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How can I hear my bass over the keyboard?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Swingin, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    keyboard is one of those intruments that can carry a song all by itself. The player needs to learn how to compliment the other players and not play everything. it is a common thing with keyboardists.
    Major_Rager_4MF and obimark like this.
  2. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    This could be true, especially for folks who function in their own little world. For folks who do listen it CAN be distracting.
  3. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    I had this once.

    I tried asking him not to but it to no effect. When I started packing my gear up mid song the BL gave him a severe talking to. After that I only had to give him the stink eye and he would look all sheepish and stop.
  4. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Oh-- the irony! You find a band, and you see a goofy guy sitting there with a big grin on his face behind his keyboard. You start to play that old favorite "Rocky Mountain Way", but instead of just hearing your bass part going Da Da DAA Da DAA, you hear a nice echo, slightly out of time, playing the exact same part!
    I stop playing and say "since you got this, I'll just sit this one out and take a drink break." Turns out he wanted to cover ALL my bass lines (With poor timing too BTW). I just said No thanks and quit the sucky band.
    And even better line might be" Oh you already got a bass player, thanks." pack your gear up right then and there and leave.
  5. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Richmond , Va
    I carry a machete ....actually, I record all practices for situations just like this. A recording is worth a thousand words. It will also help you make the case with the other band mate if the kB player doesn’t cooperate.
    delta7fred and Rabidhamster like this.
  6. Rabidhamster


    Jan 15, 2014
    Stop typing while you're playing.
  7. Rabidhamster


    Jan 15, 2014
    A synth pedal is always real fun.
  8. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    There's a balance to be had. Doubling and the like can sound really cool in the right context and when it's planned out a bit. If it's thrown together it could go way wrong. I play keys and bass and like when they work together to get a big low end sound (Jamiroquai, etc...).

    Both players also need to use appropriate sounds/EQ. Using flats is kind of a one way ticket to mudsville in most bands. As someone hinted at above, the highs are where all your transient/note attack/definition comes from. So if you don't have anything going on up there, and the keyboardist has a sound that has lots of harmonics even down low where you're playing, of course you'll get drowned out unless you're just way way louder overall. Going to rounds is a wise move to help with this. Remember, however grindy and bright your amp may sound up close, almost all of that is lost by the time it gets to the audience. So if the sound is maybe a little brighter than it seems like it should be from your perspective, it's probably perfect in the mix. You also want to avoid boomy lows and low mids, because these make it harder for everyone else to hear. Ideally, you want the biggest part of your tone to be centered around the lowest octave of your instrument. Above that is where the guitar sits and where the keys are phasing in. So you cut some lows and low mids maybe in the 100-800 range or so. You may also (with rounds) need to tame a bit in the 2-3.5k range, but then you want to kind of leave a decent amount of the 4-6k range which will give you air and edge and definition. These are rough guidelines you'll have to experiment with to make them work best for your gear, your band, the repertoire, and the given venue. Some variation on that should give you a big, fat, defined bass sound that sits where it's supposed to, can be clearly heard, and yet isn't taking up any more than it's share of the sonic space. Then counter-intuitively, guitar and keys also kind of cut some of the same low mids, because that area tends to clutter up really easily. And then as a sound guy, I would still be high passing them, guitar probably anywhere from 60-150 or so, and keys would really depend on the sounds used, what he was playing, and the overall mix.

    I do think that when doubling up is NOT the intent (which depends a lot on the style of music, type of gigs, etc...), there are techniques for both players, many of which have been mentioned already. The keyboard player doubling the bass line an octave up can work well, as long as it doesn't interfere too much with the guitar (good for guitar solos, or during funky higher rhythm parts, etc... to fill out the mids). Rolling off the lows of the keys is another method, but ideally this should be done on a per patch basis at the keyboard, so that when you want the full force of a big synth bass you have it. And of course omitting the root/bass of a chord altogether while comping and playing interesting inversions/voicings that are less common on guitar and/or sit in different octaves. Bass and keys can also swap places and bass can play an octave up to give the more organic and complex string sound, while the keyboard player goes for a thicker but simpler big synth bass or something.

    A lot of it is about understanding the possibilities and limitations of an arrangement, and of live sound (the 2 go hand in hand). Sometimes you want huge unison riffs. Sometimes you want to orchestrate things more and give each player a tiny slice of the sound and arrangement to make a complex whole (think about how many different instrumental voices are happening at a given time in Beethoven's 9th, UNTIL the big 4th movement when there are lots of unison things happening for a huge triumphant sound).
  9. Small ensemble playing requires good cooperation from all parties. Each voice/instrument has a role to play and if that is not observed the unit will never reach it’s potential. The same applies to vocal harmonies which I have spent a bit of time arranging. It makes no sense for an alto to try and sing the baritone or soprano part. If you don’t recognise who has the sonic territory you’ll never sound as good as you could.
    Work together and make practical and constructive suggestions for the good of the whole band. I never met a bunch of musicians who set out to sound like crap. I’m guessing they want to sound like a hot band. Approach it with that as your intention and you’ve got a good chance they will see your point.
  10. Dr_Benway


    Aug 22, 2018
    No disrespect intended (Okay PM?)... Anyway... What's wrong with a little confrontation?
  11. Dr_Benway


    Aug 22, 2018
    Exactly. They didn't have to do that to me when I started doing sessions. Just politely request that I not play the bass parts. I figured out how to do things that worked much better in the songs.
  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    None taken, though I don't know what Okzy PM means.

    I have not found a benefit to starting off by being confrontational. It's one of the main problems today. You do you.
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Too obvious?
  14. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i talk with them --- directly, about the issue. it only takes one conversation/explanation. some cats may require two conversations/explanations.

    if i think i have to have a third conversation: i leave this on his keyboard instead:

    one arm copy.

  15. akrachanko

    akrachanko Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    Western Pennsylvania
    Like so many of others have said, talk to him. I play in a band and the keyboard player would occasionally 'step on my toes,' so I talked to him about it. In my case he's a super nice guy, and we let each other have our space. There are times where we both play bass lines that it actually adds to the sound in a positive way. I just had to get past my own thinking to hear it from the audiences perspective, and not mine.
  16. Never played with a KB.

    But it sure reminds me of a couple guitarists who think I need to follow their every lead and play behind them on everything. Even on covers where the bass line is it's own entity or its own groove.

    It's like explaining it's and its or to, two, too.
  17. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    Yeah, there is. It's the classic one they used to use in Western saloons; shoot the piano player. Then, get a bigger amp.....;)
    chris_b likes this.
  18. Dr_Benway


    Aug 22, 2018
    That first part you didn't understand (or quote properly, mind you!) was a respectful dig at the "safe space/everyone gets a trophy" mentality that goes on around here. Nothing to do with you.

    As for you're not finding any benefit to "starting off by being confrontational." I don't believe that I claimed it should be one's first option. Also... Those who are adverse to confronting problems they face head on, usually don't achieve their goals.

    As for the claim that confrontation is one of the main problems today, I would respectfully ask what planet you've been living on? In my most humble opinion, there are thousands of bigger problems (income inequality, climate change, rising nationalism, etc. etc. corruption in governments and their collusion with the wealthy to screw the rest of us, etc. etc.), but I don't want to derail the thread.

    As for your admonition "You do you." I wasn't aware that I needed anyone's permission. Well... To leave on a completely confrontational note, in an effort to maintain this pristine, safe space, I bid you a grand morning.
  19. Dr_Benway


    Aug 22, 2018
    Yes. Indeed. You are.

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