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Lil' reggae help, gang.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by skwee, May 21, 2011.

  1. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Ok, my friends:

    I'm seeing a ton of mixed messages about reggae playing, and am in a little quandary.

    We're doing reggae covers of some 60s stuff on our next show. A mentor figure (the drummer-30 yrs experience) years ago insisted that I play the downbeats, allowing the other parts to play off the dB. This makes the most musical sense to me. My younger colleague, who is of the guitarist persuasion (not a "gui****"--this guy is a gentleman and a wonderful musician whom I respect) has asked me to play offbeats, which puts me in alignment with his playing, and often the organ part. The tunes are his arrangements, so I want to accommodate him, but I believe he is wrong, even though he knows a lot more about reggae guitar playing than I know about reggae bass playing.

    I've listened to every Marley song I own, but the trouble is that I can't really hear the bass parts, and I don't often believe tab parts/transcriptions because of sketchy online sources. :(
  2. If possible, try both- preferrably @ a rehearsal/practice- & use what works best.
  3. robboy


    Jul 13, 2006
    Boca raton Florida
    Learn the parts from the recordings of Family Man's parts. It becomes obvious what to play. Also, listen to as much Reggae as you can. You have to learn the vocbulary of any style of music before you can play it convincingly. I think from what you are saying that your guitarist is wrong. I play Reggae every week with Island players and the guitar/piano plays on 2 and 4 while the bass plays downbeats in different places depending on the style. One drop, Four on the floor, etc.
  4. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    The problem is that "reggae" has become a catch all name of a massive genre. Perhaps the drummer and guitarist are both right. As I understand it you are not attempting to be a reggae band but rather add a reggae feel to some pop/rock standards. And its you and the drummer versus the guitar player? Many say that reggae is a bass and drum driven genre however for the casual listener its the scratch of the guitar which makes it reggae for them :meh: Probably something with the speakers like you have not picking out the bass in Marley's recordings.

    :bag:Well a chain is as strong as its weakest link, you can be right and throw the guitar, singers, dancers...off beat. And it may be better for your band and audience to be wrong
  5. makkE


    Jan 19, 2010
    Normandie, France
  6. AndyCotton

    AndyCotton Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2008
    Guilford, VT
    Reggae is a mix of up and down beats.

    The all-down feel in the begginning of that Ed F. video is more of a ska approach. A wonderful feel, for sure, when you're in that style.

    If you watch a little further you'll see that the lines he plays are much more about the 8th or 16th notes and the way they feel, rather that always being up or down.

    One common approach is to play almost continuous 16th notes while leaving gaps or rests (both small and large) in interesting places that will help it groove deeper. This can get too busy at the quicker tempos, so use it judiciously.

    For starters, match the feel of your 16ths to the way the drummer is feeling the high-hats. Once you understand where he is its ok to put your own natural feel against it. Its not about lining up perfectly, but complementing one another.

    Another important thing is to be consistent with your line. Pick a pattern and repeat it. Too much variation takes away from the steady vibe of reliable foundation that you want to create here. And by too much variation, I mean almost any whatsoever. People need to feel an unquestionable faith in the bass wrt reggae and dub. Like breathing. You don't pay much attention to it until there's no air. Then you notice! Of course everyone loves a good clean steady supply of O2, though, and will appreciate it if you give it to them.

    The Ashton Barrett bass lines in the Marley/Wailers stuff is pure poetry. Its hard to tell whether the chords or the melody or the bass line came first in almost all of those tunes. They all work so perfectly together as to be inseparable. As a result, probably not the best place to start unless you are covering Marley tunes. When I do play Marley/Wailers tunes, though, I love love love learning the bass parts note for note. Again, its like reciting the best poetry.

    Here's a new tune that I've really been digging and I think the bass is pretty much perfect:
    Black Dub - I Believe In You
    YouTube - ‪Black Dub - "I Believe In You" Live Off The Floor‬‏
    (that's a live version - you might want to refer to the album version for an even deeper experience).
  7. Intenzity


    Oct 15, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    You can't hear the bass?

    On a Bob Marley record???

  8. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Laptop speakers, my friend. :(
  9. AndyCotton

    AndyCotton Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2008
    Guilford, VT
    yeah you're going to want some headphones for this
  10. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    I also have a bunch of Marley tunes and live cuts that are using the bass organ/clav sound is covering up the bass guitar sound.
  11. Philbuster


    May 9, 2011
    You can't really expect to hear any bass from any genre properly on laptop speakers!

    Get you some headphones and start groovin. I sometimes even find it difficult to make out exact bass frequencies from recordings when I'm listening to floor speakers trying to learn a song. Of course, my room is 14x14 so that certainly has something to do with it. Headphones will help you hear the bass more accurately to learn the part. Stereo/floor speakers are good for playing along with the recording once you've already got the part down.

    As far as playing on the downbeat or the offbeat, that's just gonna depend on the song and what kind of feel you're trying to give the song. I would venture to say a little bit of both? Kind of hard to answer without hearing the exact arrangement.
  12. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    All great reggae bass lines have one thing in common. They are melodic.
    Also, 9 times out of 8, they lay back behind the beat.

    Try to connect the roots of the chords with a melodic hook, lay back, leave some space, and drop a heavy, thumpy one-drop.

    Listen to 10 Foot Ganga Plant. LISTEN TO 10 FOOT GANGA PLANT.
  13. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Thanks, y'all. This is all very helpful
  14. Shakin-Slim


    Jul 23, 2009
    Tokyo, Japan
    Yeah man, lay back, play melodic stuff if that's your thing. Just chill with it. The rhythm the guitar lays down and that the organ or whatever also does takes some of your role away. But the good thing is that opens up a new path for you. It's not all rhythm anymore. But I would definitely emphasise the downbeat and let your melodic ideas sometimes accentuate the upbeat.
  15. voodoobassist

    voodoobassist Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2008
    Tulsa , OK
    I'm heading to Jamaica tomorrow. I SOOOOOO wish I could take my bass with me! Afraid it's not to be though......:rollno: Sorry that this is of no help to the OP, just had to get it out of my system. :bawl:
  16. Rycebag

    Rycebag Supporting Member

    Feb 22, 2008
    Reggae to me is all about feel and the vibes. The notes you don't play are just as important as the notes you do play! Play what your feeling in that moment.
  17. Session1969


    Dec 2, 2010
  18. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
  19. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Tanks, Stumbo. those are good links. I've been working on my fills, which is helping me to come up with the regular stuff.
  20. dbhokie


    Nov 1, 2010
    If you planning on doing covers, or listening to other's bass lines to try and emulate or learn from then there is one thing you SHOULD (IMO) spend decent money on.

    Get a GOOD pair of headphones, Bose QC's, decent Sennheisers, a decent pair of Sony's something. I prefer ones with noise reduction to really get into the tracks, but seriously, open your world up with hi-fi stereophonic wonder sound. Get some headphones.

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