The joy of playing with a solid bassist...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by drummer5359, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. Although I play bass, this post is written while wearing my drummer/percussionist hat. I wanted to share my view as a drummer of how much a great bass player is appreciated.

    I'm involved in several different music projects these days with various musicians. All are solid and professional, but some are just easier to work with and make the music just feel right.

    Several years ago I started working with a bassist in an acoustic trio project. (I'll call him Mike, because that's his name. lol) We had two different front men, he and I worked really well together no matter who was in front. We recorded a CD together and had a great time playing with that band. Eventually it got to be too busy for him as he has two small children and he can only play out so much. He dropped out of that project with no hard feelings, we understood. We used several other bass players later, but nobody filled the role as well. I still am in that project, now as a duo. I play hand percussion most of the time and play bass on a few songs. It works.

    A year ago Mike called me as the band of a friend of his lost their drummer right before a gig, I filled in and ended up joining the band. I appreciated the call, it was great to hear from him again.

    A couple of moths ago Mike called me again. He was putting together another project, this time pop tunes and standards. He said that when he and the guitarist talked about drummers, my name came up. Cool. It took a while to find the singer and get the ball rolling.

    A couple of nights ago we had our first full band practice, and man it sounded good. The guitarist is decent and the singer is dynamite. But what really struck me is how solid Mike is as a bassist. We were playing tunes together that neither of us had done before, or we have not done in ages. Every song was so solid and tight right out of the box, the first time through. He and I work together like we are joined at the hip musically. This is the first time that he and I have worked together with me playing drums instead of hand percussion.

    I play with a bunch of different bassists, but Mike just makes it so freaking easy to sound good.


    And yes, he is a TB member, but I won't identify him.
    TheBear, Michael4bass, mrb327 and 7 others like this.
  2. Cheers! You are in the unique position to see it from both ends, great perspective you have no doubt. It goes both ways of course and getting to play with a solid drummer is like finding your soul mate in many ways.

    I play in a couple big bands and I cherish the band with the solid drummer. He's sensitive and communicates musically with everyone. The other band has an older drummer that literally slows the tempo when he gets tired after 30 minutes. I have to constantly play ahead of the beat, driving the band, instead of playing in that nice comfy pocket a good drummer can set up.
    TheBear likes this.
  3. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Nothin' like a rock solid rhythm section. It does make it easier when there's musical chemistry.
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  4. BazzTard

    BazzTard Inactive

    I was in an originals band with a great drummer for years. We really listened to and followed each other. If I was doing something interesting he would follow, and vice versa. Then we changed drummer coz the others wanted their mate,who was a solid drummer. But it wasn't the same. He'd do his own thing, never followed me. And would improvise at the gig, never at practice lol.
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  5. ReneB


    Dec 6, 2014
    Ithaca, NY
    Yeah, the magic of bass and drums being musically connected is special!

    I'm writing more as a percussionist, as I just started playing the bass -- two weeks now -- :)

    For many decades now I've been a percussionist (amateur). I'm fortunate in that I get to play with other musicians a couple of times a week. Many of these folks I'm lucky to play with are fairly accomplished, some even make a living playing music. Anyway, the point of my post is that as a percussionist, I strive to listen to my bandmates and play accordingly. I try to 'season' the mix and not be overpowering. As a result, I sometimes get compliments from my fellow players specifically saying something along the lines of ' ... you listen to what's going on when you play .... ' Of course I'm flattered and it makes me smile.

    It just strikes me as a bit sad, perhaps, that too many drummers/percussionists have a bad rap because some of us don't play well with others.

    I hope this didn't come off as self-congratulatory, because I was just trying to make a point agreeing with some of the other posts here.
  6. interp


    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    I strive to be "like Mike." By the same token, I have the same feeling about playing with a good drummer. I've had the good fortune to play with lots of fine drummers, very few poor ones, and it increases my enjoyment of playing tremendously.
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  7. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Well aren't you special.

    Only kidding :D, actually if you listen to everyone else in the band, you ARE special because so few musicians bother to do it. My drummer says about once a month how much he appreciates my listening to, and watching him. It makes it easier on both of us and it is the tightest band I've been in by far.
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  8. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    the longer I play the more my perspective about music in general (and the bass' role in particular) changes

    I've always aimed at a tight rhythm section and mostly achieved that but now I'm ALL about the 'feel' - my job is to make it 'feel' good - no ego, no attempt at overt tries at impressing anyone
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  9. EmptyCup


    Feb 25, 2013
    Nashville Area
    Nice to hear a drummers perspective! I used to go see bands at the Decade in Oakland (Pittsburgh, Pa.) back in the day (Iron City Houserockers, Norm Nardini etc.)
    Sounds like you are in a good place, enjoy it!
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014
  10. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Roots and fifths and a little extra.

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    Some guys are just that good to work with. Plus, there's no substitute for playing with people you've played with before.

    I've been involved in my band for three years. When we went looking to add a live drummer, I called up a guy hadn't seen in ten years. I'd played in many bands with him starting when I was in high school through my early thirties. He showed up, everything went well. A few weeks later we do our first gig together.

    Musicians came up to us and said "wow you guys are just so…tight!" And I just looked at my old friend and said "well, we've been playing music together for thirty years. There's just no substitute for that!"
  11. klaatu

    klaatu Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Southbridge MA
    Interesting to hear from a drummer's point of view. At 62 I'm a new player, but a long time listener. It wasn't until I began to play bass that I started to realize just how much a bass player should be locked in with a drummer. Now when I'm watching some DVD concerts I pay more attention to the rhythm section. Recently I was watching some old footage of Led Zeppelin and seeing John Paul Jones locked in with the drums was something I didn't appreciate back in the day.
  12. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Inactive Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    I was just trying to explain to my new girl just how great it can be to play with a solid/sensitive/dynamic drummer. It makes sense that it cuts both way.
  13. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    Westchester, NY
    Yep, it definitely goes both ways. I've played with some bad drummers that made the whole band sound worse than they needed to. We'd switch out the drummer to somebody better, and BAM! The whole band sounded better because of it.

    Unfortunately I'm in the situation right now. Hired gun in a band. The band leader and drummer #1 have been playing together for 30 years or longer. The drummer is terrible. BL brought in a drummer #2 because drummer #1 literally could not keep the right tempo of one song. Drummer #2 isn't phenomenal by any means but he's WAY better than drummer #1. So now the band plays with 2 drummers and grit my teeth playing with drummer #1 (heckuva nice guy) and look forward to playing the songs with drummer #2.
  14. I go by the saying that a band is only as good as its drummer. He's the one driving the proverbial bus. Solid drummers are the best. My current band of over 9 years has me spoiled with a phenomenal drummer. He's got chops but is disciplined, dynamic but plays with authority, and familiar with all styles.
    My current drummer aside, I've played with TONS of drummers of all different styles and skill levels. Some of them have the ability to be aware of their surroundings and connect with the musicians around them. Some might be great players, but don't have that awareness or connections.
    So to the OP, with a good drummer, the feeling is mutual:)
    Bunk McNulty likes this.
  15. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    It must be as joyful as playing with a solid drummer! :D
    Bunk McNulty likes this.
  16. Very true. A huge part of playing music is listening and many just don't get that.
  17. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    the old time jazzers told me many moons ago that you use your ears to listen to the rest of the band not yourself and AT MOST you use the proper percentage of your attention 1/4 in a quartet for yourself.

    You should know what you sound like
  18. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly Suspended Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    Nothing else makes you sound as good as a drummer with solid time!