1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Soloing: practice vs the gig.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Alan Vorse, Sep 5, 2005.

  1. I have spent the last 9 months getting my solo chops together, not just physical/speed stuff, but melodic/harmonic ideas, phrasing. I think I have made some good progress. Now I don't get to solo much backing up a singer songwriter or playing covers in bars, but once in a while some vocalist will say: "Lets hear a bass solo."
    What follows is, I can't pull off any of the melodic phrasing that sounds so good at home, and I end up playing some meandering modal run, only to bail myself out by playing some funky groove to get out at the end.
    Am I practicing incorrectly? Is it a mental thing? Am I just so caught off guard that I'm being asked to solo in a Rolling Stones song, that I can't access that stuff?
  2. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Sounds to me like you're caught off guard. Even after almost 30 years, if someone calls a solo on me and I don't expect it, I tend to get all butt-clenched and play something really bad. One way to fight it is with stock licks that you can have at the ready for any situation, but stock licks sound...well...stock. Still, they're a good jumping off point for when you get thrown to the wolves like that, and once you gather yourself, you can start branching out.
  3. If you can swallow it and apply it, the best advice is to relax. But most people can't practically do that in a gig. (I know I can't). The best advice for those who can't just "relax," is to play something SIMPLE. I REALLY MEAN IT. Whether the audience is full of musicians or full of non-musicians doesn't matter. If you have the experience and know that you are good (at least better than when you play when you get 'butt-clenched') and play a simple solo, then people will know that you are good.

    REMEMBER, the more RHYTHM you use in your solo, the less theory you need.
  4. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Yeah, keep it simple. The more complex it sounds, the less likely people will understand what you're trying accomplish.
  5. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    If you arent already, you can try out doing stuff that is very rhythmically based, rather than guitar-like runs. Also, maybe draw from your strengths. If its not an epic solo (where you might want to do a range of techniques), draw from what it is you are best at- right hand rhythms, left hand grace or speed, slapping, tapping, etc.
  6. Thank you for the advice people. It was very helpful.
  7. I have found the same thing in some cases: what sounds good when you're jamming by yourself doesn't cut it on stage. In my experience there are two reasons, one, the one which everyone is saying, sometimes you are startled if you don't know its coming up, and two, when your playing by yourself it has been all bass the whole time, rather than a sudden drop out to just bass, or just bass and drums, which people often do (which is silly because electric can be loud enough to play with a full band). The suggestions above are good (relax and let the music flow), but I would also try and get whoever's there playing with you to really react in the same way that they would to a guitar. For some unknown reason, everyone likes to play the most boring things possible over bass solos. So really make the drummer or guitarist or whatever really react to and create a dialogue with someone. If its just you playing, I would suggest bringing it way down, starting real simple, then building and adding whatever complexity/development you can to the simple theme(s).
  8. 20one


    Jan 10, 2003
    Abilene, TX
    The same has happened to me on a few occasions... I've found (as also mentioned by a few others on this thread) that relaxing is the key. Even if that means that you completely stop playing for a second and let the drummer keep on truckin', just stop and take a breath and let the groove go without even thinking about it.

    Sometimes you can be amazed at what your subconcious(sp?) can do.
  9. steverosati


    Apr 7, 2004
    city of Dis
    I have always found from a jazz background if you know the melody, you can quote from that to start the ball rolling and also it gives the listeners something to connect to in your solo.
    Good luck
  10. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Here's my problem with the advice of relaxing: it's quite often impossible onstage. First off, people are usually a bit tense and hyped up when they're onstage, so relaxing is often out of the question. I know it is for me. Second, even if you're relaxed under normal circumstances, being pointed to and told to take it when you're not expecting it would cause anyone's heart rate to jump up a little. Third, well, there is no third. Sorry.

    So my advice is to attack it from the standpoint of preparedness. Have some stock licks as a jumping off point, maybe discuss with the rest of the band when they think they're going to want a bass solo so you can be a little prepared for it until you get used to winging it, quote the melody for a couple bars (that's a great suggestion btw), and always remember that nobody dies if you screw up.
  11. Hey, I have the exact same problem. The singer shouts "bass solo" in the middle of a song and the guitar suddenly stops. I suddenly jump to a pentatonic or something and then I realise it sounds crap so I start some fank slap riff (which doesn't really fit in the middle of cemetary gates).

    I talked to the guitarist and we arranged it so we'd have trade-off solo break downs, kind of like question and answer. This increases your confidence so much more and when the guitarist is having his turn you have a few seconds to think about what you're going to do. Also, stock solos are a good idea, I try sometimes steal solos from other songs, for example, I use the metropolis 2 handed tapping solo in heaps of songs.
  12. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    If you believe this then it's true. If you don't, then it isn't. How you feel when you play is totally your own responsiblity and you can learn to feel however you want. If you perceive a situation as threatening you will feel tense. If you change your perception you will feel different. Most people at a gig are just begging for a good time, not looking to pick a player's solo apart. IMO.