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Help with soloing...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by geddy402, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. geddy402


    Jul 20, 2012
    I never really understood how to solo over chord progressions. I've been playing for a while and tend to avoid soloing because I never really felt comfortable doing it (and honestly I'm much more comfortable laying down a groove than soloing).

    I think a good solo does both, lays down a good groove and shows off technique but I always have trouble connecting phrases through chord progressions. One chord jams are fine but throw in three or four chords (or more) and I tend to over think it.

    Any help or exercises that can help with this? Thanks!
  2. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    You're probably over-thinking the changes. This is a natural, because as a bassist you always need to be playing in support of those changes. Unless they involve actual key changes, when you're soloing you can think more linear and just hang in with the main scale of the tune.
  3. frisbieinstein


    Dec 29, 2007
    Well, its not easy. Mostly it takes a lot of practice. You need to be aware of which notes change from scale to scale, and also of which note don't change. Copying solos that you like helps: that's how the best players seem to learn. They do a lot of that.
  4. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    Sing !!! use pat of the melody of the song and expend on it ...
  5. Kragnorak


    Sep 20, 2008
    The bolded part is the standard way a bass player solos, where each chord is thought of as its own chunk and it's really a more embellished version of a bassline.

    My approach is not like that unless I'm not super-familiar with the tune. I aim to play melodically. When you're learning there are a couple of techniques you can use that will bust you out of a "bass" way of thinking:

    1) Learn the melody of the song - practice embellishing the melody the way a singer would. Keep going until your melody sounds halfway in between a stock melody and a solo.

    2) Using the example of a jazz tune, take a look to see what notes the chords have in common. For example, if you see four bars of D Minor to G7 to C major, you can deduce that all 4 bars are a C major scale. Now your "chunk" of concentration can expand from one bar at a time to that entire 4-bar section. Use that to your advantage to make your ideas fluid - this is the beginning of "playing over the barlines".

    3) As a bassist you won't want to lose the rhythm which I understand. I try not to ignore it completely but to be able to leave it and return. An easy way to practice that is with #1, the melody idea. Try playing the melody but every time it has a rest drop back down and play a downbeat or a few hits from the bassline you've been playing all along. Think of your real bassline as the hi-hat that a drummer keeps going during a drum solo.

    Hope these ideas help!
  6. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    This, and come up with a bag of licks that work over specific chord progressions and learn them in every key. Mix those with things you hear other people play, and you'll sound more unique.
  7. deeptubes


    Feb 21, 2011
    Is it actually soloing or improv-ing solos that get you? I start simple - practice a bassline and just add a little riff to it. Add to it a little bit at a time until it's something that's somewhat challenging but fits the song. Sometimes I find myself trying to do too much and just don't have the time to squeeze in all of what's going on in my head, so I have to scale it back.

    Just keep practicing and experimenting. It'll come. It is certainly different than working a groove, but you can use that groove as your foundation and feed off of it. I think soloing is kind of like putting a puzzle together. Initially, it can be tough and confusing. But, as you start to put the pieces together, things start making sense and it gets progressively easier.
  8. senp5f


    Jan 27, 2008
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Learn the melody to the song and embellish from there with groove elements. Victor Wooten uses this strategy quite often. If the song has a strong melody, let it do some of the work for you!
  9. This is key. It has been said that if someone walks in during a solo, within 30 seconds the person should be able to tell what song you are playing (via the melody). I've started doing this and my solos are not only easier to do, but it is way more coherent.

    The melody will contain the chord tones of the progression most of the time, so rather than connecting the chords, you should connect/embellish the melody notes.

    So learn the head of the tune and go from there. Jaco said you should do this also... Having said all that, when I was first trying to get into soloing, I'd mention to my teacher that my solos always sucked and he would invariably say that I had a lot of the tools for soloing, but I simply haven't done it enough. It does take a lot of time to figure it out and in a live setting, it can be challenging. But I think the main reason they sucked at the time was that I'd never learned the head to the tune, so I ended up playing the correct notes, but it didn't say anything.... In my trio, I always learn the melodies now.

    If I'm soloing on a jazz blues like Moanin' or Freddy Freeloader, I mainly just use pentatonics and put more emphasis on the groove and less on the melody notes, but in soloing standards like Green Dolphin Street or How High the Moon I don't worry about the groove too much and just try to be harmonically interesting and use the melody a lot. I still have a long way to go, but it's working so far.