Playing in a trio

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by kirk498, Oct 1, 2002.

  1. kirk498


    Jan 17, 2001
    I recently started playing in a trio and wanted to get some feedback on how that style should/will differ from a larger group setting. I've played in bands with 7 members down to 4 people, but never as a trio. Any suggestions on what should be emphasized in this setting? Tricks/tips for helping it to sound full?

  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    What style of music? What instruments? 'Distortion pedal' might be a good answer for a power rock trio but probably won't cut it with a cool jazz trio.... :oops:

  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    It doesn't have to sound full. Space is one of the advantages you start to appreciate as a trio.

    If you have to fill the space, I highly recommend getting some CDs by Robben Ford & The Blue Line. While some of the tunes have extra instruments, Roscoe Beck does a great job there of filling the space with tasteful fingerstyle and tapped chords.
  4. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    Theres more room so try to fill it. Dont fill it too much. The other non hitting things instrument will dictate how much space and what to do with it.

    Piano/keys-a lot of 'modern' keyboardists use a multi timberal jobby. In english this normall means piano and a string pad. Feel the spaces and if they try to play like a concert pianist hit them with something hard.

    Guitar-the poodle permers try to fill in too much space with riffs and wonder why it goes pear shaped when they solo. Get them to back off the rhythm and when they solo you get a bit busier.
    Acoustic guitarists tend to root chord jinky jinky through every song so get melodic get high (pitch) and get the fretless out.

    Sax flute digeridoo-good luck

    hope this helps and hope you get the bits that were meant to be humerous. English dead pan humour doesnt always translate to the www so :D
  5. kirk498


    Jan 17, 2001
    Thanks for the feedback fellas.

    We're an original rock band/jamband. We're basically playing a lot of the same material we were playing in the larger settings, but with less members so it definitely sounds a lot different.
  6. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    If it's rock, you could certainly consider adding some effects to your setup and also maybe working some rhythm guitar style chordal chops into your bass playing repetoire.

    On the other hand, the advice already given, about not having to fill all the available space is probably the most musically mature starting point.

  7. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    I'm with CS here.

    When there are heavy chords going on, you'll want to stay somewhat simple (fewer notes per bar, more roots) so you have somewhere to go when the power chords drop out and the guitar goes to single notes (bass goes more notes per bar). When the solo starts, you will want to play many more chord tones -- the 3rd, the 7th -- to help define the chord changes.

    What you're doing is trying to balance the song sections. When the guitar's doing a lot (chords) you don't do much. But when the guitar's only doing one note at a time, you play more to make up for the shortfall.
  8. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    A trio is one of my favorite formats... Space can be used so effectively, dynamics almost seem to happen by themselves... I'm with eli... when the guitar, (or chordal instrument), is chording/riffing during the song, keeping the bass line minimal gives you someplace to go when the chords drop for solo excursions. It takes surprisingly little to fill in and support... no need to get overly busy...

    My current band played as a trio Firday, which very much stressed out the guitarist/vocalist... We have a substitue drummer filling in while we search for a replacement, but both he and I have played in trios quite a bit... very nice to lock in and have someone groove through the whole song on the same plane as myself! Our next gig will be a return to the four-piece :(

  9. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    This is going to sound biased, but.....:
    In a trio (I've played in many) the bass should be about 30% louder than a full band situation. You have to fill more space. Not neccessarily with notes but sound. (If this creates too much low end, roll some off, but don't turn down).

    How many times (both live and on trio studio tracks) have we all heard a rock trio that sounded more like a guitar and drum duo and then the guitarist goes to solo and its like "where's the music?"

    IMO the best sounding trios were the ones that the bass was on par, volume wise, with the guitar.
  10. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    I've done both trio and bigger band setups. I found that in the bigger bands, I tended to stick close to the drums. The fewer instruments, the more space (as already pointed out), so I found myself playing right in between the drums and guitar. This is where knowing what to play is really important. You want to fill only in those places where it's going to be supportive of the song. Sometimes, you might fill a hole, while other times, you might find following the lead line makes more sense. I found in my own playing that approaching the bass as a rhythm guitar tonally, and a drum rhythmically seemed to work really well. My personal opinion is that your role as bassist is to tie the other two instruments together. What I've heard from Robben Ford is a really good example of this. Roscoe Beck plays very complementary to the song.
  11. Melodrabass


    Oct 3, 2002
    Redding, CA
    I play in a ska band trio... ok.. well, it's punk/ska and we don't have horns, we have a reggae tune too... But It's pretty much what I am used to playing. I like it being just the threesome cuz well... It's easier to set up practices, heheh... and it especially helps since the 2 other guys are brothers. check us out if you want.
  12. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    Trios are very satisfying IMHO. I think as a general rule, you need a fatter/fuller sound. Your part also should be able to convey the song by itself to a stronger degree than it frequently does in a 10 person group.
  13. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    the last trio i was in was a cover band. alot of the music had 2 guitars in it. when it came time for the guitar solo, id make sure i did a rhythm over the solo to keep things sounding nice and full.