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Don't want to be flashy. Am I wrong?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Scottie Johnson, Apr 26, 2005.

  1. Scottie Johnson

    Scottie Johnson

    Sep 8, 2004
    Ok, here's the deal. I have never wanted to learn how to double-thump or play like Vic Wooten or Jaco. Sometimes I hear some really flashy and fancy bass playing and think, "I wish I could do that." But the thing is, I don't want to play like that, I just wish I could do it.

    I have played bass for seven years now, and my practice consists of improvising grooves and fills. I just want to be able go play a good, tasteful bass line when needed and not over-play. I can slap, but I am not very fond of it when I play it. I like finger-style funk. Like George Porter.

    I am not currently in a band, but I have been in the past. Usually got compliments about my playing. The drummer that I jam with appreciates my playing.

    Is my current method the wrong way to go about learning bass? Should I learn to solo and engage in "Slap Wars", i.e. slapping to impress everyone.
  2. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    I think, honestly, you are the one on the right track. Sure playing flashy is cool and it might have its place, but the real merit in a bass player comes in their ability to lay down a tight groove that holds the music together. I think the same way that you do. Sure, it would be cool to be able to double thumb and slap and do two hand tapping, but thats not where I want to be. It would be neat to know how, and it would be a cool trick to show my friends, but musically, I don't want a solo career or my picture on the album covers. I just wanna be standing next to the drummer, locked in to a groove that doesn't quit. :cool:
  3. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    Yes. If you're not slapping, you're not playing bass.

    ...or you could follow your ears and your heart, play what you like, and not worry about what other people think. I love listening to Vic Wooten and Michael Manring and guys like that because I think what they do with the instrument is amazing, but having that level of technique isn't mandatory to make good music with a bass. I'd love to learn how to do it, but nothing will ever replace playing good, tight, in-time music with a band.
  4. Why not concentrate on playing like Scottie Johnson, and no one else.

    There. That was easy. There is NO wrong or right. No rules.

    (well, maybe that tuning thing, in relation to other players) but beyond that, go nutz.
  5. Scottie Johnson

    Scottie Johnson

    Sep 8, 2004
    Well, I wouldn't mind playing like James Jamerson. ;)

    I just wanted to make sure I wasn't crazy by not aspiring to be some kind of madman with insane chops.
  6. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    Play what's in your heart. If it's honest music, people will be impressed.

    Years ago I learned how to slap like a flag in a hurricane. Then I learned how to shred like Yngwie Malmsteen. After a while I realised that I was wasting my time thinking that this stuff would impress people. After all, EVERYBODY ELSE was doing it. I started to focus on making the simplest phrases as musical as possible. After a while, it paid off. I started getting more calls for gigs and more offers to play in different bands.

    Having the ability to play at light speed velocities does not make you a good musician. When guys like Victor Wooten and Stanley Clarke do it, it sounds cool--but only because they could play from the heart first.

    Of course, it won't hurt you to learn to slap and shred. Just use them tastefully.
  7. Aspirations are fine, because that leads to goalsets, that somehow hopefully lead to becoming better.

    But that goalset shouldn't be "master Wooten licks and regurgitate them every time I play" ... it should be just to aquire a skill, if you want that skill. You learn it, then re-interpret it, and make the reinterpretation part of your playing.

    It's *ok* to show your influences, just don't always wear then on your sleeve.

    I think you've got the right mindset.
  8. I prefer warm round bass and baritone tones. For me, the most beautiful symphony instruments are bass, cello, bassoon and oboe. I have little use for violins, piccolos and lead guitarists who spend most of their time between the 20th and 24th fret of the 1st and 2nd string. That sounds like I would love to be a soloist bassist with a band to back me. But no. In a band setting I want to acheive and maintain a steady bottom groove along with a precussionist (notice I did not say drummer) that will support the other instruments carrying the melody and allow the lead to provide accents (notice I said accents, not domination). Anyway, that's my conception of the bass role. If I played more jazz, I would probably spend more time soloing, but as it is I try to keep the basslines rythmically steady while still being melodically interesting. It sure is fun to noodle, though.
  9. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    You are right, in my opinion anyway.

    I am not impressed by all that technique anymore. Everyone does it. I have a student that always slaps and plays some crap when he comes in for a lesson. Doesn't impress me. He can't read a note, can't keep a beat. That is what he is supposed to be and should be practicing.

    I try to do some "advanced" things so I can at least demonstarte them somewhat. I can play a simple version of VW's "Amazing Grace" and a couple other things. Big deal really.

    Truth is, many if not most of us, never need to use those techniques in most of our playing. Face it, the tunes you play in clubs that people want to hear are basic, straight ahead, 8th note or dotted quarter/8th note type rhythms.

    Not a lot of slapping or double thumb in "Brown Eyed Girl" is there??
  10. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    If you do this for fun, do what makes you happy.

    If you do it as an alternate or primary source of income, I think over the long haul you will find that for every pocket player that looses his gig to a chops monster, there are a thousand chops monsters sitting on the couch while their old gig is being filled by a pocket player.

    I do this for a living. I have some chops and I love to wank and listen to bass wank.

    When I go to work, I leave the wank at home.
  11. SnoMan

    SnoMan Words Words Words

    Jan 27, 2001
    Charleston, WV
    you're wrong
  12. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I aspire, and work hard to play with even an ounce of the musicality of people like Michael Manring. That said, yes, I also do spend time working specifically on my technique...not speed, but technique. Intricate parts, tapping, etc., and above all, touch. I play 90% fretless (realistically, 50% of my playing is done on fretless, another 40 on upright, and 10 on fretted) and it's far more responsive to touch (left and right hand) than fretted. Speed is a byproduct of working on precision and cleanliness of technique.

    That said, when I wank, I wank at home like any decent person. I always warm up with something more technically demanding than the music I'm actually playing, so tomorrow, before jazz band, I'll be warming up on electric with Potrait of Tracy at low volume -- it's a total pain to contribute to the cacophony of a high school band when everyone is warming up separately. I save the stuff that's truly wank-tastic -- you know, DT'd arpeggios and 32nd note runs and stuff for home. Ever tried to find a place for that stuff in a SONG? Doesn't work too well, but it's definitely fun to play at home.

    EDIT: If you want to see the picture of taste, check out a drummer named Antonio Sanchez. He's the current drummer for the Pat Metheny Group (and has a GREAT sound on the new CD.) I was reading an interview with him in Modern Drummer this month, and it described a solo he did at a drum convention kind of thing. Now, he was SUPPOSED to just play along to a couple PMG tracks, but the computer wasn't working, so he had an hour of solo time to fill...and he filled it like crazy. Opposing clave patterns in the left and right food (in different time signatures -- one in 6/8 and the other in 4/4) and the craziest stuff you've ever heard of on the top. This guy's limb indepence is ridiculous. The bass equivalent to him would be able to tap out two completely different songs with two hands while using yoga-like leg stretches to eat dinner at the same time. Just ridiculous chops...and listening to him on a CD, you'd NEVER know. He has a fantastic sound and tone, and contributes in such a mind-blowingly effective way to the whole thing that you just can't catch it all on the first listen. He also said in the interview that Charlie Haden, after hearing about the drum solo he did at this convention dealie, was astounded, because he didn't know he could do that kind of stuff...and Antonio Sanchez and Charlie Haden have collaborated on record more than once! Every musician could learn a lot about taste (and tone, musicality, and technique) by talking to and listening to this guy.
  13. Nadav


    Nov 13, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    Great thread. I definitely think you have the right idea.

    Also, Govithoy, you are now in my signature.
  14. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    I still study and practice some of the flashy stuff with my teacher, but I definitely prefer groovie over flashy. There's also this extreme sub-world category, very common in our times, the absolutely boring ABSOLUTELY UNMUSICAL ULTRA-FLASHY! Some bassists have some bizarre mix of onanism and inferiority complex!


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