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Should you "try" to stay away from open strings?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by streetknight, Aug 2, 2011.


  1. I've only just spotted this topic. It has never occurred to that people really play to 'rules'? Surely it depends on the context, the song and the sound? I can think of a few nice bass lines that can't be played without an open string. Making use of the open string sound, rather than a fretted note to improve what you're playing surely must be the sign of a better player. As an example - how about the Fleetwood Mac song so beloved of car racing /Grand Prix TV programmes - play it without open strings and it sounds very odd! No open strings is as daft as saying no Bb's - you play them when they are appropriate!
     
  2. wideyes

    wideyes

    May 9, 2007
    Eugene, OR
    Zombie thread alert! Zombie thread alert! For new viewers, I suggest you read it from start to finish. And then let it be (like Sir Paul so often did).
     
  3. I use the E and A but to me the D and G opens just sound weird and out of place and I avoid those.
     
  4. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Montreal
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    There are good spots for them and not-so-good spots for them.
     
  5. I was taught to use the fretted notes more rather than rely on open strings. Open strings tend to resonate more and control is essential IMHO in playing. I still use open strings when I do pedal note runs across one string.
     
  6. Brand new, actually my first post...but I sort of liked this thread.

    I look at using open strings like a form of adaptation to a given instrument and situation. If I'm playing a jam on a poorly maintained loaner axe with dead spots and toasted frets, I'll tend toward the low neck positions and rely heavily on open strings wherever I can. Or hand me an instrument that sings without a fight, and the only open string I may use all night will be...B.

    That said, I've done the same lines both closed and (partially) open on gigs just to stay out of auto-pilot mode. Worst thing any of us can do is become complacent!
     
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Topics like this are timeless and always worthy of discussion, even in zombie threads.

    The answer is "it depends." What does it depend on? Lots of things. For example, I find open notes much more palatable on flats than rounds. On some basses, the open notes sound completely foreign to the bass, especially the D and G strings.

    Context is key. I will hit an open note using rounds if there's no better way to play something. I will hit an open note more regularly if the open note doesn't sound too different from the fretted notes. Otherwise I stick to fretted notes.
     
  8. mozilla314

    mozilla314

    Dec 19, 2011
    The older I've gotten, the more I like the sound of
    lower notes played higher up on the neck. For instance,
    I feel like the "C" on the third fret of the "A" string sounds
    quite weak. I prefer to play "C" further up the neck on
    the "E" string. It sounds fatter to me and a bit punchier.
    (Especially on funky Tower of Power type songs).
    Watching Verdine White on a Earth, Wind and Fire
    show, I noticed he played quite a lot of open string notes.
    I was really surprised because on the albums they don't
    sound like open string notes. Perhaps it helps him when
    he's dancing around like a madman on stage, Or maybe
    it's because he started as a classically trained upright
    acoustic bassist. Upright guys seem to play more
    open string notes.
     
  9. As a student, instructors teach us not to use open strings because it does give us a better understanding of the fingerboard and also strengthens our pinky. I rarely use open strings other than E, but are glad they are there when I need to adjust the PA, control the lights or take a drink.
    I agree a fretted note up the neck beats a 1st position note in tone for me and my setup.
     
  10. powerdimer

    powerdimer

    Jun 9, 2009
    Or it could be that white didn't play on the records, or even the shows. :'(
     
  11. powerdimer

    powerdimer

    Jun 9, 2009
    They often sound different. Use the one that fits your playing and the song. Learn both methods.
     
  12. Lots of responses to this thread but here's my little bit..

    Open strings provide more versatility than just sticking to fretted notes.

    If you ignore working out how to use open strings effectively you will limit choices within your playing.

    It is difficult to learn good control and execution of open notes within lines but they have plenty of good uses...
     
  13. inthebassclef

    inthebassclef Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    Non intentionally I tended to not use open strings simply because I got into the pattern thing. I then started to play upright about 6 months ago and it is incredibly difficult to play an upright without using open strings. I then transferred this technique onto the electric and it has opened new doors for me because I am now focusing so much on the actual notes I am playing and not so much on the patterns. So in short I think open strings are very useful and should not be avoided.
     
  14. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    Thankfully, Chris Squire didn't read this thread back in the day.
     
  15. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Uh, because your buddy is an ignorant dufus? :eyebrow:

    Honestly, I've never even met your buddy. I have no idea what motivates him to say such silly things... :rollno:

    MM
     
  16. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    +1. IMO, IME it's not both but 3 'patterns' or methods to learn. In one possible context, from the second fret up, the classic 'boxes' apply, as stated above. If you start on the first fret, the 'box' involves open strings and therefore alters your left hand fingering slightly, to accommodate the open strings. If you start with an open string those patterns are different yet again. Learning all three will let you start anywhere. (By start I mean the first note in a scale, etc..) I prefer not to use open strings, but I don't necessarily avoid them. Look at it like a challenge, to get the best sound you can and maybe try to make it sound like you're not using an open string.
     
  17. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    Play the bass.. play the song... There are no strings to avoid.
     
  18. True
     
  19. bigswifty1

    bigswifty1

    Dec 8, 2011
    Buy a bass that uses a zero fret :)
     
  20. theronbass

    theronbass

    Jul 5, 2013
    When playing live I will add in more open strings. Its the best time to wipe the sweat off your fretting hand
     

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