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which octave do you mainly play in?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by ras1983, Jun 14, 2005.

Which octave do you prefer?

Poll closed Jun 19, 2005.
  1. octave 1 (root note being open E string)

    22 vote(s)
  2. octave 2 (root note being E one octave higher)

    8 vote(s)
  3. All over (don't fence me in!)

    16 vote(s)
  1. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    i'm just interested in what octave you guys mainly play in. the first e octave (starting on open E string) or second octave (one octave higher)? when you play at church for exampe, (or anywhere else where sheet music is used), where usually g****r notes are written above the musical notation(which i can't read), which octave do you normally use? if the g****r note says Em, do you pkay the open e string or the e one octave higher? :confused:
  2. Wow, heh, I really can't answer that very distictively. Most of the stuff (jazz) that I play uses both about the same, but I would have to say that I use the 1st octave over any other single octave. If you were, however, to compare the 1st octave all other octaves on the bass I play a total of a little more on all the others combined. Plus, you have to take into account 5+ string bass players (myself being a 6er).
  3. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    This is hard to reply to. I play mainly in the second octave just because there are more notes there :)

    Even answering the specific question, "Which Em would you play?", gets the answer: it depends. Assume I don't know the song and am told "key of E". If it is blues/rock, I would start on open E. If it is country, I would start with the E on the D string, second fret.

    So let's do some easier ones :) Again, assume I don't know the song and am just told "key of"

    G = E string, 3rd fret
    A = E string, 5th fret
    C = A string, 3rd fret
    D = A string, 5th fret

    These are my standard "starting" positions. I try to keep it as low as possible, but stay off the open strings. So I voted 1st octave.
  4. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    i noticed many bass players try not to use open strings. is this because notes sound meatier when fretted as opposed to the open string equivelant?
  5. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I thought you where on the other side of the world asleep? ;)

    Three reasons:

    1) Yes, the 5th on the lower string tends to be meatier than the open string.
    2) No muting problems :)
    3) Three chord songs.

    Most songs I play are I IV V. So let's say the key is G (although the pattern is portable)

    I = E string, 3rd fret
    IV = A string, 3rd fret
    V = A string, 5th fret

    So it is easy to hit all the roots (and fifths) without shifting hand position. This is very important when you don't know the song and are using 100% of your concentration on the babe in front of you, NO NO ignore that, I mean on the chord changes.
  6. Vysous


    Mar 29, 2005
    Open strings can be very useful... for example : When you play some song in standard blues pentatonic beginning with E, with your fretting hand positioned on VI. fret (middle finger on VII. fret of string A) And there is very useful to sometimes play open E string, just to add some shaking lows. I don't avoid open strings, they have different sound and they are worse muteable. Yeah, their different sound is their biggest positive...
  7. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    Shouldn't a bassist mainly play in the first octave?
  8. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    I'm going to go ahead and say.... 14.
  9. I usually play the second octave (getting into piano territory) I mostly avoid the E string unless the song really calls for it's strength. I too play in church, and the E on my bass (Fender Aerodyne Jazz-Japan only model-candy apple red-it's a beauty) is noticably louder than the A, D or G. If I do go down to that octave, it's for the movement into a chorus to make the congregation "feel" that something is about to happen (the geetar normally goes up at the same time, it's a nice musical effect that seems to catch peoples attention, but they don't know why), or to give strength and depth to the important words/phrases in the song.

    I also avoid the open notes whenever possible. I'm not sure why, though. They just don't seem right.

    I'm really gentle with the lowest octave because it seems so loud (E, F, F# and G especially)--I don't want to overpower the rest of the team, and I'm afraid I'm going to blow the PA at church--that would be a bummer.

    Scott in Okinawa
    GySgt USMC
  10. eldave777


    May 24, 2005
    I play fairly active basslines at church because well they let me. It varies with the song but mainly I play the line low. I like to mix things up some so I might alternate it just to make it more fun. I know lots of players have strict rules put on them by the "music minister" of the church which in my experience is rarely a fellow musician for some reason, but most of the stuff we play is bass driven which is great. I always try new things, or play my parts differently if I can and of course I tone it down if it doesn't work for the song or if asked to. Low E that's my answer if I have to choose.
  11. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I'm tempted to vote for the second octave because no-one else has and because it probably averages out around there. However, I'm holding back because the question seems to be missing the point. I try to play the what is appropriate for the song - that covers notes, what pitch they're played at and how I use them (long drones, staccato attack).

    In church, I rarely follow the standard notation - if we're not just playing from a chord chart, the music is likely to be an approximation of the song arranged for relatively easy piano, so is no more than a guideline at best (with one or two exceptions, like playing hymns written with four part harmony). If I see an Em chord, I might play a low E, the next E up, a riff based round an appropriate set of notes or a high chord such as E G D (beginning at the 14th fret of the D string... I play a six string bass).

    One place I did think about which octave to play things in recently was with the 'Teeth. A lot of my lines had been more around the middle of the neck but, since we added drums, flute and backing vocals, I've found myself transposing several parts down an octave; it seemed to fit better with the rest of the ensemble.

    The bottom line, though, is that I'm playing bass even when up the high and dusty end of the neck... ;)

  12. Achey


    May 6, 2005
    Northern Ireland
    Impossible for me to say, I tend to use both as much as teh other in Jazz.........but If i am playing heavy music, generally the 1st octave.
  13. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Sounds like you got that idea from a bemulleted rock guitarist. You should play in whatever octave you want to. A bassist's job is to play his bass-whether it's up high or down low. It's an instrument, not a role.
  14. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    If I wanted to play in the octave higher, I'd be using a guitar. But I still do use the other half of the fretboard alot.
  15. +1 - most of the time I don't think about it - I just do it - play bass that is.
  16. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    I think the basssist has a role, i noticed that when i do my own songs i usually play them pretty high and when i tab them out in guitar pro i arrange the line for the guitarist and then make a bassline, usually because i like lowend.

    Anyway, i like to do these runs like playing the first note low and then do a fast run up past -2 octave and then going back to the new chord, i also like to do fast runs up the neck when i'm going to chorus.

    Also, i dont say that it's bad to not play low, there's some places where it fits with a high bassline and some where they dont.

    And yeah, i play a lot of rock so that might be why i think like this, i guess i would think different if i played jazz.
  17. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I use everything between the 3rd and 15th frets pretty equally.
  18. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    I normally play something low and high at the same time.
  19. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    I destroy all octaves.
  20. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Aha - a new poll option. Count me in for don't fence me in!


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