New Bassist Looking for Tips on Jamming with Others

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by still laughing, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. still laughing

    still laughing

    Jul 11, 2005
    Hi, I recently bought my first bass (Yesterday, as a matter of fact). I bought a five string Ibanez. I've been playing guitar for about two years and bass for about one day and two hours. Due to my guitar experience, I am fairly good at playing fingerstyle on the bass already.

    I'd like to begin jamming with two friends of mine, one who would be playing electric guitar and the other who would be spinning and scratching on turntables. The problem that I run into is I've never really played with other people before; I'm mostly experienced in playing songs by myself.

    Now, from what I understand the bass generally plays in rhythm with the drums and plays in the arpeggios of the root of the chord the guitar is playing. Is this correct? Also, what do I do if the guitar is not playing chords; if he is playing a lead melody?

    I plan on trying to jam with them this weekend if possible and would greatly appreciate any help that I can get about actually playing with others or on what I should focus on when practicing up until the jam session. Thanks in advance and I look forward to playing bass and participating in this forum.
  2. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Listen to what other bassist's are playing on tunes that are in the genre of what you're going to be playing. Think about what the bassist was playing while you were playing guitar. Listen, listen, listen... Did I mention listen?
  3. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    Don't lose the drummer or don't let the drummer lose you.

    This is pretty obvious but I've seen quite a few ppl who cannot play and keep time at the same... uhh.. time.

    The guitar scales you learned will help you out with your basslines.

    When the guitarist busts out a solo, you can play chords or just kick in some effects to fill the hole. Your guitarist can also use some effects to thicken the sound of his solo.
  4. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    My advice is listen, listen and listen.

    Make sure you know where the rhythm is. That's your first priority.
  5. still laughing

    still laughing

    Jul 11, 2005
    Thanks for the help so far. Indeed, I have been turning the bass up whenever I hear a song or trying to come up with a bass line in my head that matches the drummers rhythm while I listen. To make my question a bit more specific, though. Take a look at this example.

    Say the dj starts spinning a record and the guitarist (who does play a lot of Hendrixish styles) stats improvising with something like the intro section of this tab:

    This is, of course, All Along the Watchtower. Assume, though, it is the beginning of his improvisation. I can come up with a rhythm based off of the record thats spinning, but how do I know which notes to play? I mean, I have no idea which notes he will play next; I probably don't have the ear to know which notes he's playing now. Is it expected of a bassist to be able to come up with a bassline to something like this on the spot? I just want to be able to put out something simple that fits in right now. Please help.
  6. tocoadog


    Apr 10, 2005
    That would be my advice. I'm like you a beginner (been playing for few years, pick up something new everyday), but knowing the Key the progression is in and the chord changes within the song will help you. A good start is always the tonic note, sometimes the 2, 3, 5, b7, and octave. Mix it up.

    That's the coolest thing about the bass, imo, is that you can make up as many rthyms as you can think of. Plus, if I recall, Noel Redding played a lot of arpeggios when he played under Hendrix (heck, maybe I made that up but I think I remember reading that somewhere).

    Somewhere with more knowledge than me can help you a lot more, but that is what I do and it hasn't failed me yet :meh:
  7. bonscottvocals


    Feb 10, 2005
    Upstate NY
    Wasn't Noel Redding a guitar player turned bassist too? I know one of JH's bassists was, and that was why he played such busy bass lines, he was used to playing lead guitar.

    Anyway, it really depends on the song and from where it draws its roots as to how you go about the bass line. For a beginner, it's fine to just ride root notes in time with the kick to begin with. There are several popular songs that don't have more than two or three notes in the bass line. Many players will start by playing a simple root or root-five, then build on that within the song.

    If you are adept with your arpeggios, you can play them under the chord progression while paying close attention to the drums. Another approach is to play close to the vocal melody. Try singing the song and matching the notes.

    Most importantly, when playing with others, listen to what they're doing. Don't make the mistake of falling into your own groove and forgetting that you're on a team. Have fun.
  8. DrewBud


    Jun 8, 2005
    The guitar player should be playing in a specific key, or at least over a set of changes. If he's playing anything he wants regardless of tonality he might not be the best person to play with at this point. If he's playing in one specific key you can play around with the chord tones of that can also make it seem like the chords are changing by playing a IV or V on the one of a bar...Sometimes playing the VI as a "root" note has some cool effects. That's one way to make it seem like the song has changes even if it's all around the same single chord.

    If he's playing over a set of in All along the Watchtower then you'll want to at least hit the roots of each chord and play notes within the scale of those chords so that the chord progression is still heard regardless of what notes the guitar player is playing.

    Doing both of those things will also help the guitar player come up with ideas of what to play.

    Those are just some basic ideas...there's so much more you can do especially in a trio setting where sometimes the actual chord can be somewhat ambiguous depending on what each player decides to do.

    I'm not going to get into what to of if they're throwing in substitutions 'cause that would be a little nuts...hope this helps get you started :)
  9. Kurisu


    Nov 19, 2003
    Saskatoon SK
    These (the posts above) are the rules of walking basslines, as far as I know. I'm working my way through Gary Willis 's Fingerboard Harmony and I'm learning a great deal about what sounds good with what. Maybe take a look at that book, or another walking basslines book.

    Those that are more experienced, Ed, Jazzbo, Pac, Chris, etc. am I right, or should the O.P. look at something else?
  10. ghostbaby


    Jul 14, 2005
    Also, don't be afraid to ask the guys you're playing with what the chords of the song are. Don't feel like you have to guess; you are not going to be good at instantly picking up the changes of a song at first (or ever :))!

    I used to jam with all sorts of people a lot in college when I was first getting serious about the bass, and generally someone would pick a chord progression, and we'd kind of just play through that until we got bored, then do another. Or someone would kind of yell out key changes, and we'd change keys.

    Most importantly, have fun and relax! You seem to be getting pretty worked up about it. No one expects you to be Les Claypool onstage at Bonnaroo when you're just starting out. :)
  11. still laughing

    still laughing

    Jul 11, 2005
    Thanks for all the responses guys, they are really helping me. I do have a question which I think once I get this straight will make everything fall right into place. When you speak of chord changes, who is playing these chords? Are you talking about the beats and such that are coming from the turntables, because the guitarist isn't really playing chord riffs, just a melody in whatever key. Would the Dj know what chords are on the records? One disks just keeps playing a beat and the other plays something that he scratches to. Sorry for being so noobish, this is the first time I've had to worry about this kind of thing, before I was just making up my own stuff and didn't have to worry about any other people's playing.
  12. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    12 Bar Blues Pattern. You can layer almost anything on top of it.
  13. Perhaps you could come up with a chord progression and ask the guitar player to follow you.