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People Who Play In Cover Bands - Low Notes Where There Were None?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by GK Growl, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. GK Growl

    GK Growl

    Dec 31, 2011
    Mods please move this if it is in the wrong area

    I'm a recent 5 string convert and I find myself more and more using lower notes on certain covers where there were none in the original recordings. Not using them to carry whole measures or anything but dropping some at certain places:

    - Jessie's Girl - Low D at the end of song
    - Kryptonite - Low B at end of song
    - Rebel Yell - Low B before guitar solo, quick low D during the chorus
    - Two Tickets To Paradise - Low D during the chorus
    - 18 And Life - Low B before guitar solo, Low D flat at end of song
    - You Shook Me All Night Long - Low D at various places during song
    - Harder To Breathe - Low D flat at various places throughout the song

    etc. etc.

    Does anyone else do this and are your bandmates ok with it? We have plenty of other songs that we do that stay below E for large chunks of the song (Face To The Floor, Bodies) but I kind of like dropping a few bombs here and there. Is it excessive?
  2. i do it all the time. but i normally do it to more or less enhance the dynamic shifts in a song...rather than in every song...but i do use the b-string on notes e and above...i find sometimes its a little brighter sounding...
  3. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    The problem with many 5 string players is that they tend to over use the Low B just because it is there. I have always believed that if you are a cover band, you should stay as true as possible to the original. Nobody wants to hear your interpretation of a hit song. (It's different if you are a well established international artist.) Over use of low notes can muddy a song and drive people away.

    I played a 5 string for many years but I now primarily use a 4. If you really think about it, 99% of songs were recorded on a 4 string and a 5 string only gives you 5 lower notes than a 4 string. It does come in handy on some songs but too many bass players use it where it doesn't belong.
  4. Rodger Bryan

    Rodger Bryan Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2006
    It sounds like you are applying it tastefully- the impact of a the low register would be effective in those cases.
  5. +1, well spoken

    As a bass player who vacillates between 4's, 5's, and drop D on occasion, I try not to get too fancy with the low B or dropped D and just play the line faithfully, as recorded in the original hit version that is most familiar to the majority of your typical mainstream audience.
  6. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab ACME,QSC,Fame/Hondo/Greco user & BOSE Abuser Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2004
    South Texas
    90% of the time I don't carry a 5 string but use an octave sim to cover 5 string songs.
    The only time I do the Low Notes Where There Were None is when a solo part of a song we've played 100's of times happens and we tend to trade off guitar-keyboard-guitar. Usually on the 2nd guitar-go-round I'll drop the entire bass line down just to entertain the band, the audience, and myself but not damage the song. The sim tracks well down to a low A(or G if played carefully). The low A ALWAYS gets a look of amusement from the band and sometimes a look of disbelief from a probable bassist in the audience.
  7. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    The "sonic bomb" is a very cool thing, when used sparingly. Doing it too frequently takes the impact away. It sounds like you have a handle on it.
  8. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    My cover band is interpretive. We recognize that there is no way that a 3 piece plus 1 (lady singer) can cop all the parts of the recordings we emulate. So we arrange to imply and make it our own. We don't lack for gigs... Folks don't seem to kind that we aren't using 64 tracks...

    I pull out a 5 for a few tunes mostly reggae where I just change the line up when it feels right.
  9. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I think the main thing to keep in mind is that those really low notes are going to be indistinguishable to a lot of people a lot of the time. Having said that, I feel about those notes below E a little like I feel about swearing: used all the time the impact becomes lost but used sparingly the impact can be substantial. :)
  10. claytitan


    Mar 12, 2008
    Nothing wrong with putting a low D in where you feel it. The low D is pretty distinguishable. Any thing lower than that though and you are starting to just make noise to rattle teeth. I used to play a fiver but moved back to 4 with a hipshot for drop D. It is tempting to use the low C and B at the end of songs in those keys when I'm holding a fiver. I'm not sure it is really effective.
  11. mccartneyman


    Dec 22, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Managing Editor, Bass Guitars Editor, MusicGearReview.com
    If you think it adds to the tune, why not? If it muddies things, avoid it. Remember that 99% of the crowd will not know what octave you're playing in anyway.
  12. MrDOS

    MrDOS Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2006
    Colorado Springs, CO
    I love the "colorful language" analogy.
    I replaced a 5-string player in my current band, and a surprising number of folks comment on how much "cleaner" the low end is.
    I primarily use a 4-string with a hip shot D-tuner, and personally feel too many notes below D make the songs sound like a smooth jazz radio station :)
  13. There's nothing wrong with adding bass notes to covers. An excellent use of this is to stay high during verses, go low during choruses and end on the low D, C, B or whatever fits. I suppose overused, the dramatic ending loses its impact but keep in mind that it may sound boring to you because you hear it over and over again but to the audience, the flair is new to them because they are hearing your version for the first time.

    Even in classical music, adding bass really makes a difference. I got enamored with Boccarini's Minuet - the best version by far was an obscure recording with a heavy continuo or double bass. It took me a while to find it and I had to dig out the playlist from the radio station that played, but the extra effort was worth it.
  14. Depends. If you are a good band with your own style, I'd very much like to hear your version of a popular song. But I play in an originals band and when I watch a good cover band as an audience member I'm very forgiving of people getting creative, as long as they do it well.

    A cover band we team up with for shows sometimes does a heavy cover of an Almond Brothers song where they take it down on the low B string and slow it down a bit. I think it's cool, as it's a band that covers heavy stuff anyway.

    Last night after our set another band came on after us and did a rock cover of Lord's Royals. I am friends with all those guys and didn't know they were working on it, and the drummer sang it and totally owned it. Bravo to them.

    I agree with you that it doesn't always work, though.
  15. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    I am primarily a 4 string player, but when I do use a 5 string, I tend to under utilize it. So, from a backwards perspective, I see how what you are doing could be cool.
    I guess the real question is...how well does your rig and the FOH handle the low frequencies? If your rig/FOH handles it well, it could actually add a lot to the songs. But it could also muddy things up. So it really just depends.
  16. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    My bandmates always loved it when I dropped a low B on the ending chord in Tina Dico's (sp?) 'Count to Ten'. They positively freaked every time. There were others but I never did it much as I liked playing my four string better.
  17. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    Oh I do it all the time. I dont use my 5er all the time but I use the low notes sparingly like the OP said. My main bass a Ric has a hipshot detuner so I can get the low D. For example, we do American Band and I will bang a low D for the main "riff", people love it. Again, its all about picking your spots and not overdoing it.
  18. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Where does D fit in Harder to Breathe at all? Are you playing it in a different key? last I checked it is in C#.... and they don't play a d chord in that song at all.
    Other than that you sound like you are tastefully using your "extra" note range.

  19. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I primarily play 5ers and will throw in lower notes every once in a while. We're somewhat of a jam style cover band so we do play around with different stuff and get a great response doing it. It keeps things interesting...
  20. metlman72


    Jun 29, 2011
    Long Island NY
    I believe he said D flat, not D. I go with if it sounds good play it. It has always worked for me.