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questions for micheal and others

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by No Name Here, May 9, 2002.

  1. I'm doing a research project on bass guitar, and for one of the resources of this, I need to have some interviews. I was giving advice to send these questions to the pro bass guitarists. I would be very happy if I could get some answers from some of you guys (Not just Micheal.) Thanks

    1. What is the most important part when it comes to establishing a groove of some kind with the rhythm section as a electric bassist?
    2. Which do you think is the most important part of bass line, a good melody, or a good rhythm?
    3. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages to playing an electric bass compared to playing a standup bass?
    4. How do you feel about virtuoso bass players, who use the bass as more of a solo instrument then anything else? Do you think they’re breaking some kind of unwritten rule of being a rhythm men as a bass player?
    5. Who do you think was a bass player that really showed what the electric bass was capable of? Why?
    6. With all the various techniques that have been discovered on all the many types of electric basses (tapping, chords, slapping, etc.) Do you think there is still room to innovate, or have all of the technical tricks of electric bass been tapped out? Why?
    7. What part of a groove do you think a bass player and a drummer should lock onto?
    8. When playing in a group as a electric bass player, what do you believe is the best thing you could do?
    9. When playing in a group as a electric bass player, what do you believe is the worst thing you could do?
    10. Any advice to aspiring bass players?
  2. Si-bob


    Jun 30, 2001
    Hemel Hempstead, UK
    Focusrite / Novation
    i know i'm not a pro, but i'd like to think i know a fair bit bout bass playin....anyway the more answers u get, the more u can pick and choose what u use right! :)

    in my opinion you have got to be tight with the drums, lock into something like the bass drum.

    Both equally i reckon, a good rhythm is essential but melody is what makes it interesting, to help with my lines, i sometimes learn a little melodic hook that another instrument in the band plays, like a sax or guitar, and i'll throw that into my line once in a while.

    I don't really think that u could say that there are pro's and con's, they are almost to completly different instruments, their sounds are so disimilar. The only con i can see with upright is the size of it, not very portable :)

    I respect them for trying to further the instruemts capabilites beyond that of a backing instument. I myself play solo/chordal style, but i don't let it over shadow the fact that in a band situation, more often then not, i'll be one of the most important rhythm elements.

    i know its cliched, but Jaco did a hell of a lot for the electric bass, obviously there are people who have taken it further with tapping, slapping etc, but jaco is the one who ignited people interest in the bass!

    i think that most if not all of these techniques have been discovered, i think that there always be people developing these techniques and getting better and better at them.

    um, don't quite understand the question...its like asking what part of a field should the sheep graze in :). It all depends on the song, different songs and different genres have different rhythmic needs. Do whatever feels good for that song!

    lay down a solid back bone of a groove, don't get in other peoples way, and stay funky :)

    Hit a wrong note, i know it sounds to obvious, but the bass player has to be PERFECT wen it comes to hitting the right notes.

    Keep going regardless, just because you hear someone who can slap 64th ghost notes faster then a train, doesn't mean they are a better bass player then you. concetrate on finding your own style and voice, and have fun!

    hope this helps

  3. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    nice answers, Si-Bob. Tho I would toss out one thing regarding:
    "Hit a wrong note, i know it sounds to obvious, but the bass player has to be PERFECT wen it comes to hitting the right notes. "
    Although we all might want to be perfect, it is not really possible, and it is the imperfections in our playing which give life, soul and feeling to the music. Without our very human imperfections, music would have that undefineable "humanity" about it. And art of any kind can simply not be if it fails to illuminate and elevate our human condition.

    And, it has been my experience that the wrong note played at the right time is still right, but the right note played at the wrong time is wrong.

    just a thought.....
  4. Si-bob


    Jun 30, 2001
    Hemel Hempstead, UK
    Focusrite / Novation
    Hey max
    while i appreciate what your saying. and agree with you to some extent, i still feel, in a band situation that the bassist really needs to be on top of things. If a drummer goes wrong..they throw in a fill, if a guitarist goes wrong...then they can bend the note or simply stop...but if a bassist goes wrong it is instantly audible (depedning on the sound man:) ). My teacher has often said to me that you'v got to be very cocky to be a bass player :) simply because if your good, you'll probly be the only one at the gig who didn't make a mistake, because you can't!.
    sorry if i can't explain it very well. I realise there are many different views on this, and i'd be interested to hear them.

  5. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    actually that also makes perfect sense! And it probably quite correct...both you and your teacher.
    Yes, we do need to be "cocky" (for lack of abetter term...and is bass playing their is very little, if any margin for error. I was trying, in my own feeble way, to point out that we are human, and as bass players we need to capitalize on out natural, human imperfections to make those as musical as possible.
    I make plenty o' mistakes...but rarely are they noticed. I have learned to incorporate those into the music, into the groove. I suppose the first lesson is to not draw attention to it with a big fill, of-kilter riff or any of those other tricks the other instruments so quickly throw in.
  6. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Inactive

    Dec 11, 1999
    Sorry it has taken me so long to reply. I wanted to be able to devote the time needed to answer thoughtfully.


    It is important that each rhythm section player have a sense of the time and the feel independently of one another. With that in mind it is also important that the rhythm section players play together. In developing a groove, find the simples rhythmic figure that "works". Once this basic figure is determined, then one can embellish on the idea. The basic groove however will be the glue - much like the clave in Latin music

    Yes! Each is equally important. Listen to James Jamerson for details! Without the groove, it really doesn't matter what melody line you play, the bass line will suffer. A great groove with an uninteresting melody line will be serviceable but that's about it. A great bass line is a marriage of the groove and the melody.

    I believe the two are very different instruments that just happen to take the same function in the ensemble. Each has a very different voice and a different technique. Each instrument is merely a tool for the individual musician to express the music within. With the players today who have really advanced the concept of the electric bass, the difference is becoming ever more apparent. That being said the electric bass is a whole lot easier to transport.

    Now you're getting personal. If we had to stick to rules, there would never have been a Jaco, Stanley Clarke, Vic Wooten or Michael Manring. For that matter there would have been no JS Bach, WA Mozart or Stravinsky. As the rules get "broken" the scope of possibilities open and the music moves to another level.

    This is a very individual opinion, but for my money it was Jaco. He opened doors for all players. He came at a time when the art of bass playing was a bit stagnant. He showed that the bass could be a melodic force as well as a groove machine. He showed the importance the bass as an equal member of the ensemble and not just a secondary support player.

    First of all, I would not them "technical tricks" but rather a means to reach a musical end, a way to create the music that the artist hears in their head. As long as there is musical vision, someone will invent a technique to realize that vision. For the future of the instrument, I hope so. I started developing the chord theory that I write about in "The Chordal Approach" as a means to create something that I heard in my head. If others were using the technique, I really didn't know about them.

    It is really about creating a groove together. A groove does not exist until the song is played; until musicians, working together creates that groove.

    Serve the song! Play without ego. Be prepared mentally and physically to play. Respect the music, your other musicians and most of all those who have come to hear you play. Embrace your mistakes. Listen ALWAYS and learn. Read Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner (not while playing but before you play your next gig)

    Is to allow your ego to get in between the music and the audience. I would totally disagree about the wrong note comment by Si. Mistakes are going to happen, don't try to be perfect - try to be consistent. The very worst thing that you could do to yourself, as a musician, is to set some unrealistic goal and hinge your artistic worth (self-esteem) to it. A truly great teacher, the late John Neves said, "play the mistakes as aggressively as possible. That way everyone else thinks that they made the mistake."

    Don't be a bass player - BE a musician
  7. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    Thanks for the great advise Mike. I think the the part about playing mistakes aggresively is a real help. Often I tend to pause playing to find my spot again Ughh.

    Although I can understand trying to be perfect in your playing. I primarily play praise music so its generally half or quarter notes an off note is easier to hear on bass. The soundguys have a fast trigger finger on the soundboard and tend to turn me down when I flub a note.

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