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Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by kearney, Oct 11, 2004.

  1. kearney


    Jul 5, 2004
    is it just me, but why do reggae basslines either seem very distorted or very out of tune, that just makes em hard to learn by ear.

    why do they sound so different, i love reggae but cant get the teqnique down to well, im mostly punk bass
  2. Trist6075

    Trist6075 Guest

    Mar 6, 2001
    I think mainly its played with what i think is called palm muting with the right hand. It's when u make a C shape with ur right hand then rest the pinkie side down at the bottom of the strings while playing with your thumb. That mutes the notes when u play with ur thumb and gives it that reggae sound also I think its usually played behind the beat slightly which i think is playing the note slightly before the "click" sound instead on right on top of it. I think lol
  3. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    All true, but behind the beat refers to after the "click", not before. :D

    Also Reggae setups are worlds after from Hifi. Think a deep, thumpy bass (I have seen everything from Fenders to Hofners) played through a bass heavy cab/sub (15's or 18's) with either no tweeter/horn or a rolled off tweeter.

    If you had plenty of funds a setup like that would get you there, along with dead rounds or thumpy flats. On a limited budget use your neck pickup, roll off the tone control (along with the tweeter in the cab), heavily boost bass and low mids, leave upper mids flat and cut the treble.
  4. {OE}


    Sep 23, 2004
    Connecticut, U.S.

    I play alot of reggae/dub and I do NOT palm mute at all; unless Im playing with a felt pick and I need that type of "attack". I can pretty much pick up any bass and get a usable reggae tone out of it. I have to say though you cant go wrong with a J.B. and if Fender made an affordable 5 string J that I liked I would have gone that route.

    Amps/cabs while having an effect on overall sound do not really matter as I have heard good reggae sounds out of everything from 10's on up..... and running on everything from Ampeg to Sunn, G.K. to SWR. For cab, Im using a Hartke 2x12 w/ horn, ( not my ideal set up, but it does the job) but horn is rolled off. I cut all hi end, leave mids flat and slightly boost lows, or sometimes cut everything above 500 and slightly boost lows

    I also prefer passive on my bass. Overall, most of the sound comes from your hands/technique.

    Pick up a DODFX25 ( super cheap pedal) for insta-dub tones.

    I know a few bassies use octave pedals ( just a small bit) to help out as well.

    LOL, my strings are two year old stock roundwounds; but as soon as I can afford some good flats Im there....
  5. tkarter


    Jan 1, 2003
    SR 5 and TI Jazz flats work good on the Reggae.

  6. kearney


    Jul 5, 2004

    so gimme some techniques and tips for how to play
  7. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Really, Man - what KIND if technique?

  8. slam

    slam Guest

    Mar 22, 2000
    Get Ed Friedland's book Reggae Bass and the 4 cd set Tougher Than Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music. Also do a search and you will find several threads on reggae.

    I have only seen one reggae bass player use the thumb/palm mute technique. Most play fingerstyle.
  9. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    I've been playing in reggae bands since 1986 and have seen tons of players, and never once have I seen a reggae bass player use the palm mute technique. Reggae players often play with their picking hand over the neck pickup or the end of the fingerboard for a fat sound. Some players also use a very light touch, which can emphasize the bottom end and reduce midrange and twang. I think the most important technique aspect is to not overplay. The quickest way to lose a reggae gig is to play too many notes or vary too far from the groove.

    To me, flats are essential for a reggae sound. I used to use old rounds, but could never quite get the right tone until I switched to flats. I've been using TI flats for a couple of years now and couldn't be happier.

    Fender Jazz basses seem to be the most popular choice of reggae players, but I've seen all kinds. I've used only fretless basses since 1986 and get a fine reggae tone. I think one of the most important aspects of getting a reggae tone is having enough power to fill up the space. There is a ton of space in reggae music, and bass carries the melody. The bass needs to be LOUD and deep.

    I absolutely love playing reggae bass!
  10. kearney


    Jul 5, 2004
    could anyone give me any songs to learn and or webpages with common reggae basslines to help?

    i kno the

    movement, thats pretty popular and basic, and i can play toot's pressure drop
  11. {OE}


    Sep 23, 2004
    Connecticut, U.S.

    I couldnt have said it better.... ( though I'm currently stuck w/ 2 y.o. stock roundwounds :meh:

    Bassically it really not about the equipment but comes down to familiarity w/ the music

    For a good place to start try these:

    :edit: Try starting with No More Trouble, No Woman No Cry, Natural Mystic.... "simple" basslines that will help develop your feel for the music

  12. stagger lee

    stagger lee

    Jul 11, 2004
    i usually play resting my right hand thumb on the neck pickup and with quite a high arch on my hand. i think it helps out in reducing the snap of notes quite a bit. the worst thing to do in reggae is to snap bass notes, it sounds horrible.

    in most reggae songs the bass is constant, only sometimes in dub tracks will it be left out in places. because you're going to be playing all the time your stamina and accuracy are going to need to be spot on. if you can't keep the same steady pace going for at least 6 minutes you're going to fall flat when it comes to dub. the way i practise this is with 2 clash tracks, guns of brixton and armagideon time. guns uses a common minor shape and armagideon time uses a common major shape(even though the song's in a minor key). play these riffs with a drummer or drum machine and get used to long repeated sections.

    playing with fingers is your best option and try to use the "one finger per fret" rule. a lot of reggae lines are in one position so you can play each note with the right finger. sliding about can make you lose the groove.
  13. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Ask a punker, learn some Clash basslines, around the Combat Rock era. Very audible reggae basslines. But reggae is all about making the music feel good/groove. Cut your mids, kinda smiley face your EQ except with a little more bass than high end. And listen to as much reggae as possible and really feel what they are doing more than the notes they are playing, more when they are playing.
  14. {OE}


    Sep 23, 2004
    Connecticut, U.S.
    Good advice, but if your going for a "traditional" reggae sound do NOT raise the highs at all, flat or cut is the way to go.

    The Clash - Combat Rock = decent
    Sandinista! = IMO, much better

    Bad Brains - I against I ( IMO, their best), Rock for Light, Quickness..... (Cant go wrong with the "fathers" of Hardcore, and Darryl's "reggae" lines are a great place to start too.... )
  15. kearney


    Jul 5, 2004
    what the dickens does IMO mean? and thanks for the advice, i absolutely love the clash, i know like 40-50 of their songs on bass
  16. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    In My Opinion, the role of the bass in reggae is to play call and response with the kick drum. In essence, the bass is another drum that just happens to control the harmony of the band.
  17. {OE}


    Sep 23, 2004
    Connecticut, U.S.
    Simple yet elegant, I like it, well said.

    kearney, check out Rancid too, I dont know much about them, besides the song they did with Buccaneer ( a dancehall reggae artist) but I'm pretty sure a couple of the members were in Operation Ivy, another band you should check, if you havnt already.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think it's just you - I've listened to loads of Reggae and the basslines are very clear, very bassy but never distorted!

    Of course if you are listening to something very bassy on inadequate speakers, then it will sound distorted - you need big speakers (preferably big bass bins) to listen to Reggae properly! ;)

    Reggae basslines sound different due to boosting the bass, but then mainly rhythmic placement and how everything "fits together" - drums, guitar/keys and bass - it's also about space - so often, big spaces will be left in the music.

    Reaggae is about playing together - a reggae bassline on its own, is not reggae - it's how it fits in with choppy guitar/keys on the offbeat and the drums/percussion..etc. etc.
  19. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Hmm, I'd agree that a lot of dub and reggae lines has a fuzzy kind of distortion on the bass, as someone said above, it's just a really old set of strings, all the treble and mids rolled off and a big speaker cone turned up to eleven. And, as was also said above, much of it wasnt record on modern hi-fi technology, so has heavy tape compression.

    I wouldnt suggest palm muting either - the bass notes in reggae/dub tend to be long and boomy, not short and thumpy.

    To get the right sound use the neck pickup (if you have a bass with two pickups), roll off the treble completely and most of the mid, possibly even boost the bass.
    Play with the fleshiest part of your thumb right over the neck pickup, or even closer to the neck. If you play with fingers play strong rest strokes.

    To get the lines, dont play too many notes, usually root + 5th will do just fine.. and really think about the length of each note - a reggae line might be made up of just one note and the length of each note played and where the note is placesd is where the groove really comes from.
    I find natural minor (the b3 and b6) is a nice sound for a reggae line, but that's just me :)

    I'd recommend some Sly & Robbie, and the obvious, Bob Marley & the Wailers - Babylon By Bus is a great live album.

    That's my 2ps worth...
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I can remember going to the Notting Hill Carnival a few times with loads of great Reggae bands, through huge, building-size speakers and you could hear the bass lines loud and clear from several miles away - in fact you couldn't hear anything but the bass lines, if you were within a mile of it!! :D