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The basic theory every heavy metal bassist should know?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Nick Knox, Dec 15, 2013.

  1. Nick Knox

    Nick Knox

    May 2, 2013
    Sorry I'm posting this in "technique", seemed the closest to theory and composure.
    I play bass in a heavy metal band. We mostly do covers but we want to start writing originals.
    So far, I only really know and understand blues scales, major and minor scales, notes, keys, etc. Real basic stuff.

    What theory should every rock bassist/guitarist know?
  2. wmheilma


    Jan 5, 2010
    Diatonic harmony same as everyone else with a bit of extra time on Phrygian and Aolian modes. Then move on to arpeggios of the harmonic minor scale. Minor pentatonic also is used a lot. Phrygian Dominant mode is another good one to practice.
  3. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Theory and composition (which is what I presume you meant by "compusure") are generally covered in the "General Instruction" forum, not "Technique." If you browse the topics in that forum you'll find lots of threads that address this in one way or another, including many that start with a question like yours. Some of the answers will include links to good online resources.

    I think the simple answer is that you need to start learning theory from the beginning. There's a logical progression to the way more complex aspects build upon simpler ones so that you can't really just pick and choose topics that seem most helpful without having learned the principles upon which those are based. Since you're already familiar with some of the basic concepts, it won't take long to get to "new" topics that that start making you think, "Ah, this is what I needed to know!"
    Good luck.
  4. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    This. In my experience, and I used to play a lot of metal in my beginning stages, you don't need to go any further than minor pentatonics. In most bands you'll be riding the root anyway or if you play anything with blues influence like stoner, noodle some minor pentatonic underneath.

    It's another bag of tricks if you want to compose. There is a lot of fun to be had with modes and key changes, chord substitutions, outside playing and so forth. And that's where you leave classical heavy metal territory. You are now in the Opeth realms.

    But I digress. Essential knowledge to me would be chord construction (7th chords), modes, the three variants of minor (natural, harmonic, melodic), minor pentatonic. These will also come in handy should you ever take a solo (and chances are you won't)
  5. grendle


    Mar 4, 2011
    Central FL
    This. Harmonic minor and Phrygian work well and just sound cool on bass.

    Let me throw something different in there. Spend some time with root, 5th & octive but vary the timing you play them with. Don't play them straight like a power chord with the octive. Mix it up play the 5th or the octive and then come in the root maybe. Geddy and steve harris do this a lot and it just sounds cool and always fits. But for bass solo lines harmonic minor and Phrygian are hard to beat IMO.