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Song/ possible band with 2 basses, possible?

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by bobqwer, Nov 6, 2002.

  1. bobqwer


    Oct 10, 2002
    Me and a friend both play basses and we're most likely the most dedicated musicians in school, and we got fed up with dealing with unreliable guitarists so we decided to try and play with two basses, just a song or two. Anyone think its possible, or even more so any suggestions?
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Lou Reed - walk on the wild side

    [EDIT] or do you mean with 2 basses and no guitars?
  3. Of course it's possible. Just listen to Spinal Tap's "Big Bottom", it has three basses in it... ;) :D
    Joke aside, I've played in a setting with bass, bass, drums, guitar and saxophone, and it worked really well as long as we didn't stay in the same register all the time. I've also heard a bass duo, where one of the bassists' ambient, harmonic heavy style blended really well with the other players fast-as-a-lightning chops. Also, you can check out the first incarnation of the Jonas Hellborg Group (they've released an unnamed album) for inspiration. That is one slap happy duo, with an intense drummer thrown in.

    And, most importantly of all, remember that "if the kids are united, they will never be divided".
  4. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    The requisite skill is arranging - you can't both go away and learn the bass line to, say, Purple Haze and come back expect that to stand on it's own. You'd have to break it up a bit - for example, one person playing the E / Bb quarter notes at the start and the other playing the lead line over the top.

    However, its certainly an achievable goal - it's just a case of thinking 'music' rather than limiting yourselves to 'bass line'.

  5. Fliptrique


    Jul 22, 2002
    Szczecin, Poland
    Endorsing Artist: Mayones Guitars&Basses
    It can turn out excellen - I have a polish cd with a 2-basses song. One of guys is a rocker (pick, p-bass,riff playing) and other is a slapper with wotten like chops. Turned out superb.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yes - I remember seeing the UK post-punk "New Wave" group "Delta 5". They had two female bassists who stood on oppsite sides of the stage - one played very bass "dub" type lines and the other played with a more "brittle" sound - more treble and
    higher up the neck.

    I've seen Oteil Burbridge (on video) doing bass duets with others and of course Victor Wooten and Steve Bailey have their "Bass Extremes" series, where it is just two bassists and drums. It might be worth getting one of their books, as they explain how they arrange stuff and have all the lines transcribed.
  7. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I've got the first Bass Extremes book - it's so good, it's even got tab ;)

    Seriously though, it's an excellent resource for working on bass duos in a jazz / fusion vein. Another idea would be to search out a lot of recordings of duos - not necessarily bass duos, but any two instruments together. If you spend time thinking about what each instrument is doing and how they fit together, you'll be learning the right kind of approach and will probably become a better musician in the bargain.

  8. Fliptrique


    Jul 22, 2002
    Szczecin, Poland
    Endorsing Artist: Mayones Guitars&Basses
    . Agree.
    Check out fantomas/melvins big band. They have a live cd out - millenium monsterwork. Two drummers onstage, one of them being Dave Lombardo. Uhh... savage stuff:)
  9. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Didn't the band Jesus Jones, probably best known for the song "Right Here, Right Now" have two basses? Seems like I read an interview in which they said one bassist played the higher registers and one played the lower registers.

    I hope i'm not confusing them with Ned's Atomic Dustbin. That may ahve been the band with the two bassists. Both bands were popular about the same time.

    Anyway, I feel it would be a very interesting experiment to attempt a two bass/no guitar group. You could play point/counterpoint arrangements or do some of the things mentioned above. Or one could play acoustic (or acoustic-electric) and the other electric.

    Let us know what you decide to do and how it works out for you.
  10. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I just remembered when I saw the James Brown band play about three years ago, Brown actually ahd two bassists. He did have a guitarist also. I couldn't always understand why he was using two bassists because some of the songs one bassist didn't play.
  11. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I've heard that James Brown fines his band for wrong notes. Perhaps the bassists decided they could only afford the gig if they clubbed together :p

  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    It was Ned's atomic Dustbin who had two bassists -

    I saw Jesus Jones live and they had one bass "wearer", who jumped about, mimed and pretended to play bass to a pre-programmed track!! :mad:
  13. slam

    slam Guest

    Mar 22, 2000
    John Coltane's album "Ole" has two acoustic bass players on it.

    Miles Davis "Bitches Brew" has one electric and one acoustic.

    Also someone told me that some of the mid-70's Ornette Coleman and Prime Time albums have two bassists.

    There is a band out of NYC called Burnt Sugar that uses an acoustic and an electric plus a cello.

    I went to a world jazz jam last week and there was another player there who alternated between fretless bass and sax. He played high melodic lines while I held down the bottom.
  14. 1-i'm gonna have sham 69 stuck in my head the rest of the day.

    2-i was at the melvinsfantomas big band show. absolutely incredible. the cd doesn't do it justice.

    3-i play in a band with a cellist, so there's a lot of bottom end. there are some composition issues, but it really opens you up to explore some cool possibilities.

    4-there's a local sf band called "schloss" i believe... they don't have any recordings yet, but it's two bass players and a crazy ass drummer. amazing stuff.

    think about the band morphine... bass, bari sax and drums. along with that guys voice, there's a ton of low register stuff going on, and it sounds killer.
  15. Check out Cop Shoot Cop.
  16. deepbob


    Oct 3, 2001
    left field
    welp, if you can look over the sloppy/simplistic playing, you might get some idea of sound from these.

    these are just bass (with effects processors), voice (processors here too), and drums only, with emphasis on duelling/layered basses improving:

    engage (latinish)

    another day (sloppy funk)

    sensless strife (experimental 'classical' improv)

    modern processors really can let any instrumet recreate such a diverse range of sounds, it seems virtually any instrument can be doubled and not disappear behind another of the same - provided of course, the compositions/jams allow for that.

    sounds fun to me.
  17. i'm trying to get together a college band playing ska, funk, jazz, groove type music and i'm gonna have another bassist in the group because i may be playing trumpet, sax, piano or whatever other instrument i can find in some songs, but also because i love the idea of having 2 bassists in some songs. i'm thinking along the lines of lead and rhythm guitar, but with basses, y'know, one person doing the main steriotypical low note "bass" riff and one doing higher register "lead" style riffs, or have both basses doing "normal" riffs, but with different sounds, i.e. one on freted one on fretless, one with pick one doing slap ect.

    should be a lot of fun!


  18. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Miles Davis had a two bass band during the 70's.
  19. :D
    Sorry 'bout that, bobqwer's signature got me a bit carried away...

    Anyway, the ideas to listen to as many duo recordings as possible, and think of the bass guitar as first and foremost a musical instrument among others, are good ones.
    And I also urge you to try to find a recording of Sainte-Colombe's pieces for two viola da gambas. That's a great example of how two instruments in the bass range can get together in perfect harmony.
  20. Grygore


    Oct 25, 2002
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Whee! In high school, I was in a metal band that had two bassists. I played the normal bassline in as low an octave as I could. The other bassist would play an octave higher (usually), use some distortion and play a more complicated line. He also had a tremolo that he would use occasionally.

    People ate it up! I think mostly because back then there were pretty much only Queensryche/Motley Crue/or hair band copies (this was in the mid 80's). We played mostly originals with maybe a Black Flag or Dead Kennedys cover tune here and there.

    We gigged constantly even opening for touring punk acts like Bay of Pigs, JFA, DRI, Suicidal Tendencies....was great fun :)

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