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Learning new styles and how to adapt

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by dkziemann, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. dkziemann

    dkziemann Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    Endorsed by D'Addario
    Hey everyone,

    I'm not really new to bass guitar, I've been playing on and off for about 4 years, but my main instrument is upright bass. I'm almost 18, and have been taking lessons on upright for about 7 years (I also have a pretty strong footing in electric guitar too). Anyways, most of what I have been doing on upright is jazz, and basically the way I've been playing electric bass is taking the patterns I've learned on guitar and using what I know from upright bass and I've been able to do pretty well with that.

    With my question- I just got a new teacher (but I figured I'd ask here). I'm playing bass in an acoustick rock band now, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to adapt to that style better. I've been playing jazz for about 7 years, so I know my walking bass line theory, harmony, I can feel sides of the beat and pulse (pretty well for my age) and I've transcribed a lot. I'm not sure what to do about bass guitar. We're recording in a month so I just planned on transcribing a bunch of DMB and James Jamerson type bass lines to get some creative inspiration, but I'm not sure if theres any other reccomended people to listen to, or any other approaches. Like I said, harmony is not a problem, it's just constructing bass lines on the electric. Any open advice, etc is muchly appreciated. PS- I know a month seems like a short time, but I'm really a hard worker and a quick learner, so it's not really a huge tackle for me. I planned on playing atleast an hour or two everyday to get ready.


  2. nsmar4211


    Nov 11, 2007
    If you're playing rock.........try not to think too much and just hold down the groove. Completely depends on which style you guys are playing and partially what your bandmates think. And if you are doing covers or originals.

    I learned on blues when learning bass, switched over to rock with my current group. Walking? Fergit it. Don't use it.......don't need it. Pull it out for a couple of jam spots and that's about it. I do find the knowledge of scales and modes and walking lines makes it easier to figure out the patterns (hey......that's just a 1/4/5 inverted!) and helps on improv spots.

    Try to be more like the drummer than a jazz virtuoso...... rock is all about the beat. Your job..........hold the beat. :bassist: If you want to play jazz........join a jazz group. Just like if I want to play blues I'd have to go hang with the blues guys (and I still do). As for writing lines........ boil down the song to its skeleton, find the groove for the skeleton. See how that works. Then move the groove around the neck, add a few notes here and there when it sounds good. Some songs, simple is better. Some songs, crazy is better. Mix it up a bit :)
  3. ysand


    Mar 26, 2005
    Yes, while improvising is an important thing in jazz, in rock is almost un-wanted.
    My opinion is to add your personal touch (like with a small riff of your own) in a part or two of the songs, and concentrate in the groove of it.

    If u're used to play lead bass it's quite hard to adapt to the simplicity that most rock songs have, because u might get bored easily. The key is not to think about it and just have the fun of it

    As an example, with my former band we used to play songs like Keep on rocking in the free world from Neil Young, where the bass lines are just 16ths ( or how u call it in english) of E, D, C all the time. Pretty boring if u play that alone. But partying with the rest of the band around u when playing it live is a nice feeling

    Just add your touch to the songs and rock! :D
  4. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    Steady eights on the root are underrated. Practice them. A lot of people think anybody can play them, but I think it takes a lot of practicing to really play them tightly and have the timing and duration of each note totally under control. You can vary the groove to have a strong driving feel or keep it slightly laid back. You can also experiment with playing them like "do-doo-do-doo-do-doo-do-doo-". Try sixteenths and shuffle grooves as well. Practice endurance at high tempos.

    Most of it is about having control over the muting with your plucking hand. The first exercise in the exercise sticky is good to gain control over the length of the notes so you can play them either staccato or legato without using your fretting hand for muting. Of course you can mute with your fretting hand too, but it's good to know both methods in case you ever need to pump out staccato eights on an open string... :)

    Good idea to transcribe some Jamerson lines. You can also check out the book "Standing in the shadows of motown" with a lot of his basslines transcribed already. Highly recommended. :cool:
  5. Deacon and the other dudes said it right. Try to avoid walking and as boring as it sounds keep steady 8th note rhythms (it really is harder than people think esp. when you get bored and trail off). This isn't to say you can't walk in rock, but use that skill sparingly. They'll stand out a little too much. Many rock bass players don't limit themselves to 8th note streams, but it's good to learn this first before going off and doing other stuff.

    The thing with Jamerson is that he brought a lot of the techniques he learned in upright to bass guitar (and of course he established a lot of unique techniques as well), so while it's great that you're transcribing his lines he isn't going to help you much when it comes to rock. Easiest thing to do is, well, listen to a lot of rock bands. There's tons of good rock bass players out there.
  6. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    It really depends on the song and setting. But there's an old (true) adage that says: if you can play jazz, you can play anything. You have music theory/transcribing experience on your side.

    Think about singing parts as horn solos where you pedal the root/fifth. Adding little hooks and riffs is all about taste (same thign as turnarounds), but since you know harmony and can play around the beat, I don't doubt you know about economy and simplicity.

    If by accoustic rock you mean stuff like Dylan, you have the easiest gig in the house. Quarter notes, mixed in with some syncopated modulated groove will keep you and the crowd entertained all night. Pounding eight notes in an accoustic setting never worked for me.

    I'd check out some of the bass lines from Dylan, Paul Simon, The Who, Oasis, etc. Basically, any band that has accoustic playing in it will be an inspiration. Paul Simon's stuff is pretty tasty and can add some edge and playfulness/emotion into straight root peddling.

    Also, listen to some country and blues without horns, it'll give you pointers on how and what to shoot for. When it comes to bring the old accoustics, rock borrowed heavily from these genres.
  7. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I would recommend doing a lot of listening to the type(s) of music you are going to be playing, ask the band members what their influences are and who's sound they most closely want to emulate. You likely have more than enough technical skill, you just need to get the sound into you're head. While playing acoustic rock may leave you short on notes and chord changes, other things like tone and consistency of attack can gain in importance. If there's only two or three chord changes in the whole song and the bassist misses one of them it can be very devastating.
  8. My bad. I did not notice that you were in an acoustic rock outfit. That's pretty different than hitting 8ths. But again, listen to similar groups as the other guys have said.
  9. nsmar4211


    Nov 11, 2007
    LOL My group is considered an acoustic rock group and I play plenty of 8th notes... far as I'm concerned, I'm plugged in :).
    What sort of songs are you doing in the acoustic rock group?
  10. dkziemann

    dkziemann Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    Endorsed by D'Addario
    The kind of music is mainly just pocket stuff. It definitely has a pop feel to it, but mainly it's about pocket. I've been listening to a lot of Dave Matthews band and just other acoustic stuff too (like Ben Folds Five, etc etc) for some guidance.

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