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Covers Players

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by MODELL, Sep 30, 2009.



    Aug 30, 2001
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Hi to all of you who play covers. Do you tend to play your own bass lines or try to stick to the original version? I kind of separate songs into very "identifiable" and "not so easy to recognize" bass songs and on the "identifiable" I play very close to the recorded versions. 2 examples from my acoustic trio's current list would be:

    Beginnings (Chicago) - I play it like the original version
    The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkel) - My own bass line
  2. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois

    I'm very much in the camp of creating my own basslines as much as possible and I've developed a "signature" sound after more than twenty years of playing (for better or worse).

    My version of The boxer is very different from the original and is a lot busier. But I can't always get away with as much improvising and some tunes just sound best to me when I mimic the original bassline. CCR's Who'll Stop the Rain is a good example.
  3. Noonan768


    Jul 6, 2009
    St Johns, FL
    I mostly take the bassline that is laid down.. But I'll add my own flair to it.. or work it better for me.
  4. RedLeg

    RedLeg Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2009
    Kaiserslautern, Germany
    Nov Shmoz Ka Pop?
    I stay true to the style and major parts of the groove, other than that, it's all my interpretation.
  5. If I am playing covers in a cover band, I play it like the original 90 - 100%, UNLESS we decided specifically to update it, then I change it.

    If I am playing covers in a original band, I change it... if I want to.
  6. thombo

    thombo Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Denver, CO
    it depends on the tune... doing Wild Nights for example, i want to hit M'eshell N'degeocello's part as close as possible. that said, that version wounldn't be as good had she not stepped up the original bass line from Van Morrison. The same thing can be said about Pino playing on John Mayer's version of I Got a Woman vs. Ray Charles' recording. Both are great, but Pino takes in new places.

    It also depends on how integral the bass line is- ie; my band does the Kings of Leon tune Use Somebody. The original bass line is pretty standard 1/8 notes holding the root/inverted bass note throughout the entire song. It's not too exiting to play, but if i strayed too far, it'd kill the groove.

    If i can legitimately add something (usually during fills or during solos) that will make a song better, w/out it being too wanky, i will. i do try to keep the original bassist's concept in mind.
  7. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Not Technique related. Moved.
  8. Handreas


    Nov 16, 2007
    It depends.
    When I'm playing with my main band and we decide to throw in a cover for kicks, I play it my way. In fact, we all play it how the songs would've sounded if we wrote it. On those gigs covers are for fun.

    But in my cover band we get paid good money to first and foremost give the audience a good time, and keep them dancing/singing along. So playing the songs right is more important. We do mix it up on some songs, but for the most part I play it "right". Songs like Living on a Prayer just isn't the same without the chorus bassline. ;)
  9. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    +1 on depends.

    If I play stuff like Police with bass lines that are a key element of the song, I play it 1:1 mostly.

    But most of the time, the songs we play either have a very basic root note bass line or there isn't any to begin with (we do acoustic covers - some songs we cover weren't recorded with a bass line at all). So basically I can have fun with those and create my own, which generally results in me jamming over the song in band rehearsals until I find something to stick with. Personally, I like a chromatic approach and odd (non-diatonic) notes on the downbeats (for example, I like to play minor scales over major chords). For some songs it works, for others, it doesn't...
  10. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    It varies. Some tunes have a very recognizable bass line. I stick to the record in those instances. Some tunes have more instrumentation than our band has (Drum bass and guitar) so I may try to cover some of what the keyboard, or even the horn section does on the record. I may not get everything exact, but the gist is certainly there.
  11. You're never going to have someone walk up to you to tell you that "no this is not exactly how Ross plays Stone In Love".

    But if it is a signature bass line (Another One Bites The Dust, or Rio), obviously you need to play it as on the recording, or as close to it as you can.

    Otherwise, I do my own stuff.

    First of, some bassists never play it the same twice. Listen to GNRs live recordings of the same song, you'll hear that Duff does different things each time. When I play GNR stuff, or cover their cover (!) of Knocking On Heaven's Door, I sort of do my own stuff.

    An example of something where I really do my own stuff is Can't You See by The Marshall Tucker Band, where I do my own fills.

    Take It Easy by The Eagles: Same thing, I do my own fills. You'll hear plenty of covers when the band does it THEIR way. No issue with that.

    You can't always hear what the original fills exactly are. The original bassist does fills he is comfortable with. You may simply not be comfortable doing them. You can't always hear what he is playing and tabs/sheets are (usually) not accurate. Not one tab ever agrees, because not everybody hears the same thing.

    If you need to deliver, learn the songs quickly and be there to do your job, as long as you got the chord progression right, you can do your own fills. Note that I even add fills when there is none in the original recording.

    Sue me.

    Comment on the thread move: "band management" is really not where this should be. This is probably more for "technique".
  12. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    If a bass part if distinctive and important to the song, I focus on having it identifiable and close. If it's just a song with a bass part I play whatever feels right for how my band is doing the song on that specific night.
  13. I tend to play the song as it was recorded. IMO, when people "do their own thing" it usually doesn't sound as good as the original, and most people tend to over play . . . a lot. My band does play a few songs that I would consider as "jams" where even the artist doesn't play the same song twice, and in those instances I improvise around the theme of the song.
  14. Jehos

    Jehos Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    DFW, TX
    A little of both.

    On songs with very well-defined bass lines like Santeria or Interstate Love Song, I try to stick as close to the original as I can. For other songs, I end up playing my own thing that serves the same purpose in the song, whether it's note-for-note or not. And on still other songs, I try to get into the original bassist's head and learn their licks and style, then sprinkle them in as necessary. On a couple of the songs, the bassist sucked so I wrote my own line, like Hey Jealousy by the Gin Blossoms. They must have hired the bassist from Ned's Atomic Dustbin, or else made one of their guitarists play bass. The recorded bass line is an octave up from where it needs to be, and picked. Ugh.
  15. Yes I do this STP song as well. Why would you do a different one? It's fun to play as is :)
  16. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Well said. +1

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