The difference between a bass solo and a guitar solo.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Lowtonejoe, Aug 22, 2005.

  1. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    What is it?

    I have played guitar for about 20 years and have absolutely no problem soloing over any blues tune. I love the blues and 90% of the time it is what I play.

    I have been playing bass now for about 5 years and now consider it my primary instrument.

    But I still can't figure out what a solo should sound like on a bass! All I keep putting out is guitar licks!

    To be honest by biggest hangup is not having someone hold down the groove while I solo. When I play guitar I play off of everyone else as much as I play off of myself. Every time I have been given a solo spot as a bass player everyone drops out but me.

    Is this normal?

    How do I construct a bass sounding bass solo as opposed to an ex-guitar player sounding bass solo.

    Or am I stressing over nothing?
  2. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    It's hard when half the band stops and looks at you isn't it? I tend to think in terms of two different types of solos. One is the regular guitar type solo, the usual melodic type of thing. If there's a keyboard player in your band get them to get their left hand working when you intend to take this type of solo. Even if it's just basic chords to outline the changes it gives the colour you want for your solo to work against. I think much of the time other players stop to give the bass room to speak, sometimes it can have trouble cutting through as a solo instrument. So I think its important in this situation to have a solo sound that will cut through a live mix with everyone playing.

    The other type of solo I think of as a bass & drums thing. That's when it's pretty much you and the drummer interacting, maybe doing the blues style call and response thing but with the rhythm. I leave a lot more space with this approach and try to think of the bass & drums as a single instument. Keeping the groove happening and interacting is essential. I also find it useful to try to highlight the difference between a bass and a guitar. As a bass player you can make some unique sounds that no guitar player can match so throw them in.
  3. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA

    Sorry, had to get that out of the way as a bass player, that's been bored to tears by too many guitar solos through the years.

    Soloing is a hell of a lot different when you have to hold the groove down, too, ay?? I'm not sure what to say other than practice playing with a metronome, grooving on the changes and then breaking into the solo. You get comfortable doing that, it becomes a lot easier with a drummer that will help you out, and a band to give you melodic ideas.

    Also, work more with building around interesting rhythmic phrases, especially those built off the groove of the song. You have to play interesting rhythmic stuff as a bass solo, or it's going nowhere, IME.

    Bottom line, though. A good solo is a good solo whether you play it on a guitar, a bass, a tenor sax, or an accordian.

    Welcome to the Light (unglamorous) side of the force.
  4. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    The difference between a bass solo and a guitar solo.

    About 5 minutes ;)
  5. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    Genius. Pure genius. lol.
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    If the rest of the band drops out, you need to play more rhythmically than you would on the guitar in order to hold the time together. You don't get the luxury of leaving really large spaces between your phrases :help:

    You can train your band mates to back you up just by telling them what you want them to do when you solo. I prefer the drummer to keep going but drop in volume and having guitar or keys play chord fills here and there is nice too.

    Go listen to jazz bassists like Ray Brown soloing on blues for ideas...a good recording to listen to is Oscar Peterson's "Night Train" which is mostly blues tunes.

    When in doubt, start slapping :rollno:
  7. pauljacksonfan


    Jun 14, 2005
    I really truly hate it when all of the band drops out 'cause generally they don't ever come in again during my solo. That's a device that every other solo instrument has the privilige of having; when the band plays real soft for the first half of the solo and then really grooves through the roof backing up the other half the solo. That's something we bass players doesn't seem to be allowed to have.

    I can't stress enough having a solo sound that will cut through in the mix (mid is very good for this). But the key is really, as someone already stated, communication with your fellow band members: tell them what you want and practice it with them.

    If you really have to solo unaccompannied (but with a drummer) do it by first having the rest of the band drop and letting your grooving bass line be the center of attention, little by little adding some cool fills to it. When you feel that your audience and is ready and really feeling your groove, burst into your awesome solo. If you're in luck the rest of the band might actually get what you're up to and start comping you as well.

    That's how I do it anyway. Notes and rhythms I leave up to you.
  8. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    Thanks for all the replies guys.

    Time to quit pondering and start practicing.

  9. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Mingus. Lots and lots of Mingus.
  10. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    Well you know the guitar player is really lucky because he or she has a good bass player backing up and holding the groove. When we solo we have to do everything:Melody,groove, time , intensity etc... Not so easy!!
  11. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    Although he doesn't do solos, a good player to listen to help get into this idea is Rocco Prestia from Tower of Power. He once said that he doesn't take solos but feels like he's soloing all the time. Listen to him and you can hear what he means by this, he's always grooving but always mixing it up. It been a while since I heard it but check out 'east bay grease' for a one of the best funk rhythm sections ever.
  12. Zebra


    Jun 26, 2005
    In jazz and blues, you can usually get away with just walking the bassline for a few bars, that seems to be the typical approach.
  13. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Do you really want a bass sounding solo? Personally I think bass solo's sound better when played in the upper register because there's more clarity and more impact. If you're guitar solo's work, I say play them on the bass and don't even worry about it.