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Good Frank Zappa Bass?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by MusicBertrand, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. MusicBertrand


    Dec 4, 2010
    Hi, this is my very first thread :)

    I really like Frank Zappa's music, and i was just wondering ... what are good, challenging tunes for bass to learn by Frank Zappa?

    I'm looking to improve my technique as well as my hearing/sight singing through Zappa. (not reading)

    thanks in advance! (and i hope im in the right section)
  2. gravesbass

    gravesbass Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2006
    San Jose, CA
    Endorsing Artist: MesaBoogie-SpectorBass-Dunlop-EMG Pickups-Darkglass-Hipshot
    Roxy & Elsewhere (Echidna's Arf (Of You)
    One Size Fits All
    etc.... etc.....

    Love what Scott Thunes did for Frank.

    P Bass or Jazz bass works well for his tunes.

    You really cant go wrong with anything Frank did. His music was genius.
  3. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    I enjoy playing Advance Romance. It's mostly pentatonic, but goes in unpredictable directions. (What? Not Zappa! ;)) I accidentally "found" a bit of the Floretine Pogen riff recently when I was noodling, so I kind of want to learn that. Actually, as suggested by gravebass, the entire One Size Fits All record has some great, funky playing courtesy of Tom Fowler. Echidna's Arf is a cool suggestion if you've got the chops. I suspect that one's beyond me.
  4. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Start with The Black Page, and work your way down from there.
  5. StereoPlayer


    Aug 29, 2010
    For a heavy rocking song here's this one...Jack Bruce on heavy fuzz bass!

    "Apostrophe'" * Frank Zappa, Jim Gordon and Jack Bruce. Title track.

    The whole album is good though, as well as One Size Fits All.

    I like most all FZ.
  6. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    Presumably you're suggesting OP learn the melody to "The Black Page" ...the bass line to that piece is actually pretty pedestrian.

    But playing a thorny Zappa melody on bass has some impressive precedent: During his very brief tenure in Zappa's band, Jeff Berlin had to learn the melody to "Be-bop Tango (Of The Old Jazzman's Church)", a real knuckle-buster that's almost as rhythmically convoluted as "The Black Page". Would love to have heard that.
  7. Patrick O'Hearn, Jim Pons, Roy Estrada and Tom Fowler all played P-bass, and that brings you through the mid-70s. Scott Thunes, too - most of the time, anyway. So a P or close equivalent would be my choice of instruments for a "Zappa bass sound". Go figure.
  8. Check out "Does Humor Belong In Music" with Scott Thunes in the band. The bass is pretty clear in the mix. "What's New In Baltimore" has a killer intro, and their version of "Whipping Post" has some great variations on the standard bassline for the tune.

    Slightly off-topic - if you're getting into Zappa and you haven't already, check out Mike Keneally. He was Zappa's last guitar player, and he has a lot of cool Zappa information on his website, including the story of how he got in the band, and his tour diaries from 1988.
  9. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Actually I was just being a smartass, suggesting the most difficult Zappa sheet music I'd seen. TBH, I had not even attempted to play it, so I did not know that the bass line was easy! :p
  10. ugly_bassplayer

    ugly_bassplayer Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    You're a Zappa fan and your having trouble finding difficult bass parts, your hearing must be busted.
  11. mbeall


    Jun 25, 2003
    +1 for "What's New In Baltimore"
  12. mbeall


    Jun 25, 2003
    Also the bass line of "Florentine Pogen" can stand alone as a piece of music in itself.
  13. Boot Soul

    Boot Soul

    Feb 10, 2009
  14. A few that I like to practice from time to time:

    Valley Girl
    Carolina Hard Core Ecstasy
    Eat That Question
    Tryin to Grow a Chin
    Broken Hearts are for A@%#Holes
  15. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    I've always been partial to Tom Fowler's stuff myself, but you can't go wrong checking out any of the guys he had. Arthur Barrow was really great, Patrick O'Hearn, Scott Thunes, etc.
  16. lfmn16


    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv

    Can't you listen until you find one that is challenging and you like?? :rollno:
  17. MusicBertrand


    Dec 4, 2010
    thanks for all the suggestions! Now i'm working on Echidna's Arf (Of You) :)
  18. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    The live version of "St. Alphonzos's Pancake Breakfast" where Arthur Barrow doubles the marimba part.

    Rev J
  19. Try O'Hearn's solo from The Purple Lagoon.:bassist:
  20. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011