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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. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    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


    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. 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.

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