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I gotta ask country music

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Indiana Mike, Oct 19, 2020.

  1. Indiana Mike

    Indiana Mike Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2005
    Any ideas on where I can some instruction on country bass lines.

    Always been a rock fan. Expanding my horizons. Can’t find a whole lot out there.

    Any links or advice would be appreciated.
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Modern country isn't any different from rock at all. I play "Shoot Me Straight" by Brothers Osborne. That's a rock song if there ever was one.

    I can help if you give me some examples of artists you've been trying to play.
  3. Modern Country is just old rock, with different lyrics. For some classic Country, - there is a book called “The Lost Art Of Country Bass” by Keith Rosier, that I would recommend.
  4. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
  5. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    In all my years of playing country covers, I just listen to rip off the studio guys. I'm just a parrot. I hear it. I repeat it. Then when it comes to original country music, I just apply the rules of absorbed through osmosis and try to set the groove and feel. In country music the bass is the foundation and really shouldn't bring any attention to itself on purpose. We are the cake. The guitar, pedal steel, piano, etc, are the frosting. The vocals are the pretty decorations on top. Hopefully the partner in your rhythm section is not a "lead drummer" and you guys can just lock in.

    There are a few basic patterns in country music, the one/five, the arpeggiated "walking" bass line, the cha-cha, (links are to Youtube examples), and the "modern" country bass lines which all sound the same using a variation of I - vi - IV - V (1-6m-4-5).

    I've noticed that the idea in country music is to try not to be noticed. If you succeed in that you'll get noticed. :D

    Let me know if you have any specific questions. If you Google "how to play country bass" you should find some helpful suggestions.

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  6. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    The Ole time Country I played was always in a Major key. The I-IV-V progression with a ii or vi thrown in seems to be the chord progression used. It's follow the chords and play root on the first beat and the V on the 3rd beat. The fills runs, etc. come between verses.

    A walking chromatic bass line between the chords is normally chromatic or diatonic, nothing beyond that. Target the next chord, then miss it by 3 frets, then walk to it and be on it for the change.

    The walk lets the rest of the band know a chord change is coming.

    You and the drummer are the rhythm section and work together to build a groove. Lot of good ole boy country bands play from fake chord and take the sheet music on stage. Director hands out the same sheet music for all members then they fake their part. Thus the name "fake chord".

    When they start getting paid the music stands are left at home, but, if you look there may be some electronic gig books on top of the amp or attached to the mike stand.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020
    Jazzdogg, Border, voltisa78 and 5 others like this.
  7. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I second what @BassCliff wrote. Just copy the parts on recordings. After you learn a couple of sets of music you should start picking up the subtle little things country bass players do. Aside from holding down the foundation, it's not a lot, but the vocabulary tends to be subtle and a lot of players miss what is important.

    In some ways, what you don't do is more important than what you do do. For the most part just stay out of the way and don't overplay. It primarily a supporting role so you don't want to step on anyone's toes. That does not necessarily mean you won't find a mean bass fill from time to time...you will, just not very often.

    Good Luck!
  8. This. In fact, this is good advice to accurately reproduce or generate an appropriate baseline to any highly stylized genre (like blues, reggae, country, etc.)
  9. Indiana Mike

    Indiana Mike Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2005
    I think I’m wanting to do more.

    I’m doing less , often less than what the original is doing , I have no complaints, but I wonder if it’s enough.
  10. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    And thanks for fixing my typo. ;)

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  11. anightintunisia

    anightintunisia Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    If you want real country music, search for any record Bob Moore, Huskey Jr., Joe Zinkan played on and transcribe.... The lessons learned will be “this is exactly how it’s done son”.

    As far as electric, anything Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Alan Jackson, George Straight, etc.

    You don’t need a book or a Youtube lesson to learn country bass. You just have to listen to the records and use your ear. It’s about groove and playing what the song needs.
    fig, Johnny Crab, Jazzdogg and 6 others like this.
  12. Modern country (contemporary) is pop rock sung with a southern accent (whether they actually have one or not).

    Traditional country is a blend of blues, blue grass, and polka.
  13. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    I'm no country expert, so take this with a grain of salt.

    If I'm called upon to play one, two, or a whole night of country tunes, I just remind myself to sit back a little in the groove, and not to be aggressively 'on top' of the time.

    Also, I stay mindful that, every time I feel like adding a little something...don't do it.

    K.I.S.S* is my operational ethos for country tunes.

    (* Keep It Simple, Stupid)

    I played on this track and it took me a couple of takes to get the time feeling comfortable and locked in.

    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020
  14. aprod


    Mar 11, 2008
    During the final hour of a five-night residency at the Beacon Theatre in May 2013, Tom Petty told a sold-out crowd of New Yorkers that modern country music sounded like “bad rock with a fiddle.”
  15. Bass4ThePublic

    Bass4ThePublic Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2019
    Kansas City
    Learn to "Born to Boogie" (Hank Williams Jr), "Give it Away" (George Strait), "Green River" (CCR), "Big City" (Merle Haggard), "Mamas don't let your babies be cowboys" (Waylon and Willie). You'll soon get the idea if you're listening to the rest of the band. Quarter notes, 3rds, 4ths, and 5ths are the name of the game. Lock with the kick drum. Throw in a couple 8th notes here and there, but not too many. Country music is (with some exceptions) about the story the lyrics tell. If you were to busy up your bass parts, it distracts. On a final note, like playing all other genres, country is is about having a good time, so do so! Make sure to smile and stay in time!
    fig, Malcolm35, Jazzdogg and 2 others like this.
  16. Dabndug

    Dabndug Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2017
    Somewhere in Oz
    My take from listening to the greats of country bass: Less is more. Even less is perfect.
  17. Watch these bassists: you have to tap on the first one to watch it at YouTube.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020
    BassCliff likes this.
  18. Holdsg

    Holdsg Talkbass > Work Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    Start saving your money for Scully shirts
  19. ‘Cause some of them cost more than a lot of basses do!
  20. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Dec 3, 2020

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