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Surf bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by surflizard84, Jul 21, 2002.

  1. All right, It's my first time posting here, so here goes. . . I am 17 years old and I am currently working with a surf rock band (I surf and love the music so I knew I would love to play bass in the band). To be perfectly honest I am kinda lacking in the department of coming up with good grooves:(
    My main insperation is Mike Anthony of Van Halen, I really dig the way he puts awsome power and clean grooves together. I want to bring that into this band. :D Basically hat I'm asking, is if anyone can help develop some really kewl grooves. Sooooooo if anyone can help me with my little problemo, It would be much appreciated. :D
  2. oh and I really wanna be creative, I don't like simplicity. So, I wanna harmonize, keep grooves but also go off and do my own thing too. I know this is a lot of help I'm askin' for but I'm sure you dudes can help me somewhere
  3. Always remember the Surfaris.
    Inserting the little "wipe out" guitar groove on bass anywhere and anytime is definitely an effective surf riff.
    Hope this helps!
    Sean -aroo
  4. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    While Surf is a bit different from the early Rockabilly that came before it, it does borrow a lot from it, espcially in the bass department.

    The first groove you might want to start out with is the basic triad swing. Let's kick this off in G and walk up into C. Please don't kick my butt for using tabs to explain this people, I just think it would better if I did this visually instead of just writing note names. ;) Play every note as a quarter note. We'll do 3 bars of G, on the 4 bar we'll walk up into the C. We will be playing a blue note inbetween the A and the B. Techinally, I believe this is actually part of the "Broken Scale". (Help me out there Pac, JBo and Chris, is that right?)





    Here comes the C


    Then once you start getting that down, you can start to embellish your lines. Here is the same patter with a 6th and b7th on it.


    Another good line is short of a rock shuffle type thing. Here's the basic pattern for it. The G is a quarter note, the two B's are 8ths, the D a quarter, the C an 8th, and the B an 8th. (it will probaly make more sense once you play it) Here's a bars worth of it on G, then a bars worth of it on C. Try this riff underneath Wipe Out. (though I don't think these are the right chords for WO)



    Those are a few basic runs that can use in surf tunes. (a lot of Beach Boys tunes come to mind) It gets more complicated than that with walking scales, blue notes, shuffles, but this should get your started.

    Hehe, I remeber my band use to have a policy. Evertime we played a surf tune, the audience had to drink a beer/shot. I think it was just an excuse for us to play Pipeline 5 times a night. :D
  5. Yeah, guys, thanx for the help I'm gonna use both of your advice and see how things turn out!!!:D
  6. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Welcome to TAlkBass! You will certainly find advice here -- shot through, as advice always is, with personal preference. So here's my serving of both:

    The surf style really doesn't leave a lot of room for aggressive, creative bass -- most of it had just dark, round, thumpy quarter notes. The most common mistake younger bassists make playing "Wipeout" is to play the same line as the guitar. Heck, plenty of surf bands don't even HAVE bass players.

    This is not to say that, if you play more complex lines than that, it won't sound GOOD -- I'm all for fusions of ALL types -- it just might sound a little less like surf. Which, as I said, may wind up being a cool thing. But I learned a while ago playing in a rockabilly band: If you don't play the style, it won't sound like the style. So you have to decide what you want to sound like -- and make sure your band members agree!
  7. yeah I understand. I like the Jazzy rockabilly bass behind surf, and in some of our songs it sounds very kewl. But just one more question for everyone, should I play the arpegio of the chord or key the guitar is in our should I stick with the same key the whole song. I think with walking bass lines it could change keys with the chord, but I'm not sure
    thanks :D
  8. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Yes, in surf you should ALWAYS play the same chord as the guitar.

    This isn't as obvous an amnswer as it mght seem. In some jazz styles, very frequently the guitar/piano chord is some extended harmony of the chord that the bass is playing.
  9. Also in surf bass, as I've heard it played and'll set you apart from the guitars.
    Play the note on the fret right before the chord that the bar is in, and then hammer on the tonic of the chord.
    Do that maybe twice a bar, and it'll give you a nice surf-y kinda sound.
    I realize I've explained this very poorly, and so I'll enclude a little tab.


    Yeah, something like that.
    Sean -aroo
  10. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    This might seem pretty obvious, but look up some surf songs and learn them and figure out what makes it so "Surfy"... might I recommend the theme from The Munsters?
  11. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    That would be a truly AWESOME call at a surf gig!
  12. surf bass is so much fun, i sugest using the pattern


    anywhere on the bass. its fun its easy, and it goes fro ska and surf anytime. also on of my favorite things to play.
    peace & plaid
  13. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    If you're into that, check out The Ghastly Ones -- spooky surf stuff!

  14. Ok kewl, . . . so I know what to do in chords, but what if the main riff is single notes, whats a good call for that one
  15. unclejemima


    Aug 25, 2002
    check out the Red Elvises for good surf.

    good surf song = Miserlou by Dick Dale
  16. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    EVERY song has a chord progression, whether someone is playing a chord or not. The single-note guitar riff will doubtless be outlining SOME chord progression. So you play to that progression. Sometimes you can play th same riff as the guitar, but that's not always the most musical thing to do. The recorded bass line on "Wipe out" is NOT the same as the guitar!

    Which song we talkin' about here?
  17. Bass Surfing!


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