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Shedding my Guitar skin...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by cmprock, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. cmprock


    May 28, 2010
    Hey all...

    Hoping you seasoned bass guys can offer a little wisdom. I'm a guitar player.. and in the process of recording my 3rd instrumental guitar record. For many reasons that I'll spare you of, I want to play the bass on my own this time around. My first two records were a combo of synth bass played by me, and "real" bass done by session guys. I got myself a good bass and really enjoying playing it and super excited about the new tunes and thinking of the larger picture of the guitar and bass as a unit...

    So I'm a few tunes into my record, and a friend who's a monster bass player suggested that while the part was "played great, I can tell it was played by a guitar player"... which begs the question: How does a guitar player suddenly think like a bass player? What do you guys think like that is un-guitar like? What would be some things I can do to have it sound like a "real" bass player?

    Funny thing is, whenever I have had bass players audition for my band, I can tell in five minutes if they are bass players that STARTED on the bass, or guitar players that took a different path. I don't know WHAT it is that separates the two paths, I only know I can tell the difference.... and now I want to adapt a little of that "bass player vibe" and wondering what the elusive secret method be? Thanks in advance!
  2. pudgychef

    pudgychef Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2005
    Chongqing, China
    First step (which you seem to been on board with) is understanding it is a different instrument with a different role, different challenges and different rewards. It is (giant generalisation) typically a support role which requires a different approach to the music and one's part of it.

    Maybe find some bass playing you like, learn it on bass and play along with the track to get a sense of the style and attitude that make it work.

    Get locked in with the drums..bridge that with the rest of the song...

    Two approaches often work ime - play a lot of the hop then trim it down to what works and serves the song

    OR - start with very little (like roots and whole notes) and steadily add more to the line until it clicks..

    an option I have seen work for guitarists is to abandon the pick at first (while there are MANY awesome pick playing bassists - forcing yourself to play the bass finger style may help change your mindset and help avoid 'playing guitar on bass')

    ime, imho, ymmv
  3. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    Bassists see things from the bottom up
  4. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Lead guitar players like to fill the air with notes. Bass players don't worry with that. I guess the real difference between the two is melodic playing. The guitar player will tend to be melodic and the bass player will be happy with accompaniment.

    I played rhythm guitar, not lead, and when I went over to the bass, I too had to remember that the bass line does not have to be filled with notes.
  5. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Bass playing ...

    1st rule ... Don't use distortion and don't play too many notes ...

  6. jamminology101


    Aug 22, 2012
    Indianapolis In
    Endorsing Artist: Glockenklang
    I dont quite get it. The op talks like being a "true" bassist is a good thing that is easy identifyable on recordings and he would like to sound like more like being a bassist from the get go. Almost kind of like a cool mojo. He also says he knows a monster bassist. ..which comes of very complimentary. Then you have posters saying most bassist play dumbed down root only versions and one dude says guitarist play bass more melodic. ..all of this sounds like derogatory comments on bass playing. I don't think this is what he is looking for. Alot of good bassist introduce new measures with the jazz like half step out before tonic root introductions and play many tasty fills with the chord triad or inversion notes that outline the chord in a tasty way. Many walking chromatic passages leading to a chord change can be used...etc etc etc. These are a few of the bassist tools that can be used...not just some root pounder 8th note passage to fill up the bars. Im surprised at these negative sounding posts of keeping it simple. There is a time for simplicity, but I dont think its the be all end all of effective bass line craft....which by the way is a craft.
  7. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    OP, for some ideas check out some Blues Saraceno stuff. He did pretty much what you are doing. He's a phenomenal guitar player and plays the bass really well as well. From Plaid on I believe he played all the bass stuff.

    Good luck. We want videos when you're done!
  8. cmprock


    May 28, 2010
    Thanks to all you guys. Super cool of you to respond so fast. Guess I'm used to the guitar player mentality :scowl:

    Some great info!! Dropping the pick sure would be a start! Duh! Shoulda thought of THAT on my own! LOL! I'll adapt all these concepts here and see what happens.... maybe I'll even share a clip or two to see what you guys think.

    That Tony Levin clip is awesome! He actually played on one of my tunes on my second record. Wow... now there's a player!!

    Thanks again!!! Keep ya posted and keep em coming!
  9. pudgychef

    pudgychef Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2005
    Chongqing, China
    Nobody suggested just playing roots...the post about roots and not straying past the 5th fret was (i believe) tongue in cheek

    I metioned starting with roots as one of two suggested ways of creating a bassline..start slow and add more (passing notes 4ths etc) until it clicks.

    Good suggestions on bass strategies but some may be a bit much for someone just starting the instrument (imho)

    I think most posters were suggesting it is a change in mindset/approach...didnt see any serious post that i would deem derogatory
  10. AndrewFord


    Aug 11, 2012
    Los Angeles area
    Endorsing Artist: Line 6, TC Electronics, Yamaha, Elixir Strings
    After studying this phenomenon and polling a number of guitar players I have a few suggestions for any guitar player trying to sound more like a "bass player"

    1. Simplify your lines
    2. Camp out next to the drummer(for live purposes)
    3. Do most of your work in the lower 5 frets
    4. Embrace space
    5. View it as a totally different instrument
    6. Get a good finger style sound
    7. Focus on the root and fundamental notes
    8. Realize that simple does not mean boring
    9. Don't rush
    10. The length of your notes is critical

    This is a general approach of course and does not necessarily apply to those trying to break new ground by playing in an "unbass-like" style