things held down, all the while making sure I don't miss anything important. This one time I played in a pick up band where they just assumed I knew a Hendrix song, and hopefully they still assumed I did after the set as well.

    In my opinion, the ear is of primary importance. Watching a guitar player can be handy, but it can also get you into trouble. I know how to play guitar, and I know what chords look like, but once your guitar player abandons standard barre chords, you might not be able to identify what he's doing by the shape of his hand alone. If he's playing inversions or something, it's no longer just an issue of doubling the lowest note he's fretting. You need to have an ear for the overall tonality of it if you're going to be able to put a suitable bass line underneath it.

    Kind of on the subject, whenever I break an important string mid song, rearranging my playing to accommodate can feel like a superhuman act of heroism.
  20. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    Walked into a bar and was handed a bass the other day and then told to play Blackheart Man by Barrington Levy. I know the song well, but I had never played it. The bassplayer, who knows me, wanted to sing on it and happened to see me. He just points and says D and G. And we were off. I went home and listened to the song and I played it exactly like the recording. I was actually pretty proud of myself.

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