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Smoother Bass runs/solos.

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by mjl422, Oct 29, 2003.


  1. mjl422

    mjl422

    Jul 3, 2002
    Any advise on how to smooth out bass runs and solos? I've been playing for about 6 yrs. now and can't seem to smooth out my runs. I seem to play my notes very stacatto(sp). sort of like Jaco or Rocco. I'm trying to get my runs a little more fluid. I hear some bass players whose phrasing and fluidity almost sound like the human voice. What do I need to work on to get more fluid?
     
  2. Maybe it could be your attacks. What kind of strokes do you use? A metronome can come in handy for you and you'll be ripping it up in no time!:bassist:
     
  3. Oh, and I forgot, try adding in a little legato as well. If you want to hear real fluid runs, listen to guitarist Allan Holdsworth. He bases his entire style on systematic legato phrasing in which the fingerings of the hammer on's and pull off's give momentum to the runs. It's really 'liquid' in quality because there's hardly any right hand attacks. The catch is that your hammer on's and pull off's have to sound as convincing as your plucked notes of which can take some practice to achieve.

    If you've seen the Bass Day '98 video, Victor Wooten also shows you how you can do runs with his "down up pluck pluck" method in which the first attack is a downstroke of the thumb, then an upstroke with the thumb, then a pluck with the index and then a pluck with the middle finger. For each attack, you would play a different note.

    When it comes to scales do "spirals/coils":
    eg G A B C D E, then A B C D E F#, then B C D E F# G, then C D E F# G A, etc...but you have to play them all continously without stopping.

    I hope this helps..
     
  4. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Although it might seem that Guitarrista is my alter ego, he is really just trying to hijack my thread.

    :p

    I think that you have answerd your own question. Try singing what you play. Make the bass an extension of your voice. I don't care how badly (or how well you sing). Just sing what you play. Your lines will be more fluid, your phrasing more vocal like and you'll play phrases that are lyrical.

    Mike
     
  5. mjl422

    mjl422

    Jul 3, 2002
    Thanks for your suggestions. I definately appreciate them and will take them to heart. I think part of my problem is that I spent so much time (early on in learning) practicing my finger funk that now I can't seem to turn it off.

    Guitarrista, I do have Victor Wooten's video. I know the technique that you are talking about. I'll pay a little closer attention to it next time I watch.

    Mike, I'm not the greatest singer but, I do use my voice when I'm trying to learn basslines. I think I need to pay more attention to the phrasing of the voice, the vibrato, the way it goes from note-to-note (it doesn't just stop one note then go to the next, it glides into the next note), etc.

    You gave me alot to think about, listen to and practice.
     
  6. Alter Ego????

    I think that I need to be a little bit more "hipper" in my music to stand a chance. :eek:

    As for the smooth runs mj, if you've seen the Bass Day '97 video, you'll see a considerable amount of legato from Billy Sheehan. Even Oteil Burbridge confesses that his fast licks are actually just systematic hammer on's and pull off's, but executed at lighting fast tempos.

    I also have to admit that the reason to why certain guitarists like Eddie Van Halen and Joe Satriani sound so quick is that their runs are just intensely "co-ordinated spirals" of hammer-on's and pull off's. This means that only 20% of the notes within their runs are actually physically plucked by their picking hand. Oh man, I feel like the masked magician on tv revealing this stuff to other muso's. Other guitarists will want to kill me now!!! :bag:

    As for 'legato phrasing' vs 'plucking every note'...hey, just mix and match and you'll have a lot variety in tone and colour on the bass!
     
  7. mjl422

    mjl422

    Jul 3, 2002
    I saw the Victor Wooten Bass Day video. I didn't see the one with Billy Sheehan. I did see Oteil's Video and I do remember him talking about ho/po's.

    Like you mentioned, part of my problem is plucking too many notes instead of using ho/po's.(economy of motion) Also, I found that when I play between the neck and front pickup, it helps to round out my tone a little and makes it sound a little fatter and smoother.

    Thanks, learning alot.
     
  8. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    I'm trying to achieve this as well. For quite some time I've been working out of Simandl's 30 Etudes book and working on better dynamics with my teacher, trying to make my lines sound more fluid, as if I were playing a double bass (achieving the sound of more than one note sounded all in one bowing).

    I came across an article Chris Chaney of Jane's Addiction (I think you may have mentioned him in a similar thread somewhere in Technique?) recently did for Bass Player and was inspired what he had to say as well:

    "Many of your lines have an almost vocal quality that supports the melody as well as the groove.
    Gary [Novak] helped me develop that aspect of my style, too. He told me 'Don't attack every note. It's all in your left hand'. And I realized you can control just about everything with your left hand and maintain a light attack with your right. That lets you control your dynamics a lot better, too. So now even my simplest lines are full of pull-offs, slides, and hammer-ons. I really like what it does to my phrasing. Everything gets slinkier, and it gives my lines a much looser feel..."
     
  9. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Guitarrista and Stehanie,

    Thanks so much for your input. In all honesty I think you guys are making it TOO compliated. It is much more difficult to think about specific techniques to develop a lyrical sense. I go back to my original advice, sing what you play!

    Additionally, learn the melodies of every tune that you play, be able to play them, sing them. embellish them, develop them. lease note I am not talking about using hammer on's, glissando, etc. Those things are just tools to play what you are singing, not the other way around (tools to CREATE melodies).

    Trust your voice, it truly is the key to all this. Once you've got a really good sense of this, then you can learn all these techniques.

    This discussion reminds me a bit about all the bass playuers learning V.Wooten's double thumb technique. It is definitely a cool technique. Although MANY can do it, only a rare few can do it MUSICALLY.

    Lyricism is the ultimate in musicianship nd probably the least technical aspect of music. It is the difference betweeen the way Frank Sinatra woould phrase a song and the way Joe Piscapo as Frank Sinatra would phrase that song

    Mike
     
  10. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Sorry Mike. :)

    EDIT: I've been reading this thread over and I understand the concept of singing the basslines, etc. Reminds me of something I read in a Bunny Brunel book about letting every note sing and writing basslines like you would say a sentence (with pauses for breath and tone of voice). Makes me understand more about the bass being an extension of myself, my voice, my body. Letting each note describe how I'm feeling, just like a different tone of voice would do the same.

    **Sorry, got a little off-topic, but it reminded me of that. :)