1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Help playing with a guitar player who covers lots of the low end

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Iheartreverb, Nov 29, 2016.

  1. Iheartreverb


    Oct 31, 2013
    Hi All.

    Firstly, I know people will comment telling me I either need to learn more or let my ears do the work (in terms of my methodical approach) bit I just really want some help in terms of what to learn and how to play with my current scenario.

    I play in an instrumental post rock band (think somewhere between the heavy riffs of mogwai, the warm organic noise of Godspeed, droning strings of Stars of the Lid and the odd time signatures of Slint) and recently one of our guitar players left the band.

    The existing guitar playing is working in the following way
    Using a bass amp in addition to his guitar amp to fill things out
    Always plays a lot of the roots mimicking a bass line in his playing
    Is tuned to drop C# which means he's reverse constructing odd chords and voicing

    Because of he dramatic nature of the music quite often I would just play roots on big fits along with the drums. Doing this created impact (so there is a point other than being lazy) there has also been sections where I would not play at all.
    In some sections of droning noise and reverb I would sometimes okay melody lines that would usually be based around the scale of the chord being played (underneath near infinite reverb)

    The problems I'm having is
    Quite often the scales I'm trying to bass basslines on wouldn't sound right because of the chords or voicings
    How do I learn and study harmony and melody better so I have options other than simply root notes and my usage of basing melodies around the octave note and 5th of the original root
    There is also a distinct lack of rhythm in some of this as the drummer also plays keys

    Can anyone offer help in where to begin to make this work and what I can do better?
  2. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Here's where you have to start. If the rhythm ain't happening, there's no point in discussing anything else.

    For the rest, I suggest you have a sit-down with the guitar player to discuss and negotiate how you're going to divvy up the sonic space. I don't think anyone here can solve that for you. Especially in the kind of "post-rock" stuff you're describing it, it is crucial that everyone is on the same page in terms of what they are contributing and when. There are probably many potential solutions, but it's up to you guys to figure out what will work for this particular band.
    gebass6 and Garret Graves like this.
  3. If he is running his guitar through a bass amp and playing roots, and the band likes what he is doing there really is not a place for you in this band.

    You have to work this out or move on.

    You did ask about harmonizing the melody and how to go about this. A google on harmonizing the melody should bring up some "stuff". It's a long story, but, you do need to dig into this. In a nut shell. The melody notes and the harmony notes (the chords) need to share some active notes. If they do harmony happens. Which means If he is playing roots and then strumming the chord, you are left with the other chord tone notes, i.e. the 3-5-7-8. Might try using this. I see nothing but trouble.......... and here you have to weigh how bad you want to play with this band.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016
    gebass6, Eric66 and joebar like this.
  4. One of the guitar players leaves, and he takes your job instead?
    fttfbass and Groove Doctor like this.
  5. swooch


    Jun 30, 2005
    If it comes down to a band discussion on sonic space, maybe suggest you record one song in a few different ways and then compare what you (or a trusted outsider) think sounds the best.

    Maybe try all the permutations of bass playing (roots/scales down low/melodies up high/rythms) together with guitars (bassy/without the bass amp/ simpler/ easier chord inversions etc...). Maybe even record these separately and then check which go best together?

    Not sure if it's doable but it's something I've been wanting to do myself.
  6. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Then the door is wide open for you to take tenor and alto voices with the occasionnal guitar doubling for heavyness
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    The lower he goes, the lower you go or there's no reason for you to be there. You need power, speakers, and a low F# string, or a gig with a band not filled with egomaniacal 4 year olds who have to play keys while drumming and run bass amps and play bass notes. :D

    Short version: Go big or go home. :thumbsup:
    Eric66 and Garret Graves like this.
  8. Nightmare. Run.
    Eric66 likes this.
  9. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    So the guitarist is playing in your sonic scapce, and the drummer plays keys, so often there is no rhythm section. And you want to play in this band because...???

    Other than switching to lead guitar, or just playing bass like a lead guitar, there is no reason to stay, unless they are willing to give you room. Sorry, no better advice.
    gebass6 and Eric66 like this.
  10. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    Boost your mids. Or cut your lows and highs. Tonally go where the guitarist isn't. Imply inversions/substitutions. If he plays a C Major play an A underneath it. Put your notes in the rests in his part. Play where he isn't.

    Rev J
    gebass6 and swooch like this.
  11. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Get a guitar amp and play your bass through guitar effects.
    Be the "lead bassist". Blow them outta the water...
    Technicality, Rev J and swooch like this.
  12. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    I'd stop the music, mid tune if necessary, and ask the guitar player why he's doing this. Explain the issues. If he persists, stop the music again and tell him to stop. If he still insists, walk.
    gebass6 likes this.
  13. AndreasR


    Oct 23, 2012
    Never has there been more truth in having to fire the drummer. Afterwards fire the guitarist and yourself. Everything is wrong.

    Alternatively, buy a fuzz and an octave up pedal and you'll have at least an original kind of band.
    Eric66 likes this.
  14. BusyFingers


    Nov 26, 2016
    So a guitarist who helped to fill in the upper frequencies in your music leaves, so the remaining guitarist is going to use the lower frequencies to make up for the loss in the upper frequencies. Gotcha... :confused:
    fttfbass likes this.
  15. I guess I'm confused. Drop c# isn't that low of a note. If you did the same or have a 5 string then there would still be plenty of space between the notes he is playing and the ones you are playing. Bands with songs in drop c# like Alice In Chains and pantera were a staple in my music diet for a while and there was no shortage of bass there. If there are tons of weird inversions you just have to be thoughtful about note selection and focus on spreading out the chord tones across the fretboard in a way that compliments the chord and provides a root.
  16. fly agaric

    fly agaric

    Jan 18, 2016
    I think you absolutely can have a place in a band with the guitar playing some low end.

    When they go low, we go high.

    I've never been a fan of competing for frequencies. I play barroom country, and when the guitar is playing those low twangy Telecaster walks, I'll find a counter-melody to play high on the neck rather than ape what the guitar is doing. Even if I'm hitting the E to G on the third string on the 7th and 10th frets and am playing the exact notes as the guitar on its low string playing open and the third fret, the timbre and overtones are still different enough for contrast.

    I play low walks all the time. So when the lead guitar does this, it's a "hey, check out the guitar here" bit and I get out of the way.

    What you are talking about is different, of course. A guitar tuned a step and a half down, droning, and running out of a bass amp isn't at all the sort of occasional walk that I encounter, but I still think you should approach it the same way.

    If he wants to take care of the root on the key or chord you are droning in, that just gives you more room to explore other notes in the inventory and interplay more with the melody lines.

    You mention Godspeed You! Black Emperor, so know that I am a huge fan. The last time I saw them they had two people playing bass the entire show if I recall correctly. I think it sounded great.

    Also: do you tune down as well to match? I figure I would.

    Man. I'd love to play in a post-rock band.
  17. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    Another idea is to pull a Korn. Since in that situation there are 2 detuned 7 string guitars putting it at 3 bassists from a frequency standpoint the workaround became to mic only the tweeter on the bass amp. Granted the sound is all attack it cuts through 2 guitars tuned down to A and a kick drum all fighting for the same frequency range.

    Rev J
  18. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    Piccolo bass
    Technicality likes this.
  19. tbassplaya903

    tbassplaya903 Commercial User

    Jul 13, 2016
    troyhanson.com and Triangle Effect
    Their are a few things you can do.
    Ironically play less. So often guitarists play more because the bass is playing a lot and they want to be heard.
  20. "Hey guys, this gig has kind of stopped being fun for me, so I think I'm going to move along and let y'all do your thing. Good luck to you."

    That'd be my reaction. That seems like a lot of work for little benefit. Having tried that a few times, my experience is if it doesn't get better quickly, it doesn't get better.

Share This Page