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Noodling More? Are Ya?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SurferJoe46, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. I'm finding that when I get comfortable in a jam, that I tend to run octaves above the normal bass line - but I feel I have a good reason.

    Normally I think playing the bass line as it was done (in a cover song, that is) is all well and good.

    But when there aren't enough guitars or keyboards to pull off a decent rendering, it seems to me that if we can't pull the song off as originally played, that give me a license to get into guitarland and add some fill.

    Maybe I just take the bass up an octave - not throwing arpeggios and leads, just not staying in the same chord boundaries.

    If I don't go there, they can just sound hollow or weak - so should I not try to help fill the voids?

    Maybe I just shouldn't care - nobody blames the bass for a bad rendering - right? Heck, most people don't even know there's a bass in the mix anyway.

    But I find it kinda embarrassing if the group as a whole sucks for lack of depth.

  2. sammyp


    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada
    what you're talking about is good ...but it has to be tasteful ....

    and you should be aware of over thinking how the band sounds or if it's lacking cause you're playing "normal" bass lines and registers .....this kind of paranoia can lead to overplaying and mess

    rock n roll is designed to sound good with a good guitar, good drummer, good bass all doing the normal thing with good tone and timing.

    IE ...i once played with a bass player who kept wanting to "fill the holes" on play that funky music ...so he would copy the guitar line and slap ....it just wasn't cool, messy and non foundational, killing the groove.

    he kept saying ..."i just want to fill it up" ....

    don't be this guy!
  3. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    I get what you're saying, sammy, and I suspect we both agree that the take-away from watching a sloppy player lose the groove isn't "don't go high, and don't fill out the arrangement" but rather "don't be sloppy and lose the groove."

    Sometimes in trios or small combos, the players need to share the load in covering signature parts. If the bassist can cover some lines while keeping the groove and the bottom end, then as long as it sounds good, it is good.
  4. john grey

    john grey

    Apr 19, 2011
    Oracle, Arizona
    If you avoid the pit-falls of overplaying, it sounds like the "responsible" thing to do because if you notice to "lack" the audience may also.
  5. Mr pickelz

    Mr pickelz

    May 11, 2011
    Yep I agree!!

    sometimes when I have a creativity block I'll whip my phone out and record bits I want to fill the void on, doesnt matter if it's bad quality. Take it home and just find something that fits nicely. Alternatively speak to the other band members who'll probably agree and see what you could add as a band. And please, for the love of god avoid too much octaving!! :p
  6. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    That's what happens once you finally REALLY know your neck. It'll cut back after a month or two of solid bass b*****ery.
  7. ^^ yeah - I can see that.
  8. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I tend to use gigs as a platform for trying stuff out, within reason. You can never lose sight of job one, which making the tune work, but there's usually room for a little experimentation and embellishment within that framework - not necessarily stuff you would do if you were tracking the tune in the studio. That's one way of keeping things fresh for both you & and the audience.
  9. maxiegrant

    maxiegrant Bassist in Transition

    Nov 26, 2007
    Sellersburg, IN
    If I need more noise during a part (I play in a three-piece) I tend to fret power chords or octaves. If that's too much nonsense during a part I sometimes make more subdivisions (16ths instead of 8ths) or make my bass noisier. However, I rarely do covers. Usually this is in the context of music I've written.
  10. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    A short melodic idea in the bass part can do wonders. Think Chris Squire. Nothing sounds cooler than a bit of well thought out counterpoint.
  11. matti777


    Dec 13, 2007
    Edmonton, Canada
    I think throwing in the fills later in the song adds interest if you have a repetitive line.
  12. Stilettoprefer


    Nov 26, 2010
    The funk bassist in me adds fills to a lot of songs that didnt have them originally. I also like to have more exciting lines in songs that I am part of writing. But I only noodle when it fits and is necessary.

    And knowing your neck is an awesome thing.
  13. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Mount Prospect, IL
    Some good points already here. On many of the songs we do, we can't make up for the keyboards, extra guitar tracks and whatever else two guitars, drums, bass, 3 vocals can not do. On certain songs, I will add lower octaves, higher octaves, distortion, more notes and so on.

    However, it takes a lot of discipline to know when you are playing too much. If I add anything to a song - it MUST flow with the drummer. If I play too much around the beat, the song can turn into a mess. Sometimes people get so caught up in filling up a song that they miss the idea of "space". There are moments of no bass playing and/or quieter sections for a reason. If you feel the groove getting lost in a song while playing, get back to the basics. Keep it simple FIRST, then add more.

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