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What's the recipe to be a great blues bassist?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by pmaraziti, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. pmaraziti

    pmaraziti Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2006

    Blues and Blues-Rock as genre moved since I was young, but my relationship to them was mainly as listener. I love much of the blues "standard" but then expanded into blues-rock. I lately enjoy a lot Bonamassa and John Mayer Trio for instance.

    I passed an audition for a blues band last weekend (yes! :bassist:) and at the moment they cover several blues standards. I wish I will be able also to transmit some enthusiasm for blues-rock. The band is made of a main guitar, second-guitar/hammond/voice, drummer and myself.

    Now, I honestly didn't prepare too much for the audition that resulted in a kind of jam which was fun. I recognise though that my blues vocabulary is quite limited. It seems it got the job done at the audition, but I would love to be able to diversify more, enrich my blues phrasing, and give that feel to the listeners that I so much enjoy when I listen to blues and blues rock.

    Is there any reccommendation that you could give to a blues newbie bass player that wants to get great at playing these wonderful styles?

    Thanks a lot, Paolo
  2. just listen to as much blues as you can..all knd, chicargo, memphis, texas, New Orleans, Blues rock, any and all blues listen listen listen then listen more and try to emulate the feel and phrasing those players use.

    tommy shannon and pino are great examples of the feel but also check out guys like Berry Oakley fro the allman brother and willie Dixon ( old blues bass legend played with muddy waters)

  3. +1 to ZENBASSGUY

    also - simplicity & actually knowing what having the 'Blues' feels like helps...
  4. pmaraziti

    pmaraziti Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2006
    Thanks Dan, listening to blues is an easy cure for me! what would you reccommend of Pino in a blues context? Got "Try!" with the John Mayer Trio and love it....

    EDIT: ... just downloading from iTune the "Road To Escondido" with JJ Cale and Eric Clapton... I bought it without listening, I'm sure it's a good investment... any other suggestion with Pino on Bass is more than welcome
  5. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    I suggest "Born under a bad sign" by Albert King. Duck Dunn played bass, he is the role model of a great blues bassist IMO.
  6. cire113


    Apr 25, 2008
    muddy waters

    howlin wolf

    willie dixone

    t-bone walker

    buddy guy

    albert king

    freddie king

    bb king

    elmore james

    John lee hooker

    Solomon Burke

    Lead belly

    Blind Lemon Jefferson

    Stevie ray vaughn
    muddy grampy likes this.
  7. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    +1 to all previous posts.
    Paul Butterfield Blues Band is pretty darn awesome...although I have no idea who's playing bass there.
  8. backline112

    backline112 Guest

    Jun 3, 2008

    Don't bother knockin'.
  9. cire113


    Apr 25, 2008
    blues is all about feel its difficult to put to words
  10. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    I suggest you learn all the standard blues progressions(chords) and turn-arounds. Listen to some older blues tunes that have very simple lines that carry the song, kinda like a rhythm instrument, simple yet effective. You don't have to play that many notes to be a great blues bassist. "Walking Bass" is def. something you'll need to have your chops together for. Check out Harvey Brooks on the Super Session CD with Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper. Here's a link: Super Session

    Here are some other links you may want to check out:

    ~Getting creative
    Where does creativity come from?

    Creating bass lines
    Target Approach
    Walking bass line examples
    Ed Friedland on walking bass lines

    For a jam

    Playing scales

    Playing behind/ahead of the beat
    Playing "in the pocket"

    5. STYLES
    Blues progressions explained w/ audio samples
    Basic lessons/free backing tracks
    Getting into the blues
    Slow blues

    blues jam terms/progressions
    Ice Cream Changes
    Backdoor Progression
    more blues
    Abersole's 35 blues variations
    Improving the blues

    1 First jam
    Gig coming up

    Blues bass player's club

    Influential musicians (mostly) pre-1959
    History and styles
    20 important blues recordings & more

    "Blues Bass" by TB member Jon Liebman
    Ed Friedland's Essential Styles and Techniques
    Blues books
    "Complete Rhythm Guitar Guide for Blues Bands" by Larry McCabe
    "101 Blues Bass Patterns by Larry McCabe
    Turn arounds book for blues/jazz

    Also check out the links in my sig. below for more great TB info.
  11. A love of women and whiskey should do it....
  12. UncleFluffy


    Mar 8, 2009
    Head Tinkerer, The Flufflab
  13. Playing the blues as a bassist, is more about knowing your role. This genre as a bassist is more of a backbone style of playing. You wanna get familiar with following shuffle beats and staying with the root note(as you should with any band). Also, country style walks come into play here as well, but only when you switch to the 4th and the 5th. Not my preference of music, personally. I'm a punk and rock guy.
  14. bassie12


    Aug 23, 2008
    +1000 to Willie Dixon!!!
  15. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Great ideas above--You must also find the time to go hear live music. If you live near a blues bar, become a regular. Go hear some current "stars" live, too. Also, learn Jazz. LOL....so easy to say that, isn't it?

    Jump bands like early Roomful of Blues had some fine bassists, like Preston Hubbard and Rory McCloud, two old buds of mine from Providence, RI. Check those guys out!
  16. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    When I was in a blues band for a couple of years, it was wholly about the interaction between the musicians, to help get that feeling out. You had to ebb and flow with the soloist to help build with them, and then when they were done, drop it back down. You'll hear that in a lot of recordings, but it didn't sink in to our drummer until we took him to a blues bar and he "saw" it and got to hang with the band's drummer.
  17. pmaraziti

    pmaraziti Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2006
    Thanks for all suggestions!

    Yeah, I think listening, transcrabing and rehearsing with the band to creat that emotional layer going (but this I think it's common to all styles) seems to be the main ingredients.

    As well, as I tested in my audition, there're some type of fills that if done simoultaneously with drummer (one emphasizing what the other does), seem to sound real nice.

    I don't know yet if I'll will love playing standard blues as bassist yet (for sure blues-rock it's my thing), but I will give it a serious try. As I was studying at home, it wasn't so much fun... but when I played with those gusy, the fun was huge... this always happens with any style, but this time with blues , it seemed a real revolution playing with the band...
  18. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    To all the great suggestions so far, I would just add that it helps to *play along* with recordings. When I was learning to play blues, I played along and tried to "become one" with the bassist on a given recording. I tried to get so close that I would disappear. This really helps you develop essential skills like good time, tone, feel, and also an understanding of note choices (very important).
    Listening without playing is good, but playing along is even better.
  19. lowB_2277


    Aug 18, 2005
    Here's a link to a list of instructional books and DVD's. http://www.bassbooks.com/shopping/shopdisplayproducts.asp?Search=Yes&sppp=40 (Some of this is available online.) Not all are strictly blues, of course, so you'll have to check out the reviews and see which ones apply to you and the styles you want to focus on.

    +1 for the artist refernce list provided in previous posts. I would add that in addition to studying the foundation artists listed check out guys like Willie Weeks and Johnny B. Gayden for thier versitility and contemporary approach to the bass as well as the respect they bring to playing blues music.

    I've been backing up blues players for a long time (30+ yrs)and am amazed at the number of different bassists (pro and amatuer) and styles that can be draw from to develop solid technique and eventually a style of your own.

    Good luck. Hope you enjoy your journey as much as I've enjoyed mine.

    muddy grampy likes this.
  20. cire113


    Apr 25, 2008

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