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When a metronome ain't enough

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Tennesseemick, Feb 5, 2013.

  1. First, a little set up. We're an acoustic band but both guitarists are classic rockers at heart. I'm more into alter country and Americana. In many ways, this translates into great original tunes and memorable rearrangements of familiar tunes. Second, I know a metronome will help me but....

    More often than not it doesn't matter what tempo I'm playing. The guitarists ALWAYS face each other, get carried away in picker love and speed up every song. So not only can I not see what either is playing, it's hard to hear the key with the lead and rhythm exchanges going on. I'm funding myself stuck to the root notes rather than add anything (pick up notes, walks, runs, etc).

    The only effective solution I've tried has been to write more bass-driven songs. Thank goodness they've been good tunes. I will appreciate any thoughts, suggestions, or exen commiseration.
  2. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    thinking of trying a strobe light for my situation :)
  3. I can see the headline now: Bassist seizes on stage Guitarists jam for 20 more minutes:help:
  4. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    i was thinking really slow strobes with the drone band, lights on the on beat
  5. Let us know how that works. It sounds like a good idea. My comment above pertained to my falling out but the guitarists didn't notice since they only watch each other.
  6. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    we have two bassists and an adult ADD drummer
  7. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Tell them they're speeding and that you're going to stick to the tempo despite it. It will train wreck....and when it does they'll have a decision to make. Sometimes there's no nice way of dealing with this other than to eat it and go with the tempos they create. If you don't want to eat it you have to be firm and ready for a fight.
  8. I've always found that the best way to deal with musicians that speed up, is to ignore them. If you can feel the beat, and stay in time, then trust yourself. Don't budge for them, and (unless they're deaf or musically indept) they will fall into place.
  9. All good points. Rather than have a recurring argument, I've suggested we orchestrate transitions into and out of jams. I'm thinking of the interplay between Garcia and Lesh. In live recordings either of them played a cue for the transitions. Basically saying a free-for-all is fine with me but if I have to be responsible for all tempos all the time, we have to be more responsive to each other.

    I have stopped songs (during practice, never during a gig) when the tempo was way off.

    For the time, I think I'll eat it and worry more about my contribution.

    Thanks everyone.
  10. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Hmmm, talking about the interplay between Garcia and Lesh puts a question in my mind: How musical is this speeding up you have going on? If it's not as musical as you'd like to hear it maybe talking about that would be a less confrontation tack? Metronomic time isn't the end all be all to musicality.
  11. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    I'm thinking it's more of a problem between you and the drummer. After all you two are the rhythm section. Is the drummer speeding up and pulling you along with him? Any Videos of this mess?
  12. rupture

    rupture Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2012
    woah Did'nt know there was a drummer, if thats the case its all on him. The drummer dictates time not the guitarist
  13. svtb15

    svtb15 Commercial User

    Mar 22, 2004
    Austin,TX - McKinney,TX - NY,NY, - Nashville,TN
    I play it all. Whatever works for the gig
    I find that many guitar players play ahead of the beat .. not all, but many of them do... there are a few that know how to sit in the time zone.. .and those are the ones i love to play with.. And it doesnt have to be stale to sit in time correctly....
  14. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I don't think there's a drummer. Seems the OP said it was JUST he and the two guitarists.

    With that in mind, you only have 3 choices.

    1) Talk to them. Hopefully you're all grown. If not, I can't help you there. "Hey guys. We gotta figure something out. You knuckleheads get "in the zone" and go off into never never land forgetting that there is a song structure and... oh yeah..... ANOTHER MUSICIAN on the stage.

    2) But, ultimately, you have to follow them if they won't follow you. The suggestions by some here to "hold your ground and don't budge" are simply ridiculous. What if you did that at a show? To prove a point you would make your group have a trainwreck in front of a crowd? Bad idea. And I don't think the OP was going there. (Thus the question to begin with.)

    3) Here's my favorite idea. Set up IN BETWEEN THEM at shows. That way, they can't help but keep you in mind while playing off of each other. If they don't go for that, they secretly have a crush on each other and want to play footsy without your "foot blocking". Best of luck with that. My advice ends right about where Dr.Phil's starts.
  15. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Somewhere in America, Jeff Berlin just got an inexplicable body shudder. :D
  16. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    Oh! No drummer? Drums are acoustic, aren't they? My solution then is get a drummer.
  17. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    i have invited my friend electribe to jam with us, unfortunately he seems to only know dance beats, but he is dead on with his timing
  18. mcm


    Oct 2, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Some of the best songs of all time speed up. It's human nature.
  19. chuckNC


    Aug 21, 2012
    First of all, I can relate to your frustrations. It can't be much fun playing under those circumstances, nor can you feel very good about your contibution. The two guitarists are not giving you room to work. It may be working for them but it's not working for you. That means, ultimately the songs are being held back from reaching their full potential. The audience can feel the tension on some level, even if most can't put their finger on the source of the problem. I'll go out on a limb here and speculate that their tempos are not just speeding up but they're erratic as well. It's common for people who do a lot of playing on their own (keyboardists, guitarists) to develop sloppy timing without realizing it. If these guys had solid timing, you'd be able to "find your slot" easily enough, even with them running the tempo uphill. That said, some guitar-heavy music is less bass-friendly than a lot of keyboard-centered music is. Nature of the beast, especially if you've got a couple of guitar players with busy playing styles. They may want you to just play root notes!

    They outnumber you and that makes it impossible for you to control the tempo. You can't be held responsible for this! As unsatisfying as it might sound, until they are willing to change, the best thing to do is smile, shrug and do the best you can with the best attitude you can manage.

    Ultimately, if they are so in love with what they're doing that they don't feel the need to accomodate other musicians who are honestly just trying to fit into the songs, you may need to find a band that actually needs a bass player. And I say this as a guitar player who hasn't done a gig on bass since the '70's.
  20. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011

    Having good time is crucial and of course somekind of structure is also important otherwise it is 3 instruments improvising in no-man-land ...