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Playing with drummer

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by mrlocrian, Aug 14, 2005.

  1. mrlocrian


    Aug 6, 2005
    Any tips on how to play bass with a drummer and fill in on gigs?
    Just started playing bass recently from guitar.
    What do I listen for?
  2. PaulF


    Nov 17, 2004
    There's no 'rules' - you can do what you want.

    I like keeping my basslines 'tight' with the Kick Drum, so if I'm just playing root notes (or something very simple), I like to play the same rhythm as the drummers kick drum.

    However, if your drummer tends to play what he 'feels' and doesn't play repeating patterns, this can be hard.

    I was a drummer, so I do tend to play bass rhythms in a drumming style (I often find myself playing octave root notes, with the lower one emulating his kick drum, and the high one his snare), but there are many ways you can play 'together'.

    That said, my all time favourite is playing unison riffs with the guitars :D

    Hope this helps....

  3. Andyattalkbass


    Aug 11, 2005
    Definately start out listening to the kick drum, lock in with this and things are going to start to sound tighter. The best way is to just find yourself a drummer who is willing to jam with you. Theres no substitute for getting out there and practicing it in real life.

    A decent drum machine might be of use to you as well :)! Although unlike a real drummer this will generally just repeat the same beat over and over with very little variation, but it will still definately help you.
  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Stand where you can see his right foot on the kick pedal in case you can't hear the kick clearly.

    Make plenty of eye contact, watch his body language.

    Play simply and leave him space so he can do fills.
  5. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    Or just ignore the drummer and shred your ass off, more fun..
  6. bill_banwell

    bill_banwell Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2002
    Hahahahaha, even though i totally dis-agree with this, its funny.
  7. My drummer and I can read eachother like a book, it's great.
  8. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Play when the kick drum hits, don't play when the snare hits.

    That's as good a starting point as any.
  9. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Sorry, but I disagree with almost all the replies, because what you do varies with the situation. Sometimes you might want to be tight with the drummer, sometimes you might not. And being tight with the drummer doesn't always mean you listen to him and play when he hits the kick and don't play when he doesn't. It means different things in different situations. Experience tells you what those things are, and nothing is a substitute for it. Play with bands as much as possible, and what you should do will become apparent as you go along.

    Also, a bassist shouldn't be relying on what a drummer does. The bassist should set the pace for what the drummer does, not vice versa. Even if you're playing in the drummer's band, the bassist should lead the drummer. Let the drummer set the tempo if he must, but let him take his musical cues from you. Otherwise the bass sounds pretty sterile and uncreative.
  10. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    It isnt uncommon for me to set the bass/bass drum rhythms, so sometimes you can take a leading role.

    When you are talking about matching your fills with the drummer its good to check (by asking) if he is being consistent on them.

    What style of music are you playing?
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Anything from oldies to jazz to hard rock...not much metal, lots of 70's funk and 80's dance rock. Doesn't matter, though. It applies for all styles.
  12. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Depends really who starts the rhythm off.

    I guess it's a bit like dancing, one leads, the other follows. and vica versa.
  13. bill_banwell

    bill_banwell Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2002
    Sounds like you want more than just a tight jam ;), haha joke man, i know what you mean.

  14. CanadianBass48


    May 8, 2005
    Ont, Can

    Thats why I want to get together with a girl drummer. Hahaha, not really but then again, I am not joking. I think that would todally rock. I mean a girlfriend how plays the drums :hyper: Rock on
  15. bassbully43


    Jul 1, 2005
    I hear lock in with the kick but so far have not found this to be a good sound or way yet for me. If im playing 1/8 notes in a steady AC/DC style so to speak the kick wont be sounding on each of my notes it would sound like crap. I do follow the kick in a sence when playing slow blues etc. Although i am a noob at playing with a drummer i think there is a fine line on when to play with him and when not to ....am i right?
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You are absolutely right. Following the drummer's kick is a myth. Make him follow you.
  17. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Keep believing it's a myth, and that's cool - more work for the rest of us. :cool:

    I hate to break it to you, but making the drummer follow you is rarely going to happen. I've seen it in a few other posts in this thread - "The bassist should lead, and the drummer should follow you." Now, that's working on two presumptions-

    1) The drummer you are playing with is actually listening to what's going on around him. I've played with a great number of people, and having a drummer that not only listen to but FOLLOW the bass is pretty rare. If you stop a song and insist that the drummer listen to your parts, you are in for either a pissy drummer or one less gig.

    Should this be the case? I guess that depends on your definition of what the bass role should be. You should 100% all the time no exceptions be listening and locking in with the drummer. The bass is first and foremost part of the rhythm section.. If you are off in la-la land playing your own licks while the drummer farts around with his, there will be no cohesiveness and you have moved on from making music to simply playing two instruments simultaneously.

    2) The presumption that the bass player has the knowledge of rhythm or other fundamentals that give him or her the experience to know what will work and what won't. The first post indicated the he is new and does not know a whole lot. Great! The first thing to learn is rhythm.

    How do you learn rhythm? Listen to the kick drum! Play with it! Lock in with it! Learn it, love it. Once you get the feel for how to interact with the drums, you learn to lead and play with the drums. THEN you can expand beyond the simple "play with the kick". Is that the be-all end-all philosophy? No. Should you always play with the kick? No. Should you listen to the drummer and react to him! Yes! Is learning how to lock in with the kick a good place to start, which is what the poster was asking for? Yes!

    Finally, if you're playing a steady stream of rock 1/8th notes, no, this does not apply to you, and yes, it would sound silly of the drums matched you. There are exceptions to everything, and pounding out 1/8th's is a good example.
  18. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    This is probably the most sound advice in the whole thread. The bass and drums are partners, and need to work together to complement each other.
  19. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Hate to break it to you, but I'm a professional musician with more work than I can handle backing up huge oldies shows in arenas and theaters all over the country. I do a lot of smaller stuff as well, so it's not all biscuits and gravy, but the fact that I work a lot in pretty huge situations makes me think I know what I'm talking about.

    OK, well I guess I'm used to drummers who actually listen and try to play music. Most of the time I don't have to tell the drummer anything at all because it's a natural thing to operate the way I'm talking about. It's not like you should go to your drummer and say, "You need to follow me." If the drummer's the least bit competent, you can lead him around with what you play and it will never occur to him that he's following you.

    Of course, if you're a beginner, the rules are a bit different. However, you should still try to establish the rhythm and let the drummer pick up on what you're doing instead of vice versa, unless you're not that strong a bassist and you're working with a really good drummer who knows how to make music.

    I couldn't disagree more with the "How do you learn rhythm" part. You don't learn rhythm that way. All you'll learn is how drummers play. You have to listen to music as a whole in order to understand it. You can't just separate out the drums and learn from that. The bass is the link between the drums and the melody instruments. It's much more than merely following the kick. What if you follow the kick and totally ignore the guitars and keys? That's not rhythm.

    You want to learn rhythm? Work out with a metronome and concentrate on being as steady as possible with it. And listen to music you like and try to understand how the bass fits in between the percussion and melody instruments. Weak bassists follow the kick. Strong bassists bridge the melody and percussion instruments and come up with something that accents the strength of the overall music and not just the drums.
  20. when filling in on gigs, try this approach.

    First thing, try to lock in with his Kick drum...if you can lay your roots here with him, then it'll flow

    Second thing, get into his "feel". is he in the pocket? is he playing on top of the beat? There's a huge difference between drummers here and they both can work, but you have to adjust your timing to suit.

    Finally (i've limited to three to keep it basic), is the drummer busy? if he is, then you have to be basic...conversely, if the drummer is basic, then you can afford to be a little more busy...

    remember busy + busy = dixieland jazz :D