Old Time Bass Advice

Discussion in 'Bluegrass [DB]' started by goodgig, Jul 5, 2013.

  1. I'm playing a show based on 1930's Gospel radio that takes place right before the Grand Olde Oprey was formed. Anyone have any suggestions in bass players/gospel groups past or present that I should listen to to capture the style?
  2. If you listen to a lot of the hillbilly and gospel music from that time you'll find out a bass was rarely used. Many groups used a couple of guitars with one of the players playing a simple bass line. Actual basses seemed to show up more in the late thirties and forties.

    Check out Riley Puckett's guitar playing to get a good idea of the "bass" sound. Puckett played with Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers. If you listen to much of this be advised that many of the songs are not exactly politically correct.

    As to what you should do, if you want to play it accurately, I'd keep it very simple. You will hear walking on some of the early recordings but it was usually based on half notes as opposed to quarter notes used in more modern music.

    That being said, playing the old time stuff can be pretty enjoyable. Have fun.
  3. Hey Steve - Thanks for the info. Interesting point about the use of guitar to play the bass lines. I've been poking around Youtube this AM and see what you mean. I also play a bit of acoustic guitar (Martin D-15) Do you know if Riley P also played the chords on beats 2 and 4, or was his style to just lay down the bass line? Kind of hard for me to hear. I like what he did on Cripple Creek. Displaces the beat on the I - III - VI - V line - great stuff.
  4. neddyrow

    neddyrow www.simmerinstew.com Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2011
    Cortland, NY
    I would say listen to Doyle Lawson - he's got some of the best gospel stuff these days. Sometimes with only a guitar or straight a Capella - despite him always having a bunch of ringers backing him up on banjo and dobro.

    I also have a Martin D-15 and if you go along with Steve's advice, it would be the best guitar to use! I bought that guitar 8 years ago because I loved the low end it had. Sometimes too much. I've even thought to use my fdeck with it to help at certain venues.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd push playing bass but if the setting calls for less dynamically speaking, you've got the perfect guitar to make it work.
  5. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

    Apr 6, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Fishman Transducers, Aguilar Amplifiers, Ear Trumpet Labs
    Check out the John Hartford records, Wild Hog in the Red Brush, with Jerry McCoury on bass and Hamilton Ironworks, with Larry Perkins on bass. They both have lots of good and appropriate Old-Time bass playing.
  6. Thanks guys for the help. I enjoyed listening to your music suggestions.
  7. He did both.