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Fast (300bpm+) walking lines on electric - examples...?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by sixontimber, Jun 27, 2004.


  1. sixontimber

    sixontimber

    Aug 2, 2003
    scotland
    Hello,

    Something I am having a bit of difficulty with of late is fast walking lines on electric bass. The problem isn't with the note choice (although that can be suspect at times!) but with the inherent tone of electric bass - it just doesn't seem to sit with fast, fast swing/bop.

    At that tempo URB can have a bounce to it while still sounding light (a perfect example is Cherokee on the Wynton Marsalis Village Vanguard boxset). The closest I can get to this tone on electric is palm muting, but after a minute of that the hand is just too fatigued to maintain any sort of tone.

    Also, I haven't heard any electric players with the sort of tone I'm after swing at that speed. Even Anthony Jackson (the tone of which I'm usually a massive fan) seems to break up at tempos above 250. For example, his tone on a version of Take the A Train is disgusting!

    I should also add that it is not a problem with cleanliness of tone - I can play quite comfortable at that tempo without any fret buzz or string noise, so that's not the problem. It seems to be an issue with the way in which electric sounds at fast tempos - perhaps it takes longer/shorter for the note to develop on an electric?

    Anyway - it'd be great if you could let me hear/point me in the direction of recordings of fast walking lines on electric that have overcome these problems. Your suggestions on how to help electric "sit" at these tempos would also be welcome.

    Cheers,

    Douglas.
     
  2. Whafrodamus

    Whafrodamus

    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    I don't think it's the walking line itself but the bass/player that plays it. Would you rather hear swing payed on the bridge pickup of a Ric or a P bass? As long as you stick to the low end and not venture too far into the upper frets, you won't sound too poopy. But with swingy stuff, you usually need a deep tone with not a lot of mid. That can be solved with your EQ. Some flats might help out in dulling the sound, or you could use nickel strings. If you can hear fret buzz when playing the things faster/harder, just raise your action or set up the darn thing :p. You could also turn your tone knob down. As for recordings, I can't help you there. I've played a few fast swing songs with my Ric (Neck PU), but the recording equipment sucked. The original songs that my jazz band covered had Double basses :(
     
  3. sixontimber

    sixontimber

    Aug 2, 2003
    scotland
    Thanks for the reply.

    I think you misunderstand me slightly. It isn't a problem with cleanliness of tone - there is no fret buzz - and my bass has a great tone - neck pickup, treble *slightly* rolled off, *slight* boost in the bass.

    I'm beginning to get more and more convinced it's just not possible to REALLY swing at those breakneck tempos on an electric bass as I'm yet to hear any solid examples.

    Douglas.
     
  4. Whafrodamus

    Whafrodamus

    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Buy a P bass, turn your tone down, there's your example :p
     
  5. I'd guess that it's just a part of the magnetic nature of the pickups. The electric bass has that electric punch that differentiates it from the upright. Maybe piezos or something would alleviate it. Some kind of non-magnetic pickup that leaves a natural sound.
     
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    The biggest difference is in the decay of the note. The electric sustains too long, while the upright decays rather quickly. Many guys I play with feel they play with less effort, because they're not trying to "play around" the electric.
     
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member


    I agree with this and had the same problems as the original poster on BG, whereas with my EUB and proper DB strings, fast walking lines feel very natural - the fast decay means you don't have to worry about muting and it all feels much more "natural" ...:meh: ?

    The other thing I feel, is using more open strings.

    So - on BG I always avoided open strings as they tended to ring out and sound different to fretted/muted notes - just sounded "wrong" in context?

    But on EUB I try to emulate DBers as much as possible and you notice that a lot of opens strings are used - this helps the feel as well as intonation - and you see DBers using opens strings a lot, for position shifts at fast tempos, while maintaining the overall feel and forward motion.
     
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I've mentioned this to bass teachers who are also Jazz pros in the UK and the view has always been that you can swing on electric bass, but it is harder and you have to think about it more.

    I know of 3 or 4 BG players in Jazz in the UK (Laurence Cottle is probably the best) and Bob Cranshaw has recorded on BG with Horace Silver etc. etc.

    But most of the Jazz guys I've talked to here are 'doublers' and will choose DB if they know it's that kind of gig - but will play BG if it's a 'funkier' kind of gig...etc.
     
  9. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Have you tried palm muting and plucking with your thumb? That probably provides as close to an approximation of a DB sound as you can get on electric.

    It's far from being exact, but it does provide a little more "bounce" to the note.
     
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    !!


    ;)
     
  11. josh_m

    josh_m

    May 5, 2004
    Davie, Fl
    How about a mute setup? Like on old MMs and old P Basses? You could probably rig up some kind of system with a soft cloth material on the bridge to help speed up the decay and slow the resonance. Another option may even be a synth pedal (a simple one with just the ASRD controls.) Go for as natural a sound as possible and roll off the decay.
     
  12. sixontimber

    sixontimber

    Aug 2, 2003
    scotland
    Hi,

    Thanks for all the replies.

    I think Pacman and Bruce Lindfield are onto the sort of thing I'm suspecting is at the crux of the problem - the *shape* of the note on URB is condusive to fast swing whereas the shape on electric is not.

    The swing issue isn't a problem as I've overcome electric bass's limitation in this regard - generally eveness of tone seems to do the trick. But at these high tempos there's something more. In my opinion, fast bop doesn't so much swing as bounce; it's a different thing altogether. It's very difficult to simulate that on electric.

    A mute setup is an interesting idea, but seems too "permanent". I prefer the variability of tone that palm muting affords.

    Still waiting to hear some recorded examples...? Any suggestions? The closest I have is Anthony Jackson on Steve Smith's Buddy's Buddys album - even this doesn't seem to quite sit. Check out Amazon for some clips http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t...f=sr_1_9/103-9351717-3121433?v=glance&s=music - I'd be interested if you could check out Nutville and Airegin and seee what you think. These are around the 300bpm. The bass just doesn't seem to swing, and we all know that Jackson can swing with the best of them. I'd be curious to hear your feedback on this.

    Douglas.
     
  13. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I find that Dean Markley flatwounds have very quick decay. Might help mimic the DB tone.
     
  14. sixontimber

    sixontimber

    Aug 2, 2003
    scotland
    I should probably point out that I'm not really into "mimicing" the URB tone - otherwise I'd just start URB! Also, a change like that would effect the rest of the set and I'm more than happy with my sound on everything else (well, almost!).

    Douglas.
     
  15. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I have some thoughts about this. The bass doesn't swing alone, the rhythm section as a unit does that. Additionally, if you don't play double bass you're one step removed when trying to cop the feel. My bass guitar doesn't sound like a double bass when I'm walking but the feel is certainly there. That also holds true for any doubler that I've heard.

    Oh, almost forgot, a mute setup doesn't have to be permanent, and most bassist around these parts have more than one bass.
     
  16. sixontimber

    sixontimber

    Aug 2, 2003
    scotland
    Thanks for your reply - in response...

    Clearly the bass alone doesn't swing, but I am of the opinion that the particular note shape of URB *does* help the bounce at fast tempos. I'm not talking about slower tempos - swing at 250bpm and below, for example, isn't a problem. I'd love to hear you swing it at over 300bpm - any recordings?

    Also, I realise a mute setup isn't permanent, but it is for the particular number you are playing - I prefer the variability palm muting affords and the ability to vary the amount of muting in a very organic way.

    As for most bassists having more than one bass - I feel one bass should be enough, but I don't want to get into that argument!

    Cheers,

    Douglas.
     
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes - that's what I was saying in my 2nd post above, about the pro Jazz players in the UK that I've heard/met - they're nearly all doublers on DB and BG and can play fast walking lines on BG convincingly - but they are drawing on DB techniques and vast experience on DB.
     
  18. sixontimber

    sixontimber

    Aug 2, 2003
    scotland
    I don't buy this. How do URB techniques translate to electric bass in this way? Any recordings of these guys - the ones I looked for of Bob Cranshaw all semed under 300bpm. Did you check out the Anthony Jackson recording? What do you reckon?

    I'm determined to get to the bottom of this! :meh: ;)

    Douglas.
     
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I'm not saying they necessarily used these techniques - but that it can't hurt if you are already comfortable playing this stuff on Double Bass and have a deep understanding of the music?

    I do have CDs of Laurence Cottle, but mostly what happens is that the Jazz pros I have talked to about this, would use DB for this kind of thing and BG for other types of music, so there isn't much about, in the way of recorded material.

    So if you play both - why not use whatever is appropriate? I wouldn't consider myself an expert in this field, but personally I know that I find it much easier to play convincing, fast walking lines on EUB than I do on BG. But generally I bow to those guys who have 20 or 30 years pro Jazz experience.....;)
     
  20. sixontimber

    sixontimber

    Aug 2, 2003
    scotland
    I hear what you're saying, but my argument is that it has to do with the inherent sound of electric bass - not experience. Otherwise, why couldn't Anthony Jackson even swing with authority at these tempos (perhaps because he never played URB? Surely not?)?

    Another nail in the coffin for >300bpm on electric bass :crying:

    No, I don't play both. I'm an electric bassist through and through. Why do you find it easier on EUB?

    Douglas.