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What do you think about when taking a solo?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by HELLonWHEELS, Jul 15, 2019.


    HELLonWHEELS Supporting Member

    Jun 13, 2005
    So i recently joined my first band and one of the songs on their setlist is Ben Harper's Steal My Kisses where the bass takes a solo towards the end of the song. While we were practicing it during a session it occurred to me that I don't really know what the idea is behind a bass solo in a "rock" type of setting. I know my grooves and scales, but what exactly is the bass player thinking in the song. So here's the question:

    What do you think about when you take a solo?

    Last edited: Jul 16, 2019
  2. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    younger = that one cute chick: "hey look at me!" :D

    now = that one, cold mexican beer: "only one more solo to go!" :D
  3. 2645CA44-DD27-4577-B825-BA4F3E306E05.
  4. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    How the hell am I going to keep it together after the 4th bar?!?
  5. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    I basically think about how many notes I'm playing and how much I'm getting paid.
    nogbert, derg, BOOG and 8 others like this.
  6. db59

    db59 Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2015
    Did I leave the iron on?

    HELLonWHEELS Supporting Member

    Jun 13, 2005
    I’m not sure what I was expecting, but can we at least try to get a couple serious responses.
  8. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    True solo? As in ain’t nobody playing except me? The chord progression, tempo, groove. I’ve heard other players lose one or all long before getting to the last bar.

    And whether I put beer on ice before I left home.
  9. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Why is there such a long line at the restroom?
  10. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    What the hell are they throwing a solo at me for???
  11. Where does this kind of solo ever happen?
  12. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Ralph Manak and acleex38 like this.
  13. I separate it into things I know, and things I feel.

    Things I know:
    • I know the key, therefore all available notes I can use.
    • I know the chords, so I can choose the best notes to play.
    • I know the progression, so I know which chord is coming.
    Things I feel:
    • I feel my inner sense of melody (ear) to determine where I head next.
    • I feel an arch structure to my solo. I want to start simpler, work my way up to more rousing, followed by a climax and denouement toward the end.
    JCooper, cchorney, oerk and 16 others like this.
  14. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I only have one or two numbers with bass solos; one is the classic Brown Eyed Girl. I rehearse the solo more than the song, and I try to have it well in muscle memory before the gig. I'm not good enough to improvise a solo. I'm thinking two things: 1) RELAX! 2) Get it right.
    Runnerman, Border, PaulS and 3 others like this.
  15. This is a sort of hard question as you really don't want to be thinking too much about it. Some thought has to go into it but that thought usually happens in the practice room. For me, in a rock or blues solo, the easiest thing to do is nail the "one" with some note of a pentatonic scale (doesn't really matter which note), then put in some fills. It helps if you have a pretty wide variety of fills to choose from. The guy in the video was filling with chromatics, stings, slaps and pentatonics, but he always kept the groove going. But once you have some "vocabulary" down, you don't have to think about it much.

    If, you've never worked on solos and somebody says "take a solo" out of the blue, you might wanna just keep the bassline going and call it a day.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
    JC Nelson, retslock, MVE and 3 others like this.
  16. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny.

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Things I know:
    • There are a myriad of ways I’m going to look like an idiot after this.

    Things I feel:
    • Warm liquid in my shorts.
  17. NOVAX


    Feb 7, 2009
    Let this be over...
  18. I close my eyes and think of England.
  19. BD Jones

    BD Jones

    Jul 22, 2016
    "Why is my leg warm and wet?"
    aarjamson, Zbysek, JRA and 1 other person like this.
  20. Even Jaco played some rehearsed solos. Pat Metheny said (in general) his solos are half stuff that's he's worked on and half generated on the spot.

    So it's ok, lol. I know people like to think improvising is all magic and muse, gifted form the heavens all the time... It's not always the case.

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