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THREE string bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by erik_hammarlund, Apr 21, 2004.

  1. Gregory Bruce Campbell

    Gregory Bruce Campbell

    Apr 14, 2002
    Helena, MT U.S.A 59602
    BEE basses, Morley pedals
    I own and play a 3 string, a six string, and a 9 string...

  2. Playing a 3-string as opposed to a 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 does not guarantee the playing of a "rudimentary style". I'm sure that Wooten could pthwap the living daylights out of a 3-string bass. On the other hand, I'm sure that JT could whip out his 7-string and play a "rudimentary style" bass line without any difficulty.

    It's about the discipline of the player and what they want to play. I have a 9-string Warrior bass and if I wanted to, I could play all day on just the E and A strings if that's what the music called for. It's not the kind of music I want to play so I don't. That doesn't mean that I can't. It doesn't mean that I don't like listening to it.

    I think that people should get over this idea of the "function" of the bass having to "support" the rest of the band. Many of us believe that the bass can and should be an equal force in the music. Everybody supports everybody else. That's the way music should be. No more of this archaic master-slave relationship between guitarists and bassists.

    The "role" of the bass has changed from that of a supportive position to one that can be equal or even in the forefront of the music. I realize that this is a bit of a new concept to many people but that's the way it is. You can either accept it or keep complaining about people and they're extended range instruments.

    If you're only out to "make it big" and get radio play you may have to play a subservient role. That's not my goal. My goal is to play my bass the way I want to play it and make the kind of music that I want to make. I believe in my heart that if you stick to your beliefs and don't sell out, your music will find an audience because it's genuine and people will realize that.

    Yeah "Jaco only needed 4 strings" but I sure would have liked to have heard what he could have done on 7.

    - Dave
  3. Dan Molina

    Dan Molina TalkBass Secular Progressive

    Jul 17, 2002
    Murr Town, California
    they have those ugly 2 string basses on ebay that are rediculasly overpriced.
  4. Lalo


    Sep 11, 2003
    San Antonio Texas
    :meh: What The??man I have been busy for quite a while but now I'm In, how is it going My fellow bassists!! well I never heard of a 3 string bass, that is actually a new one to me :rollno: golly geez dont know of such a thing, but why 3 strings, I'd rather just stick to 4 strings and maybe upgrade to 5 but not 3 :meh: , well My fellow Colleges keep Jaming out :bassist: . LALO
  5. Don't_Fret

    Don't_Fret Justin Schornstein

    Dec 10, 2003
    Hey forget about the three string, check out the Nathan East. GAStastic. :cool: :help:
  6. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS

    I'm in college :D

    I believe the word you meant was colleague :bag:
  7. LizzyD

    LizzyD Chocoholic

    Oct 15, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Here is the interview with Tony Levin from his cover feature on Bass Player where he posed with the 3 string: http://archive.bassplayer.com/artists/levin.shtml

    Great interview, he does talk about the famous 3 string a little, but mainly it's just a wonderful interview. Just thought I'd share! :D
  8. mark beem

    mark beem Wait, how does this song start again?? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA
    Hey Lizzy!! Haven't seen you around in a while!! How're things?
  9. LizzyD

    LizzyD Chocoholic

    Oct 15, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Hey Progz.....er, Mark! :) Things is good. I'm usually hanging out at the Carvin and Musicplayer forums. Now and then I get over here! :D
  10. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA

    I bet you $50 you overplay. Here's a test: if at the end of a gig all the other bass players are fawning all over you, you played too many notes.
  11. Gregory Bruce Campbell

    Gregory Bruce Campbell

    Apr 14, 2002
    Helena, MT U.S.A 59602
    BEE basses, Morley pedals

    Now I KNOW i'm doing a good job! :D
  12. Overplay compared to most 4-string bass players. Yeah, probably. In fact, definitely. In the context of what my bands play, I am playing exactly as many notes as we require. I have hundreds of hours of multitrack recordings that I will hopefully go through soon and mix down. We'll then finally post our work and people can judge for themselves. Hopefully will also do some gigs soon.

    The whole point was, who is to say what the "role" of the bass is? That role changes depending on the music. The bass in Country music pretty much holds down the root or fifth most of the time. In Jazz, it's all over the place outlining chords and doing chromatic runs. In Classical, it is an integral part to the overall harmony and often plays with equal complexity.

    So, who has the right to tell me what the role of my instrument in my band's music is supposed to be when they don't even know what that music sounds like? I have been unsuccessful in classifying the music we play. It's a mix of Funk, Jazz, Rock, Fusion and a little Classical but in a way such that it's not really of any recognizable genre. Difference songs emphasize different influences but it's mostly very original.

    Truth be known, quite often, I lay down a very simple groove and hold it for a long time. If that's what is required for that song. Other times, I lay down 3 or 4 overdubbed bass lines in complex counterpoint using my Echoplex Digial looper. Our music is very diverse and so are my bass parts.

    I have never had a complaint about overplaying or underplaying from my drummer (who is in both bands) or either of my guitarists. They all are perfectly comfortable with my playing and wouldn't have me play any other way. They are all very accomplished musicians. Jan Jackson, the drummer, is just incredible. I've never played with anyone better. He has played with many successful Bay Area bands including Will Bernard's Motherbug, Bitches Brew, Len Paterson Trio, Beth Custer Ensemble, and many others. One guitarist is Kelly Back from Nashville who is an accomplished Jazz guitarist but can funk it up and rock with the best of them. Gene Jun, former guitarist, violinist, percussionist, and vocalist from the Bay Area band Idiot Flesh defies categorization. Suffice it to say that he is one of the most original sounding musicians that I've ever played with.

    To be honest, I really don't care what other people think of my music. I'm getting too old to worry about that. I make music for my own needs. My hope is that other people like it but if they don't, it won't bother me. I happen to think that people will like it.

    - Dave
  13. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    heh. the original function of bass, according to bach, was support _and_ melodic/harmonic content. listen to the tocattas or the cello concertos.

    also, as well as having 3 strings, there were bass-range instruments in the 17th and 18th centuries that had up to 7 strings, sometimes with many more sympathetic strings, called viola de gambas.

    free your mind, and jeeze, it's all good, don't be so threatened. :)
  14. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    wow, you really _are_ threatened by extended range instruments, aren't you?

    [holds my doubleneck close to corinpills face]


    spoookkkyyyy!!!! :D

    i love it when folks try to dictate what i do and what i don't do based on their own private musical paradigms. after all, you don't see me doing that to them - i could care less, i either like something i hear or i don't, i don't have to justify my opinions. but seeing folks get themselves worked up over my instrument choice, feeling the need to insult my playing or my approach, i love it. i'm doing something definitely right. :bassist: :hyper:
  15. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    heh. tony levin plays his 5 string _WAY_ more often than he ever played a 3.
  16. Also, from http://www.globalbass.com/archives/mar2000/tony_levin.htm

    "On that particular bass I had to have it with no tone control and no volume controls. It’s just a bass, plug it in and play. I did it kinda as a statement to myself as much as for an actual useful bass. It does what it does very well, but it doesn’t do anything that a regular 4 string doesn’t do. It’s a unique bass, in what it won’t do. I just like it and I know that I could use it on a lot of stuff. At the time I had it made I was touring with Peter Gabriel, and I used it on every one of his shows afterwards."

    from http://archive.bassplayer.com/artists/levin.shtml

    "It's the only bass I've ever had custom made; Ernie Ball was very kind to indulge me. It has only the E, A, and D strings, and there are no volume or tone controls. I can't say it's the most versatile instrument in the world, but I enjoy playing it, and since the strings are further apart, I have an easier time with the funk fingers."

    I can't find the interview I was looking for but it said something like that the 3-string was good for the kind of music he was doing at the time but in King Crimson, it was a completely different story. He played a Stick which had 10-12 strings.

    - Dave
  17. mark beem

    mark beem Wait, how does this song start again?? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA
    And this guy's been creeping around here since 2000.. :rollno:

    You'd think he'd have learned by now.
  18. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    As Dave so eloquently stated, what is overplaying in one genre of music is the norm in another.

    My band plays original rock.

    My guitarist is influenced by Rik Emmett, Kiss, the Beatles, and Steve Miller.

    My drummer is influenced by John Bonham, Neil Peart, Lars Ulrich and old school punk.

    Our vocalist comes from a contemporary Christian background.

    I am influenced by Geddy Lee, Jaco, Jamerson, Steve Harris, and Doug Pinnick, as well as prog rock, Jazz, and gospel.

    What does our music sound like? Like a band who has members who come from very diverse backgrounds and influences.

    If a song calls for root five, that's what I play. If it calls for a complex, moving line, that is what I play. If it calls for tapping, slapping, and a few doublestops, that's what I play. And even an occasional solo(horrors!).

    So, who is to say that I am overplaying, if I slap or tap? My bandmates certainly don't. On one of our newer songs, we worked on it for several weeks, and I just could not find a bass part that worked with it. Nothing felt 'right'. One day, after working on it for an hour or so, I tried a tapping part over one of the verses. The next verse, I played something different. The guitarist stopped playing. He said 'Play that part that you played over the last verse.' I said 'What, this?' and played the tapping part. He said 'Yeah! That's perfect! That is the feel I want in the verses!'

    That came from a guy who is influenced by music that for the most part has pretty simple bass parts.

    So, am I overplaying? He is also the same guy who encourages me to take an occasional solo, even though I am a little uncomfortable soloing. There is one song that I did a solo on in practice, and he now makes me do it every time we play it. It is a set solo, not an improvised one.

    Anyway, my long winded point is that just because you may think that anything more than 8th note root five with an occasional fill is overplaying, doesn't mean that it is.

    Whatever works for the song!
  19. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    since when does an instrument dictate the styles that are played on it? :confused:

    al caldwell tours with vanessa williams with 9 string basses. :hyper:
  20. LizzyD

    LizzyD Chocoholic

    Oct 15, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    I know you didn't say this to me, and I don't currently play more than a 5 string, but I'll add that I've had other bassists fawn all over me at the end of the gig, and it certainly wasn't from playing too many notes....just doing minimal groove stuff. I dunno, I think they usually say something about being really tight with the drummer.

    Either that or they just liked my boobs.

    But Tony Levin likes my bass playing. :hyper:

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