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Techniques to help you figure out basslines from a song?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by eunomi, Mar 21, 2009.

  1. eunomi


    Mar 21, 2009

    I'm a first-time poster, so please excuse me if this is the wrong section to ask this question.

    I'm also a guitarist trying to learn to play the bass. So far, I find it immensely gratifying. I used to play drums, so getting back to an instrument where groove is point number one is a nice feeling.

    The question I have is, I'm trying to learn bass by playing along to songs/CDs/etc. I always found this was the most effective way to learn guitar, so I figured the same would go with bass (although a much different song selection).

    I'm having problem picking out which notes the bassist plays on some records where there's not much attack in the bass tone. Dub music is a big "offender" here. I'm wondering if anyone has tricks I could do to aid myself here.

    I'm very technical minded, so if it requires a lot of processing in a DAW, I'm good there. However, if there's a butt-simple way to do it, I'm down for that, too.

  2. allexcosta


    Apr 7, 2004
    Ear training...
  3. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    by ear, wherever possible... after that, if you need technical help:

    the way I do it for really hard tunes like the Zappa stuff (see my sig) is to import the audio into Cubase... match the tempo bar-by-bar so the music is aligned to Cubase's bar grid

    you can then isolate individual bars, beats or even single notes.... set them looping and it's fairly easy to pick out right notes, even in a flurry of fast ones... the lack of top end or attack on dub bass shouldn't make much difference using this method

    this is a very microscopic way of working but the results speak for themselves
  4. Eunomi said;
    "However, if there's a butt-simple way to do it, I'm down for that, too."

    I understand there's a pill out now that you just take once and you're a brilliant bassist......

    A lot has to do with two things;
    1) Finding the key center. That's what key the song is in. ...... Hint, it can be the first and the last note in the song.
    2) Technic. The two types of fretting technics are 1) thumb in the middle of the back of the neck and fret fingers are one finger per fret. Most music uses this technic, jazz, blues, country. 2) thumb hooked over the top of the neck. This technic is used mostly with riff dependent rock, punk, grunge music.

    Knowing the above two things is half the battle the rest is up to you and the time it takes for you to get it.

    PS: There is no magic pill, I just made that up.
  5. toomanybasses


    Feb 20, 2009
    The Magic Pill; Get yourself a CD Player that can slow the song down but will retain the pitch. MF has what is called a Bass Trainer that do the job.

    I had the same problem and this fixed the problem
  6. banditcosmo

    banditcosmo Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2002
    Charlottesville, Va.
    I use Amazing Slow Downer. Along with being able to slow down the tracks you can change the pitch and boost the bass and take out the highs.
  7. sizemon


    Jan 28, 2008
    There's plenty of software out there to help bassists out in this area. I personally use a program called Transcribe!. It's free for 30 days and well worth the $50 to register it. It gives you lots of options to really isolate the bass frequencies with a built in equalizer, the ability to transpose (even the muddiest bassline is much clearer when it's isolated and played back two octaves higher, you can hear each passing note clearly), plus tools to slow down the track without changing the pitch. This is coupled with an easy and intuitive looping interface, and if you loop it on a specific note it'll even tell you what is it, if you can't decide by ear. It the only piece of software I'll probably ever need to learn songs.

    I'm sure other software has these capabilities, but I've searched high and low for something as easy to use as Transcribe and I still haven't found a better program.
  8. Sing what you play, play what you sing - helps in learning tunes, too :D
  9. Brigand


    Jan 9, 2009
    The cheapest way I find to make out the Bass and nothing else:

    - play the track on a medium to high volume & EQ the bass up a little.
    - walk out of the room and close the door behind you.
    - sit in the room next door and listen.

    You'll find the bass is much easier to make out. just make sure you're not subjecting your neighbours to the same experience :bag:
  10. Aaaah, The Amazing Slow Downer. This (cheap little) program has been a Godsend for me. Quite often, I'll raise the pitch by an entire octave when practicing -- that really helps me hear the notes better.

    It also lets you slow down the tempo AND it will let you record a a slown-down/changed-pitch version of a given song. That's a great feature for me because a lot of times, my choir will sing a song in a different key than the original recording. This method gives me a recording to practice from that's in the correct key.

    It's available for Windows or Mac and it works on CD's, MP3's AND iTunes songs.

    It only costs $50 but it's phenominal -- you can buy it online (for immediate download!) here: www.ronimusic.com
  11. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    That's how I've always done it. Take it a few notes at a time, singing the part slowly, then you should be able to hear the intervals and figure it out from there.

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