Tips to play in a band with an Old Pipe Organ

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BandRep, Oct 6, 2020.

  1. BandRep


    Sep 25, 2020
    I accepted a new project in a semi established gothic metal band. They have a drummer, one guitarist, two vocals and an old giant pipe organ, the ones that old churches have... I never played in a band with such instrument. As a bassist, looking for some tips to stand out.
  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Chop off the organists left hand.

    But on a more serious note, if you do run into trouble fighting over the bass range with the organ (because it does sound glorious after all), I would suggest going with a bright bass sound - you only have one guitarist and can get away with sounding more upfront and in your face. At least that's what I'd try first, you know the deal, solid steel strings with a pick and maybe some dirt, that kind of sound.

    Really depends on what the organist is doing. If he's more into playing the upper range and thus more of your guitarist's problem, a more subdued approach might do the trick.
    BandRep, JeroB666, westrock and 10 others like this.
  3. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Crank your Mids and add some dirt. Make it nasty so it actually stands out.
  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yeah stuff towels in his pipes starting a little below middle C. :cool:

    Seriously, you won't compete with his left hand without some dirt, volume, and low end. I'm almost thinking split signal with one side being clean and really beefy, and the other being dirty and EQed to cut through.
    BandRep, jchrisk1, tubedude and 2 others like this.
  5. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Does it have pedals? That's where the low notes live.
    Check the tuning. Pipe organs are notorious for being out of tune, and since each pitch (and rank) has it's own pipe each note can have it's own tuning. If you care about that kind of thing.
    In '69 or '70 Lee Michaels put out an album called "Recital". Really poppy sounding songs from that time, but interesting use of the pipe organ.
    BandRep and lz4005 like this.
  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Just like any band with a keyboard, you and he/she have to figure out frequencies and roles. The organ can go higher and lower than you.
    BandRep, westrock and Jhengsman like this.
  7. Drucifer

    Drucifer Not currently practicing Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2009
    Houston Heights, Texas
    Endorsements: your name could be here, Mr. Sadowsky!
    And both feet
  8. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    Listen to the bandleader and try to fit in. Leaders of established gothic metal bands with pipe organs usually have a strong artistic vision. Set aside your own biases, figure out what they are looking for, and give them what they want. Did they provide you with any old recordings of the band, from before you joined?

    My advice from personal experience playing in similar bands, is that good muting technique is of paramount importance. You want to be very good at reigning in your bottom end. If you have sloppy technique and your bass is putting out unwanted rumbling and sympathetic vibrations, then it will sound muddy along with the organ. Effects that control and "tighten" your low frequencies are very helpful, such as HPF and a good compressor.
    BandRep likes this.
  9. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    Tips to play in a band with an Old Pipe Organ
  10. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    You gotta live and die by that pipe organ's tuning, it probably has a few clunker notes scattered all throughout its range, and two notes multiple octaves apart might be in different universes. For the purposes of tuning and blending, the organist should restrict himself to a specific 3 octave range and a handful of stops, 90% of the time. If he does that, then you can occupy that lower space however you want.

    I've played DB with a lot of church organs at gigs, and the job there is to actually blend with the organ's bass notes. That can be challenging because those pipes are pretty different from any other instrument, it doesn't have attack on the front of the note like other instruments, It's a lot of fundamental without overtones, but with a little percussive/rattly non-sin-wave warmth coming from the brass of the pipe.

    Your job in the band will be different than the orchestra bassist, you want to stand out a little from the organ when the organ gets down into your range. I would primarily emphasize string attenuation, attack, and articulation (short notes, with space in between) in your sound, because that is something the organ just doesn't do. Also, the natural upper-mid harmonics your strings produce is a character the pipes completely lack.

    In a lot of ways, it's easier to do what the pipe doesn't do on bass than to try and blend with it, there are probably a lot of options that will work on your end to get the job done.
    BandRep and C Stone like this.
  11. OogieWaWa


    Mar 17, 2013
    Oak Harbor, OH
    Wait, it's just you, playing the organ instead of the bass, or swapping back and forth? Playing the bass line with your left hand? You said you found an organ, but not an organist. You also didn't say they had a bassist, so that's you, right?

    If so, it works. That's what I do now on 4 or 5 songs, learning more. But it's a LOT to learn. On my modern keyboard I can put bass tone on the left half of the keyboard "split", and whatever instrument I want (800+ of them) on the right half.

    And just how big is this thing, anyway??? Pedals? If it has pedals, you can play the bass part on them to your heart's content. When I was a kid I learned on an electric 3-keyboard-plus-pedals organ, and got quite good at the pedals. Probably why I picked up the bass guitar 30 years later.

    Edit: I re-read it, reply below.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
    Mushroo likes this.
  12. Ekulati

    Ekulati Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2016
    Richmond, VA
    So, if it's truly a pipe organ,'ll only be playing in ONE venue, all your gigs.

    Those things don't move, they are INSTALLED, built into the building they are in. It takes weeks, months even to "move" one.

    And yes, cut off his left hand and both feet.
    JeroB666 and Bob_Ross like this.
  13. You can’t compete with the organist, so basically just play all the guitar parts with massive distortion and make the guitarist feel like they’re playing the piccolo.
    BandRep and mikewalker like this.
  14. OogieWaWa


    Mar 17, 2013
    Oak Harbor, OH
    OK, I re-read that, you want to stand out ON BASS while someone unmentioned plays the pipe organ. Good luck with that. Sorry about the previous post.
  15. tubedude


    Jan 19, 2015
    Think Chris Squire!
  16. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    IMO you have to be hard up for a gig to try and play with a pipe organ. Again IMO.
    Jon McBass and Bunk McNulty like this.
  17. Bunk McNulty

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

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    I take it you are not going to actually play anywhere. Are they going to pay you?
    Ekulati likes this.
  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Whatever you do, don't help him move it :D
  19. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Get on a jet and wherever it lands, that's where you live.
    BandRep likes this.
  20. Koshchei


    Mar 17, 2019
    Peterborough, ON
    And feet.

    edit: Somebody bet me to it.