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Jamming with my band.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Bass of Spades, Jan 11, 2006.

  1. Bass of Spades

    Bass of Spades

    Oct 20, 2002
    I have a problem with jamming. It's simple for me to just throw out a bass line and groove with what everybody lays down to it. But when the drummer starts a beat and the guitar player starts a riff, I have extreem dificulty putting something together. This freezes me up and I can't even pick out roots.

    This is mainly when we're rocking out but it happens sometimes with bluesy little kicks.

    So does anybody else have a problem "jumping in"? How do you combat it?

    Here's a slight tangent but it applies. I have noticed that the best music I come up with is constructed from the bassline up. Do you think it's just because I'm a bass player or is this common with guitar players as well? It's like it sounds like more of a "whole" rather than different people trying to play something similar.

  2. I had that. When I started with my band, all I could was play roots, so I was constantly forced to 'jump in'.

    The best (and only) way to do this is: just do it. Start by getting the roots straight until you get the 'vibe': rhythm and chord changes. Nothing wrong with asking what chords the guitarist is playing.

    Maybe the problem is 'mindset'. If you start with playing a riff, the band builds around you. In my band, the guitarist starts, drums follows. I jump in, find the voids I can fill and try to pick up a groove.

    Unfortunatly, as a bassist, it's mostly your responsibility to make sure everything comes together. So if it doesn't sound like a whole, it's because you aren't doing a proper job.

    Here's a simple trick: start by playing roots to get the chord changes, and then decide if you're going to keep a steady rhythm or a steady number of notes (for example playing quarter-rest-half with any note or root-third-fifth's in different rhythms). If you can do that with your eyes closed, do some other things. If you try to think of ALL the notes you have, you're in trouble.
  3. JustSoYouKnow


    Aug 30, 2002
    if you need to, just listen to the song through so it is some what in your head, ask the guitarist to show you what he is playing and then try to join in with the roots

    from this you should be able to work out what key the song is in.

    then try and get the feel of the song. start bouncing or nodding in time with it. i always find that i can create a groovier bassline when i am in motion with the song.

    then just start to play around with your scales and such until you hit the jackpot

    mostly in my band it will take me two or three practise sessions until i settle on a bassline

    i try to think about it as less as possible. close your eyes and hear what you want to play and then play it. knowing what key the song is in will make this job far easier. :)
  4. Pruitt


    Jun 30, 2005
    Danbury, CT
    +1 :bassist:
  5. Bass of Spades

    Bass of Spades

    Oct 20, 2002
    Thanks for the input. I do just close my eyes and listen but before I get a grasp on what's being played, they stop. So I guess I just need to talk to them about this.

    Thanks y'all,
  6. Herman


    Dec 25, 2005
    Lynchburg, VA
    Try to make a recording of your jam/practice sessions. Then, on your own with the recording, you can work out some bass lines for the tunes. Even if you're just jamming and will be playing something different the next time your band gets together, this'll give you some ideas that you know work in different situations. This works really well if your band is trying to get some songs down as you'll have the bass lines all figured out for you next practice.
  7. FriscoBassAce


    Dec 29, 2004
    Frisco, Texas
    Independent Manufacturers Representative
    +1 on that last post.

    You might also try jamming along with the radio, tv or a CD. When I try to play along with something I'm not completely familiar with, I can usually make a bass line that fits.

    Good luck!
  8. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    If you spend a modest time learning scales and modes (in the keys that you mainly play in), I dont see how you could have any problem jumping in a jam. You just need your hands to be ready.

    It follows that you'd probably have a hard time improvising bass solos also.

    If I get lost in a jam, I find a low root and play rhythms until I can figure out what is going on.
  9. thekyle


    Dec 25, 2005
    Breckenridge, CO
    I've been in a jam band for about three years now, and even knowing my guys as well as I do, it is sometimes hard to know exactly what the chords are. So I have to use the old standby...watching my guitar player's hands. Usually I just make them follow me. Our jams come out better that way. It is usually a way more tight and focused jam, mainly because I just get in a groove and don't focus on how to make it weird or sound cool, but I also have to be on point enough to follow when someone feels something different. Hand signals, head nods, etc. are also all useful.
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