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Power Trio

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Tony Gray, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. Tony Gray

    Tony Gray

    Mar 6, 2006
    So, the band I'm in just broke up. Overnight. We have lots of gigs and they left with the female singer. We had a 5 piece: girl, drums, bass, guitar, keyboard.
    The keyboard let us do LOTS of stuff.
    So today, the guitarist and I started a trio. Do any of you play a lot differently in a trio than you do in a larger band?
    I've been listening to a lot of trios today;Cream, Govt Mule, Led Zep, ZZ top, etc. I'm OK but I'm no Jack Bruce or JPJ.
    I don't like playing busy just to be busy. Any advice?
  2. Tony In Philly

    Tony In Philly Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    Filthydelphia, USA
    I play in a trio. Think chords when you are playing even though you are often still playing single notes. Try to be both bassist and rhythm guitarist at times. Play more aggressively when the guitarist is soloing, also try to to think in lock step with the guitarist. Also it helps if the guitarist can play like Clapton. Learn lots of Cream, Zep, Mountain, Hendrix, and maybe even some Black Sabbath. People love it when you deliver on that kind of stuff.
  3. There is a LOT of sonic space to fill with trios. Personally, I don't think you can get away with playing the same way as you would in a larger ensemble. (Just my opinion.)

    Don't get me wrong. You don't HAVE to fill that sonic void with busy playing, but if you just leave it empty, it can get boring to listen to after a while. Even minimalists will add different things to the mix to add texture and layers.

    If you don't want to become a "busy" player, maybe add some effects to your playing and experiment a bit.
  4. Tony Gray

    Tony Gray

    Mar 6, 2006
    Thanks! I don't mind being busy if it's called for. I try to make the song groove, and for me, playing less was more. I know this is a whole new ball game. I'm looking forward to learning how to move the songs along. I think this will make me a much better player. And yeah, the guitarist can play like Clapton, or Hendrix, or Haynes. He's awesome, and a great guy to boost. Can't wait. Keep it coming!
  5. thombo

    thombo Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Denver, CO
    filling up space doesn't have to play 32nd notes... double-stops (especilly w/ open sting drones), chords, sustaining notes.
    i have found that when grooving in a trio setting, not filling "all the empty spaces" can be cool b/c the notes that you play sound that much bigger.
    really, just sit in the pocket and let your ears guide your fingers.
  6. Skarekrough


    Aug 7, 2006
    Don't feel that space always has to be filled.

    Sometimes a little air can be an effective tool for creating dynamics.
  7. realdeal

    realdeal Banned

    Dec 10, 2004
    One of the best methods for a trio-power or otherwise, musically-
    is the thoughtful use of polyrhythms.

    Now, if you are gonna go off into a Hendrix-Cream etc blues-rock, riff-based groove I don't want to go theoretical on you, and spoil the fun-

    When the drums, bass and guitar perform complimentary rhythmic lines, filling each other's spaces, and when they can mesh into a pocket harmonically as well...

    It's astounding what a trio can do.
    I was fortunate enough to work with a genius at doing so-
    EVERY note in the bass part was written- sometimes seemingly simple or repetetive, but it served a purpose in the ensemble, and the end result amazed me. Simply complex, or complexly simple.


    You must listen closely to what he's doing with his songs- Even the lead vocals and back-up became instruments, so I guess in fact we were a quintet in a sense.
    He spent, oh, about 15 years developing his "Flavor" so more props to him. They're serious Down South...

    Or, if you simply wanna rock your ass off... That's all good too. Just feel each other. Practice a lot.
    That helps too.
  8. There's indeed much more space available for a bass player in a trio -- you are lucky!
  9. Tony Gray

    Tony Gray

    Mar 6, 2006
    Real deal- me likey! I grew up listening to a lot of that. He's got it going on.

    I'm looking forward to this. To take things I've played in a 4 and 5 piece band, and learn how to make them groove in a trio is gonna be fun.
  10. Past 11

    Past 11

    Nov 16, 2008
    It's an opportunity to expand your horizons for sure. I played in a 3 piece, 5 piece with 2 guitars, and a 9 piece with keys and horns. With the 9 piece I (and everyone else) really needed to be reserved or the whole thing would easily end up sounding like mud...not really my thing.

    I love the 3 piece best...very clean and creative. A few items I've employed to keep things lively were to know when to play percussively as well as fluidly to help smooth out the thin areas. At times I also worked with intervals (thirds, fourths, fifths, etc). Effects also came in handy sometimes...but usually were not needed. Working out chord scales as opposed to plunking root notes can liven things up too. Your guitarist and drummer need to keep the same attitude (implementing chords into solos, working the cymbals during solos, etc). On the other hand (as mentioned), simplicity can work to your benefit too.

    You'll get the idea. In the end it's definitely a feel thing between band mates.
  11. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    You might want to try some different e.q. settings. Boost the bass a bit to get a fuller tone.
  12. realdeal

    realdeal Banned

    Dec 10, 2004
    Thanks, I appreciate that- I worked HARD with Henry; we rehearsed 6 days a week 3-4 hours per day for almost a month to get the set down before we went on the road.

    I'll be honest- H was a real ummm- challenge to work with/for-
    Part of it was that he put so much time/effort into defining what he wanted to do with HIS music- No covers, they're all his songs, his arrangements- His thing.

    I came into the project like a lot of players, wanting to add my own accents and embellishments, and I got beaten down (almost physically, btw!-they take stuff serious Down South!)
    and learned the importance of a solid supportive, fixed rhythmic role and talk about deep pocket-
    WHew... there were a couple numbers that with deep roots and pulse and arrangement- I literally saw audiences dancing and listening in absolute control from his music...
    No kidding; it was wild!

    Back here in Los Angeles, where every waiter, parking attendent, store clerk is a super-model rock-star actress, writer, director, whatever-
    I've had hella time bringing the work ethic and devotion to making solid music, especially with a small ensemble.
    Did get it together with my present R&B section, and ya know- when we players PAY ATTENTION to each other, and lay back a little-
    There's a difference between that and super-shredding.
  13. Vynns

    Vynns Guest

    May 5, 2008
    Weren't there four guys in Led Zeppelin?
  14. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    You don't have to be a soloist to play in a power trio but you do need to have good tone and play interesting bass lines. You need your bass to cover the low end and also get some growlly mids and some treble bite. Think of your bass now doing the work of a bass, rhythm guitar and keyboards. You need some overtones. A little bit of distortion can help.
  15. bassasm33


    Nov 12, 2008
    Huntsville, AL

    The trick is play enough but not too much I guess.
    If you find some grooves that keep the song going well stick with that and build from there. You can get away with playing the same basic phrases over and over again as long as you have some tasty variations in your pocket so no one notices.;)
  16. The concept here is an instrument power trio. Just bass, guitar, drums. No rhythm guitar or keyboard.

    So Zep had four guys, but since Robert Plant only sang, musically they are a power trio.

    Anyway, I play in a power trio (with additional female lead vocals), and I find the biggest challange is coming up with interesting expanded parts during the solos. I am lucky in that my guitarist is very good, which I find makes it easier for me just lock in a groove with the drummer to provide the foundation for his solo's.
  17. Some guitar players actually prefer the bass player to have simple lines during solos -- then again I think Jack Bruce did the right thing during Clapton's solos -- and Cream was really a jazz band.
  18. brothertupelo

    brothertupelo Guest

    Aug 7, 2005
    robert plant took up a huge chunk of sonic space and used his voice like another lead guitar pretty frequently. it would be seriously hard to play an instrument and sing like plant simultaneously.
  19. Tony In Philly

    Tony In Philly Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    Filthydelphia, USA
    We do "Over the Hills and Far Away" and "Good Times Bad Times" as a trio. Tunes like that are doable singing and playing bass at the same time whereas others are not. The hardest, however, is Cream's version of "Born Under a Bad Sign". That takes lots of practice to sing and play bass at the same time on that one!
  20. ForestThump


    Jun 15, 2005
    Serious business here:


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