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Spicing up a boring position?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Mr L, Jul 26, 2012.

  1. Mr L

    Mr L

    Jul 22, 2012
    Vancouver BC
    I've been playing bass in my church band for about a month and a bit now and usually my job is to just chill and play whatever the rhythm guitar is playing. This leads to songs usually being 4 bars of G then 4 bars of D then 8 bars of A... etc etc...

    I have played lead guitar in the band for nearly 5 years but decided to give bass a try when the bassist stepped down, so I'm used to being able to go ahead and plug in a little something here and there.

    Maybe it's just my gui****ness talking but i feel like i could be doing more in this position since now with me on bass all we have is a drummer, a rhythm guitar, and every 3 weeks a pianist.

    My question is how should i go about "spicing" up my bass playing in this situation?

    If we're playing a song in A and there's a little space to breath with no vocals going on or even in the middle of a verse is there something i can put in to add some personality or flavor to the song?

    The other side is maybe all i should be doing is sitting and backing up the rhythm all the time.

    I would really like to improve my playing and i feel like i could pick someone from the front row at random and they could play nearly everything I'm doing currently.

    Any thoughts?
  2. So are the parts you're playing now completely filled in? I mean are you rocking straight eight notes or holding long tones- whole notes- through the entire chord? You could try introducing space and syncopation. Once you get some grooves with some decent space, then every so often- on the big 8's- you can fill that space you created with a tasty fill. Use your guitar knowledge and play something delicious and melodic. Just an idea. The other thing could be to come up with a killer ostinato for a song or two, a repeated motive that fills a bar, like the guitar part or bass part for "Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry. I mention that as an example of an ostinato, not really an riff to copy whole cloth.
  3. ...and here, I thought that this thread might be about something a bit more ribald. :ninja:
  4. jeff5311


    Jan 27, 2008
    Atlanta, GA
    IMO bass i's the IDEAL instrument to play in a church setting. You should be solid in your foundation, but always experimenting. Your primary goal should be reinforcing the dynamic changes with the drummer (ie verse: higher on the neck more melodic, chorus: heavier and driving, lower on the instrument).

    Once you know the dynamics of a song, pick your spots for fills or add a groove that works well with the kick drum. Just because the Nashville CCM bassist wrote a boring part doesn't mean you have to stick to it.
  5. Mr L

    Mr L

    Jul 22, 2012
    Vancouver BC
    Thanks for the suggestions, I'll keep those comments in mind and do some experimenting then run a few things past my band at practice... Or just spring it on them.

    I'll try to keep it simple as I'm still learning the instrument and don't feel quite comfortable enough yet to improvise on the spot. I'll see what I can come up with, great tips thanks.
  6. bass_study


    Apr 17, 2012
    Do you have some pop song with fill in that you already can sing and you like? Transcribe them and investigate their relationship with the chords. And try to put on your church song..,, I think that may help....
  7. It's natural for a guitarist to want to fill the bass line with stuff. Your biggest problem will be the keyboard, i.e. does the keyboard leave you any space for "stuff"?

    Right now, yes less is more, but, give some thought to more than just roots. I love the sound of R-3-5-6 on major chords and a groove of R-3-5-3 (b3's on minor chords) does add a little something.

    Chromatics keep us awake. A little chromatic walk to the next chord may fit in.
    Chromatics - target the next root and miss it by 3 frets, then walk to it and be on it for the chord change. Timing this will take some practice - mark the lyric word you are to leave on.....

    Have fun.
  8. Indeed. Strong start, but somewhat anticlimactic.
  9. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    To paraphrase Paul Baloche you are not being brought in because you are that jazz guy Jaco ;)

    As a sax player who stepped up for his church I may have had Wilton Felder fantasies but basslines like I Want You Back were not written for me, as if I could play it with notation and tabs. At the moment your job is learning to live with the rest of your band. Unless it is a total start up they have been up and playing and providing fills before you arrived. You need to build confidence and trust in them for the singer to leave room for a guitarist to give up his fill or for the keyboardist to think its safe to sit on his left hand.

    As you gain experience together and you learn your churche's book the fills will come but right now you have the progression from straight 1/8 roots to breaking that pattern with your drummer to adding the occaision octave and fifth to adding other chord tones.
  10. Mr L

    Mr L

    Jul 22, 2012
    Vancouver BC
    Some really great suggestions from all of you :)

    Was at band practice last night and started walking to the notes as you said and the guitarist and drummer after the first song told me "Whatever you were doing there, keep doing it."

    Improving already, much thanks :)
  11. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    Besides chromatic walks, another thing that works very well with a lot of contemporary Christian songs, is hitting the fifth of the chord that you are going to 1/2 beat before you change to it. So if the chord progression was E, A , and D and you are currently on the E about to go to a D...you would hit an A just before you go to the D. It works equally well with fast or slow songs---but the effect is very different for each.
  12. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    What would Jamerson do? :D
  13. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Oh, is that all there is too it :smug: ;)

    Seriously though I do wonder how he would have to adjust for playing for either a quartet or a mass choir. And then he will probably have a diva and not Joe Hunter and Earl Van Dyke on keyboards
  14. Mr L

    Mr L

    Jul 22, 2012
    Vancouver BC
    That's actually a fantastic idea, thank you :D
  15. pocketgroove


    Jun 28, 2010
    I was going to say introduce whipped cream...but I guess that's not really what you're asking...
  16. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Watch this, then this and you'll be where you want to be.
  17. Mr L

    Mr L

    Jul 22, 2012
    Vancouver BC
    Hahaha i love that guy.

    "You can be simple, or you can be a badass."

    Words to live by
  18. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Yeah.. My 1st thought too.

    Where's Phalex when you need him?

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