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Playing with an out of time drummer ??

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by NS2A, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. NS2A


    Apr 3, 2008
    At times, with fill in work, I play with less than solid drummers.

    Any tips on how to compensate as a bassist?

    Lock into the guitars? Lock into the click which we SOMETIMES have clicks). Lock into being out of time? :meh:

    And no, I can't just not play. I take what gigs I can take.
  2. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Simplify everything.

    It sucks, but when it comes to playing in bands I'm honestly only as good as my drummer is.
  3. Just suffer through it. As a gig-whore myself, I know the pain only too well.

    I just concentrate on attempting to lock in with the kick and play a lot less fluff. Locking in with someone else is IMO a waste of effort; if the Drumber isn't in time, no one else will be...
  4. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    put a "bass only" monitor right behind the drummers throne and tell him to ride the rhythm like a jockey rides a horse,... it works every time!
  5. +1 to simple lines. I sometimes have to just play the 1, with great exaggeration to just keep things together. As far as locking in,..lock in with yourself. In these types of situations, you're the only one you can count on. I recently left a band of really nice guys because of this exact situation. There's not much worse than feeling like you're sole purpose of the night is preventing a train wreck. :rollno:
  6. Sparkdog

    Sparkdog Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2006
    Burbank, CA
    There's really not much you can do, but pointing your cab at him or otherwise positioning it where he can hear it really well sometimes helps.

    That, and suggesting that you work together to lock down the rhythm. Some drummers (and some bassists too for that matter) are honestly not aware that we are each only HALF of the rhythm section and cannot do the job alone.

    IME it's really tough to enjoy a gig with a crappy drummer, all you can do is survive it :)
  7. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    Give him a broad, fat target that he cannot miss. Keep it basic. (It's not 'playing down' to someone if it sounds good.)

    Build solidarity. Tell him that you're keying on him to keep your stuff together.

    If you succeed at elevating his game and it sounds good, don't be annoyed if he claims the credit.

    Get your money at the end of the gig.
  8. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX


    Pay attention to the drummers kick leg, play less notes, and let the kick carry the bass.
  9. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    Boy, is a whole night of THAT ever draining.
  10. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    Amen to that! Been there, done that. The only thing that works is to forget the licks and fills and just play downbeats and maybe the 3's (assuming 4/4). It tends to make everything you play sound more country, but it's the only way to keep things from taking off to places unknown.

    IME this situation has always been somehow correlated to the alcohol consumption of the drummer. Funny how that works, eh?

    Also, thanks to all of you for reading and comprehendding the OP's question about FILL-IN work. It is obviously not an option under these circumstances to "work with the drummer to help him improve"!
  11. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    Been there, done that, don't want to do it again! Not much you can do with a rhythmically challenged drummer. Click track or metronome may help.

    I currently play with a good drummer but I still put my amp behind him and stand so that he can see my right hand fingers.
  12. billhilly66


    Aug 25, 2007
    Plano, TX
    Man, I hate that. I pretty much stare at my shoes and tap my foot real hard.
  13. Ask the guy that hired you to fill in on the first break. Do you want me to try to hold the tempos steady, or just follow the drummer?

    Basically, if the drummer isn't responding to your smoke signals, at some point you're going to drift apart if you don't give in. A song sounds better too fast than coming apart at the seams and trainwrecking.

    There's only 2 options, hold the line and make him come to you, or you smooth out the variations as much as possible but stay with him.

    If I'm filling in, they're used to doing the songs too fast, I'm not going to fight it unless I'm asked to. If its my band, we work on it, but its too late to work on it at the gig.

  14. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    + 1 to every word said in this thread. :)

    If the drummer sucks, the bass sucks. No way around it. We have the choice of doing our best to lock in with them, and then having the same horrible timing - or - keeping it steady, but then we're not locked in. Unfortunately only thing I think that can be done is what was suggested, simplify things where possible, suck it up, get paid, and make believe it didn't happen,

    I recently audtioned for a band where they were also auditioning a drummer and decided I will never do that again. It is virtually impossible to shine (within a band setting) if the drummer can't play.

  15. Amen! Playing as a sub or having a sub drummer in your band can be nightmarish scenarios. Honestly, those are the most stressful gigs to do IMO.
  16. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I played with a horrible drummer once. Once.

    Nothing you can do IMHO. You can tap your foot and try to keep the right tempo, but sooner or later he's going to drag you down with him.
  17. billhilly66


    Aug 25, 2007
    Plano, TX

    Like a freakin black hole!
  18. denhou1974


    Mar 6, 2008

    Drink more alcohol and think about positive things.
  19. I was just going to post something along this line.

    Really, if a drummer can't keep decent time, he's not a drummer. He's just some guy banging on a drum set. Just keep it simple and pray you can get through the night without any songs getting derailed too much.
  20. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    Simplify your playing & be the Metronome. Internalize the beat & draw the other players to your sense of time. It is the a good way to get through the gig & will get you a reputation as a solid player. Some of the drummers may ask what's going on & you can, gently, tell them they are losing the downbeat coming out of their fills & need to 'shed a bit more. Recording the sessions will make those conversations with drummers a little easier. You may even find better drummers out there, after a while.
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