Octaves on bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by BehindTheMoon, Sep 7, 2001.

  1. OK, I think I am going to get stuck into this question business now I am no longer a TalkBass virgin. :eek:

    I've heard octaves been used a lot on guitar, and used them a bit myself, but not so much on bass. True, there is Whole Lotta Love. But other than that...

    So beyond:


    Do you use octaves? I mean octaves played both notes at once. I'm just curious.
  2. All over the place, but not both notes at once.

    In my teens, about 300 years ago, I over-used them. So, then the trick was to add interesting fills between the octave notes.

    Then, that got to be gimmicky, and I learned to use them sparingly, unless the original version of a song demands them, like a funk slap and pop thing.

    They can be a crutch.
  3. SuperDuck

    SuperDuck Guest

    Sep 26, 2000
    Rickbass is right, they can be a crutch, but used sparingly and in the right context, they can sound really damn good! I think I was in the same situation a few months back, where I was sliding octaves in everywhere, until I stepped back and realized that it didn't, how shall I say, sound good? I definitely use octaves more when I do it sequentially, that is, one after the other, but occasionally I do play both at the same time as you mentioned.

    A lot of guitar players do use octaves, but usually it's with the use of effects. A very famous example would be Jimi Hendrix's Fire. Back when I was a beginner (on guitar) and was trying to learn it, I was playing the octaves, and it was somewhat difficult, but I got used to it. Imagine my suprise when I found out it was done with a pedal! I think it was the Proctavia, but don't quote me on that. (Ok, that was kind of a tangent, but I enjoyed it.)

    An octave pedal can give bass players an interesting effect, but I generally think that it's kind of overdoing it, because then you're playing octaves ALL the time.

    Taste is the key.
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Octaves sans effects-
    Wes Montgomery? George Benson? :confused: :D

    Anyhow, as far as using octaves(both notes being played together), yes, occasionally(usually my own stuff; usually, hopefully, in a Funk vibe).
    Basically, I'm attempting to mimic what an Octaver does(the only effect I've ever bought is an EBS OctaBass)...I may play a D(5th fret/A-string)with the D(7th fret/G-string)& then move the high D down to a C(5th fret/G-string...a D with it's Dominant 7th).
    Plucking hand? I'm using the thumb on the low note(A-string) & a popping motion with the index finger on the high note(G-string).
  5. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    I've just gotten into using the octave effect on my Korg Pandora when I play my 6 string above the 12th fret, particularly if soloing. First time I tried it was on the lead bass part on Rhonda Smith's "Intellipop". Man what a cool sound I can get outta that. It adds a bit of body to the thin notes played on the D, G & C strings , but it doesn't override the quality of the higher note, if you know what I mean.


  6. Nothing better then the natural harmonious ringing of octave notes played at the same time. WHat I love more is the play the 1 and the 7th at the same time, and hammer on the octave.
  7. nil

    nil Guest

    Apr 6, 2000
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Open-string octaves are a fav of mine when I need to accentuate a low note - E/open-E, A/open-A/A - etc...

    Other than that I usually use octaves to add spice to syncopated lines.