tips on creating basslines

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by funkybass, Oct 22, 2006.

  1. funkybass


    Oct 19, 2006
    Hi all. I'm new to the forum and bass. I used to be a drummer, but switched to bass. I need help creating basslines. I usually just use r.5,8. Any tips on other ways to create basslines?
  2. well, if your good at making drumlines, make one, and then try to make up a bassline to go along with it
  3. Creating a bassline is a 'song-specific' exercise. What I do is the following:
    1. Listen closely to the song and try to hear the bassline - When I listen a few times I can start to imagine a line - I can hear pieces of it from the guitar part, the drums and my active imagination (referencing existing bass lines that sound similar in my mind).
    2. Being a drummer, you have a great advantage by having access to all sorts of rhythmic concepts. Before going rhythm crazy, start simple (like you described above R, 3, 5) then apply that line you heard in your head. Work closely with the drummer.
    3. Listen to the singer and reflect the vocal line with your bass line. If the singer's line finishes with a descending line, make your bass phrase end with a similar descending line.
    4. LESS IS MORE - Every instinct in me says, "play your ass off!" then I do, listen to the playback and get embarassed at how "over the top" my line is. Then I re-do it, stripping out all the over the top stuff, only doing fancy things here and there, and suddenly the song sounds more solid and right for the song.

    If you have a specific song you are working on and need tips on how to approach a line, post a recording and see what we can offer.
  4. funkybass


    Oct 19, 2006
    One question I have is, do I use certain scales to create lines, and if so how do I pick what scales? I dont want to hit just random notes. I learned the r,5,8 from a book, but it didnt say where it came from. Say i'm laying d as my root, the 5th would be a, and the 8 d. Is that true in every scale?
  5. Typically the scale you would use would depend on the chord you are playing against. If the guitar player is playing a Dm chord, you probably want to use notes from the D minor scale. This is NOT etched in stone as you can create many interesting textures by playing notes that are not necessarily with in the chord.

    Start learning covers by some of your favorite bands. As you learn their bass parts you will start to see how they go about creating a line and begin to borrow some of their tricks.

    Also, you may want to consider finding a teacher and getting up to speed on scales, proper technique and all that.

    Like anything, it takes time and practice. Sit with some songs you like a lot and learn them. Nothing moves you along faster then learning what others have done before you.
  6. funkybass


    Oct 19, 2006
    Thanks for the reply's. I tried finding a teacher in town, but the music store in town has their guitar teachers teach bass,even though they really aren't bass players. I looked at a transription for rock steady by aretha franklin, and chuck rainy plays all over the place. I tried figuring out how he constructed his part, but it's beyound me. Also, there are many types of scales, major, minor, pentatonic, dorian, lydian, mixolydian etc. Say i'm playing over a G major chord, could I chose any major scale to play over? Would all notes in that scale be acceptable to play? Also, why do some major scales contain sharps and flats The c maj is all natural notes, while a maj contains several sharps. Sorry for all the questions.
  7. Don't overthink it... Looking at Chuck Rainey's "Rock Steady" is enough to make a full-blown, long time bass player cringe. Chuch is a master of touch and feel and you don't just learn a scale or two and suddenly "get it" - He is a product of "doing it" and doing it for a long, long time!

    Try not to get impatient or ahead of yourself. Learn some more accessible lines - Jamerson's line on Aretha Franklin's, "R.E.S.P.E.C.T." is groovy, but simple.

    What music are you in to? Maybe we (the TB'ers) can offer you a "learn list"...
  8. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    the pentatonic in most cases, plays well over most chords, but then you have a major and a minor pentatonic ... I played 30+ years ago, rather I pounded on strings 30+ years ago, and now 30 + years later I picked a bass back up and I am involved in church worship music, I now prefer to have a bit more theory behind me ... I work mostly with Major, minor, pentatonic, and some blues scales ... learn them all over the neck, and dont forget using open strings as the root ... and as mentioned, keep it simple ... there is a great thread on here (Root/ 5 I think??), that expands on all this too ...
  9. funkybass


    Oct 19, 2006
    I listen to all kinds of music. My favorites would be motown/soul, funk, and all kinds rock.
  10. Here is a list of some good, "get to know your bass" songs that are not too complicated, but get you moving up and down your neck with some strong lines:

    "Ramble On" - Zep
    "Brown-eyed Girl" - Van Morrison
    "Boys Don't Cry" - The Cure
    "Fire" - Jimi Hendrix
    "Mary Had a Little Lamb" - Stevie Ray Vaughn
    "RESPECT" - Aretha Franklin
    "Proud Mary" - Ike and Tina
    "ABC" and "I want you Back" - the Jackson 5
    "My Girl" - the Temptations
    "Melt with You" - Modern English
    "Driven to Tears" - The Police
    "Jammin'" - Bob Marley
    "Is she really going out with him?" - Joe Jackson
    "Paperback Writer" - the Beatles

    That list is pretty broad in the pop/rock/blues-rock/RnB vein - but a lot of those songs will introduce you to various approaches to line-crafting. From John Paul Jones' lyrical/driving to Sting's hybrid Reggae/pop to classic blues-based stuff like SRV's Mary Had a Little Lamb - there are some good perspectives there.

    Playing some good-old 12-bar blues jams is another good way to flesh out your approach.

    I guess the key is to take the style that you are most interested in right now and start learning some of those songs. So if it's Motown that's top-of-mind, then "go there" and "do that"! LOL
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