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Need a crash course in modern country/western - HELP

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by NeonVomit, Feb 26, 2021.

  1. NeonVomit


    Jan 29, 2013
    Ok so I'm a metalhead (studied classical music and some jazz at university but been playing metal/hard rock of various types almost exclusively since then).

    A friend of mine asked me to do some recording work for her and some live shows (when that becomes a thing again). I said sure thing, she has a really great voice and I've liked her work which so far was with a sorta progressive-rock band.

    She sends me the demo tracks and they're pretty good - but definitely in the country/western rock vibe. Which is cool, the songs are nice and all but I have, like, zero knowledge of the genre. Gear-wise I think I'm pretty much ok (I'll use my MM Stingray and Mesa D-800) so that's not a concern I don't think.

    So I set to work and I've come up with a few basslines working on them, but something feels off. I dunno - harmonically everything 'fits' and is correct, but I feel something is lacking, there's no 'vibe' if you get what I mean.

    Sessions start in 2 weeks so I gotta figure something out by them. Since this is a paid job I can't just wing it, I have to go in there and deliver, even moreso because it's a friend - I want to do a good job for her.

    Anyone got a quick playlist of stuff (artists or specific songs or even specific bass players) I should listen to to get into the whole vibe of the thing?
    PlatoFunFactory likes this.
  2. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    What kind of Country/Western? Asleep At The Wheel type of stuff?
    NeonVomit likes this.
  3. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    If it's upbeat modern country with a female lead your after, Carrie Underwood, The Band Perry and even early Taylor Swift would be a decent start.

    If you want specific songs from the three, (in order) listen to Cowboy Casanova, Chainsaw and Picture To Burn.
    five7 likes this.
  4. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    This may be a bit dated, but this is what country rockin with a female lead was like when I was involved in that style of music.

    NeonVomit, bearhart74, GregC and 2 others like this.
  5. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
  6. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I'd be asking my friend to provide some appropriate recordings to get inspiration from.

    I'm a classic rock kind of guy, but both gigging bands I've been in covered some country - one female lead and another male lead. I'm not much for c/w in general but I have to admit that the "newer" stuff can be kind of fun and there is a lot of leeway for what kind of groove I can apply to a lot of these songs. And simple is always an option.
    Sam Dingle and NeonVomit like this.
  7. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    I use an active 5 Low B on 2 New Country acts I work with.
    YouTube New Country female artists for sampling. One thing I
    noticed is the bass line at times will double the vocal for a measure
    then back to bass line. Lots of slides up/down.
    Good luck
  8. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Beat me to it!
    BassCliff likes this.
  9. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    Here are a few ideas that have served me well. A lot of country music is root-fifth, or a dotted quarter note followed by an eighth note, or a straight arpeggiated "walking" bass line. You can make it a little more interesting if you like but don't get too busy. In country music you want to be the foundation that nobody notices. Note choice is more important than the number of notes you play.

    Here is an example of my favorite "root-fifth" bass line with some extra grace notes and fills. This is just about as busy as you'd ever want to be in a real country song. This is a fairly modern re-recording of Merle's classic.

    These are a couple of my favorite walking bass lines in country songs.

    This one alternates between root-fifth on the verse and walks on the chorus/bridge.

    Simple, foundational, let the vocals shine.

    A cha-cha feel that starts with 'quarter, dotted eighth' and arpeggiates later in the song to build.

    If you want a more "modern" country feel then just think 80s rock. :p

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  10. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    "But @BassCliff -- is there any money above the fifth fret in C&W?"

    Hope you and yours are staying well!
  11. You absolutely nailed it!
  12. pbass2


    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Lots of good advice, and of course without hearing the music hard to know some things--is it old school, modern, poppy country, more Americana, honky-tonk, etc etc.? So many variations. Just listen to as much as you can to whatever is close to their style. It's all about the pocket, the spaces between the notes, and adding a little to the arc of the song as it develops.
    It's also about the right sound in the mix. My advice for the sessions, as someone who's done a lot of country/roots recording: You will most likely just go DI, you probably won't need your amp, but ask them if they want you to bring one. Maybe the studio has an awesome B15 they like to use. But, you'll prolly just be DI. More importantly (and I'm sure lotsa folks here will give me the usual TB grief about this), while your MM may be OK as you say, and make everybody happy, you should also have a Pbass on hand. Yep, not a Jazz, and not something that "can get close to a p if I pull this knob", etc etc. A decent passive Pbass. It can say Fender or Squire or Lakland or whatever on it but the tried-and-true passive Pbass design. Borrow or rent one(or maybe the studio has one they like). Flats would be great, rounds would be fine. Just a good solid P. This is a paid session as you say, you want to deliver, you're new to country, and you don't want to walk into it with just the MM sound as your only option. The P is the most-used bass sound in this kind of music. My 2 cents. Oh, and have fun.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
  13. Most of the modern stuff has driving 8th's with the drums. Basically, do what works with whatever the drummer is doing. For a while, you could pretty much channel some mid-'70s Ambrosia and be good, but the more recent stuff is rock or worse sung with a twang and with distorted chickin' pickin' guitar. My dear friend JT Corenflos played on a buttload of that stuff and the guitarwork is just beautiful. He passed in October and I miss him dearly. But, I digress. Just follow the drummer and keep it simple.

    Speterc, foolforthecity and NeonVomit like this.
  14. 57pbass

    57pbass Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2004
    Bayside, New York
    Track down some of Willie Weeks bass work while he was living in Nashville..he recorded with a few country Super Stars and killed.
    NeonVomit likes this.

  15. What best to learn from than the perfect country n' western son?
  16. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Manitowoc WI
    I played in a country band for many years and less in more as Cliff said be the floor everyone stands on
  17. I think this is the answer. There’s no shame in wanting to better understand music outside your primary genre. Furthermore, I can’t imagine anyone being unhappy to share the music that influenced them.
    GregC and NeonVomit like this.
  18. NeonVomit


    Jan 29, 2013
    I have no frame of reference!
  19. NeonVomit


    Jan 29, 2013
    Ain't got a P lol. Might as well go with my Marleaux, can do ant sound.
    elkkid2 likes this.
  20. NeonVomit


    Jan 29, 2013
    Thanks everyone for your input and all the links! Will check em out and ask for examples of songs as a guide!
    zoonose and PlatoFunFactory like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Apr 14, 2021

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