making bass solo need help.....

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by slapper3, Mar 30, 2001.

  1. slapper3


    Jan 13, 2001
    ok, i want to make a bass solo kinda like pulling teeth but am having trouble with ideas. All my solos are massive bends , very fast hammer on pulloffs or downward or upward scales and frankly im gettin p***ed. I want to make something melodic but then have parts that are somewhat like a metallica guitar solo(fast furious detailed!)but all of it sounds bad when i try it! What should i do? Im confused!
  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Sounds like you're making life very difficult for yourself by trying to work on too many things at once.

    I would suggest working on the theory side of what you're trying to do, as the technique will form itself if you start slowly and work up to it. Don't try zipping up and down scales/arppeggios/whatever, until you are completely comfortable with the ideas as slower speeds. Take the chords that you're trying to play over in small chunks - two chords at a time - and work on different ideas, things based on scales ideas, pentatonic lines, arpeggios and just mad stuff and see what works. Take it slow, don't set yourself unobtainable goals. If the songs you're working on are riff based, try and work out what the underlying harmony is - whether the riff implies a particular progression, or if it is just over one chord, or in one key. A lot of metal soloing is largely pentatonic, or 'blues scale' based (though the whole idea of having a 'blues scale' is somewhat odd to me, but still.)

    If you can get hold of transcriptions of any of the solos of the people you're trying to sound like, don't worry about trying to play them (Kirk Hammett lines on a bass is going to be pretty advanced stuff) but do have a look at the kind of phrases that are using, and how those notes relate to the chords/riffs.

    And as always, have fun!


  3. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    OK, I've just realised that you're talking about the bass solo on the first Metallica album - most of that is argeggio based - a lot of root, third, fifth stuff in one key. If that's the sound that you're going for, try working on your chord arpeggios - start by playing the root third and fifth of all 7 chords in the key of C, and take it from there... :oops:)

  4. slapper3


    Jan 13, 2001
    thanks alot man! cool that u help so many people every day!
  5. Fishbrain


    Dec 8, 2000
    England, Liverpool
    Endorsing Artist: Warwick Bass and Amp
    k, im a newbie on theory and wanna write solos too. I can play solos, like naked in the rain, between angels and insects, coffee shop and some others. so can i have some advise on writing solos in english plz???
  6. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Fishbrain,

    I'm not sure what context you're talking about soloing in - completely solo tunes, or solos within songs (like Naked In The Rain)? For solos within songs, take the chords for the section that you are playing over, and work out what the root, third, fifth and seventh are for each chord in the section, as a start point. Try coming up with some kind of little melody or riff that uses the chord notes over each chord. Once you've done that you can start to bring in other things - if the song is in one key, then the rest of the notes are fairly easy to find - they'll be the other notes in the key. If it's less clear what the key is, try using pentatonic patterns - the major pentatonic is root, second, third, fifth and sixth (C, D, E, G, A in C Major) and the minor pentatonic is root, min3rd, fourth, fifth and min7th - (C, Eb, F, G, Bb in C minor)... rhythm-wise, try finding little syncopated patterns that work against the drums (if there are drums) - use off-beats and accents... the whole idea of taking a theme and developing it is a very long subject to get into, so try some of the stuff above, and if that makes sense, then come back and ask more questions when it feels right.

    I hope that in some way helped...

  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Isn't this the whole point - that is, you don't write solos in English, but in music!! ;)

    Once you can speak the language of music as well as you can speak your "first" language, that's when you can really play solos!

    Sorry - couldn't resist the analogy!
  8. Ohpeanut-_-


    Aug 26, 2009
    Okay, Umm.. I just started playing Bass Guitar last year, because i saw my big brother playing it and it kinda Amazed me. So i asked my dad to buy me one.... And now a year little i can play basically anything, so i started a band. But i am having trouble making solos. i don't know what i am supposed to do to make the solos sound good instead of random stuff.

    I asked the older bassists at my school, but most of them laugh at me and don't really pay much attention to what i am saying since im a newbie and plus im a girl... Please Please help me. :crying:
  9. deadfredshead


    Feb 15, 2011
    are you sure you can play basically anything ?
  10. gard0300

    gard0300 Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Vandalia, Ohio
    I am not a huge fan of a bass solo for the sake of a bass solo. I do find that the crowd appreciates a groove established by just the drums and bass. When the guitars drop out of the mix, its the rythym section time to shine. As a bassist, you can just play a few notes and sound like a beast, if you and your drummer are tight. I find overly complicated bass solos are really only appreciated by other bass players. Just my opinion, based on my experiences. I never go into a show with a specific solo planned out. There may be a few runs or patterns I use in my playing style that I use in my solos. But, I find it much more gratifying to fly by the seat of my pants on solos and musical breakdowns. Stay in key, keep your timing and Good luck!
  11. tpltx70


    Feb 21, 2011
    Austin, TX
    I agree with the previous reply. Solos just for the sake of soloing are wanking if you ask me. Fast notes are no good without some sort of framework to build around.

    I strongly recommend you study the basic tenets of music theory - chords, scales, and basic progressions (e.g. the "blues scale" or the 1-4-5 in Jazz). You don't have to become a conductor to do so. You don't even have to sight read music.

    Learn the shapes, what notes fit together and why, and patterns that tend to sound pleasant on the ears. Then, pay attention to what is playing behind you.

    Then and only then can you build a cohesive solo. If you want to throw down your own solo with no music backing you, it's still crucial to put together the framework of what the chords or scales would be if you had a band behind you.

    Then you'll have not merely a wanking session, but a solo that doubles as a piece of music. Good luck with it.
  12. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    I'd like to support what Steve and others have advised about the importance of studying the mechanics of music. When you hear a well-realized piece of music it can be easy to get fooled by its apparent ease and simplicity. As you start to understand more about music I think you'll find that it's infinitely deep and as you work to improve, tackling little bits at a time is probably going to be a wise strategy.
  13. Mulebagger


    Dec 12, 2007
    poppin in the corn belt
    Endorsing Artist: Zon Guitars, Tsunami Cables, DR Strings, GK
    Like Michael said, try it in little bits and pieces. I've always been frustrated learing music theory because I'd rather just play and rely on my ear for things. But from time to time I'll study a new aspect of theory and find that I'm greatly rewarded for my efforts. Learning more deeply can only help you in the long run. I think many of us in this forum continually strive to expand our musical knowledge and understanding. My most humbling experiences have come when I found myself lacking in musical knowledge in a given situation.

    As for soloing... I'm a huge fan of bass compositions. I do quite a bit of it myself. Early on I think I played in a way to be impressive, now I think I've matured into writing better songs where the bass can still stand out, but is more supportive of the song.

    I wish you all the very best with your new found passion. Remember, theory is not your enemy. Strive to be the best you can be and your music will show your investment.

  14. Danny Fox

    Danny Fox

    Nov 21, 2009
    StringNavigator likes this.
  15. ddhm


    Mar 18, 2011
    Memphis Tn USA
    First, I agree with everyone that said "theory". You do need to know what is really going on to truly be expressive on your instrument. Melodies only work within chord progressions really. Now, that leads to the question "why does the progression work?" That can only be answered by theory.

    Without the theory, you would just be hunting and pecking for notes. The phrases would probably just be a jumble of notes.

    As far as soloing goes, a good start would be playing the melodies of familiar songs. They could even be the vocal melodies. You would need to look at the relationship between the melody, the progression and the key.

    Another book you could look into is called "Zen Guitar"
  16. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
  17. AidanHampson

    AidanHampson Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2004
    Southampton, UK
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