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Drums & Bass: Tight Rhythm Section Tips?

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by RTLdan, Oct 12, 2004.

  1. RTLdan


    Oct 12, 2004
    I'm the bass player for a rock band. All of us our fairly young but are dedicated to perfecting our music. At the moment we are suspended in a state of sub-par rhythm and grooves and we believe it is because of a lack of cohesiveness between the drums and bass. I am in the process of searching for a bass teacher... but what tips can you give me on getting the bass and drums to really breathe with eachother?
    Hints for bass and hints for drums are equally appreciated!
    I already basically get the concept of bass notes lining up with bass drum kicks, but there has to be some more information on getting these grooves to groove!
    All help is greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance!
  2. Listen to some 60s motown......and play along if you can...
  3. Start listenning to where your drummer places his kick drum hits. Develop your grooves around exploiting this. Learn to construct lines that "breathe", or work around the kick hits.

    8th notes have their place, but a line that works good interplay with the kick are much more rewarding, and in a way, makes the rythm section mesh a whole lot more.

    As I've said, a solid kick drum is a good bass players' best friend.
  4. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Here are a couple of ideas.

    1. Get a rehearsal with just you and the drummer. Let the drummer play his grooves. Play the SIMPLEST line that accentuates the groove. Your line must have as few notes as possible. Find the kick drum and lock to it.

    2. Once you've gotten a sense of this, it is time to add those nuances that make the groove yours. I do this in a few ways. First, I often listen to the ride cymbal or snare to see if there is something that I can pick up on. Secondly, I do what I call rhythmic leading - creating lines that move the rhythm along. This might be an eighth note or sixteenth note before the downbeat.

    3. While working with the drummer, allow the groove to change and morph, keep on your toes and go with the flow. Sometimes, you should lead the change and sometimes the drummer should, this will give each of you the sense of indepedence and mutual dependence needed to create the a living, breathing groove.

    4. Rests are your friend. What you do not play is as important as what you do. Sarting out simple allows you to develop the groove throughout the song. if you start out with a complicated groove, there is no place to go.

    I hope these specific examples help. Let me know

    Mike Dimin
  5. those are all good suggestions, especially about paying close attention to the drummer's kick foot. but you don't necessarily have to play ON the down beat. play WITH the down beat. it means playing on and/or around it to make it groove.

    another thing; I like to "drag" the 2nd beat just a little - play just a little behind it. sometimes i like to see how long i can hold off it without dragging the tempo of the song. the anticipation of the 2nd beat can create a terrific groove. talk this out with the drummer so he'll know not to slow down - or he can drag it with you.

    but most of all - focus on playing with the drummer and spend as much time as possible doing it.
  6. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    There have been some really interesting and good ideas. But I want you to remember that the advice you offer should be at the level of the question. RTLdan needs basic information to develop the art of groove, not minute details of the groove. Let's not overwhelm, please

  7. yeah, good reminder. so #1 from your previous post is probably the best advice. it's worth repeating:

  8. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Control the groove, control the song. In my situation, I come up with the riff, and the drummer create's the beat that fit's with the rif, and from there, WE work on the groove. Let's just say, we have an understanding.
  9. LizzyD

    LizzyD Chocoholic

    Oct 15, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Sadowsky Artist
    How are your time skills? The drummer's? Here's another idea. Try setting up a drum loop through the PA and both play to it, just simple stuff as Mike describes. This way you both have an outside time reference.

    Or you may each need to work on your own with a metronome or drum machine. If you both have decent time on your own, then it should be easy to have decent time together once you know how to listen and adjust as a team.

    Sometimes it helps me to be able to see the drummer's kick pedal hitting the head. I can zone in on that and make my attack at the precise moment the beater hits the head. Really listen to the drummer's feel and try to cop it exactly. Notice the physical motion of the kick pedal stroke, and think about the energy of it. Try to mimic this when you play. Not literally, just in your mind - kind of a mental exercise. When you play a simple groove for a long time, it can become like a meditation in a way.

    And for even more fun, try switching instruments! Learning a bit about playing drums can help you understand how to play with a drummer, and vice-versa.
  10. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City

    I picked up the bass after years of drumming for this very reason. I couldn't get enough of the bass and now I play both. :) It was very educational for me as a drummer.

    The metronome/drum loop suggestion is another great one. If you aren't already doing it, that's probably a big part of your problem. Having regular sectional practice with just your bass player is another very important thing if you're a younger musician.

    To take this a step further, record yourselves. Both individually and together. Even if it's with a totally low-end Walkman and a Radio Shack mic, recording a minute of groove and going back and listening to it so you can hear your mistakes will help a lot. Most people tend to lose the ability to percieve smaller mistakes while concentrating on playing so if the kick is dragging or you're having issues when skipping to another string and don't realize it, they'll show up and you'll know immediately what you need to be working on.

    How loud do you two play? Can you hear each other alright? The groove isn't going to work if the drummer is playing so loud that he can't hear the articulation of the bass (even if he can hear what note you're playing). The converse is true as well. As an example, the last band I was in, the bass player would put 800 watts through a 2x10 and 1x15 at every gig. His stack sat immediately to the left of my head and it was so loud I could barely hear myself. Of course turning it down wasn't an option. :rollno: As a result I played harder, which compounded what was already a problem for the whole group. The sound from the side of a rig that loud at 5 or 6 feet is almost all boom and no articulation, so locking onto his notes to try to establish a groove was almost impossible. Eventually he ditched his 1x15, got a smaller head, and moved it so I wasn't catching the sound off the side so much. The groove improved quite a bit and our soundman was much happier as well.

    From a physical standpoint your drummer has a lot more going on than you do during playing. Making sure that all of that stuff (the hat part, the snare part, the kick part) is in time with each other is very important. Again, the metronome is everyone's best friend.
  11. Scooperman


    May 28, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    All the advice so far is really good. One way to help you apply what these folks have already told you would be to (for a little while at least) stick to playing parts, and try to play the exact same thing each time. I wouldn't do that neccssarily at a gig (although some music actually calls for it) but for practice it can be invaluable for both you and the drummer to each play your parts like they were loops.

    When you listen back (you're recording this, right?), see if it feels like it's grooving or not. Compare it to recordings of other musicians that you think are grooving. If it's not grooving, it may be because of the parts you two are playing and how they are relating to each other, and/or it may be that be the way you're playing those parts could use some help.

    Perhaps you should learn some parts (as close to as possible) note for note from CDs that you like for their grooves. When you play back the recording of yourself, see what about your playing is different from the CD and try to adjust accordingly. Don't worry that this imitation will cause you to lose your individuality - people learn to speak from listening to their parents - but they don't sound like them, as they get more comfortable with English they start picking up phrases, words and expressions from their friends. When they talk they may remind you of the people they learned to speak from, but there is usually no doubt that you're listening to a unique voice.

    Oh yeah. If you don't have one already, buy a metronome. Perfect time may not equal perfect groove, but bad time rarely sounds grooving. If you want to know how to get the most out of a metronome, I'm sure there are some threads here that discuss that... or maybe we can start a new one! :D
  12. Generalbas


    Nov 4, 2004
    Hi I'm new here on the forum, nut I think You'll be seeing alot of me. I would like to contribute to the tips on grooving with the drummer. I have played my bass for over 16 yrs now, and have played many different styles. anyway i have what i call the top ten list groove tips. It's something that i have created with my bass teacher and a friend of mine. here goes:

    10..Don't think as a rythm instrument. Think as a harmony and rythm instrument.

    9.. Most grooves are not based on what you play, but what you don't play.

    8.. Try playing more staccato (short notes)

    7.. Try filling the holes where the drummer don't play

    6.. program different beats on a drum machine and play to that

    5.. Listen to what other bass players are doing

    4.. Let somebody else play the bass with the drummer :D

    3.. Clap the groove with your hands

    2.. Shift instrument with the drummer :D

    1.. Learn to play drums yourself ;)

    These things have worked for me, and I can actually play with any kind of drummer, in any kind of styles :bassist:
  13. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999

    Welcome to Talkbass, and especially welcome to my Ask The Pro forum. Your insights are helpful. I would ask that, in my forum, if you want to teach something, be more specific on HOW to do it just not telling what to do. For example if you state,
    then go into examples of where you might leave the space, what beats are important to play, etc.