What can I do instead of doubling the guitar?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by TheIndieKid, Apr 25, 2019.

  1. I feel much in the same way as David Ellefson, in that mirroring the guitar is kind of wasting a bass line (many people have done it and it works extremely well. I just want to do something different), so what can I do when the guitar is playing riffs?
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  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    Why not play the song's bass line?
  3. I do on covers, but I mean when doing original stuff.
  4. Leonid Nidis

    Leonid Nidis

    Jan 1, 2018
    find a chord progression to play with the riff.play another riff in harmony with the guitar one.
    all that for me easier said than done.
    maybe there is a reason in this kind of music often the bass is doubling the guitar.
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  5. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    When you write your own original songs, are you saying that you don't have a bass line in mind? What is your songwriting process? Are you composing using some other instrument, like guitar or piano, and then you try to write a bass line later, after you've already come up with chords, melody, and lyrics? Please help me understand your creative process.

    I've heard Paul McCartney often used a similar approach: He would record the bass line last, after the vocals and other instruments. This gave him the most freedom to write a bass line that "pulls the whole song together." Do you like the Beatles? Have you ever studied Paul McCartney bass lines? Or if not Paul McCartney, who are some of your favorite bass players? Do your favorite players mirror the guitar riff, or do they play something different? Can you "borrow" some of those ideas for your own original songs?
  6. I'm always in pursuit of how to better my basslines. Basically, the other members of my band mostly write the music, but as it is blues rock, it features a lot of riff-focused sections I'm just wondering what I can do as a bassist that doesn't just mirror the guitar riff. I look to players like John Paul Jones, John Deacon and Robert DeLeo for their melodicism, but there again, I love the idea of restraint. I really enjoy the feel of groove players who leave lots of space for the drummer's snare and fills and focus on interplay between the rhythm section. Think Joe Dart and (as I've discovered to be amazing) Paul Jackson during his stint on 'Head Hunters' and 'Flood', with Herbie Hancock. I love that sleazy, slinky feel that can also be attributed to Pino Palladio when with D'Angelo as well.

    As for pulling the song together, I try and and keep my playing on beat 1 and 3 when the drummer is playing on his hi-hat (open or closed), but I'll play less staccato when it's open. This leaves room for the snare. When he plays his crash and ride, I'll play long sustained notes or 8th/16th notes depending how frantic he's playing on the rest.
  7. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    My main recommendation is to listen to styles of music you like and pay attention to when the bassist does and does not double the guitar part. The bassist has much more power than you might think to modify the feel of a rock/metal song based upon whether or not it doubles the guitar (which I'm guessing is your general genre given your reference to riffs and David Ellefson).

    To give some *very* basic rules of thumb, you might notice when listening to other artists that:

    (1) Doubling the guitar tends to give a cohesive, heavy, and tight sound to a section;

    (2) Playing a part that adds harmony to the guitar part will tend to make a section sound lighter and more melodic;

    (3) Playing a part that is much more stripped-down and sticks mainly to the kick drum can produce a more groovy feel;

    (4) "Walking" types of bass lines can give an interesting combination of (2) and (3).

    If you listen to a bunch of rock/metal with capable bassists you should start to notice these types of parts recurring fairly frequently. Once you get a feel for what they sound like, it should be easier to consider what general type of part might suit the sound you and the band want for a particular section.
  8. So what do you think of this bassline? Is it one you would play or would you change it? Just trying to see where your head is...

  9. I really like that. I love that kind of groove. I maybe would change it a bit in the sense of note choice to add variety. But the way cymbal lengths are being matched and the snare isn't being played over...that's me alright! (Unless the crash and ride are being smashed.)
  10. Yeah, I kinda figured this is your style. This music is by one of the members here. Honestly, the easiest way to add ideas to your playing is to just copy stuff you like and it will turn into your own thing over time. It's just vocabulary building. There's no formula you need to try to find. Just steal stuff.

    Also, in a band situation, it's ok to have the other members adjust to what you are playing. I do it all the time. I just say, "this is the bassline. Make it work..."
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  11. Also, to elaborate on the idea of copying ideas, one thing you can, and should do is to count out the rhythms of the stuff you steal and figure out why you like it. See where the little nuances live. One thing that I learned early on, is that if you count, 1-e-and-a, funk lives on the e's and a's.

    Lastly, do this to your basslines. Doing these things should be enough for you to get loads of variety in your lines. It's not gonna happen over night though.

  12. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    I think your perspective is off- the guitar is doubling/expanding on the bass.
  13. squidtastic

    squidtastic Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2013
    There's already good advice here. I just want to encourage not to follow a formula. Some of the coolest lines come from ignoring the "rules". Listen to what inspires you, and filter those lines through your own head/heart/hands.

    Take "Sweet Emotion" by Aerosmith. The bass line in the chorus is (famously) busy and unusually high-register -- I'd argue it's the "star" of the chorus. During the instrumental guitar riff/hook, the bass matches the guitar exactly. In the verses, the bass plays a line that's kinda funky and plays with and against the other instruments throughout the phrase... but then it matches the guitar exactly on the last verse only. Then the bass plays closely in sync with the drums on the outro. The bass in that song is truly inspired! :cool:

    There's no right or wrong, and sometimes what's considered wrong by some formula sounds amazing.
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  14. Vooter


    May 11, 2009
    Bronx, NY
    That's very cool!
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  15. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Rythym. Play the chords, in rythym with the drums, that the guitarist is playing g his main riff. If your throwing out Dave, I'm guessing you're playing metal. Youd play the main riff while the solo is jamming. If it's an, "in general" kind of thing, you can do it by playing arpeggioish riff lines to the rythym of the drums. It will fit. In fact, it will fit better than the guitar does. 100%. Remember though, in metal, the bass is a full on supporting instrument. If your not pushing/supporting the guitar with what your throwing down, it wont sound right. My absolute biggest words of advice to you is, record. Listen to what you're playing in a full band setting. You will (very quickly) find what works and what doesn't. Check this out.

    Attached Files:

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  16. Not sure what style you’re playing, but an example used when a friend was trying to add “groove” to their heavy tunes was Always on the Run by Lenny Kravitz. The guitar riff is fairly busy, and the bass is a simple two note thump.
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  17. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    I'm literally not playing anything the guitar is playing. Almost the entire time. Except for the chorus. Even then, I'm playing it a full step down.
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  18. I would mix in arpeggios and your own riffs from an appropriate scale.

    The rhythm would depend on the genre and sound you’re going for..
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  19. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    you may get better and fruitful ideas by thinking of how to better the song. What bassline would you like to hear over the song. Once you have it in your head, it only takes time to play it on the instrument. If you do the opposite and try to find lines directly on the instruments you suffer from technical limitations. Use what best serves the song. It often is an exercice in simplicity but it doesn't have to stick to the guitars.
    This musical context often calls for simple or partial walking bass line, arpeggiating over chords to build your line. Dire Straits, JJ Cale, Cream songs are full of lines built like this.
    Once again, aim for what works best for the song, not what makes the bass stand out.
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  20. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall-Fender-Bergantino-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand
    A “full step” means two notes - G is a full step down from A.

    I haven’t listened to the clip, but I’m sure you aren’t playing a a full step down from the guitar in the chorus: that would be out of tune for almost any chord voicing.

    Perhaps you mean an octave?
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