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Root notes are boring, help me put here

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by dezisapunk, Nov 17, 2019.

  1. dezisapunk


    Oct 8, 2019
    Hey y’all,
    I play punk music...which basically means I just play root notes...and it’s boring, but I wanna play the music I enjoy. I know my modes, and scales, and all the music theory in the world, but the guitarist down-stroking into hell and back at the speed of light seems to make root notes and octaves the only viable option. Right now, I'm playing octaves, and when possible for the feeling of the music, ill sneak in an inversion or two. But, what would you do, other than playing another genre? How’d you approach punk bass (when the guitarist is playing the same three power chords) to make it different, and fun?
    Maybe I have just learned too much to enjoy playing punk, sad day.
    lat and Vinny_G like this.
  2. You could say the same about a great deal of today's music regardless of genre. Have you really studied, for example, Klaus Flouride of DK's? He mixes it up. Keeps it interesting. My fave punk bassist.
  3. Vinny_G


    Dec 1, 2011
    Gallia Celtica
    If you start going in that direction, you start to get away from Punk. Not that it's a bad thing, but you have to be aware of it.

    So what would I do, other than playing another style of music? I see only two solutions: either I would start doing drugs again to go Punk until the end (society sucks, and all that puberty), or I would embrace the maturity of mind that you seem to have, and I would create my own project with musicians that I would choose myself.
  4. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    If punk is pounding roots, pound roots. My point, I enjoyed playing with the people and being a part of the band more than the type of music we played. If the band plays music that is pounding roots, if you want to play with those guys you'll have to pound roots.

    Your call as to staying or finding something you enjoy more than being with that band.
    Vincent Bryan, trofud, osonu and 2 others like this.
  5. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    I've never been a huge fan of punk rock but the guy from Rancid always had some cool fills and more flavor than other acts. Then there's the Clash....
  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Punk bass is pretty simple, but two things you can do:

    1. Runs up and down at the chord changes.

    2. Rather than just pounding the root, work out riffs that can be repeated.
  7. Yup


    Mar 20, 2019
    I say just go for it. Throw in some fills. Aggressive slap can work really well for punk. That's what flea did and he turned out just fine. He was punk before rhcp. That's what I do. You gotta be tasteful about it though. Make sure it still works and sounds good otherwise you'll get dirty looks from your band mates. :woot:
  8. Leonid Nidis

    Leonid Nidis

    Jan 1, 2018
    Exactly what I wanted to say,check out Matt Freeman.
    Think about it this way,the guitars lay down plenty of roots and this leaves you some space for rifs,fast walking lines.
    dab12ax7ef, djaxup, chadface and 6 others like this.
  9. BassUrges


    Mar 14, 2016
    I am informed by those who know more than I that punk has no rules.

    Therefore, start walking over Coltrane substitutions, and when they complain, switch to a slooooow 1-5 shuffle.
  10. Lots of punk bass lines that are not just pounding roots. You have to pick your spots, but putting a chord here and there with the 3rd in the bass can sound killer. Also there is rhythmic variations- even with roots and octaves you can create interest with where you leave holes and accents. No need to just down pick 8ths or 16ths even if you’re just playing roots.

    Along with Klaus, Paul, and Matt Freemen, don’t discount Mike Dirnt. Even if you feel Green Day isn’t punk, he has some catchy bass lines.

    And ostinatos - repeated bass figures. Don’t have to throw in the kitchen sink here, just some root-5-7-octave (or root-5-6-octave) repeating figures can be fun too.
  11. lat


    Dec 30, 2014
    Lower Basstonia
    Maybe throw in a few chromatic run ups to changes?
  12. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    Brother. Listen to the Faction. Play punk bass like that. I walked the walk.

    Matt R likes this.
  13. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    Maxwell Murder contains every possible trick you can use in a punk song.
  14. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts!”
    nnnnnn, JRA and Vinny_G like this.
  15. abotaun


    Dec 8, 2007
    Check out econochrist. The bass is very lively.
    Clark W and Odonian like this.
  16. Plenty of music that I consider close enough to punk that has interesting bass lines. Lot of the time all it takes is for the guitarist to shut the hell up for a verse here or there lol
    JMacBass65 and Williethump like this.
  17. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    Here's another, historical way to look atvit.
    Punk comes straight from ska. All the typical walks, 1-3-5 arpeggios used at moderate speed in ska can be put to use in punk.
    10cc, Matthijs, JMacBass65 and 2 others like this.
  18. Odinbass


    Dec 6, 2006
    Cleveland, OH
    As someone else said, it's all about picking your spots with punk.

    Mike Dirnt said it best saying that it's all about finding the 'song within a song' even it's just a little fill. If your part adds a hook or depth to the song it can make it more satisfying.
    6Bass101, JRA, MDBass and 2 others like this.
  19. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall-Fender-Jule-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand
    If you think punk rock means “just playing root notes”, you’ve really gotta listen to more of it.

    Try starting with The Descendents, Rancid & Anti-Flag to open your ears to what’s possible on the bass in that genre.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
    707GK, Rayjay, Need Gigs and 4 others like this.
  20. KoalaOnBass


    Feb 18, 2016
    As someone who used to play guitar in a punk band, I get your struggle with the root note monotony :laugh:

    I'd suggest checking out Anti-Flag for some inspiration: lots of busy, driving bass lines!
    Reedt2000 likes this.

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