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Pocket finder for drummers

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by 4-string, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    Is there such a thing? There should be!

    I keep reading all these comments about locking with the drummer, as if this is the bassplayer's responsibility alone.

    I played with a guy for 6-7 years who was a great drummer in many ways. Always prepared, great sounding kit, never made bad mistakes etc.

    However, he was always a tad bit in front of the beat. Hi-hat 8ths and 16ths a bit rushed, and especially double kicks were rushed. He tended to speed up his fills as well - so that his 1 after a fill felt a bit premature. ;)

    Nothing I couldn't live with, but enough so that we felt we pulled in each our direction.

    So, going by what seems to be the general consensus on TB, it was MY responsibility to "lock" with him. Vice versa, not so much?

    Not that big a deal, but based on real life as a gigging bassist, this approach is a bit simplified to me. Or do the great players manage to lock with the edgiest of drummers?

    End of rant - perhaps I'm just easily annoyed. :)
  2. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    It is the bass player's responsibility. If the drummer has bad timing, you need a different drummer. Ideally, a drummer is as steady as a metronome.
  3. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    Yep, you have to work with the drummer. All drummers are gonna "feel" things differently. We have to adapt.

    If they're really bad, get a new drummer.
  4. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    The problem isn't so much increasing speed, as in more bpm. More in front of everything, so that it feels rushed.

    Have to adapt, surely. I just don't get why drummers should have a free pass for everything. Everybody needs to listen to and adapt to everyone IMO.
  5. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    They don't get a free pass. Play the parts right and in time or be replaced. Just like everyone else has to. Millions of drummers out there.
  6. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Think of it this way. Your responsibility comes down to make the music sound the best it can sound. Refusing to lock with the drummer because he has a bit of a rushed feel is not going to accomplish that.

    And some styles should be played "in front of everything" (in the front of the pocket). Aggressive, hard rock styles such as punk and metal benefit from this feel. If you're playing a style like that, perhaps it's you who needs to adapt?

    Then again, if you're playing, say, reggae, you may need a new drummer. :meh:
  7. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    Absolutely, I am not denying my responsibility at all, I am just surprised by the notion that this is up to a bassist.

    And yes, I am well aware that some styles of music should be played in front of the pocket. Just not the music we play. :)

    There are lots of drummers like said, it's not always as simple as firing someone. Not around here anyway.
  8. eloann


    May 14, 2012
    I've played drums for over 10 years before switching to bass. Nowadays I barely play an hour of drums per week on average so my technique is definately not at its peak. However playing other instruments and with other drummers has given me a much better understanding of the big picture and I'm probably a better drummer now than I was when I practiced 5 hours a day.

    I think all drummers should learn the basics of a couple other instruments. This is somewhat valid for all musicians too - why not switch instruments with your drummer every now and then ? It may help you understand each other.

    That being said, it's the entire band's job to lock in with each other. Singers and lead guitarists included - they're part of the groove and need to get a metronome too !
  9. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    I agree mostly with Zawinul except that I think it can be taught and I think saying 99% of the music in the world doesn't groove is a bit of hyperbole. Also, there are lots worse things than having a drummer consistently on top of the beat. I prefer behind the beat but as long as the drummer is consistent it should be a no brainer to lock in. Now if you lock in with him and he gets even faster so that you've raised the song several bpm by the end of the tune then that's a more basic issue.
  10. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    you mean millions of guys who own drums;)
  11. JRN


    Aug 4, 2010
    CO 80443
    Great link, thank you.
  12. Schmorgy


    Jul 2, 2012
    Nothing was better for my drumming than learning bass.

    Seriously though, practice to a metronome, practice to a metronome, practice to a metronome. I cannot stress it enough. It's horribly boring but it WILL cause you to internalize your timing and that's KEY to locking in with a drummer. If you listen for the drummer, you'll always be that little bit behind him or try to predict him and end up ahead. If you pick up what he's putting down for the timing, you don't need any further reference, you'll just click.

    Other solution? Band practice to a metronome. You'd be surprised just how off everyone can be at once.
  13. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    It's everyone's job to keep the time. Everyone in a band should be listening to one another ALWAYS. As a bass player, if the drummer isn't listening to you, that's a problem! Everyone follows everyone which means it's up to the whole group to create the groove and keep the timing tight.
  14. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    + a whole bunch, could not agree more.

    You are playing WITH each other. You can't do that unless you listen to each other. What/when you play is predicated on your fellow musicians output: you hear them and play your part. The best bands are listening to each other and it shows up in the final product.
  15. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    Well said, and this was what I tried to point out in my initial post.

    Said drummer and I actually found each other, and managed to lock in very, very well. I did have to pay more attention than I do with other drummers, but it worked out really well. Not my intention to slam him.
  16. Thanks for sharing this. A lot of good stuff in here.

  17. Every time I play with a new drummer it's one of these two situations... Either they are autonomous and know the changes and the rhythm and work meticulously to maintain them or they follow me for the changes and rhythm which leaves them lost and searching like mad to get back to the one. In the latter situation, I exacerbate the situation by dancing in circles around the one and laughing openly as things spiral into chaos.

    The inevitable conversation afterwards consists of me telling the drummer that I should never be followed because I particularly enjoy leading intrepid percussionists off the ledge.

    Anyhow... Drummers shouldn't have to find the pocket, they should lay down the beat. You as the bass player should create the illusion of a pocket (or sit directly in it if you are so inclined). The annoying drummers are the ones who can't keep everything in order because, if the drummer should be anything, it's the holder of the keys for order and chaos...

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