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How would you improvise off this basic bass line?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Exploding Boy, Nov 9, 2003.

  1. Exploding Boy

    Exploding Boy

    Oct 30, 2003
    I'm just starting to learn how to improvise off of some basic chords my guitar player in my band plays, but I want to advance myself even more.
  2. Exploding Boy

    Exploding Boy

    Oct 30, 2003
    just an example of something I did.

    My guitar player would play this:

    and I'll play:

    I think the spacing my be a little off there, but I'm sure you get the idea. It may not seem like much of an improvisation, but it's better than what I used to do in my last band. The way I came up with this line is that I basically listened to the guitar, and in my head I basically played out what I thought would sound like a good bass line over top of that. Then I just found the notes and applied it. I don't know if what I did was some actually progression technique or something, but I'd like to learn more on how to do it.
  3. lowerclef


    Nov 10, 2003
    Exploding Boy,

    You may not want to hear this, but you should really ditch the tablature. Tab is okay for learning someone else's million-mile-an-hour two-handed tapping solo extravaganza, but it's useless for learning to function in a band. Learn some music theory.

    The real key is to learn how to HEAR music. Ideally, you want to be able to listen to anything your guitarist plays (or vocalist sings) and play something cool that fits. It won't necessarily be the same notes and rhythms as his (then again, it might be - it depends). But it should be memorable, simple, catchy, and most of all, it should groove. The best way to do this is to be able to hear a good idea in your head and have it translate to your fingers. Having some good theory and ear training under your belt will make this process so much easier. And make sure you can sing it - an old mentor of mine once told me never to play what you can't sing, and that advice will never fail you as a bassist. Ever.

    I highly recommend Carol Kaye's books, which you can get at carolkaye.com. Her stuff is dirt cheap, but it's more of a musical education than you'll ever get from a mile-high stack of tab, and better than most of the books you can get at Guitar Center or Sam Ash. There's lots of great stuff there that you can apply to any style.

    As for your line, it looks like a heavy guitar riff (again, hard to tell without hearing it, but it looks that way from the tab), and doubling the guitar here should work just fine. For variety, you may want to try putting a little movement in the first part of the line, such as:


    Tried to do it tab-style, but it wouldn't line up correctly. Sorry. Just read it straight across.

    The second part of your lick sounds pretty cool, if I'm reading it right. To break up the monotony, it's a good idea to not always play the lick exactly the same every time. Keep the same basic idea, but maybe have a slight embellishment every 2nd or 4th time, something like that. Let your ear be the judge. As long as you're holding down the bottom and not clashing with the singer or the rest of the band, you'll be fine. Anyway, hope that helps.
  4. Slot


    Oct 17, 2003
    Sydney - The Shire
    In your 1st post, the Chord Progression is


    You could also call it : I, V, VI, IV progression.

    You could basically just play an Emaj scale over the whole thing

    which is: E F# G# A B C# D# E

    hmmm...i've never written tab before, but i suppose it would look something like this


    You could get away with just playing litte licks based off that scale, but i would recommend that you tried to play pentatonic scales based off of each chord..

    So for the 1st chord, Emaj, you could play Emajor pentatonic scale


    For the 2nd chord, Bmaj, you could play Bmajor pentatonic scale


    For the 3rd chord, C#min, you could play C#minor pentatonic scale


    For the 4th chord, Amaj, you could play Amajor pentatonic scale



    All the pentatonic scales are the same finger shape, except for the minor one, which is slightly different.

    Both of the approaches are pretty simple and poorly explained, but hopefully that should get you jamming man.

    good luck

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