Struggling with Sabbath

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Wademeister63, Apr 17, 2018.

  1. Wademeister63


    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    I'm not really all that great on bass or with music in general but I enjoy it in spite of my lack of natural ability. I've been in a few crappy cover bands and a couple decent ones. Best I've been in was an Alice in Chains tribute. Loved playing those tunes and I thought it was actually quite a good band.

    A couple weeks ago I lucked into an opportunity to play in a Black Sabbath tribute. Man! I love that band! Never have been in band where Black Sabbath would fit in the set list so I had never bothered to learn any of their tunes. So for two weeks now I have been trying to cover Geezer and I'm not sure if I'm going to do an adequate job of it when we finally rehearse like two weeks from now. I got Bassically (N.I.B. intro) pretty well down and think that will be ok, War Pigs still needs some work but is getting there, couple songs on the list are too simple, like Paranoid, so I'm not too worried about them (Paranoid doesn't worry me, 0_o).

    I don't know, maybe I'm just being too hard on myself trying to learn every single note instead of just letting it fly, but I'm not too confident about winging it either, and not yet sure how exact the guitar player putting the band together wants to be. I don't really want to ask him either because I don't want to raise doubts in his mind. I mean if I don't make the cut it won't be because of me undermining myself.

    I don't know if there's anything to do at this point except to keep working on the songs, and I'll do that but it has me wondering... Is old Sabbath difficult for a lot of bass players to cover or am I just that horrible?

    Maybe it's the way I practice too. I have an old Tascam Bass trainer unit where I load up the MP3's, plug my bass and headphones into it, and jam along with the tunes. I can loop stuff and slow it down etc, but seems like I find myself just following along a LOT, and tend to get lost when I try to play the songs on my own. Trying to get out of that habit but I haven't stumbled on any solid study or practice techniques that really burn the songs into my brain and I'm feeling pretty stupid over it at the moment.

    Anybody else just struggle hard with stuff that doesn't seem like it should take much effort? I don't expect any kind of magic bullets, but I still have some time to try some things if anyone has any advice.
  2. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Trying to learn a whole set worth of music is not an easy thing to do! So, don't get discouraged.

    Trying to learn another bass player's lines note for note is kind of like trying to copy someone's hand writing. It just isn't natural to do such a thing.

    Since most bassists rarely play 100% exactly the same for every live show, you shouldn't really have to play their lines 100% exact either. Maybe try to be at least in the 80% ball park.

    Consult youtube videos for the bass on those old Sabbath songs.

    Most songs whether by Sabbath or whoever are very repetitive. Once you get the basic riff down, you pretty much just play that over and over again.

    Most rock songs are 1 to 5 chords. Don't sweat it.
  3. bobba66


    May 18, 2006
    Arlington, Texas
    I've played that stuff hundreds of times, never the same way twice. Get the basic structure down and rock it. :woot:
    StyleOverShow and Wademeister63 like this.
  4. Wademeister63


    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    I've been checking out the youtube vids and have even printed off tabs for War Pigs. Sometimes man it feels like my brain is made of rock and the music can't penetrate into that dense mofo! But then again, I did figure out Bassically probably 98% correct from the recording. All the tabs and youtubes I found are from the original LP but I'm doing the one from the guitarist's The End DVD. I'm pretty happy about that actually, just need to get my foot motion right for the wahs and that one will be in the bag.

    Maybe I'll step away from the couple songs that are busting my brain for a day or two and just cruise the easy ones while I catch my breath. And I'll try to loosen up and go for feel more than accuracy. Cut myself a little slack I guess....
    Badwater likes this.
  5. So you said it was a Tribute band correct? that pretty much screams note for note, as opposed to a cover band taking liberty to cover to the best of their ability or add something more. I suggest you learn what you can note for note, so you have a foundation and then work on the other more difficult ones as you progress through the bands songs. Some may be beyond your capabilities, but on the brightside Black Sabbath has a ton of songs to add or not add to your set lists either way good luck.
    kevin wells and Erasmusman like this.
  6. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    which Sabbath tunes?
  7. Wademeister63


    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    Guitar player/BL gave us this list:

    1)War Pigs
    2)Behind The Wall Of Sleep
    4)Sweet Leaf
    5)Into The Void
    6)Tomorrow's Dream
    7)Wicked World
    8)Iron Man

    He also has a second set written out, but I'm not even concerned about adding anything more at the moment.

    I guess I'm most concerned about war Pigs right now since it's #1 on the list. First impressions and all, you know... I'm feeling a little better about it since I worked my way through the tab a couple times last night. Playing the stuff is no problem it's just remembering and not missing changes.

    Like during the solo in W.P, I can get into noodling a bit and seems fine to my ears, but then when the solo wraps up and the arpeggio part begins I overshoot that every fgn time. Aside from working on trying to count measures... feels like a lost cause there, man I'm bad at that too... Crap, I can't count and play, and can't remember sh.. Pretty sad! Feels like my best bet is to keep plugging along with the note-for-note stuff just to make sure what I'm doing fits into the right amount of measures.

    Maybe later assuming I don't get kicked on day 1, we can free things up, guitar guy can stretch out if he wants and I'll just just noodle around until the magic nod comes saying we're moving on.

    Aside from that particular nugget though, my biggest problem is tending to follow too much and missing changes. What I'm hoping to do about that is work through all the songs at least a few times without the track playing. Not sure how far I'll get with that, hopefully far enough to where I'm not the standout mistake maker of the band.
  8. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    Although there are a few fills that are quite key in many songs, a lot of Geezer Butler's playing (IMHO) seems to be built around his technique, and certain signature fills and habits rather than set in stone parts.
    If you can emulate his personal licks you'll get close.
    * Listen to the slow beginning of War Pigs. They're playing the basics chords, but Geezer is improvising around the root notes.
    * Wicked World: Again there are fill notes in the intro riff (fast bit), then some following of the guitar part, then some improvising. You can hear his style coming through. There's a lot going on, but at the same time is not just noodling.
    * Paranoid is probably the best example of his style of fills.

    To my ears a lot of the early Sabbath stuff is very jazzy in feel (a lot of the drum parts are extremely jazzy), so a lot of the music was improvised around the basic chords/riffs.

    I'm not sure whose video this is (if it's a TB member, "Thumbs Up"!), but he seems to have captured the essence of the part, and the fills.
    Notice the patterns of the fills. Not complicated, and in a small box, but very effective.
    Nail the style, and the rest will fall into place. Good luck.
  9. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    The only one hard for a band to pull of is Sweet Leaf. It has that magical quality of almost falling apart but never actually doing so. I love that one!
    DrMole likes this.
  10. bobba66


    May 18, 2006
    Arlington, Texas
    The intro to Fairies Wear Boots sounds challenging. Not on your list, though.:woot:
  11. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    There is no shame in admitting that you can't play like Geezer the first time you try.

    His work can be a little busy, but he maintains a great groove and his lines are melodic.

    I'm a fan.
  12. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Definitely a TBer, that's @TJH3113
    His videos are a treasure trove. I especially like his Geddy Lee covers, some of the smoothest I have seen.
    ELG60, NealBass, ThudThudThud and 2 others like this.
  13. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    The hard part of learning Sabbath for me was the mixes. It's hard to hear the notes he's playing in a lot of the parts because of the low-mid humped tone, also there are intonation issues(I think) on some of the early recordings which makes it hard to pick out the notes when he plays in higher register IIRC. Once I figured out what he was playing it's not too hard. Jazzy timed metal riffs basically.
    Very cool bass lines and good playing though.
    That's a sweet gig!
  14. winterburn69


    Jan 27, 2008
    His Geddy Lee covers are absurdly smooth.

    I hate him so much, well, more like envy.

    His videos make it all look so incredibly easy. He makes YYZ look like When the World is Running Down.
    IvanMike likes this.
  15. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    Then definitely a thumbs up. Cool stuff.
  16. Wademeister63


    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    Absolutely. Him and Todd Hamby are my favorite youtubers!

    Still plugging along here, and making some progress. Maybe I won't get kicked out at first rehearsal ;)

    Any of you guys got a solid bass line for Tomorrow's Dream? The bouncy part under the verses... I've come up with a couple possible things to play but none that sound just right. The bass tabs I've found don't look right to me and there's no decent youtube videos for that song. Also I just sent TJH3113 a PM to see if he'd be interested in doing a cover of the song. I'm sure it'll be spot-on if he decides to do it.
    ELG60 likes this.
  17. Geezer Butler is a amazing Bass Player, he was also raised on Jazz. That's why you hear it in a lot of the early Sabbath songs. Break down the songs you're trying to learn bar by bar. With Sabbath, that's the fastest way to learn it, and it will be cemented in your head. Soon you'll be able to play the whole song on bass, solo.
  18. IvanMike

    IvanMike TTRPG enthusiast, Happy, Joyous, & Free. Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    Sounds like a fun band to get involved with. Early Sabbath is one of the first things that I really wrapped my head around when I started to learn how to play.

    The solos tend be where things can be a little confusing. I totally played the wrong part in NIB during the solo just the other night at a band audition because it had been so long. Musically it worked, but it wasn’t the right progression.

    It’s a good idea to talk to the drummer and the guitar player and find out if they’re going to play the solo exactly as long as the album, or if they’re going to do it by feel. Very often a good drummer will give you a cue that they’re going to go back to the main riff or what have you. Then you have to figure out exactly what is geezer doing during the solo. Sure he’s playing a lot of notes but what are the chords?

    It also helps to write out a little chart of the entire form of the song. You can write out what happens in reverse into a chorus and then during the bridge or the solo or what have you. If you break it up into little bite-size parts it’s easier to kind of get it all together. It doesn’t have to be a pretty or professional looking diagram either. As long as it works for you.
  19. ELG60


    Apr 26, 2017
    Zombie thread response: Yes, Troy's YouTube channel was inspirational in helping me figure out some songs when I started playing again about 5 years ago after an almost twenty-year layoff. Both he and Todd Hamby seem like dudes I'd be happy to have as friends in real life.
    Wademeister63 and Todd Hamby like this.
  20. @ELG60 you just made my day! Thank you sir.
    Wademeister63 and ELG60 like this.
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