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Playing with a drummer

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Crimsai, May 20, 2011.

  1. Crimsai


    May 17, 2011
    Hi guys,

    I've been playing bass now for about a year and a half, and I am now playing with a local church band where everyone else in the band is significantly better than I am. I feel like I have gotten to a point where I don't have (many) problems with knowing what to play (looking at the chords and playing along), but I'm really not confident in how to play it. Like, I don't know if I should just be playing whole notes or quarter notes or whatever. I normally just play whole notes until someone tells me otherwise (Which doesn't feel particularly good).

    I'm guessing that how to play the notes comes from working with the drummer, but does anyone have any tips for this? I feel like this is something I really need to work on but I don't know where to start.

    Also, I've noticed that when I'm playing I tend to play staccato a lot (just personal preference, I feel it sounds better). Should I not be doing this when playing with a band?
  2. EricssonB


    Apr 5, 2011
    CoSpgs, CO.
    I hadn't played in a band since 2007 (ugh) until I started playing at the Base Chapel here. I don't like the music and I'm an Athiest, but a regular gig is a regular gig, I guess. I think my wife approves though - points for me, right?

    But in any good rhythm section, the bass and drums should click together. Could you get some one-on-one time with the drummer to lock things in?

    If you remove the rest of the band, would you two sound good together?
  3. fmoore200


    Mar 22, 2011
    I'm assuming the songs you play in church are the most syncopated. If they are like most Anglo praise songs, then they probably resemble easy listening pop rock. If that is the case the bass players job, unless specified otherwise, is to outline the harmony and not get in the singers way.

    Follow the kick drum primarily. If you can follow the melody that can also been done, but usually as a variation - you know, to add a little spice.

    Edit: are NOT the most syncopated, sorry. :D
  4. rmkesler


    May 6, 2009
    Winder, GA
    Get some recordings of bands/bass players that are similar to what you guys are doing and start listening. I imagine your band mates can point you in the right direction if you're not sure who to listen.
  5. mbart203


    Dec 29, 2009
    Definately playing with the Church praise band will make you a better player as long as you continue to try to grow in it. I did very much the same thing, not long after starting to play I joined the praise band at church. It's generally a safer place to play and I also started just kinda keeping to the root notes and letting 'em ring. I then got more comfortable and started looking at my bassic major and minor scales and tried to add a little here and there and at first I also found octaves to be safe little add ins.
    I would definately record band rehearsals if possible and then further hone your lines on that. The praise band I was in rehearsed on Thursday nights and I always tended to be dead tired and unable to fully concentrate at rehearsal. I recorded reheasals and then on Friday and Saturday I worked out better bass lines.
  6. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    I agree with all of the other responses, great advice. Here are a few other tips:

    1) Practice improvising lines from a chord chart (or just make up a chord progression) to a drum machine. Find a drum pattern that works with a particular progression and then "play" with it---play different rhythms, play it at different tempos, etc. Then when you feel comfortable with that drum pattern, play the same progression over a slightly different drum pattern. After awhile of doing this, you'll get used to listening for the important drum parts.

    2) As was already mentioned, listen to the original artist version of the songs you play at church. Also, there are usually multiple versions of the many of the more popular songs--listen to as many versions as you can, taking notice of what the differences are. Sometimes they are subtle, sometimes dramatic.

    3) If you have to improvise a song, one common technique is to alternate a couple of patterns. For example, play whole notes through the verses, but pump steady 8th notes on the chorus. That's an easy way to liven up your root note playing.

    Once you have a handle on these type of things, it's time to learn a bit more: adding other notes such as the 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc. Learning walking bass lines. Learning fills. These types of things.

    By the way, if you haven't already, join the P & W bassist club on this site...you'll get a lot of tips specific to playing bass in a church setting.
  7. Don't take criticism to heart too much. Playing with others more experienced than you can give you tips. They aren't saying you suck or you would've been fired by now.

    Also+ 1 to one on one time with the drummer, even just 30min after each practice. That's the most important thing to get used to, and I know I wasn't trying for years, so good for you. If you miss a note don't let it ruin the song for you. Play on!
  8. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    What I like to do is play along with a solo guitarist/singer on YouTube. Just about all of the CCM hits have mutiple versions along with multiple tutorials for that single guitar worship leader. Hence rarely a bass line just a chord change and I can practice walking through a change.

    With Black Gospel it tends to be a piano who plays everything and leaves little space but it is a starting point.
  9. Crimsai


    May 17, 2011
    Thanks for all the helpful responses, I'm definitely going to try getting some one on one with the drummer. If I can, I'll record the practices or maybe try to get a copy of the services when I'm playing.

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