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Question About Why Some Bass Lines Stand Out

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by wizzkidder, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. wizzkidder


    Jun 6, 2007
    I've only been playing bass for about a year now and I was wondering if someone could perhaps give me some insight about how one could get their bass playing to stand out more in the midst of playing a band.

    Here is an example of this and I'm sure there are plenty of others as well: I believe most everyone has heard The Real Me from The Who. It's very easy to hear Mr. Entwistle's incredible bass playing amongst all the other elements in this song. Now, take Somebody to Love by The Jefferson Airplane. Also some killer bass playing in this song but it's really muddy and hard to hear everything that's going, at least for me.

    I'm sure the recording techniques and processes involved in both songs played a big part in creating the differences here but is there something else? Equipment I'm sure, yes? I added a Digitech Bad Monkey pedal to my rig and I seemed to get a bit more definition (and growl) out of my playing as opposed to playing with no effects at all, other than the boost on my GK head. I record our band when we play live and I could tell the difference in the tapes.

    I do feel that there are other ways to go about getting one's bass lines to shine through more when playing with your band. I'm hoping that some of you out there could shed some light on this. It would be most appreciated.

  2. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    I'd say it's because of the player himself, the bass he uses, the amp, the eq setting, the level in the final mix etc... There's quite many variables that should be ok in order to have a sound that cuts through well.

    An eq setting that don't sound that good when you play alone might be the one working best in the mix. Don't cut the mids, that will generally make the sound muddier and less defined. And what works live doesn't necessarily sound good on a record...
  3. K2000


    Nov 16, 2005
    It's not a gear question, unless your gear totally sucks.
  4. It primarily a mids question, and secondarily a levels question.
  5. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    That was my first thought also, but as he spoke about sound and gear, that's what I focused on in my reply.
  6. wizzkidder


    Jun 6, 2007
    You both brought up some interesting points. I'll try turning up the mids a bit more and see what happens. I know there's a lot of tweaking to do to get your sound dialed in right.

    I've found that when I add too much mids or highs on my EQ I start hearing every friggin' squeak and slide that my fingers make. I turned the horn on my cabinet completely down as well because this was also picking up noises. I'm sure you've had that experience where the strings bang against the frets below the fretted note you're playing? Maybe I'm just not playing that clean yet? I don't know. We're just a cover band and we play a lot of classic rock tunes. Nonetheless, I still take my playing seriously and would like to be heard well.
  7. wizzkidder


    Jun 6, 2007
    Levels as in playing experience level or eq levels or sound level or all three?
  8. Sound level. I put mids first since they give you more bang for your buck than wattage does.

    A lot of the extra noise the mids let through will get lost in the mix. You'll sound a lot better with a band than your solo tone suggests. Working to keep noise to a minimum is important, but it's still part of bass playing.
  9. A difficult point to accept is that adjusting your bass amp and amp so that it sounds good by itself does not necessarily lead to sounding good once the band is playing.

    Many recommend (myself included) more midrange and less bass, so the sound alone should be clanky.

    Again, if you make it sound great when no one else is playing, it won't sound so great when they are.
  10. wizzkidder


    Jun 6, 2007
    This is a very true statement. I never actually gave it a lot of thought though. There are a lot of other sounds to contend with when onstage with your mates. Lemur821's comments about mids, I believe, will also be helpful as well. Once I get off my REAL JOB, I'll go home and play around with the mid settings some more. THANKS!

    In my original post, I made a mention of the distortion pedal I use to get some more definition out of my playing. Are you guys using any effects pedals to enhance that aspect of your playing or is the magic mainly in the mids?
  11. SuperSnake2012

    SuperSnake2012 floppy b strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    Bronx, NY
    It depends on what you're playing, but if your guitarists use distortion as well, you will have the tendency to blend with them, making you sound buried. YMMV
  12. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    IMO effects are something best used very sparingly on bass. As pointed out above, distortion tends to make your sound less distinct and it may tend to disappear in the mix.

    I have a 60's fuzz pedal and I use it on PART of two numbers in two hours...and those are numbers that were sometimes played with fuzz in the 60's. Most of the time, you need to just be there and be solid. Of course, there may be specific numbers where you and the band work out the use of a specific effect - but IMO that's about it.
  13. wizzkidder


    Jun 6, 2007
    OK, now I'm really going to sound like a newbie here. What does IMO stand for?

  14. As well as the equipment issues, there are some reasons I feel come from from the writing of the bassline and the bassplayer themselves.
    Prominence- The more of a role the bass player takes in a band, the more likely you will notice basslines. Examples include Rush and Level 42, both bands where the lead is also the bass player.
    Technicality-Highly technical basslines usually get noticed more. I think of I Am The Resurrection by the Stone Roses as an example. This is a very technical piece to play as well as a piece requiring a lot of stamina to play, being over 8 minutes long. It requires speed and accuracy to sound decent.
    At the opposite end of the scale really simple basslines are easily remembered, such as Blue Monday by New Order.
  15. Ibanezzer


    Aug 12, 2004
    Dayton, Ohio
    IMO -- In My Opinion

    Another often used shorthand is FWIW --For What Its Worth
  16. In my opinion.

    Edit: Ahh, dang it, someone beat me to it. :)
  17. wizzkidder


    Jun 6, 2007
    They're usually pretty obvious acronyms if you just think about them a little bit (duh). Like RAOTFLMFAO

    Thanks for the clarification. IMO, you are probably right!
  18. wizzkidder


    Jun 6, 2007
    I just started using my distortion pedal and was listening to a tape of the show that I made and I was using the pedal. Our rhythm guitarist was playing the same notes that I was and other than the lower tones, everything else I was playing, was lost. I'll have to work on my sound so that I can separate myself from the rest of the band while still sounding like I'm part of the group. Seems like there's some trial and error involved in getting it right. Thanks!
  19. wizzkidder


    Jun 6, 2007
    I'm not sure if you have EQ knobs on your amp or sliders. I have knobs on mine with a high and low mid. So, if you took the face of a clock and wanted to set your knobs with more mids in mind, where would you set them to start with? Right now, I've got my high set at 12 and my high and low mids set to 1 o'clock and my low knob set to 2 o'clock.
  20. All_¥our_Bass


    Dec 26, 2004
    I set my mids at 3:30. Also, if your amp has a 'presence' knob, turn that up as well, as it accentuates the initial attack of your notes.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jan 22, 2021

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