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Playing metal

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by metalmachine, Feb 4, 2016.


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  1. metalmachine

    metalmachine

    Feb 4, 2016
    Hey everyone. I have been playing metal for years on guitar but now I am am learning to play metal on my 5 string bass. My question is this. If the drummer is ripping a constant 16th note double kick and the guitars are grinding along with the kicks on the low B should I be playing exactly along with the kicks on the low B as well? Or every other note or what? The reason I ask is that whenever I record something with fast double kicks and I play exactly to the kicks it seems like the bass gets lost or muddy even though its right on with each kick. Almost like its one big blurred bass note. Any help or advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

    Oh, I forgot. It's not a frequency issue. Just in case you were going to ask. I have the frequencies separated enough to hear the kick and the bass clearly (bass low at 70hz I believe)

    Thanks
     
  2. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    This is the problem with a lot of metal, bass, guitar and kick drums all pretty much merge together and of course the bass is the one killed because of the situation you are experiencing. Too much low or you follow so much the guitar that you are lost.

    I think playing higher helps, playing something different too
     
  3. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Bass in metal seems to be more felt than heard. You're going to find yourself in a lot of situations where you don't hear the bass but if you stop playing suddenly, the absence will certainly be quite noticeable.

    I know that you are confident in the frequencies but it may be worth noting that bumping the mids can make a big difference in clarity as well depending on if the guitarists are scooping theirs, many bassists refuse to because it's a less satisfying "bedroom tone" but it can be a miracle in the mix.
     
  4. pedroims

    pedroims

    Dec 19, 2007
    Michigan
    Playing too fast in the lower register will sound muddy/sloppy, play at half speed and will sound solid, you dont need to match the speed of the guitarrist or drummer.
     
  5. metalmachine

    metalmachine

    Feb 4, 2016
    Thank you for your replies, all of you. Thank you especially Pedroims, that was exactly what I was wondering. I will try playing half speed and maybe even an octave higher too to see which sounds better. Getting a nice solid mix has been very challenging for sure. As Clef_de_Fa said all those low notes just get jumbled and muddy. Especially when bass and guitars are all grinding at 135 bpm on the low B string.
     
  6. Umm, get a better tone than???

    OP basically do whatever you feel is best for the song, counter melodies, slap, tapping, doubling the guitars, accenting, dropping out for beats to create a space. They're all techniques you can use to help the song become better, my approach to metal is to let the guitars & drums finish their parts and then listen to the song, find out what it needs to become better, do you create a groove? Double the bass drum so the crowd gets smashed in the gut with your sonic assault?
     
  7. pedroims

    pedroims

    Dec 19, 2007
    Michigan
    You cannot demand too much from those low notes, there is a limit, there are things that no eq in the world can fix. Metal bassists "cheating" on speed is normal and not the exception.

    To the OP, I recommend you to read the sticky thread, there is alot of great information in there.

    Demystifying Metal styles, how to make fingerstyle playing heard in Metal
     
  8. IconBasser

    IconBasser Scuba Viking Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2007
    Fontana, California
    Short answer: sometimes.

    Long answer: depends on what you're trying to accomplish in the context of the song.

    You are 100% correct in your conclusion that you'll end up lost/unnoticed if you chug along with the guitar and kick when everything is in unison. This has its places: when everything gels together like that, the tone of the section becomes this huge sort of juggernaut that sounds heavy as hell. Even if you aren't distinct, you're adding tons of bottom end to what the guitar and drums are doing. This is great for halftime sections, or spots that really focus on what the vocals are doing.

    IMO, too many bassists in modern metal do it way too much though. They forget that bass is an important harmonic instrument too, not just something to beef up the guitar tone. In many cases, if the band got rid of their bassist entirely, and added an extra EQ pedal with a low freq. boost to the end of their guitarists's effects chain, nobody would ever notice.

    A few great examples of extreme metal bands that utilize bass extremely well are Anata, Intronaut, Gorguts (new), and Krallice.

    I've also linked a YouTube video of a playthrough of one of my grind band's songs from our upcoming EP (shameless self plug). You can tell when I'm in unison and when I'm not: the overall sound gets less "heavy", but there's extra complexity for the ear to catch on to.

     
    pedroims likes this.
  9. Nomad916

    Nomad916

    Feb 22, 2016
    It's physics... Due to the low frequency, the low notes do not have enough time to develop. There is a limit, and IMO bass sounds better when heard, even if not as fast as guitars or drums.
     
    drews.anderson likes this.
  10. This is how I did it for years and it worked famously for me.
     
    Felix1776 likes this.
  11. Murdoc_420

    Murdoc_420

    Jan 20, 2016
    Colorado
    Screaming is so loud when I turn it down to tolerable level I can't hear any bass at all (Am I getting to old?)
     
  12. Murdoc_420

    Murdoc_420

    Jan 20, 2016
    Colorado
    I agree. I don't listen to really fast thrashy stuff anymore but I love stoner rock.

    Kyuss is an all time fav but the bass follows the guitar a lot and it's the one thing I don't care for in that band.
    Clutch on the other hand has more melodic bass lines that really stand out, they win on that front. Just gives it more punch and depth imo when you can tell what is guitar and what is bass.

    Plus being bass player I hate having bass drowned out, I'd rather drown a guitarist :D (No offense OP)
     
    drews.anderson likes this.
  13. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    Here is an example of mixing techniques for effect
    heavily leaning on tapping, obviously, but shows other plucking, timing choices. Bryan Beller is a favorite of mine, he contrasts as much as he follows.
    Bryan Beller
    And a damn fine instructor
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016
    highboltage55 likes this.
  14. Murdoc_420

    Murdoc_420

    Jan 20, 2016
    Colorado
    But can he do that while head banging?
     
    drews.anderson likes this.
  15. Nomad916

    Nomad916

    Feb 22, 2016
    Good question!
     
  16. Posted this in earlier thread, so cut and pasting:

    I shot and uploaded this video in response to a thread started a while back where this guy was asking how you come come up with dynamic lines over a chugged/pedaled power chord.

    The guitar is playing an E chord with some licks thrown in 90 percent of the time.

    (note: the first few minutes I'm getting warmed up, and it starts to cook at approx 2:50, 3:00 minutes in.

    This is more idea-based than technique-based, but maybe you could glean some concepts from it :)

    P.S. I'm also an ex-metal guitarist turned bassist. Good luck!

    Addendum: My stepson, who I'm playing with in the video, also has an 8 string guitar which goes really low! Instead of trying to compete for the low frequencies, I either play lines higher, or make judicious use of octaves. When using octaves I find that it helps to place the higher note on the 2 (the kick being the 1), with a pronounced accent in the dynamic, on that second note.

    Not only does it help cut through, it also helps drive the groove I find.

     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2016
  17. Cuzzie

    Cuzzie Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2016
    there are some videos on you tube of Helmet songs with the bass only in the mix, the rest turned down to barely audible. You cancer at some points he will accentuate with the kick drum/guitar, others a bit slower, Bogdan is a good bassist.
    Depending on how metal/rock you are really listen to some of Duff McKagan's lines, there are some disco type, funk grooves in the background and their layering is incredible, Stradlin gets a lot of quiet respect but he deserved more.

    Also check out Jon from Black stone cherry, he mixes it up pretty well.

    One thing i aspire to play fast is holy wars Megadeth, and that has speed and groove.

    Doug pinnace Kings X is also a legend

    Its about messing about and finding groove at right points, some songs will need a pick, others fingers many be best
     
    drews.anderson likes this.
  18. Cuzzie

    Cuzzie Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2016
    DeaconBlues09 likes this.
  19. Thanks! :D:hyper:

    A fellow TBer told me that the jam reminded him of something you would hear during end credits of a Vin Diesel movie :bassist: Surprisingly apt IMHO :woot:
     
  20. Cuzzie

    Cuzzie Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2016
    An nothing wrong in that

    My jams wouldn't even make it on a Jason statham straight to video movie
     
    DeaconBlues09 likes this.

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