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Maturing as a Bass Player

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Flatwoundround, Feb 1, 2015.

  1. Flatwoundround


    May 18, 2014
    Short story is that I usually tend to want to show off too much flashy stuff on bass, like I need to prove something. Lately I have really stopped doing a lot of that and instead am just focusing on feeling the groove and trying to make the groove happen a little more.

    I finally get it. Its not so much about notes and flash but rather groove and feel. I am getting a lot of satisfaction playing this way and it is making our band sound better. I recently saw Willie Weeks on a Cross Roads DVD playing Cross Roads with Clapton and Willie played very layed back but great groove, not a lot of notes but good sound for the band - this is totally opposite of how Jack Bruce played it. I think Jack Bruce was top notch bass player though. Of course Jamerson style is also inspiring to play this way - less notes but making each note mean a lot more with groove and feel rather than just blazing recklessly up and down the Blues Scale.

    Curious to hear from others on this topic.

    michael_t, Winfred and RiZzBot like this.
  2. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    You already said it. And if you couple that style of playing with an easy-going personality, and professionalism, you will get a lot of gigs. :)
  3. Flatwoundround


    May 18, 2014
    It is really interesting because my tendency is to spend a lot of time practicing fills and not as much time on the main line of the groove. But now I am focused more on the feel and groove. For example, I spent some time today just playing the same repetitive shuffle line on Pride and Joy and intentionally omitted a triplet fill I throw in there. I just focused on the shuffle groove and got more fulfillment doing this and feeling it more. Common sense tells me the audience cares more about the feel than the fills, not to say fills are a bad thing. But I figure fills and solos are less than 10% of the time playing bass live so why do I spend 70% to 80 % of my practice time on those when I can improve the feel and groove of the main line more.
  4. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    Exactly. Those cool fills last less than a second. The groove lasts 3 or 4 minutes. And it makes people dance. Or at least tap their foot. :)
  5. recreate.me


    Apr 2, 2010
    Bass is all about knowing what notes not to play.

    Lay back, and pick what you want to accent in the song. Different styles of music call for different styles of bass, and not all need a bass melody like jamerson, or flashy fills. So do, some don't.

    Bass is like makeup, it can make a girl look really pretty if properly applied, but if over used...well, it can make her look like a clown.
    jnumme likes this.
  6. When I got back to playing basses after a 45+ year holiday, I thought I'd need a lobotomy to stop all the arpeggios and dive bombs. But it all went away after I figgered I COULD ALWAYS do it but didn't NEED to.

    I still practice them (arpeggios, glisses, slides and bombs, etc, but only in private) to keep my edge and full neck playing ability sharp, but getting to a solid note at the right time is much more important than playing every note in that key.

    The last 10 years or so have been filled with lots of invites to play in travelling groups, which makes me feel pretty good.

    KISS is the greatest acronym to keep in mind: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID.
    BassChuck, jnumme and wintremute like this.
  7. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    So.......no more butt jokes?
  8. I would prefer putting it as "KEEP IT SIMPLE & SOLID". The bass player who can keep things simple but SOLID is never stupid. ;)
    jnumme and Slowpicker like this.
  9. Jeff Elkins

    Jeff Elkins Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2007
    Johnson City, TN
    I read an article on Tina Weymouth in the 80's where she said this exact thing. It stuck with me as much as Victor Wooten writing that the groove was WAY more important than the notes.

    Great reminder, OP (and all). I might need to change up my practice a bit.
    BassChuck likes this.
  10. I heard a teacher of mine once say he liked playing guitar because "none of it matters, you can make mistakes and you know the rhythm sections got your back". I think that's a fundamental of bass playing that I still work on and struggle with. No matter what you play, it has to sit well and it has to be played solid with confidence. I think personally how busy, fast or advanced a bassline can be depends entirely on the player, and a great musician can play a lot or not a lot in any context and still have it work. What make a great bass player is their ability to play however they feel like and still "get away with it", at least in my eyes anyways. Look at Geddy Lee, there isn't a single Rush song that has overly simple or "laid back" bass, but you'd be hard pressed to find someone who says he "overplays".
  11. Funkmabassup


    Jul 16, 2013
    I love playing complex stuff but it always merge it with the groove to fit in the groove/feel of the song. In therms of soloing im in the position of having alot of bandcolleagues in different coverbands who actually encourages me too bass solo, and if our singer shouts: BASS SOLO, during a song hes usually not happy until i go overnboard ripping up the fretboard with crazy slapping, cant help to admit that kinda enjoy it too, but at least im not the one pushing on my bandmembers. So I guess im lucky kinda whos allowed to do that even on well paid event jobs, and the audience usually likes it too, but of course even when soloing remember too stay in time, tempo and groove.
  12. TedH


    Dec 6, 2014
    Westchester, NY
    Danny Morris from Berklee constantly pushes the concept that the bass players job is to provide what the song needs as the other part of the bass player's job is to keep things glued together and lock in the groove with the other players. Period. It's a bit like hot sauce; the right amount is awesome, too much is just irritating. And sometimes the root and/or fifth is exactly right.
  13. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab HELIX user & BOSE Abuser

    Feb 11, 2004
    Listen to Wayne Toups bassist for a good example of gluing together a driving beat and busy squeeze box together(song example: The Back Door). He's busy when he needs to be(energetic song) and less-so when the song demands it(Tupelo Honey, Tell It Like It Is).
  14. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Serve the song

    If it calls for simplicity, keep it simple.
    If it needs more flash, be flashy.

    But don't get the two crosswired...
  15. AndrewFord


    Aug 11, 2012
    Los Angeles area
    Endorsing Artist: Line 6, TC Electronics, Yamaha, Elixir Strings
    You will make a lot more fellow band members happy by laying down the groove, and even happier if you can play a killer solo when given the opportunity
  16. Flatwoundround


    May 18, 2014
    Hi Andrew,

    Thank you very much for your reply. I just bought the Blues Bass Survival guide about a month ago and am very happy with it. I am in a band and we do play the Thrill is Gone and I use the line you put in the video and everyone loves it. That line is so melodic and sounds very nice even when the bass is played all by itself. I also really like the shuffle walking line in the video and use that same exact line when we play Woke up This Morning by BB King. I plan on getting your other videos and am excited to check out the new walking bass line video (I love walking baselines).

    Thanks much.
    AndrewFord likes this.
  17. sg101


    Oct 7, 2014
    I wish I could get your mentality on playing bass, because I started off self-taught, and the first genre I played was progressive rock/metal, because it "sounded cool". What I mean by that is the alternating time signatures, less rooted riffs, more up-high fret stuff, fast riffs, speed, etc. This is how I went about bass since basically the beginning. My step dad is a drummer, a nice dude, but always rips on me about how I'm a really fast and technical bass player, but he says I have a hard time playing slower things, prettier things, playing more whole notes and feeling the groove, or whatever else. It may sounds stupid, but as a bass player for years, that kind of stuff bores me. I can play whole notes, but I always have the need to play fast and have a bit of time in the spotlight. Usually when I create riffs, they always somehow seem less rooted and more diverse note-wise compared to the simpler grooves other bassists make. I don't really know how tone that craziness down.
  18. TedH


    Dec 6, 2014
    Westchester, NY
    Play The Beatles "Something", Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On?", "Stormy Monday", and similar that have active bass lines, but not fast ones. Just play things that force you to sit back. Use a metronome with these; it works really well.
    Winfred likes this.
  19. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    The thing so many bassists forget is that both Bruce and Jamerson had strong theoretical backgrounds, but they played types of popular music. Many of us really don't have the knowledge to successfully pull off what they did.
  20. bass71


    Nov 18, 2007
    ++1 to all of the above.

    I always used to attack the strings kinda showy style but it was never really satisfying or accurate then a few years back I started paying closer attention to the playing on many of the chart tunes from the 70's, especially the soul stuff and discovered a wealth of accurate subtle playing which literally changed my life and the way I approached bass.

    Even today I will find an old tune and practise it for months on end, not to learn it but to try and hone the subtlety of the playing...most of which would have been cut by an old school session player who maybe not many would have heard of which I find so intriguing.
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