Do popular artists and bands get real bass players to play bass lines?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by epsonecotank, Jul 31, 2021.

  1. epsonecotank


    Jul 30, 2021
    I've heard that artists today use programs to make bass lines, is that true or do they get real people to play the bass lines?
  2. Lowendchamp


    Jun 27, 2021
    Shelton WA
    Depends on the artist and type of music. Truth is that AI is writing most popular music now.
    jamro217 likes this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    I'd recommend the documentary "The Wrecking Crew" if you haven't watched already.
    JimK, exidor and Bajo Clarkko like this.
  4. Fernando Costa

    Fernando Costa

    Aug 4, 2013
    That is true, 90% true.
    mcrawfordmusic likes this.
  5. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    It depends upon if it’s a band, or a solo artist. Sometimes, after a contract is signed, the signed artist has almost no creative control. Other times, they have some control. It’s a case by case basis w/the industry focused on hits rather than artist development.

    The industry used to give bands a 2-3 album chance. No so much in this era.
  6. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    I think every musician should watch the documentary "The Wrecking Crew" ...but that isn't really germane to OP's question, since The Wrecking Crew was making records ~50-60 years ago, and the OP explicitly asked about artists today. But the contrast certainly is striking.
    JimK, P. Aaron, Haroldo and 6 others like this.
  7. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    On the other hand, Carol, Joe, and all the others were the ones actually playing the basslines that the record companies and publicity departments would have you believe were done by the group members they were ghosting for, so there was a bit of deception/dishonesty going on there. Not that anyone really cared that much, as long as Peter Tork’s picture was on some bedroom wall.
    TomB likes this.
  8. Bill Murray

    Bill Murray

    Dec 12, 2019
    New Hampshire
    MIDI bass or programmed bass is almost always what songwriters/producers will use for creating/writing for hire but a lot of the time a bassist will come in and record that part (or something close) on an actual instrument when the group is in the studio (definitely plenty of popular tunes getting air play now though that are indeed MIDI/Programmed).
    Jhengsman likes this.
  9. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    It… depends… on A LOT of things. Where did you hear this?
  10. gumtown


    May 7, 2007
    New Zealand
    I think the answer is "It Depends".
    Bajo Clarkko likes this.
  11. SLO Surfer

    SLO Surfer

    Jun 3, 2009
    Los Osos, CA
  12. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Inactive

    Feb 23, 2011
    Depends on the kind of sound they are going for, programmed bass still leaves a lot to desire in terms of sounding realistic, unlike for instance drums, but if the sound the artist and/or producer is going for is in a more electronic direction it might in many cases even be desirable to use programmed bass samples (that can be manipulating, fusing and combining recorded whole sequences of played upright bass, synth bass and/or bass guitar, but in most cases actually samples of individual notes from a given bass instrument that is plotted in in a grid with practically full control over the pitch, velocity, volume and time, time as in length/rhythm/beat, and then eventual combined with the use and programming of different audio effects) or synth bass, instead of recording a real physically played bass.

    Then again some tracks that are predominantly of an electronic nature will sometimes still feature a real physically played bass.

    It all depends on the vibe they are going for.

    And really it's not like one is better than the other, it's just a matter which works best in the context, and I can guarantee that no big music productions will use one or the other as a short cut, it's all about which suits the overall expression of the track/artist best.

    As someone who does both I can guarantee that programming music is as much an art as playing an instrument, it's just a somewhat different activity/experience/skill, in that it is much less physically and to a higher degree visually dependent (I guess in some aspects it has more in common with writing music using standard notation than it has with playing a physical instrument, though it also include the use and programming of different audio effects), unless of course you mainly use a midi keyboard, then it would be about the same as playing any other form synth/keys, in any case it is still very much being musically creative and using your imagination and ears.

    I think that maybe the reason that electronic music gets such a bad name and that some, mainly older, people believes it's as easy as pushing a button and then the computer makes the music for you, is that much of the crap that is Top 40, meaning what people are exposed to through mainstream radio and TV, kind of sounds like if that was the case.

    And then I guess the deception of simplicity, a lot of for instance classic rock is actually really simple too, and that doesn't always have to be a bad thing.

    It's not the effort to make it and/or understand it that defines great art (unless that somehow is is an integrated part of the point/concept of course), it's the impact of the finished product/result (and here I don't mean how popular it is or how much it sells, but in terms of what it communicates and how well it does that, regardless of weather that then happens to be popular and liked/appreciated by the majority or not).
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2021
  13. salmon256


    Jul 10, 2021
    As other have said perfectly. Depends. If the artist is at home or starting small they most likely will use a keyboard for everything assuming they are making what's consider pop or bedroom pop. If this artist got big let's say, like radio big, they may stick to their roots or maybe they'll hire pros to write their parts or play to their lyrics. It really depends and which artist we are talking about at the end of the day.
  14. tim gueguen

    tim gueguen

    Sep 19, 2016
    Yeah, no.
  15. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Inactive

    Feb 23, 2011
    That's what they want you to believe!


    The truth is not only out there, it's pretty far out too. ;)
    JimK, CB3UK and danesdad like this.
  16. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    From what I can tell, *most* of Harry Styles' music (radio friendly, hugely popular) has his actual band of humans playing it, including bass.
    Al Rivera likes this.
  17. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I think everyone should watch Fletch. Too many great “every day” lines. …using the whole hand???
    Since everyone else is making movie recommendations.

    But some artists use AI or keys for bass, some use live humans. It’s getting harder to tell the difference. One day it will be impossible.
  18. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Guest

    Nov 22, 2017
    Some producers will record demo versions with MIDI and hire bassists to come in and play a more realistic line on the final production. I do this all the time with all sorts of instrumentation. MIDI is a great tool for putting down ideas but if you want your production to sound more alive you really do need live players. Everything in the production does not need to be done that way, though. I have one song that alternates between a sampled bass and a MIDI line from verse to chorus. They're tonally close, and no one has ever said they notice a difference. That song is full of loops but it has live keys and horn parts. Well, the horn parts are still in production, but should be done soon. Just depends on the type of music you're doing.

    That said, there are genres in which electronic production is the norm and you won't hear anything that was produced in real time by a real person. Much of it depends on the kind of music being produced.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2021
  19. Savage_Dreams


    Jan 8, 2007
    the other side of why it gets a bad name is because these so called "bands" get on stage now and either they suck live, or its basically no more than karaoke. thats my problem with electronically generated music. for instance, i love Prince. theres songs that were completely created on drum machines, samplers, whatever..... but when he got onstage he delivered LIVE music. a lot of the younger artists these days think that doing music on a computer is ok on stage, and unfortunately it passes. i dont get it. i cant imagine paying money to see someone behind a computer onstage.
    JimK and mutethatguitar like this.
  20. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    A lot of the "computer onstage" shows aren't about what's happening onstage. They're about the experience and the party vibe for the audience.