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Rock basslines-when is it too complex?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Bushfire, Jul 16, 2005.

  1. What do you guys reckon? What's the most complex thing you can do in a just a good fast driving rock song before it becomes just too complex and starts to lack 'punch', if you know what I mean.
  2. protoz


    Nov 30, 2000
    I typically hold the groove with the drummer until a certain point in the verse/chorus then toss something to add some spice. I'll add fills where appropriate.

    I try not to do too many complex things in faster rock-metal songs because the guitar should be driving and the bassist is for added texture, not typically to steal all the thunder from the guitar riff, but I still tend to overplay at certain times just to see what happens.

    Listen to some Sabbath. You typically remember the guitar riffs but if you pay closer attnetion Geezer is really helping fill in the gaps and making the sound fuller without becoming too obnoxious unless called for :D
  3. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    When it doesn't work in the tune.
  4. When the drummer starts chucking sticks at the back of your head.:D
  5. When you start to overanalyze.
  6. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Go by intuition. When it starts to take away from the song, rather than add to it, I step back.

  7. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    That's no indication, my drummer used to do it all the time, 'cause his sweaty paws couldn't grasp his sticks anymore. And some of these dudes do it just for fun, I mean, come on, they're beating things with a stick for a living ;)
  8. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    When it sounds bad. I don't think you can get a better answer than that since every song is different. If ti sounds cool it probably is, if it sounds silly, well....
  9. ghostbaby


    Jul 14, 2005
    I'd say there are two rules I have followed in the past when it comes to rock basslines:

    1. Stay with the rhythm of the song. Melodic fills are usually fine, even if they go a bit longer than they should :), as long as you're still locked in with the drummer. Problems arise when you try to pull out too crazy a fill and it doesn't fit the song's beat.

    2. Don't step on the vocals. When the vocalist(s) is/are singing, it's generally best to play simply and wait to show off when there's no singing going on. A notable exception to this would be when you play a run that matches or resembles the melody that the singer is singing, which is always cool.
  10. Its also cool to counter the vocals. My singer likes to hit higher notes on the second pass of a verse, so I'll drop down and play lower. Or vice versa.
  11. All_¥our_Bass


    Dec 26, 2004
    A good example of this would be Pink Floyd's 'Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun'
  12. Kurisu


    Nov 19, 2003
    Saskatoon SK
    I ask this question myself all the time. Then I go listen to The Who. :)
  13. Its fine to add as much complexity as you want as long as it fits with the sound of the band and if your still listening to the other musicians and not stepping on anyones toes. Its fine to play conterpoint to the singer's lines (I do this a great deal with good results, especailly as she is quite a good listener). I do, though, play music with a pretty loose feel and a lot of improvisation in which all members of the band are fairly equal. Basically make it musical, if your doing 11 over 4 and playing whole tone runs over a punk rock song then your going too far (of course), but if your playing subtly changing polyrhythmic riffs over a afro/cuban drummer, or even driving rhythmic counterpoint to the vocals on Hey Joe as long as the bands on board and it sounds good than its fine, even good, because, contrary to most people's opinions, we bassists should add to the music, not just be the worst guitarist in the band.
  14. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Turn the compression on full, whack a note, and let it rringggggg.

    Gives me chance to act like an idiot. :hyper:
  15. When you cant play it.
  16. nasaldischarges


    Jun 11, 2005
    Agreed. I've tried making basslines and couldnt play my own song to speed. So I went back to just playing along with the guitar and would find spots that needed filling and thats where I put fills in.