How to improvise like JPJ?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Tupac, Sep 13, 2013.

  1. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Listen to this. (it's the same take as the studio version but with louder bass mixing). Listen to how almost every single two bar set is different, and he just goes nuts with the improv in the second half of the song. Insane.

    Also, I can't imagine him actually memorizing the Lemon Song bass solo. It's just too long, unstructured, and erratic it seems. What scale does he use in it anyway? Love the note choice.
  2. Stormer


    Jul 24, 2012
    Short answer.....the man is a genius!

    Probably my favourite song of all time.
  3. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    Major scale. What you love ( I believe) is the major 7 and the ninth in his fills.
  4. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    I think you're right. I never knew you make use the major scale and not only not sound corny, but sound funky in a unique way. No fills I've ever heard outside jazz have used those intervals.
  5. svtb15

    svtb15 Commercial User

    Mar 22, 2004
    Austin,TX - McKinney,TX - NY,NY, - Nashville,TN
    I play it all. Whatever works for the gig
    Its being in the moment and going with the flow. Let all of your experience loose and play with confidence .. Its being in the moment.. And keeping yourself there.. then it grooves.

    I will serious doubt he ever played it the same again. each time is a different experience
  6. That's for sure!
    I spent much of Labor Day weekend learning the bass parts to "What Is And What Should Never Be" and "Ramble On". Such beautiful, melodic bass lines but they took me a while to figure out. I had to find isolated bass tracks on Youtube, then download them and slow them down to about half speed to really get them down!
  7. LordRyan


    Dec 9, 2012
    Jones did his best playing on the first two Zeppelin albums. After that everything became more concise and while sometimes technically demanding there was no real improvisation.
  8. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Today, that would be "busy" bass playing, and you'd get kicked out of the band.

    I'm no JPJ, but I think the trick to playing improvised bass lines is to have total familiarity with the song, and total command of your instrument.
  9. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    Many musician from a certain period of time had more knowledge and talent that the hack of today.

    Him, James Jamerson, Nathan Watts are all grwat exemple of the level of musicianship expected now even if you barely can play quater notes on the root you are an amazing bass player ... kinda sad.

    One thing I do that I really like and I think helps with that kind of stuff is : I opn Band In The Box, put some chords and a drum beat and go ! I also think it is on par with being good at soloing since to two thing are quite close.
  10. mrb327


    Mar 6, 2013
    Nobody Knows
    If you study JPJs musical history, you will see how he can do this, with the depth of experience and also technical study that predates his LZ time. The man was the studio bass player to be had second maybe only to Jamerson
  11. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    This is exactly right; no doubt about it.
  12. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Gotta love the blues.
  13. pablofr


    Jul 20, 2011
    This man is a genius! Simple like that
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    "The Lemon Song" (see Howlin' Wolf) is a 12-bar Blues. So there is a definite structure for JPJ to improvise about.

    "Crossroads" (see Robert Johnson) by Cream is another Blues that Bruce takes out.
    One thing those '60s British Rock could do...jam on a Blues progression.
    So, in other words, become totally familar with that form.
  15. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    So what you are learning if you choose to learn this "take" is something the JPJ may never play live. The lesson here is not learn the song note for note, but get with the idea and flow.

    Many in-experienced players will spend to long working on a song to be like the "take" rather tham the spirit of the song.
    I can tell you from experience, as will others, that i have laid down some great live lines, but something else went wrong that facilitated another take.....and another one...and another one etc.
    So when it comes to choosing the take to use, it is normally a take that is functional, not the one with the best bass line on it, (or any one players best work on it) but one that has the best main performance first supported by the best backing performance.

    Since live "takes" no longer became the main stay of the recording industry, laying down perfect backing is an easy option to the "chance and risk" of live takes, but you do lose something in tracking that "live takes" give.
    But again, technology allows for a mainly live take and edit out errors and punch in repairs so a live feel can be retained in studio recordings. (listen to Thin Lizzy's 'Live and Dangerous' live album as a classic early example that proved the idea could work in a studio situation)

    In the end if you play JPJ's line from the recording then you will strive to repeat that line every-time, where as JPJ will repeat the spirit of it, as do many players from their recordings.:)
  16. Shakin-Slim


    Jul 23, 2009
    Tokyo, Japan
    That only says you haven't listened very widely, or closely enough.
  17. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    but at the same time, it is a big challenge to play note-for-note the music. Just look at all classical musician who play music composed 300 or more years and it is still a big challenge to give it justice. But in this case I think you're right, the form is more important than anything else.
  18. Mike in Chicago

    Mike in Chicago Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    "Today, that would be "busy" bass playing, and you'd get kicked out of the band"

    Man, are you right. When we had this "genius" guitar player and I was "over playing" everything he leaves, we go back to 3 piece...and they're telling me how great I'm playing all of a sudden...
  19. bass geetarist

    bass geetarist

    Jul 29, 2013
    A good place to start would be to look for instructional material on things like "12 bar blues for bass" and "walking bass lines". The 12 bar is a nice simple progression that can help you learn how to improvise through chord changes.
  20. M Sterling

    M Sterling Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA
    This is they key for me. Nothing can replace knowing the harmony inside and out and knowing the form of the song like the back of your hand. The thing that makes this style of playing so exciting for me is hearing how he sets up each change of the form both rhythmically and melodically.