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! :)

spicing up basslines

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by a memory a hope, Oct 24, 2005.

  1. a memory a hope

    a memory a hope

    Jan 23, 2005
    I'm in a band now, i've walked in after they were formed so i have had to learn songs in a way that i wouldn't write. I'm basically looking for interesting ways to spice up basslines while still retaining the overall "root"-ness of the line.
  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Rhythmic and Dynamic variation go a long way.
  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    What he said.

    What exactly don't you like about the existing basslines? Do they not work for the music? Do you want to play more complex parts? When you join an existing band, you do kind of have to stick with what the band already expects, especially if it's already been recorded and made available to the public. But...

    ...there's a good chance that the guys in the band won't really notice too much if you take small liberties with the tunes. Don't go drastically changing feels and making big note changes, but you can usually find ways to slip your own personality into the songs without too much hassle as long as it sounds good. Now and then you might find guys who want note-for-note renditions, but most don't really care.
  4. a memory a hope

    a memory a hope

    Jan 23, 2005
    could you explain what you mean by dynamic variation a little.

    its not that i don't think the basslines don't work for the songs and i've already added a little of my own touch to them. plus everyone in the band is my friend so we usually are open to new ideas. its just that my friends seem to think bass is just there to add the low end of the rhythm guitar and they don't think its very important. i just want to prove them wrong by adding a little groove instead of just straight 8th root notes.

    Edit: we play in DADG tuning and pretty much every song is usually just the low D and bits of the A i want to expand to the other strings too because i know they are important too :p
  5. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    What i've been trying to do lately is actually play the melody lines. I know that sounds like it goes against everything that a bassist stands for, but what I do is throw octave on top of it. Also, i'll tap the roots and play something up high.

    The melody doesn't even have to play something up high though. Also, writing stuff in B (if you have a 5+ string) or E helps a lot too. Yay for thumbs!
  6. a memory a hope

    a memory a hope

    Jan 23, 2005
    bump :)
  7. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I dont think playing the melody is a great idea. That to me just looks and sounds like a bassist who wants some spotlight but cant get creative enough.

    I like to mess around with timing. Dont play all 8ths, throw some half, quarters, mutes in there. Mutes are very effective in changing up the feel of a song. Try to get the drummer to work with you on that.
  8. ladros2


    Jun 2, 2005
    +1 on dynamics. Simply stopping altogether for half a bar can have a HUGE effect if done right.
  9. It's also a cheeky reminder to the audience (and lead guitar!) on how important the bass is in the song :D
  10. 3NotesAbar


    Jul 3, 2005
    Check out 'If I like it, I do it' by Jamiroquai :)
  11. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I have always been a big odd time user in my own writing. When we are playing straight 4/4 stuff, I like to spice it up by using odd times that ultimately add up. A very useable example is to use a 7-9 pattern
  12. 'Creep' by radiohead jumps to mind here. I'm doing it with my band tomorrow as a one-time cover, and the bass plays most roots, but with some rhythmic variation. This makes a HUGE diference to the song.
  13. Bently

    Bently Guest

    Jul 3, 2005
    Saltillo, Mississippi
    What exactly is a mute?
  14. You can work with accents on certain notes instead of all 1/8th notes and the same volume, and possibly swing them a little instead of doing them evenly, assuming the song will support that. Sometimes playing a little ahead or behind the beat gives that 1/8th note rhythm a totally different feel.

    Depends on the kind of music you're playing. Sometimes a really simple bass line is exactly what the doctor ordered, some songs . You want to change the existing bass line only when it makes the song better. Not just for the sake of change.

  15. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    When you dont play notes as part of a bass line. i.e. You might not play for a quarter note or an eigth note or a bar or whatever.

    Man in jazz club: Oh my god she's terrible
    Lisa Simpson: You've got to listen to the notes she's not playing
    Man: Hmmph! I could of done that at home

  16. Bently

    Bently Guest

    Jul 3, 2005
    Saltillo, Mississippi
    Thanks, I was wondering that.
  17. One thing that will immediately set you apart from the previous bassist is listening and locking in with the bass drum. Unless the guy us just playing on the 2 and 4. If he's got an interesting rhythmic pattern, listen to it, follow it, complement it, and play around with it. As long as you come back to the same pattern, the band will sound 349.87% tighter and the other guys will think you're a god. Once you and your drummer have that symbiotic relationship where you're feeding rhythmic ideas off of each other, then you will understand the pocket. You will also distinguish yourself from nearly every other band in your town.
  18. AuG


    May 22, 2005
    Fort Collins, CO
    +1 on the muting. :)
    Melody has it's place but I don't think the bass should play it for the whole song. :ninja:

    Everything's good in moderation.