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Country Bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by CAYAMusic, Apr 20, 2002.

  1. CAYAMusic


    Apr 20, 2002
    Canon City, Co
    Anyone know a good resource for basic country bass? Lessons/samples/runs/etc?
  2. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I don't know of any country bass resources, but just use your ears. I've been playing in a country band for five years now and can tell you the bass isn't that complicated. A lot of root/fifth lines with walkups between the chord changes, mixed with root/third/fifth and a lot of staying on the root, especially in ballads. There are some trickier parts, but these are the most common. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, get a good general music theory book. By root/fifth I mean if the chord is A, then A would be the root and E (either below or above) would be the fifth. You would alternate between these two notes. This is the standard old style country bass line. A lot of newer country is rock influenced and the bass lines in these are more rock style than country. As I said before, use your ears ! Listen and figure it out yourself, it is not that hard. Good luck...
    Sturg likes this.
  3. slade


    Apr 5, 2001
    Try to throw a 2 or 6 in as well- some of the passes I play most in my country band are runs starting on the 6 and playing the 5 3 and 2, in optional orders- give it a shot!
  4. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Use your ears...I agree. If you're really wanting to learn the standard forms and conventions of country, I'd definitely suggest that you go back and listen/learn some of the earlier traditional country stuff: Hank Williams Sr., Merle Haggard, George Jones, etc. or some newer stuff that follows these masters, like Dwight Yoakam, George Strait. Get a feel for what the "standard" country song does and it'll help you build a base to work from.

    Definitely put some work into learning the "Nashville Numbering System". That'll help you in lots of musical situations.
  5. theJello


    Apr 12, 2000
    Keith Rosier has a book called the lost art of country bass. It looks really good and I have heard good things about it. Probably would teach you everything you need to know.
  6. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    There are 2 rules to playing country bass lines:

    1. It's all about root - 5.
    2. Don't ever play a passing tone! No chromatic stuff or you'll get funny looks.

    Everything else is just fluff. :D
  7. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    Most of the new country is really pop music with a country flavor. While there are still plenty of root/fifth songs going on, more than half of the new stuff comeing out is much more complex than that with different approaches to bass lines(including chromatic runs). Unless you are just going to pick out the Root/5 songs in your repitoire, you had better tune up your ears. I am coming from a classic rock band into a country rock band and find the basslines much more interesting, more challanging, and a hell of a lot more fun. I would atribute a lot of this to the talent that is now in the country music scene. They may not be the most learned musicians around, but them boys sure can play!!!:eek:
  8. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I agree completely. I played classic rock, metal and alternative for 20 years before joining a country band, and I play more different styles and feels now than I ever did playing rock. Everything from shuffles to waltzes to cha-cha to walking bass to straight ahead rock, you find it all in todays country. But there is still a lot of old country in todays music, and learning the root/fifth stuff is essential. And I agree, there are a lot of great musicians in country today. You hardly hear guitar solos in rock these days, but in country you hear guitar, piano, fiddle, harmonica, dobro and even banjo solos. There are some GREAT musicians in country today.
    Dr Gero likes this.
  9. theJello


    Apr 12, 2000
    Agree also.
    I hate this attitude that any chump can play country. Like you both said. Modern country players are some of the best musicians around.
    I am guessing alot of it has to do with most of them are studio players.
    Dr Gero likes this.
  10. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    IMO, MOST of the playas in the Nashville studio-scene are very 'learned'(either On-The-Job-Training or schooled).
    Dr Gero likes this.
  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Well, now I know why I'm getting those looks.
    "F"-'em if they can't take a joke... ;)

    BTW, the New Country band that I have been a part of for, now, 10 years or so-
    The leader of this band(an ex-Rock DJ & an ex-bassist of a Dregs'-style '70s Fusion band)is now a New Country DJ...he's well aware that MOST of his listeners & fans are coming from the '70s Rock scene.
    So, like most have already mentioned, a lotta today's Country has differing influences...I hear some Rock, R&B, Funk, Blues, Latin-inspired stuff, etc(not sure if I've heard any Reggae-tinged material...yet). ;).
    Anyway, this New Country band I'm in does-
    "Play That Funky Music"(with a hokey Root-5/2-beat during the chorus).
    "Stormy Monday"(The Allmans' version from the Fillmore Live set...there's some chromatic walking in SIX on that one!). ;)

    FME, the crowds are pretty open to almost anything...
    Almost. ;)
  12. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    My country band used to do "Stormy Monday", too. Some of the cowboys didn't "get" it, but for the most part it was well recieved by country fans. And when we get requests for it we play "Mustang Sally". Of course, we've played a LOT of Skynyrd, but country fans love them. And one night we even played "Purple Haze". You should have seen the look on some of their faces...:D , especially the club owner. The last couple of years we've pretty much stuck to country, though.
  13. SweetWaterBlue


    Feb 19, 2013
    Good thread. I'm a relatively new bass player in a small trio (guitar, ukulele, bass) that plays lots of country, folk, and old 40s and 50s stuff. Being new, I appreciate advice on simple approaches. I came in through the ukulele door, but love country and folk music. I'm having a ball learning the bass. Its teaching me a lot.
  14. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I call BS. I've been playing country bass for decades. There's more to it than some people think. Western swing can be as challenging (and fun) as straight-up jazz. Modern country (not my thing) is as challenging as most pop music (but not a whole lot better!). There's a "feel" that goes with country music. Most rockers who pound out root sixteenths don't get it. I've seen many good bass players who can't do it. They can play all the notes, but the timing and emphasis ain't where it ought to be.
    elkkid2 and quickfix like this.
  15. But not in hypnotic alternation. Listen to Mike Bubb and Viktor Krauss. Yeah, they're Grassers, but they can show you how country bass is done.
  16. Listen to Paul McCartney. Play like Paul McCartney. Pure country walk and run.
    Brilliant bass player.
    Dr Gero and elkkid2 like this.
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