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suggestions for two bassists in one band

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jambassist, Oct 28, 2004.

  1. jambassist


    Sep 1, 2002
    Easton, PA
    got an interesting opportunity to join another bass player in a start up band. i know it's been done before, but i'm not really sure how to go about it. my theory background is a lot stronger than his so i'm hoping that helps. we've got a great drummer and w/b adding a guitar player. both of us play 4 stings. he plays with a pick and i play with my fingers.

    i guess what i'm asking is for any given chord progression we come up with, who plays what? it's gonna be a rock/punk kinda thing so we're not talking fusion jazz here. we do want to jam off occasionaly within the context of the song. any ideas any of you have will be very much appreciated
  2. First of all, I would make sure you guys play in different octaves for the most part. This way you don't mud each other up as much.
  3. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    Use EQ to your advantage as well - make sure the sounds dont muddy each other, maybe one fat dub tone and one with a sharp, edgy tone. Easier for the audience to pick out who's who that way. Heh, why do ya need a guitar player at all? =0)
  4. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Take a listen to Mexican rock/rap/metal/punk band Molotov (mostly the Apocalyp**** album). They use two basses on half the songs. One acts as a bass is suposed to act. The other works more like a distorted baritone guitar with little low end that makes heavy riffs (there's also the singer's guitar too). The combination sounds amazing!!!!

  5. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    The album's called Apocalypsh!t (it's been "censored" in my previous post).

  6. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    I've done the two bass routine in several bands, and have tried lots of different approaches. I've been the designated "lead" guy, the designated "groove" guy, switched off, used charts for the classical contrapuntal approach, and so on. I've even played nothing but slide bass, which is actually a blast.

    By far, the best experience was playing with a guy who was also my roomate. We practiced together constantly, and got to the point where we could complete each other's lines, the way sympatico couples can finish each other's sentences. I could take the one and three, he'd take two and four, and we'd alternate the in between beats, for example. Call and response, in a sense. BTW, this was a jam/classic raWk/punk/funk band. Not playing at the same time is pretty important, in my experience. This sets up the impact of when you do play at the same time, same as with dynamics when you're playing alone.

    I'm not sure if it matters if the audience can differentiate who's playing what line. The goal could be to make it all sound like one seamless line, no? Or, the deal Anduca mentioned can work fine too. Miles used that approach for a while, and it rocked hard. It helped that there was no guitar in the band though. You'll want to consider how two basses impacts guitar parts (if any) as well.

    PS: Oddly enough, one of the bands that has done a great job of using two bassists is Willie Nelson's. There's an older movie featuring that band playing live; you might check it out, weird as it seems. The listen to some Ornette Coleman for balance.:cool:
  7. What if one player (maybe the less experienced one) plays more of a straight rhythm, staying on the root notes, while the other plays more improvisational bass, bouncing around, etc. That might work well in a punk band.
  8. dirtgroove


    Jan 10, 2003
    Taipei, Taiwan
    The piggest problem you'll have is muddying each other up. I've been in bands like this before and we found if it gave a huge amount more definition if we both used picks.
    One of us playing more conventional bass parts and the other mainly chords and double stop melodies. By the time a guitar was added in it was practically impossible to make out what everyone was doing if we didn't use picks.

    Make sure you don't get in the way of each others frequencies- balance your eq's so that you give each other room to breathe. I pretty much rolled off all of the lower frequencies when I played higher parts.

    For the type of music your talking about I'd recommend a listen to Neds atomic dustbin- it's not groundbreaking music but interesting enough for what you want to do.
  9. jambassist


    Sep 1, 2002
    Easton, PA
    want to thank everyone for their input. what i decided to do is change the tuning on my bass. i've gone to tenor tuning which is ADGC. this will make the intereaction a little clearer. i'll also be using an akai unibass. should be a lot of fun.
  10. Recently I went out and got the best metal cd that i have ever heard in my life (Exhumed: anatomy is destiny. kicks the living crap out of slayer), but lately it seems like guitarists haven't gotten across the concept of actually learning to play their instrument on ALL LEVELS. If i used two bass players (one piccolo with distortion/one regular) would it be possible to make it sound like some of the stuff that comes off the album I'm talking about. any help would be great
  11. kaboom133


    Oct 19, 2001
    Latrobe PA
    Doubt this would work for you, but on a song or two with my band, I bow the root on my bass, and my brother plays off that.
  12. Eldermike


    Jul 27, 2004
    I have played in 2 bands with 2 bass players. I was the second one coming in, both times. In both cases the other one left the band after a short time. I really wanted it to work out and looked forward to working some stuff out, but it didn't work that way. The strong personality issues were larger than the music, to bad, but true.
    Good luck!
  13. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    Play different octaves, definitely.. and if you are feeling really tricky... different octaves+someone playing up or down in the scale... so one guy playing roots, teh other doing the same on 3rds or 5ths or something.
  14. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    You could try harmonizing one another's lines. Simple example: If you play the same note as the other guy but a fifth higher or lower, you've got instant power chords.
  15. That will take extraordinary understanding and cooperation on both your parts. It can work (Ned's Atomic Dustbin), but can easily devolve into a mess. You both should embrace effects, and really listen to 2-3 guitar bands to see how they don't step on each others' toes. It's all about sonic space. Play different basses through different amps (P through tube/active through SS) to differentiate yourselves.

    Some approaches: Harmonize basslines, double your basslines (focusing on tightness and accuracy), call-and-response basslines with the other guy starting a line and you finishing it, (as said before) have a designated groove guy and a designated 'weird shat' guy, finally...embrace the fact that you don't have to ALWAYS be playing.
  16. jeff schmidt

    jeff schmidt no longer red carded, but my butt is still sore.

    Aug 27, 2004
    Novato, CA
    Hmmm. No one has asked what you're trying to accomplish that makes you think you even need 2 bass players. Is it just "cuz it would be cool" - or do you have a sonic goal in mind that you think having 2 basses might help create?