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Playing in a duo

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Biggbass, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    The older I get and the more I play gigs the more I'm digging working in a duo. At first it was a challenge to try to bring to the music what a bigger band can. Then we settled in to what we can do with just an acoustic guitar, a bass ,and vocals, with the help of a digital vocal harmonizer.

    The guitarist I work with doesn't play any lead parts, just rhythm. And he's very solid on guitar and vocals. So it's evolved over the past couple of years to me playing all the intro riffs and solos on the bass, which is a pretty cool sound. The people who come to hear us play seem to like it. And one of the best parts of this whole thing is there is no band drama, no heavy hauling, and we can set up and be ready to play in about 10 minutes. Load out is just as easy.

    With so much of this experience being positive, compared to the pros and cons of working with a 6 or 7 pc band, which I also do, I'm looking toward doing this more and doing the big band thing less.

    Any other bassists who work with duos here on TB? What's your experience with it?
  2. LeoSash


    Feb 13, 2012
    I've worked in a duo setting once or twice live with a piano friend of mine (plus many many MANY practices over the span of a year with him and a 4 piece.) I gotta say its challenging (i'm on upright for this) to keep the beat going (we play jazz) by myself as well as solo, but i gotta say it's alot of fun because its very stripped down. Different, challenging and fun.

    I hate bigger bands as well, it gets to be a pain for me trying to communicate with 5 or more other people on song choice and style. With 4 or less, it becomes much more tight and less drama and less musical issues (though i'll work with 5 people, but thats a stretch, as well as a big band because its chart reading).
  3. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Check my sig for my work with Folk in A.
    It's a really satisfying gig with a great musician who is also a great collaborator and human being.

    It doesn't get my "groove hard and lock with the drummer" needs met, but I can get that elsewhere. What it does do is give me a wonderful outlet for creativity, taking a bit of the spotlight and providing several kinds of support.

    I'm with you - it's a good deal all around.
  4. emblymouse

    emblymouse Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2006
    Lakland Artist Endorser
    Here hear! The challenges and rewards of rhythmic freedom!
  5. I personally love it. One of my older guitar players and I play acoustic guitars in duo. It's fun stuff!
  6. N.F.A.


    Jun 25, 2009
    In a blue funk
    Never played bass in a duo. Used to play guitar or bouzouki in a duo, with a really good flautist/french horn player. It was lots of fun and went over very well with audiences. We were making it all up as we went along too!
  7. powderfinger


    Feb 24, 2009
    I worked *for* a duo once, as the *utility man*. It was these 2 guys (acoustic folk duo) who thought they were the next coming of Simon and Garfunkel, cept both of them thought they were Simon, and neither wanted to be releaged to Garfunkel status. They constantly bitched and moaned at each other. It was a maddening experience.

    I was on it this for the cash, mind you, and I really didnt do that much. I played some acoustic bass, keyboard on a couple songs, chimes, noise makers, blah blah. Eventually they hired a drummer, and I was going to play bass full-time. However, I had made up my mind to quit and was on my way early to rehearsal to tell the duo. I had told the keyboardist that I think the 2 of them had a bromance gone bad, going on.

    Well, when I walked into the studio, I saw something much more intense than a bromance.... let's just say it was Cinemax worthy, and it was happening on top of the bench I sat on while playing/recording. I immediately made like the wind and blew the joint!
  8. The most money I ever made was in a duo. Me on bass, a guitarist, both sang and did harmonies, with a Dr. Rhythm and tracks on cassette. We also had a Roland drum unit with a foot pedal. Ol' Roland was always on time, never noodled between songs, never got drunk and fell off a stage, no meter issues, was never too loud...

    Did a New Years gig six hours away in my wife's Chevette with a Peavey Satellite system (two little speakers that slid into a sub), I went direct... we got $1600 in 1987. The only expense was $60 in gas. $800 each. A frikkin' fortune back then. Averaged $300 - $400 a week each. Did it for two years.

    Less drama, less gear, more money, easier to get gigs... You get pretty tight after a while playing with a drum machine.

    I did miss the excitement of a live drummer after a while tho'.
  9. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    Does an acoustic trio count? Kinda?

    I did an acoustic coffee shop gig with a friend of mine when he wanted to try out some of his new material in front of an audience. So it was vocals/acoustic guitars +6 string electric bass (me) + Djembe and extras. Simple and sweet, with a lot less drama and load times. I also got to push myself a bit when trying to figure out how to do the bass lines while covering the important melody bits from the CD's piano and guitar stuff. It was a lot of fun, plus the coffee had me :hyper:

    Enjoy your duo!