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Playing 'ska'

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by benj0iner2oo3, May 22, 2004.

  1. benj0iner2oo3


    May 22, 2004
    I just started playing bass a few months ago and I was wondering if anyone could help me out with playing "ska" music. Any advice or tips you could give me on getting my speed up and keeping my sound smooth would be great.
  2. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    Find a horn section, and study ska bass lines would be my advice
  3. Spoiled Grape

    Spoiled Grape I <3 Darkstar

    May 29, 2003
    Riverside, CA
    Depends on what you mean by the word "ska."

    Often people misuse the word in applying it towards punk-ska bands like reel big fish, rancid, and less than jake.

    if that is what you are talking about, I'd advise you worry more about playing straight punk 8th notes in simple arpeggiations. (sp?)

    if you are talking about Two-Tone type ska (aka The Specials, Madness, English Beat) I recommend you work on your disco chops because there is a heavy relationship, especially when it comes to bass.

    if you are referring to traditional jamaican ska (the skatalites, desmond dekker, roland alphonso, prince buster) than you will need to work on playing laid back like reggae, except with a walking edge (alot of early traditional ska bass players were heavily influenced by american rnb as well as jazz, and would often steal famous riffs.)
  4. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Listen to alot of early (pre-reggae) Jamacian ska music.
  5. josh_m


    May 5, 2004
    Davie, Fl
    learn arpeggios, a lot of "ska chords" are barre chords or inversions which means the major arpeggio of the root normally fits in great. dont over play though, and don't be afraid to play over a change, if you are walking and there is a chord change you dont have to play the root over the change, the 3rd, 5th or 7th normally works well enough without overpowering the chord. The other intervals may be too powerful and really not well suited to play over a change. Also learn "the blues scale", its a fingering pattern that gets played over 12 bar blues a lot, getting comfortable with this will help when making stretches.

    That's the pattern, use proper fingering on it, 2 1 4 1 2 1 4 1. Practive it with a metronome and try to do it steady 8th notes, start at 60 and work your way up. Try it in other positions also, it is a bit easier higher on the neck so I start my students with it in 2nd position on the E, then have them move back and forth from the E to the A. I teach them this at the beginning as a fingering exercise and then later again when I'm teaching the theory behind it, the second time I move them in odd places to make sure they know the notes and not just a pattern.

    There's probably some more, but if I told you I'd have to charge you :ninja:
  6. benj0iner2oo3


    May 22, 2004
    Most of the 'ska' I listen to are bands like, "The W's" and "Five Iron Frenzy". I dont know how yould classify them, maybe 'punk-ska'.
    Josh_m, I know that "blues scale" but I learned it a bit different. The way I learned sounds exactly the same but the notes are a lot closer together. Im not sure how to show tabs in my post or I would show you what it looks like :meh:

    Thanks for the tips so far, anything else you can help me with is great.
  7. josh_m


    May 5, 2004
    Davie, Fl
    it's probably using open strings, the point of using it as an excercise is to get used to stretching your pinky, it develops a lot of strength if you do it enough. If you move it up the neck starting at the 5th fret and use my pattern and then use yours they no longer sound the same because instead of the 5th (E) you are playing the 4th (D).
  8. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Try shouting "hup hup" and "pick it up" every 2 minutes and you'll be well on your way. :D
  9. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002
    Actually Reel Big Fish has some cool ska basslines in some songs. Your best bet though is just to listen to alot of ska. Learn your basic major and minor scales. And even some blues lines, they tend to fit in nicely from time to time. Also, work on your speed, if you're looking to play some 3rd wave stuff alot of it is really quick.
  10. SuperSluggard


    Jan 2, 2004
    Use walking bass lines.
  11. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002
    This reminds me that I've always wanted to start up a ska band. But I can never find decent players that are into ska in CT.
  12. Danksalot


    Apr 9, 2003
    Dallas, Texas, USA
    Endorsing Artist: SIT Strings
    I think the W's are more of a swing band, but they're a fun band! FIF is great, but their newest albums are getting farther and farther from "ska" in it's purest form. I'd listen to some of their earlier albums, I learned every bassline from "Upbeats and Beatdowns" and just played along with the CD over and over.

    It's a shame that they will not be together anymore, I think their last two albums are killer! I understand that they broke up for good reasons, and on good terms, so that makes it a little better. They will be missed.
  13. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Check out Fishbone, their ska songs are a more unique take on ska. They more or less single handidly "created" Mr. Bungle's first album... sorta.
  14. seequeue


    Feb 13, 2004
    I'd just like to point out that that is NOT the blues scale, it's just a very common riff. the blues scale is the root, flat 3rd, 4th, flat 5th, 5th, and flat 7th of a normal major scale (so like c, eflat, f, gflat, g, b flat, c).
  15. josh_m


    May 5, 2004
    Davie, Fl
    I know ;) that's why it was in quotes. It is an apparently common name for the riff. Don't know why though.
  16. EmmSee


    May 23, 2004
    Boston, MA
    It's the famous "blues line" ... mixolydian mode, over those dom7 chords. I can feel it now... bpm = 75