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Classic Bass Lines

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Ash Jazz, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. Hello,

    I'm a recovering guitarist! I've been playing bass for many years but am usually criticized for playing bass like a guitarist. This is probably true but I've really been getting into the bass in a big way and want to approach it with a lot more intensity.

    I've decided I need to learn from the masters. To get the ball rolling this weekend I worked out the bass lines for "Being for the Bennefit of Mr Kite" and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" Beatles, and "I Want You Back", Jackson Five.

    What bass lines do you consider to be classics and must learn tunes?
  2. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    Well, if you're thinking Beatles, don't forget "Lady Madonna", "Daytripper", "Something" or "A Little Help from My Friends". Not as well known but from that same era, Sugarloaf's "Green Eyed Lady" was always a favorite. Just about anything James Jamerson touched would be close to if not classic, so check out the book, "Standing in the Shadows of Motown". Chuck Rainey's work on Steely Dan's "Aja" album is totally worth the time.
  3. Thanks Chuck, I'll check those out. James Jamerson, great recommendation!
  4. Black sabbaths NIB, cream"s sjnshine of your love to name a few
  5. Hi MazingerZ,

    I do know Sunshine, it is the definitive jam tune!

    Wow, I haven't listened to NIB in many years. I owned the album back in the days people had albums....and wore animal pelts. I don't know if I still have it. I don't know if I still have a turntable! I'll have to Amazon it.

    Thanks for the recommendations!
  6. Not much action on this thread...but so far I've worked out the bass to "Being for the Bennefit of Mr Kite" and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" Beatles, and "I Want You Back", Jackson Five, "Something" Beatles, "Sir Duke" Stevie Wonder.

    So far the most difficult has been the Jackson Five tune because of how fast it is.
  7. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    Anything off of Zeppelin I should be a good mix of 'classic' bass playing and guitar style fingerboard exploration.

    The key is knowing how to serve the song, when to wank and when to hold back and lay down the groove. One's ears and brain are more important than any technical ability.

    Good luck!
  8. Jefff


    Aug 14, 2013
    Jamerson on Marvin Gaye's "what's going on"
  9. bass_case

    bass_case Maintain low tones. Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2013
    Miami, FL
    +1 for the Zep. John Paul Jones with John Bonham, listen and learn. Plenty of classic lines, plus two guys who played together well.
  10. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    Any Black Sabbath/Geezer Butler tunes are great.
  11. FerK

    FerK Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2011
    For easier Led Zep I'd suggest "What is and what should never be" and "Ramble on". Another good fun tune would be Stevie Wonder's "Superstition", or "Sir Duke" (if you think you can nail the rather fast-ish bridge section, playing unison to the brass).
  12. Love all the suggestions, here are some others:

    Just about any James Brown
    Good Times - Chic (Bernard Edwards)
    Pick Up the Pieces + School Boy Crush - AWB
    ABC - Jackson 5 (I like tuning down 1/2 step for this, gives you some open string options)
    I Wish- Stevie Wonder
    Girls Go Wild (the whole album) - Fabulous Thunderbirds
    Just about any SRV, but I will single out Say What because of the way Shannon is able to keep making variations on the patterns he is playing over such a straight forward progression.
    If you want to learn how to play bare bones simple, yet still kill it, how about seem old AC/DC? R&R Damnation, Live Wire, Ride On, Sin City...just lock in and hang on the roots! Change it up with Squealer.
    Oh, how about some Skynyrd? I'm not really much of a fan, but Leon Wilkeson could play his butt off, but always like a bassist, not a guitar player playing bass.

    I could go on......
  13. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    In Addition to Jamerson and John Paul Jones, do not neglect Duck Dunn's work (classic Staxx recordings or just watch the Blues Brothers). Dunn is meat and potatoes next to Jamerson's 10 course meal, both have a lot to teach.
  14. bass_case

    bass_case Maintain low tones. Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2013
    Miami, FL
    Learn the bass lines from some James Brown tunes. Can't go wrong with Bootsy, Tim Drummond et al. Note how the bass, drums and guitar form a flawless foundation of funk.
  15. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    All good suggestions so far.

    BUT. As you yourself said that you are "usually criticized for playing bass like a guitarist", i'm going to suggest Donald 'duck' dunn, ie anything off of stax. Simple, meaty parts. Not overly complicated, but rocking/grooving as all heck.

    What people generally mean when they say you play bass like a guitarist is that you're too focused on making a cool line, and aren't necessarily playing to the song. A true bassist can rock root-fifth lines all night long, and make is sound GOOD (and have fun doing it). I'm not trying to be mean, and I've never heard you play, but this is what I mean when I say this. Hopefully this helps :)
  16. I couldn't agree more jefkritz. I play a lot of root-fifth country, and just staying in the pocket with that and a few runs here and there is all a lot of songs call for, and it sounds good that way! As far as Duck Dunn...pretty much anything off the Blues Brothers soundtrack is gold....Soul Man obviously and I'm working on She Caught the Katy as I write this. That one is challenging (to me at least), but it has groove for days!
  17. aggrokragg


    Dec 18, 2013
    One I've been working on recently is "Master Blaster" by Stevie Wonder. Not overly complex, but it sounds really cool and has a fun groove to it. Plus, octave practice!
  18. lexington125


    Sep 11, 2013
    hollywood, baby......
    someday I will find 4 or 5 other guys who want to play the blues the way it was played before it became all about guitar heroics
    what JEFKRITZ said +1
    forget the guys who are considered the "lead bass" players; focus on the guys who can get an entire auditorium jumping up and down like it was a tiny basement nightclub

    and there is NO better place to start than the Stax archives and anything/everything D3 played on (Donald Duck Dunn)

    Booker T & the MGs (Stax house band) grooved harder on their worst night than most bands could ever dream of. And solid pocket players can step out and get crazy with the best of them - the only difference is that the song doesn't suffer when guys like Dunn stretch out - the groove is always king. check this out for a couple of minutes of Duck rockin the house:
  19. Thank you for all the great suggestions!!!

    I am compiling a list right now. I really appreaciate your help!