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Great chops, time off!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by junglebike, Apr 26, 2003.

  1. junglebike


    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    I don't have this problem personally, as I don't have great chops :D

    BUT, my ear has developed enough to tell that when a band doesn't sound great, it's usually either the drummer or the bassist.

    Saw a band tonight and felt the need to post something about it, as I've seen the phenomenon several times now: the Great Bassist with No Sense of Time.

    So frustrating!!! Flying through scales and arpeggios that I couldn't play in quarter notes at 60bpm, but throwing the whole band off because they're just a touch late.

    Tonight's band was a funk/latin thing, and it was just murdering the groove.

    Just had to vent. Hopefully when I get that "good" I'll still be able to keep a beat! If not, I'd rather stick to my roots and fifths, thank you very much.
  2. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    umm... a great bassist can't be a great bassist without a great sense of time, coming before anything else.
  3. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I'm not sure it's a matter of 'losing' your sense of time as your chops get better - just a matter of never having had a great sense of time in the first place. The fast chops just accentuate the poor timing. The faster you try and play, the more your poor timing flaws will show up.

    Having said which, timing can be killer on ballads as well.
  4. junglebike


    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    Yeah, I guess what I mean is that it's tragic that they've clearly worked so hard for so long on their chops without a solid foundation to start with.

    It's particularly irksome to me because I'm so new, and I'm so daunted by the long path that these guys have already been on. So I have this mixture of respect for them, just 'cause they've put in the hours, and horror, because I don't want to end up like that! :D

    May metronome be my shepard...
  5. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    you know what I think it has to do with?

    That, too many chops oriented players try and use the chops as a reason to play the music, not as a tool or anything else.

    like they might make a groove specifically so that they can utilize any given technique or showing off their chops, not make a groove that grooves.
  6. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    Junglebike says
    "It's particularly irksome to me because I'm so new, and I'm so daunted by the long path that these guys have already been on"

    Don't get too discouraged, the very fact that you have the sense to seperate the physical chops of the bass player from the effect of said chops on the actual music puts you miles ahead of many beginners. This is something that drives me crazy and I always come off sounding like a cranky old coot, but so many younger players are just so obsessed with chops that have little to do with music. They miss the whole point of virtuoso bass players- that the truly great ones are completely rooted in the fundamental aspects of the bass. Time is what it's all about, that's the whole deal, and there are no great bass players with a bad sense of time. Personally, I have no interest in flashy players like Victor Wooten, Les Calypool or Billy Sheehan, but I'd like to think that they got where they are because they've paid attention to the basics of bass. I'd like to think that if any of those guys played "My Girl", for instance, they'd be concerned with making the song work and not just showing off what they can do.

    Here's a general bit of encouragement for starting bass players, a bit of bass zen: nobody will ever rag on the bass player for underplaying. Nobody will ever complain if you just play supportive bass with a good tone and a good sense of time. In fact, people will love you if you do just that.

    Good luck.
  7. junglebike


    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    Thanks for the encouragement! I'm enjoying my journey immensely, and trying not to be too attached to the outcome.

    Charlie Haden. Period.
  8. Great Chops! No sence of time. Sounds more like a guitar player in their teens.
  9. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    Ha, beat me to the guitarist reference. I was going to ask when this guy gave up on guitar.
  10. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    "Music Store chops" or
    "NAMM Show chops"
  11. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Any musician who was already playing before 1995 knows this specific type of guitarist : the Guitar Hero Wannabe.
    Fabulous flashy chops, not a bit of theory, no timing.
    Music seems to evolve toward a more rhythmic approach, especially for guitarists.
    At the same time, bass gets more important.

    I nowadays see that most guitar players can hold a decent groove, where bass players are becoming loosier, giving it up to flashy noises.
    Ain't that a shame ? Guitarists tighter than bassists.
  12. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    or "John Turner chops" :eek:

    (j/k JT, I've heard that instrumental of yours - it ain't true).
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    This is the sort of thing you think of when people talk on here about - how fast can you play, how fast can you play 16th notes or slap triplets etc. etc.

    There have been loads of threads like this and you think - well who cares if you can't fit it into a piece of music or song, in time?

    Most musical situations, it is far more important for the bassist, to be solidly in time, than to play anything "flashy".

    So you read about people concentrating on playing tricky fills, slapping, two handed tapping ,what effects to use, what bass to buy etc etc - but very rarely do you read about how important a good sense of time is.
  14. There seems to be a general trend to people seeing music as a competition, forgetting that music is and should be cooperation and communication. If everyone in the band plays to make the rest of the band sound better rather than trying to show them up or just show off, the results are amazing. Music you want to hear is made.

    Great chops and flashy playing can be fun, there is nothing wrong with developing the skills. There is another skill that needs to be developed with them that is usually forgotten, and that is knowing that the times to use them in a performance are few and far between.

    Music is communication, using a language analogy you need the basic vocabulary, syntax and grammar to be solid. Learning some fancy licks without the firm grounding in the basics is like learning a phrase or two in a language you don't really speak. With the firm grounding in the underlying theory, you actually understand what you are saying and can modify it to fit new situations and, as or more importantly, know when not to use it. With language, speaking clearly and simply helps get the message across to more people more easily. Eschew Obfuscation, unless it is one of those rare times to 'whip out' the verbal (or musical) chops.

    OK, I'll shut up now...
  15. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings

    You were joking, right?
  16. Sten


    Nov 18, 2001
    Thanks, I really needed that.

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