Jamming with a guitarist and drummer.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Smith_brc, Jan 23, 2014.

  1. Smith_brc


    Jun 17, 2013
    Hello bassists! Quick question on jamming with the dudes. Jamming with the drummer is easy(feel free to throw in tips) but with the guitarist.. Need help there. I always need to ask what key they're in to find what to play(still don't feel I'm doing it right) so any tips? Let me know!:bassist:
  2. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    There's a lot to be learned from Victor Wooten's 'Groove Workshop' and his audiobook 'The Music Lesson' - in many way they cover the same material but in wildly different ways. Consider them complementary...

    He talks a lot about 'The Key.' Basically - there are 7 notes "in" the key, and only 5 that are not. Just pick one. You have a better than even chance of it being in the key. If it's not (i.e. it does not sound good) move up - or down - one fret, and that note -will- be 'in.'

    Then - if you've been listening to the form, structure, and change pattern, you should have a pretty good idea of what to play next.

    I wish I were as good at practicing this technique as I am at explaining it, but there ya go.
  3. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    What part will you play, melody, harmony or rhythm?

    1. The drummer will be providing the beat or rhythm.
    2. The guitar will probably play chord accompaniment and sing the melody. So he/she gets the melody and the harmony and his strums flow (fit) with the rhythm.
    3. What are you going to provide?

    Sounds like the beat is being provided by the drummer and the harmony and rhythm are being provided by the guitar and his voice takes care of the melody. So what is needed? Where does the bass fit into a jamming situation?

    Chord tone accompaniment. Our basic job is to provide the beat (or augment the beat being played by the drummer), call attention to the chord changes (root on one does this) and help the vocalist keep from speeding up. We do that by locking in on the kick drum and playing the notes of the active chord in the song, i.e. we are a part of the rhythm section.

    So the bass line (the bass clef) belongs to us. Start with pounding out roots to the chord you assume is active. When you feel you have selected the correct chord then start adding something besides the root. The 5, 8, correct 3 or 7 are good candidates.

    Jamming session; Song called out; "The next one is Kiss Ole Kate and let's do it in G. Ready one and two and...."

    From your question I believe this is where you need help. OK the song is going to be in the key of G. That means the people providing melody will use the G scale for their notes. The people providing harmony will use the chords made from the G scale notes (this is where you come in). Which chords? Good question. I do one of two things. 1) Hope for a chord chart, i.e. fake chord sheet music on that song. Or 2) assume the chord progression and watch the guitar's fretting hand and change chords when he does.

    Most basic Rock, Country, Gospel, etc. will be in a major key and use the I-IV-V chords of a specific key (C, G, D, A, etc.) G's chords are:
    G, Am, Bm, C, D7, Em, F#dim. G is a major key, what are the major chords in the key of G? Look above --- yep the G, C & D7. Those are your money chords. Those three chords have every note in the G major scale in their makeup thus those three chords are all you really need to harmonize any melody using the G major scale for it's tune. Songs in a major key will use the major chords in that key as their foundation, the minor chords are the color and or flavor chords. Jamming to a song you have never heard before just worry with the major chords first.

    And here we start assuming or rely upon a chord chart.

    Sounds like you could use a scale chart and a chart of the chords in each key. Help yourself; http://www.guitar-chords.org.uk/chords-key-c.html

    Have fun.
  4. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    As you might have gathered, there are many methods for doing this. Eventually you will want to use all of them at the same time. Here's a few ideas.

    When you're just starting out at this stuff, the easiest strategy is for you to start a jam, don't wait for the guitarist to start. To this end, learn a few good chord progressions and song forms and have them ready for the get-together.

    Another solution is to talk before you play - "what do you want to play, what chords are in it, do you have bridge for that, how about We go to D there, etc.". As in my first suggestion, this a way of getting involved in the creative process rather than just following along.

    If the guitarist is already playing, then is your ear good enough to find the root note? Even if you hit a couple of wrong notes to get there, that's ok, you're almost set. Start playing a rhythm along with the drums on the root note. If the chord changes, find the next root and so on. By the time the chord progression has gone around a few times, you should have it.

    Also use you eyes. There are two main chord shapes rock guitarists use. One has the root on the E string, the other on the A string. Until you can tell the difference, try both. If he/she is barring a chord at the 6th fret, it's very likely either a Bb or a Eb chord. When you get good at this, it's pretty easy to follow most rhythm guitarists using a combination of eyes, ears, and remembering patterns like "after the I chord he will probably play the IV chord" or whatever.

    As you do this more, it's a thrilling feeling to hear something and subconsciously recognize what it is, and join in without much thought. That might happen a lot sooner than you think! Good luck!
  5. Robus


    Aug 25, 2013
    Chicago Area
    What's wrong with asking him the key?
  6. Cycho


    Nov 30, 2010
    Turn on your radio and play along with whatever comes up. It won't take long for the mystery to disappear.
  7. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Nothing wrong with asking the key. Here is a way of doing this with out asking.

    Listen to the song being played and walk your G string up the neck. When what you are listening to and what you are doing on the G string sound good together, you've found the tonal center, thus the key. Look down at what fret (note) this happened on - that note is your key.