Bluegrass Bass Where do I go from here

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by BillyMac, Mar 10, 2005.

  1. BillyMac


    Mar 10, 2005
    I started playing the double bass just two years ago. I started out with a great teacher who was teaching me the classical and proper way to play. However, I really only wanted to play bluegrass and quickly learned chords and kind of dropped the Classical/proper techniques. Now I am very happy playing bluegrass but wish to fill in more of the notes than just playing 1&5 or 1353 Any suggesstions? Should I go back to formal lessson? I am playing alot at local jam sessions and learning from others. But the question is formal music lesson? Please advise as I do want to continue you bluegrass and maybe add a little jazz.
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Yup. You'll need both music lessons and probably a lot of touching up on your technique, based on your story.
  3. I have found that it is far easier to "fill in more of the notes" with proper technique.

    I play mostly bluegrass but take lessons from a jazz player. I don't take weekly or even monthly lessons. We get together 4-5 times per year for a 4 hour session. Between times, we are in contact via e-mail. Most of what he works with me on is jazz oriented.

    However, it has made me a far better bluegrass bassist, and when I say better, I don't mean able to play more notes-which I think actually detracts from the music. I believe I play better notes with far less effort.
  4. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Getting your left hand into a "classical" grip would be a great jump for you.

    As far as listening goes, I suggest getting some western swing cds from bands of the 30s and 40s. Bob Wills, Spade Cooley, Tex Ritter, etc. (There is a great company re-issuing 4 cd sets of various kinds of trad. American music. "Proper" is the name of the company. Very affordable; about $25 for a set. Better record stores carry them; Amazon probably has them, too. If you want to hear Bob Will's band at thier best, pick up the Tiffany Transcriptions. Incredible music!)

    My point is: western swing is a great bridge between bluegrass and jazz. I've learned more about hearing changes, playing a SOLID two or four beat, improvising, (and soloing) from this idiom than any other. The instrumentation is similar to bluegrass bands as well: steel guitar (dobro), fiddle, banjo, upright bass, mandolin, acoustic guitar, harmony singing.

    There are some great musicians of this era; Junior Banard (guitar) was using distortion and killer lines as soon as amps were available in the late 20s. Definitely worth adding to your cd collection!
  5. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Some of the older jazzy blues from the '20s to the '50s is also a good bridge.
  6. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Three practical hints, use them sparingly for best effect and for not getting your *ss fired by The Bluegrass Cops:

    • the Blues - you mention 3rds. Slur them from flat now and then. Get some flat 7s in there. Think a little honky tonk. Think Elvis.
    • passing tones - this is one of the main things a jazz approach brings to you. Using non-chord, non-scale tones to get from A to B.
    • the pentatonic gospel thang - the odd lick tastefully put together from this palette, and placed well in the tune, can really add to the emotional expression of the tune. High lonesome and its kissing cousins aren't just for singers and dobro players.
  7. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Well put, Damon...well put!
  8. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Thankee, Mike. It's something I feel strongly about. A lot of folks focus on the great soloing and fast tempos in bluegrass. For me it's always been about how the songs are so intensely joyful, or lonesome, or whatever colour of feeling is going on with the tune. In bluegrass, that colour is going to be pretty loud and that's part of the whole point and attraction. At least in my book it is. That's how I interpret "high lonesome".

    So we bluegrass bass-players don't do the solo thing on every tune the way practically everyone else does. We've got to find our satisfaction some other way...

    Another way to overcome the bored-with-my-parts blues is to start singing with the band. That'll get the boredom out fast.