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R&B/Neo-Soul Bass Techniques?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by riding, May 21, 2011.

  1. riding


    May 21, 2011
    I am trying to find good examples, techniques, and licks/fills used in these types of music - R&B and Neo-Soul. Examples of artists within these genres might include: Maxwell, D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild, and Raphael Saadiq.

    Does anyone have any good links/tutorials/videos or even good books I could pick up?

    I am a beginner and this is the types of music that I would primarily, but not limited to, play.
  2. Start with the obvious man being James Jameson early and mid motown. Bob Babbitt early Philly to Detroit into Motown. Mr. Willie Weeks is another very smooth stylists. 'Your examples are disciples of these greats so why not start at the beginning and move right along in the history of R&B into Soul.
    You can listen to the early Blues recordings (Chicago)featuring Mr. Willie Dixon who the above mentioned people were influenced by.
    If you were interested in playing Blues Guitar you wouldn't start by listening to Eric Clapton, you'd refer to the people who taught him Freddy, Albert & BB King & many more), beginning at the inception of a particular style will inspire you as opposed to be caught up trying to emulate or copy. In the beginning you can't help trying to duplicate but your end result is to try to develop your own style within a specific type of music. I'm sure the internet can afford you tons of literature and audio help by simply googling the names I suggested to start with. You have alot of fun studing ahead of you, good luck. Doc.
  3. riding


    May 21, 2011
    Hey Doc, thanks for the reply. I appreciate your response. I know what you're getting at...about getting to the roots first. I'm an avid listener/fan of "old school" R&B and when I'm practicing bass, I'm usually playing-along with that type of music. I aspire to be able to play like Jamerson but he just plays too many (non-root/3rd/5th) notes for me to comprehend :)

    I have loads of the actual music, I just don't have the know-how to decipher what I actually hear and turn it into actual techniques/licks I can use. Looking for more instruction vs. trying to hear something & figure it out.

    I found this series of videos on Youtube related to what I'm looking for. Basically I'm looking for more resources similar to it.
    YouTube - ‪Learn Urban Bass Guitar - Neo-Soul, Funk, Soul - "Sluggin" Laying Behind the Beat!‬‏

    I want to be able to play stuff like this guy:
    or this guy:
    YouTube - ‪Maxwell-Pretty Wings with Ryan Copeland on Bass‬‏
  4. Excellant choices, I do believe starting at the beginning instead of in the middle is the right way to go. I wish I was a bit more UP on the newer catz out here now but thats why I'm here now to learn about the techniques that are up to date and to gain some knowledge on the gear thats offered now. Jamesons stuff will NOT work the majority of the time unless the drummer is gonna stay in the pocket without his ego effecting him hahahaha!!! I do believe that James makes us all "think" about our path or approach to a tune so even if your not using his approach he still effe ts the way we think.
    I enjoyed your u-tube selections and think you'll do fine, music is an on going adventure in learning and sharing. Doc.
  5. Philbuster


    May 9, 2011
    Check out this guy's Youtube Channel. I came across it a little while back and he's totally got it down. He can do the Pino thing extremely well. He's got several Neo-Soul tracks that he's covered or interpreted bass lines to. It's not really explained, but you can at least hear and see the bass part much clearer than in the original mix of a song.

    YouTube - ‪Fjord76's Channel‬‏

    I think one thing that may help is to tune down anywhere from 1/2 step to 2 steps. Using flatwound strings may help as well (not much personal experience with them, just something I've read.)

    Keep listening and cultivating your ears. This is a pretty slick style that took all the folks who are really feelin it a good while to nail. Be patient :)
  6. aguacateojos

    aguacateojos Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2010
    Unfortunately, there aren't any "shortcuts" to learning music - time and dedication are the tools which will pull you through. Listen to the artists you want to emulate. Then, listen some more, listen again, and while you're at it listen one more time. Then play along, rinse, repeat.

    You've already gotten a great roster of musicians to listen to - might I add the RH Factor record Hard Groove? Serious music on the album, Pino and Reggie on bass and guest appearances by D'Angelo and Erykah Badu... can't go wrong there.

    Also start searching out videos/recordings of bassists like

    Chris Loftlin
    YouTube - ‪Alan Evans - The Playonbrother Band - 2.10.11 The Arts Block Greenfield, MA‬‏
    YouTube - ‪CHAPTER 11 with members of Lettuce, @ Katonah Library‬‏

    Sharay Reed
    YouTube - ‪Sharay Reed @ Chicago Gospel Musician Jam‬‏
    YouTube - ‪Sharay Reed in London‬‏

    Chris Dave
    YouTube - ‪Robert Glasper, Derrick Hodge & Chris Dave Harlem 2008‬‏

    This might not hold true for all, but I think you'll find that most of the players in this genre have a HEAVY background in the worlds of jazz, soul, funk and pop - studying and listening to these genres will inform your playing of Neo-Soul immensely.

    Good luck!
  7. ding_man


    Dec 24, 2006
    Celina, OH
    Since this style is so new in reality... if you want to get into it you have to transcribe it.

    My suggestion would be to find an album you like, an artist you like, a bassist you like, and sit down and figure out what they were doing.

    Also someone mentioned James Jamerson and you kind of dismissed it, but those bassists are still playing a lot of like Jamerson in a way.

    Also careful with those youtube videos. One of those guys wasn't really any good. Don't model yourself after bad players.
  8. mrniceguy715


    May 2, 2006
    This is the music I love too. And I can share my experience from a couple years of lessons and having help with transcription is to learn the scales and the neck. Some of those crazy sounding licks can be simple once you know what's legal. Can't think of an example straight off bit what really helped was not trying to play verbatim but knowing what I can play in each key
  9. Basshoofd


    Jan 14, 2009
    That type of music is defined mostly by feel, not technique or tricks. Listen to a ton of music like D'angelo's Voodoo or Erykah Badu's live album. Once you get the feel, learn the basic grooves. All the flashy fills are just added spice that isn't really important and they only work when you have the basic grooves down really tight with the right feel.
  10. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Do you have any knowledge of basic theory (basic chord construction and intervals, for example)? If not then I would check out a book such as "Edly's Music Theory For Practical People". Knowing what notes someone is playing as they relate to the chord in question will really speed up the process when it comes to picking out and remembering "licks".
    bassvid75 likes this.
  11. stoob


    Feb 3, 2008
    Horten, Norway
    I've taken this guy's video and broken it down, learning loads of techniques and runs from him. It's the technique like his with your left hand is what you're after. Even with slowing down his runs in Transcribe! I still can't get the cleaness he's got with his chubby fingers! He's awesome.

    YouTube - ‪Rev.Chubby Love‬‏
  12. Starrchild


    Nov 10, 2000
    The Bay.

  13. ()smoke()


    Feb 25, 2006
    you have good taste, ha :)

    that kind of music is some of my favorite, and i'm by no means an expert, but i've found that being able to sing/hum the bassline before trying to transcribe it or learn it can help a LOT...if i don't know it that well, it takes a little longer to transcribe
    Oldschool94 likes this.
  14. Philbuster


    May 9, 2011
    Sounds more like Victor Wooten style solo bass than Neo Soul, IMO.

    I'll say this and leave it at that...LISTEN TO "VOODOO" !!! (D'angelo) Live it, breathe it, absorb it. THEN, take one of your favorites of which you have the bass part basically memorized and take it section by section, slowly. Don't try to do too much of it at one time or in one day, because it most likely won't stick as well.

    There are programs (Transcribe!, Amazing Slow Downer, etc) that can slow a song down to whatever speed you want without changing the pitch; they can be tremendously helpful sometimes with trying to learn individual parts by ear. I know you can get a free 30 day trail (without any credit card info give) of Transcribe! to see if you like it. Try it!

    I really think the most important thing here is listening and listening and listening until you really have the feel of the tune, then focusing on trying to learn the specific notes, then analyzing why that bassists chose they notes that he/she did and how they fit so well with the rest of the groove. Then you can work that into your own style. I personally haven't quite gotten through all those steps yet, but I think it's a very solid approach.
  15. Talkin my language. I would definitely go get Erykah's first few CDs. Baduizm, Erykah Live, and DEFINITELY Mama's Gun. Try to get some artists live DVD's (Jill Scott, John Legend, etc). Studio stuff may not contain as much stuff, but when they go live with a band, you're garaunteed to get some great bass material.
  16. stoob


    Feb 3, 2008
    Horten, Norway
    Thanks for that Thaddeus Tribbett Harmonics Lick on your YouTube account Dr_Funkdamental, awesome!
  17. Thanks man, glad you dug it! I actually showed Thaddeus on twitter (thadworld) and he put it up and even subscribed to me! :hyper:
  18. stoob


    Feb 3, 2008
    Horten, Norway
    Awesome! That dude was born with a bass :bassist::smug:
  19. riding


    May 21, 2011
    Thanks everyone for the wonderful replies/pointers/links!

    As far as theory - I'm ok with theory if I take time to think about it, but not fast enough at it to be able to apply to bass (unless you're talking 1/4/5 intervals). Only been playing about half a year.

    I listen more to 60s/70s R&B/soul than the 90s/2000s R&B/Neo-Soul music. But I've definitely got the music already....just need the skills.

    Not trying to become an expert overnight, but just trying to get a feel for what types of things I should be practicing if this is the genre I want to primarily focus on.

    I think using a computer program that can slow the music down would help immensely, didn't know you could do that without affecting pitch! I'll have to try one of those out.

    Loving these video recommendations, so much better being able to see the actual bass player as opposed to just listening to the music. Keep 'em coming, thanks!
  20. ugly_bassplayer

    ugly_bassplayer Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    Go listen to some J Dilla, Voodoo by D'Angelo was heavily influenced by by his beat making. D'Angelo even said the the 1st 2 Slum Village albums where the soundtrack to his time recording Voodoo.

    The laid back choppy feel from neo-soul & hip hop is directly derived from J Dilla's beatmaking.

    On talkbass almost no one knows about J Dilla but he is one of the most important figures in the past 20 years IMO.

    RIP Dilla.
    Oldschool94 likes this.

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