Today is the 25th Anniversary of Bernard Edwards’ Passing.

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Dr. Cheese, Apr 18, 2021.

  1. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    The deep dislike of Disco was only partially about the music. I will not go further because I don’t to ruin a good discussion of a great bassist.
  2. bass12

    bass12 Blistering barnacles! Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    You’d probably find the book Turn the Beat Around: the Secret History of Disco by Peter Shapiro really interesting. And, of course, Nile Rodgers’ autobiography is a must-read. :)
    Leo Smith, jerry and lowdownthump like this.
  3. Wood and Wire

    Wood and Wire

    Jul 15, 2017
    I'm not sure I'd agree, as he's just using the tip of his index finger as a plectrum.

    That's also how I started out learning to play (though it was out of complete ignorance, and I had no idea who Bernard was at the time), whilst I was trying to figure out if I'd stick to finger style, or incorporate using a plectrum.

    This technique often get referred to as "Chucking" , but if you read, and watch every interview with Nile Rodgers where the subject comes up, he explains that Bernard thought him the style that Bernard called Chucking, on the guitar.

    It's an onomatopoeic description, like "Chicka Wah", of the funky, staccato guitar phrasing, as heard in "Good Times", and "Another One Bites The Dust".
    Wasnex likes this.
  4. Bunk McNulty

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

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    What got me about Bernard wasn't the notes, but the tremendous energy he put into them. Always right on top of the beat and pushing forward. And now, a brief word on his successor. Rogers always said it was Jerry Barnes who inspired him to get Chic going again after Bernard's untimely death. This man has chops.
    Listen to Nile introduce him:

    PS: I wasn't born in North Carolina, but I lived there for 10 years. It's the place where I just had to get serious about my playing, possibly because I got to play with so many North Carolinians.:D
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2021
  5. lowdownthump


    Jul 17, 2004
    Truth !!
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  6. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Yes the sound on the instrument when you mute the strings is chuck-ah, chuck-ah, chuck-ha, chuck-ah since you are constantly striking the strings at the same tempo. chuck-ah is down up. I could swear I saw a video where Nile expressed great surprise that Bernard used this technique.

    The motion on the bass chucking demoes I see look like picking with no pick. The index finger strikes the string.

    From my perspective, double thumb is the same arm motion, but the position of the fingers and thumb are different and the thumb strikes the string instead of the index finger. Bring the thumb and index finger together, and pluck with the index finger and IMHO it's practically the same .

    However, using double thumb feels way more natural to me on bass; probably because I have put significant time into practicing double thumb. Also, chucking seems to put more tension in my hand. This is a bit counterintuitive because I play a bit of guitar with a pick.

    Ultimately all I am saying is the two technique have some similarities. Obviously it's not two names for the same thing.
    Wood and Wire likes this.
  7. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    Life lesson: if you feel sick, get a doctor. The man simply did not have to die.
    Miss him still.
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  8. nickpc


    Jul 23, 2012
    North Carolina
    Precisely - I should have closed the comment better. The fact that we are still discussing his contributions to the bass lexicon 25 years after his death really lays testament to him. There are musicians who are just so good that you don't have to appreciate the musical style to appreciate them - you don't have to like disco to appreciate his playing.
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  9. He along with Chuck Rainey and John Paul Jones wrote the book for me.
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  10. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    arbiterusa likes this.
  11. Prof.Dr.Metz


    Mar 26, 2009
    So true Dr. Cheese
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  12. Wood and Wire

    Wood and Wire

    Jul 15, 2017

    I see what you mean.

    As I said, most of my formative learning was experimentation through sheer ignorance. I was mostly playing finger style, but really a plectrum would have been more appropriate for most of the material I was playing - it was just the perception at that time that "real" bass players used their fingers, and could bust out some slap at any moment.

    I think the penny dropped when I noticed three things simultaneously :

    1. This technique was taking its toll on my index fingernail (I was using it so much, it was clear I was predominantly a plectrum played at heart).

    2. Everyone, myself included, was playing a bunch of obnoxious slap because we could - not because we should (time to show some restraint, and taste, rather than prove to a bar that Flea, and Les Claypool aren't the only game in town).

    3. I preferred the tone, using a plectrum, for the type of music I was making.

    I guess that all happened within my first year of playing (1990 - 1991), but I remember a sound engineer noticing I was using my index finger as a pick, and mentioned the guy from Chic.

    I was outwardly nodding, and saying that was interesting - but inwardly I was thinking "That old disco band? We are an indie-thrash band!"

    I did however, squirrel that info away, and the next time I heard Good Times on the radio, I listened more closely to the bass - thinking is he really playing that using his index finger like a plectrum? (he wasn't), which sent me down a rabbit hole of leaning more of his bass parts, and a process of osmosis.

    So I have that engineer to thank for that.

    I'll be honest, I'd never even heard of "Double Thumb" before joining Talk Bass.

    In the period when I started playing, slap was something of a dark art. It had gone out of style in the previous decade, so hardly anybody in one's local peer group had any real knowledge, and the most recent proponent in the collective conscience (Mark King) made it seem impossible.

    It was undoubtedly the success of "Mothers Milk" that sparked a new interest, and Flea being evangelical about Larry Graham, Louis Johnson, Bootsy, and P-Funk, got everyone revisiting, and studying a lot of old records.

    But it all boiled down to what you could figure out by ear, or if you were lucky enough to have a likeminded peer group, or experienced mentors.

    There was no World Wide Web - so no YouTube etc, and no brokeass kid could afford Louis Johnson's video, given how expensive tuition tapes were back then - certainly over here (I don't even know if it was available outside the U.S. at the time. I didn't even know it existed until it appeared on YouTube).

    That's my excuse for having that aggressive, Flea style, slapping technique - if I'd known about the double thumb technique, my playing would undoubtedly be gentler, and more refined.

    At this point, I'm too lazy, too set in my ways, and have no real-world use for slap, to address learning the double thumb technique.

    Not that anyone asked for my life story.

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  13. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    AFAIK all of the guys you mention are single thumb players. That's where I started as well. I still use single thumb so it's no big deal. I still love the sound of slap, but never really mastered it. I try to use it tastefully, but I do admit that there have been time where I got on peoples nerves. I also inspired people to write slap based compositions that were recorded, so it's not all bad.

    Chucking with the index fingers feel awkward to me, and quickly becomes painful. Not something I am interested in really exploring, especially since I think I could pretty much duplicate the sound with my thumb.

    One of my favorite bass lines, with some subtle slap:
    Boz Scaggs - JoJo (Official Video) - YouTube
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