Breaking the mold?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by KingRazor, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. There's one common trend I find among bass players within my favorite style of music: they double the guitars and are buried in the mix.

    Here are some examples:

    Saosin - Its Far Better to Learn - YouTube

    The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus - Face Down - YouTube

    That's my favorite style of music, and the type of music I'd like to play some day if/when I can start a band.

    What I don't like though is that I can hardly ever hear the bass, and when I can it's pretty boring. Just 8th or 16th note roots, usually doubling the guitars. I don't want to play like that.

    But I don't know what else I could play that would fit that style of music. I want whatever I'm playing to be distinct from the guitar parts.

    Any ideas?
  2. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Yorktown, VA
    Not all of Saosin is like that with the bass. If you like that style...what about The Sounds of Animals Fighting or Circa Survive? There's plenty of other examples similar with moving bass lines. I like Saosin for the guitars and vocals actually. The bass really supports them well.
  3. Honestly sometimes I feel like you could pull the bass out and Saosin would hardly sound any different. Even in the ones where you can hear it more clearly, it kind of just feels like an extra instrument, it doesn't seem to be on an equal level with the other instruments.

    I'm not really a fan of Circa Survive or Sounds of Animals Fighting. Not really a fan of Anthony Green in general. The only Saosin songs I like are the ones that Cove sings, and even then only the heavier ones like "It's Far Better To Learn", "Sleepers", and "Follow and Feel".
  4. Matthijs

    Matthijs Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2006
    You could try incorporating some parts of the singers melody in the bass part, find a middle between the melody and the guitars.
  5. Saosin and RJA are probably the worst bands to listen to if you're after some genuinely interesting (or audible) bass work. Their players are "barebones" players who stick with root notes and don't deviate from the same four chords. They're there to hold the backline...nothing more, nothing less. Hell, I don't think I've ever heard a memorable bassline in a post-hardcore song. Its just not the kind of music to put a spotlight on the bass.
  6. I know, and that's basically the point of this thread. Again, I'm not trying to make the bass a "lead" instrument in this case, I just want it to be important to the song, to really add something meaningful.

    I realize this is getting into arranging as much or even more than just playing, and that's ok with me, I'd like to know how to arrange the band to allow for a more "active" bass part.
  7. EggplantofDoom


    Sep 27, 2011
    To get a feel for it, try tossing in the harmonies and octaves of the root notes your playing. If you do this in every song obviously it gets repetitive, but if you start doing that you'll get a concept of what you have to do for the song.
    Also, just like a drum fill, you also can do a fill, it doesnt have to be anything impressive, just a few notes ascending or descending to the next root you'll go to in a song.

    I too have mused over this while playing in my band, it's just something you've got to get a feel for in order to find a good "not boring but not lead" balance.
    Consider yourself a completely different section of the mix, as you are all the lolw frequecies that no one else can hit.
  8. Any other ideas?
  9. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    You should hear me at rehearsal.

    Guitarist says: "What are you playing?"
    And they double it. My response is:

    "If you double what I'm doing, I'm out."

    "But I just want to learn what you are playing so I can figure out something else to do."

    I cautiously accept that approach.

    Doubling is the biggest waste of time for a bass player. Oddly, I've played in a Symphony orchestra for four years, and much of the pre-1850 repertoire is the DB doubling the 'cello. Hence the name double bass.

    As for advice, feel the groove, and fill in the spaces left by the guitarist. Hopefully there are some. Therein lies the rub. But you have hit upon a key element in why I play music: if all it takes for me to contribute to a band is to double the guitar part, then I'd rather stay home and pick up dog poop from my lawn. (I do have a dog, and I do pick up dog poop from time to time, so this is indeed a viable option - I'd just get better at it.)

    This skill (not related to dog poop) takes a long time to figure out. Learn where the spaces are in the guitar part. If there aren't any, then it's going to be tough. You may want to consider writing something that highlights interplay between the guitar and bass to get your point across.

    Best of luck; you're in a tough spot if the style you like is beholden to this convention.
  10. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Yorktown, VA
    Check out the Gospel album The Moon is a Dead World on Youtube. The whole album is there...sickest act I've I've had the pleasure to play with. It's like Isis/Opeth meets Drive Like Jehu. The bass player was a four finger right hand picker. Amazing! More screamo than post-hardcore, but it is what it is.

    Plus the drummer is an alien governed robotic time keeping psychopath from another parallel universe.
  11. Yeah, that's a little more on the right track.

    Here's another completely unrelated style where the bass is much more prominent:

  12. Listen to Chevelle :bassist:
  13. Oh man I hated this, in my last band my lead guitarist always wanted to double all my fills and harmonies. One of the things that really made writing on bass only a chore, I eventually just picked up a guitar and would outline what I wanted them to play just to stay off my bassline.

    @OP: Its your bassline, play it how you want it. If you write just let your bandmates know when your playing the main riff or playing off of the riff.

    And also, it ain't your style per say, but for some ideas, check out this song: Death - Nothing Is Everything Remastered (2011) - YouTube
    That song is one of my favorite examples of a bassist (Steve DiGiorgio) who's role is just as important, if not more so, than the guitars. Really great stuff.
  14. I know that, but I'm very inexperienced when it comes to writing my own basslines, so I was mostly looking for suggestions for what types of things I could play in this style of music.
  15. Alright, I want to thank everyone with the suggestions provided so far.

    Do you guys have any suggestions for some specific things that I can use as "guide posts" in this style of music? Scales or chord tones that you think may suit this style of music well?

    I'm not asking for anyone to tell me exactly what to play, but as I've said, I'm inexperienced with writing my own bass lines and I'd like some help getting on the right track.
  16. Anyone?
  17. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Yorktown, VA
    My experience is that the bass is defining the chordal progression of the songs while the guitars are noodling for this type of music. If everyone is noodling (sic) the music becomes very The Fall of Troy IMO.

    I would try to sit down and learn how to play a few songs that you consider to be good bass lines.

    At the drive in
    The Mars Volta
    Drive Like Jehu
    The Crownhate Ruin
    Hot Snakes
    Russian Circles
    Red Sparrows
    Coheed and Cambria

    I dunno...there is no magic formula I don't think. I usually just try to emulate.
  18. I love the Fall of Troy lol.

    I'll give that list a look.
  19. Sorry if my last post came off douchy, I wasn't intending it that way, but for me, the key to writing basslines to music is taking the time listening and visualizing what the bassline should sound like, in a way almost letting the song write the bassline, quite a few times before I even pick up my bass and play a note. I don't think of scales or anything, just getting a sense of what the song is calling for from the bass. Your ear is your most important tool.

    As for some scales, I'm not too hip on the bands your naming off, but some classic metal standby are:

    Natural Minor-Classic, used extensively in all styles

    Harmonic Minor-Often associated with neo-classical and the like, but very cool sounding

    Half-Diminished-Very eerie and sorta dissonant, but cool.

    Whole-Half/Half-Whole Diminished Scales- Like Half diminished, but even more so. A Death Metal staple.

    Phrygian- Almost like a Minor/Half Diminished hybrid, one of my favorites

    Whole Tone- Pretty weird but unique scale, kinda spacy/alien sounding but really cool used correctly.