How Do You Fill??

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SubDubMan, Sep 10, 2002.

  1. SubDubMan


    Apr 26, 2002
    I know this may sound like a dumb question to some, but how do you fill? Is there a set pattern or something that you just switch up, or does it have to do with scales?? I'd like to learn how, because whenever I try, it just basically sounds like ****, and I can't really find any info that helps me out and tells me what to do.
    Thanks A Lot
  2. You can use scales and You would most likely want to use scales that fit the key of the song. You could also just use notes that are in the song. But it all depends on what you want the song to sound like,so just mess around with notes from the song your doing, until you get something you like.
  3. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Fills can definitely be a great way to add texture and balance to a song. There are many ways this can be done.

    First thing to do is to familiarize yourself with as many scales as possible. Start with about 5 particular scales; major, minor, pentatonic, minor pentatonic, and the "blues" scale. Practice these scales in two octaves, in ALL 12 keys, with a metronome. There are many ways to do this, but I'll leave this part up to you for know. You don't just want to burn through these scales either. These drills aren't about dexterity or speed, they're about hearing. If you can't hear, you won't play great fills.

    Pay particular attention to some of the stronger tones in these scales. For example, the 3rd, the 5th, the 7th. Your other tones, 2nd, 4th, 6th, work great as passing tones, but the 3rd, 5th, and 7th are (generally speaking), going to create that tension and release that makes your fills interesting.

    The first thing I would do is start simple. It's not about how many notes you can play in a bar. It's about melody and your interaction with your bandmates. Some of the greatest fills may be only 2 notes. It's the notes you choose, and the rhythm that have all the effect. You can try variations on the melody of the song, variations on the rhythmic scheme of the song, a musical "conversation" with the guitarist, walkups or walkdowns to the next chord.

    In case you need help with those scales, clink the below link:

    <a href=""><img src="" width="175" height="150" border="0" alt="Learn THEORY and get some CANDY by clicking on BABYFROG!"></a>
  4. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    I wanted it, got it, and i love it.

    Normal when i do a fill, (depending on the speed), i would usually hammer on to the next string, and then the octave, its hard to explain, but this is what it looks like on tab:


    Looks simple, and it is, but it sounds good and i like it. If you dont understand that, listen to the song "teenage suicide" by Unwritten Law, thats what i mean
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    No offenense kirbywrx, but that is kind of irrelevant without context, although it is an unwritten rule that a fill based on the 5th & octave is a pretty safe bet if you're unsure where to go ;)

    I'd say the key to a good fill is knowing where to put a fill and where not to, rather than what notes you actually play, although they are obviously important. The most simple changes to the existing bass line can make all the difference if put in the right place. The audience may not directly pick up on the subtlety, but they will often feel the effect of the slight change in groove or vibe.

    Best way is learn your scales as jazzbo said above and always be aware of what chords are being played. There are infinite options based on just Major scale chords.
  6. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Oh and a space in your bass part can have as much as impact as a fill. Dropping out for the guitarist to do a bar then kicking back in hard will make people really notice the bass!


  7. If you really want to learn how to play good fills, get "Standing in the Shadows of Motown." One of the things Jamerson was a master at was using chromatic passing tones with his fills.

    There are so many different ways to approach doing fills-- know what key its in and what scale is appropriate, know how to play that scale, syncopation, space, passing tones, chromatic passing tones, accidental passing tones, chords, ect., ect.-- it's really endless.

    One way to simplify this is to listen to other bass players and how they approach fills. If something grabs you, take the time to analize what the bass player is doing. Once you come to understand how that bass player is approaching a fill, you will have something else that you can put in your "bag of tricks" and you'll be one step closer to doing fills you like.
  8. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Amen, brutha!!

    brad cook
  9. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    none taken. just that im beginning to fill, and thats how i first started and i thought it was pretty swauve ;)