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(I Can't GetNo) Satisfaction ACTUAL Bass Transcription

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by 156, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. 156


    Oct 21, 2017
    Hi All:
    I'm new to this forum. Searched for this topic, but don't see this specifically discussed:
    A student recently asked me about the Rolling Stones "Satisfaction". I gave a quick listen and was surprised to hear that, to my ear, Wyman opens with an ascending MAJOR idea (E F# G# A). I had never noticed this before. As I hear it, the line then descends minor (A G F# E), and the riff remains minor thru-out (always G, no G# except that first time). Upon further research, I see YouTubers playing major ever time, or minor every time. The actual published music I have shows G natural, even that first time.
    Now, I've listened to this so much I'm starting to doubt myself. Sometimes I think I might hear that G# sneak in a few other times (only ascending; I always hear a G on the way down).
    Do any of the veteran players here play that G# at first? The intro (and the whole song) is so iconic, I'd like to confirm that I'm teaching it correctly. (I have seen detailed discussions about Wyman's note choices in the verses, but not what's played on bass during that famous guitar riff!) I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. Thanks!
    LeeNunn likes this.
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I hear the song in E Major with frequent use of the G natural "blue note" which would be the b3rd of the E chord and the b7th of the A chord. This tension between G and G# is typical in blues and rock music. It is a very common blues sound to play G# for the I chord, E, and G natural for the IV chord, A. That may be what your ear is reacting to.

    Regarding the bass line, I've always found it muddy and difficult to hear the pitch clearly. I think he might be playing fretless. It would not be at all "weird" or "strange" for him to play G# because G# is the 3rd of the E Major chord and also the melody note in the vocal. (It does, however, create a good deal of bluesy dissonance with Keef's D natural, creating the interval of a tritone.)

    Have you looked up the published sheet music? I've never seen "Satisfaction" written in E Minor key signature.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
    Whousedtoplay and 156 like this.
  3. jaco944

    jaco944 Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2005
    I have puzzled over that one for decades. He did play fretless on many recordings, maybe that is the answer.
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I also always wondered about that, and decided just now that I'd settle this (for myself :)), for once and for all - just gave it a very slllloooow listen with bass in hand.

    My best guess is that Wyman messed up the first time. I believe he does it a few more times throughout the song too. I'd teach the way it's recorded, tell the student what you just said here, and have them make the decision. I agree that it's kind of iconic, and like the G#.
    wintremute, InhumanResource and 156 like this.
  5. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    The song is out of tune. It's either slowed down or sped up but either way the notes won't be exact. Maybe try playing on a fretless or else retune your bass.......
  6. I think that a lot of early rock bands that did not have a keyboard or horns weren't to accurate with tuning. Few of them used a tuning fork to reference A-440. The guitar player would tune his guitar by ear and then the rest of the band (other guitar and bass) would just tune to the first guitar.
  7. 156


    Oct 21, 2017
    Wow, thanks for the quick replies. I'd have to say I agree with all this: the blues interplay of minor/major, the muddy, tough-to-clearly-hear nature of the sound, and that the first pass is perhaps not played as intended. I've only seen it published (as it should be) in E (4 sharps), as the liberal use of G's and D's are, as mentioned, in an "E" blues setting. Thanks mostly for confirming that I'm not the only one who has wondered about this!
    cazclocker likes this.
  8. Ant Illington

    Ant Illington I'm Anthony but I'm only illin' Banned

    I've never sat down to work that song out but, rest assured, I have been stuck on "which 3rd is it" in many songs, none of which I can recall right now! And, whoever said It is correct, the b3 and maj 3 often both work and are used "interchangably," or even b3 sliding into maj 3. This reminds me: I remember 20 years ago in a Bass Player interview with Gene Simmons the interviewer was giving Gene amazed props for Gene's use of both the b3 and maj 3 over the same chord in some Kiss song and Gene was like "What?! I don't even know the difference between the two, I just play what sounds good."

    The conundrum has also happened with 7ths (dom vs maj) and, in all cases it's always in old songs where the recording/bass intonation isn't as good as today's standards. Even in what should be cut and dried like Papa was a Rolling Stone where the bass is essentially alone, the first two notes of the lick ( on the and 1) sometimes sound like dom 7 to 1 and sometimes sounds like maj 7 to 1. Also, I Want You Back- the main riff. I've seen it played and seen it notated 2 different ways with a chromatic placed in a different spot of the lick. Either way works as long as all of the instruments playing the riff play it the same way. I agree that it is very frustrating spending so much time and energy on this stuff and never being sure if your conclusion is correct! I guess if we can barely tell the difference then the audience won't know, just as long as what we play works with the band.
  9. AztecViking

    AztecViking Supporting Member

    Oct 12, 2010
    EndlessSummerVille, CA
    Whenever an issue like this came up with a certain teacher of mine he would say... "it's rock'n'roll so throw your straight diatonic harmony out the window". :laugh:

    But he still could always explain what was really going on the "traditional" sense. :thumbsup:.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
  10. cazclocker

    cazclocker My social skills are rapidly dwindling.

    Oct 24, 2014
    Newton, Kansas
    Subscribed. Satisfaction has given me unsoveable fits since I first began performing it with bands in the ‘80’s. I just sort of go for a mainly major sound, with occasional minor 3rds sprinkled in. I think I need to sit down and study it closely, just to see if I can hear anything different from what I’ve been doing.
    Anyone else notice that sometimes you end up playing for a really long time what you think you’re hearing, but then when you revisit a song you hear how wrong you’ve been - and think to yourself “how could I have missed that”!!!
    LowActionHero, Spectrum, 156 and 2 others like this.
  11. I’m pretty sure Wyman was playing a short scale fretless. The intonation could have been way out and he may have not been able to hear himself. To me it’s part of the charm of that era.
  12. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    It's a passing tone. If it works it doesn't need to be in the chord.
    GrooverMcTube likes this.
  13. Whil57


    Aug 7, 2013
    Long Island
    Also, sometimes to beef the sound they double tracked, so if you dont remember what you played the first go, he might have done both, and the engineer just mixed them together.
  14. Rip Van Dan

    Rip Van Dan Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Duvall, WA
    You realize this song came out in 1965? I don't think there were any fretless basses let alone short-scale fretless basses. If I recall correctly, Wyman played a Vox tear-drop shaped bass at the time.

    Yup, he did. Here's a link to the model of bass that became known as the "Wyman" Bass by Vox. Nice shot of him too holding that bass up at a high angle, which is how he played it at the time. I noticed that because I started playing bass in 1965 and that was an unusual way to play it

    The VOX Showroom - Vox Guitars: Vox Wyman Bass V248
    chip134 likes this.
  15. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    Is the guitar, which is way more prominent in the song, and the bass playing the same notes? If not, maybe guitar plays the root and the bass plays the 3rds, or 5ths... the stuff was so raw back then, I doubt it took that many takes to get the final cut... so basically, 110... 220... whatever it takes.
  16. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    Wyman pulled out frets and created his own fretless back then.
    design likes this.
  17. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    I suspect Bill knew exactly what he was doing.
    design and chip134 like this.
  18. Rip Van Dan

    Rip Van Dan Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Duvall, WA
    Although they rarely had anything better than a 4-track mixing board in the mid-60's, they did have sound-on-sound so you could hear yourself playing and play along with it in perfect sync. Remember that the Beatles Sgt. Pepper's album was recorded entirely on a 4 track board. I can't say it didn't happen but double tracking a single instrument would have to be pretty rare.

    Here's how you make multiple tracks on a 4-track:
    1. record on tracks 2, 3, and 4.
    2. then record 2, 3, and 4 onto track one.
    3. Record on tracks 3 and 4
    4. Record tracks 3 and 4 onto 2.
    5. Record track 3
    6. Record on track 4

    You can actually use a total of 7 tracks for recording, but once you record multiple tracks onto one track, those can't be changed. This was a very laborious process and took a lot of time. The only tracks that were "safe" to re-record without ruining the whole recording were the last two recorded because nothing else was on them. A lot of the songs back then were recorded with everyone at once onto one or two tracks and the best performance was kept.

    Now, if you had two recording decks, you could record all 4 from one onto track one of the second deck. Then you could record another 4 tracks and transfer that over to track 2 of the second deck. Same thing with tracks 3 and 4 on the second deck. So you could actually get 16 tracks on that 4 track by using a second recorder. but unfortunately that second recorder wouldn't sync up easily with the first recorder so playing back both at once onto a Master tape was a problem.

    Also, back in the 60's you were just breaking away from monaural recordings and stereo was in its infancy. I remember receiving the Beatles Rubber Soul album as a gift and it was in Monaural. I traded it in for the stereo version at the store it came from. A lot of the early stereo recordings (including the early Beatles stuff) had very discrete separation. You'd hear the guitar and drums on one side along with one voice while the other side would have the bass, perhaps another guitar, and another voice. They didn't blend together at all like they do now. Was weird, hard to describe, but weird. That's the reason so many of the early recordings are "re-mastered". They just sounded strange with the sound coming from opposite sides of the room and nothing in the middle of the room.
  19. Rip Van Dan

    Rip Van Dan Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Duvall, WA
    True, that was a cheapo Japanese bass he did that to in 1961 when he was playing with the Cliftons. He also used it on a few of the Stones songs. Here's a video of their performance on the Ed Sullivan show on February 13, 1966. He's using a Les Paul-shaped bass but I can't make out the name on it. Doesn't look like a cheapo-Japanese bass and the frets look like they are intact, but darned if I know what bass that is. You also get a decent look at him playing the riff.

  20. From Bill Wyman talks bass, Rhythm Kings and The Rolling Stones | MusicRadar
    "You know what's funny? I made a bass in 1961, before I joined the Stones, and it was a fretless bass. It was the first fretless bass ever made. I didn't know that at the time, and I didn't know that until 10 years ago. It predated fretless basses by about five or six years.

    "I've just had a bass made that's a clone of the '61. It's called the Bill Wyman Signature Bass. It's short-scale, lightweight, it's everything I need. I used it during some summer festivals, and it was fantastic. I think it'll be a great bass for young people to learn on because it's small - it's not this big bass that's heavy and hard to manage."

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