1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Why do so many bands now use a keyboard player for bass?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by NelsonNelson, Aug 24, 2012.

  1. NelsonNelson


    Sep 25, 2011
    Just like the title asks, why is this a growing trend? I don't get it.

    Last night I took my wife to see The Fray with Kelly Clarkson. Great show for music I am not a fan of but the opening band, Carolina Liar, had a keyboard player that played bass on a small keyboard. Then...a few weeks ago, Good Old War, on Jimmy Kimmel Live was doing the same thing!

    Sounds very fake to me...but why is this a growing trend? :rollno:
  2. etoncrow

    etoncrow (aka Greg Harman, the curmudgeon with a conundrum)

    There have always been bands that used keyboards for bass (for example, the Doors); it is more popular in some genres than others but i do not believe it is any more popular now than before. Perhaps you are just noticing it more and coincidentally encountering bands with bass/keys. I am an old guy and I remember many Hammond B3 players doing the bass line with the foot pedals.
  3. madrob


    Aug 22, 2006
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    Who cares, they would sound just as bad with a bass player!
  4. GypsyMan


    Jun 30, 2011
    I was just reading an article about "Bass Keys" I think it was in BASS PLAYER magazine. I Jam with a keyboard player, and a lot of my instruction comes from the notes and chords from the keyboard.

    I was wondering about those BASS Keys. .. .
  5. I think "Why?" should be the question we're asking.
  6. powmetalbassist

    powmetalbassist Supporting Member

    This uis common in some metal as well. I don't see it as a problem as the keys don't replace the bass, but fill in the space (kinda like a rhythm gui****)
  7. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I'm not seeing it...in the '80s? YES! Big time. Drummers, too felt the squeeze.

    I still recall my best friend getting his 1st Ensoniq Mirage...he demonstrated some very cool fretted, fretless, slapped, & URB samples. He told me, "...see, YOU can be replaced".
    What he did not see: The whole band can be replaced...as they were when technology allowed 2 guys with a laptop/sequencer "sound" like a 6-piece band.

    I have heard how some Classic Rock bands doin' the Festival/Fairgrounds circuit(e.g. Steppenwolf) go on the road sans bassist. That's Rock n' Roll?!?!

    Recently, in my little world...I have seen more & more going back to 4-string painted basses over the boutique furniture pieces that were the rage just recently.
    In my little world, GOOD keyboardist are at a premium...and they're not doing bass lines.
  8. mazdah


    Jan 29, 2010
    Kalisz, Poland
    Unlike The Doors hammond-bass sound, this one sounds like pure s***t :(
  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    The keyboard should pretty much be everyone players' "bible" (chords/harmony).
    Rhythm, though, is a different animal.
  10. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Darn...can't hear the link here.

    BTW, The Doors used a Fender Piano Bass...mostly Live. Every album (except maybe the debut) had "real" bassists augmenting their sound.
  11. NelsonNelson


    Sep 25, 2011

    You can't hear the audio in this?
  12. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Cannot see/hear youtube at work!
  13. IME, there are two kinds of keyboard players (as relates to the question at hand): those who instinctively play bass with their left hand, and those who do not.

    For me, the question is: why does a band whose keyboard player plays bass with his/her left hand even want a bass player? I've gotten a couple of offers to play in such situations and I am very up front with that question. In one case, it led to me mostly bowing because playing pizz (this is on upright obviously) was kind of pointless given the activity of the keyboard player's left hand. It's actually worked out OK and has been a good learning experience.

    The other one is coming up next week, and I have already kind of grilled the keyboard player about it. We'll see.
  14. lburton2

    lburton2 Les Is More

    May 15, 2008
    Detroit, MI
    I actually see a lot of sampled bass through laptops more than I do keyboards. :bawl:
  15. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    I saw Steve Winwood in a small theatre a while back...about 600 in attendance and that was near capacity for the venue...it was an incredible show. He had no bass player and kicked bass on the B3 pedals. I'm not so sure a bass player would have improved that performance though.
  16. jarrydee


    Oct 22, 2011
    sounds pretty damn good to me, and far from Fake! want fake? listen to rap music!
  17. jarrydee


    Oct 22, 2011
    the doors did not use a hammond for the bass sound, it was a fender piano bass, no way it is even close to what these guys are using now day! I guess I just have bad ears, this clip does not sound bad at all! sounds more like hate'n :crying:
    Herrick likes this.
  18. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    Just fav'd it on Youtube. I thought they sounded great.
  19. This has been going for decades. Nothing new, and to me it is not a 'growing trend'. Maybe you're just noticing it now, when you did not before. Hammond B3 players have been doing the bass function for decades. BTW, most jazz/pop/soul/funk organ players play bass with their left hand, not their feet. The constant stomping on the foot pedals we see are usually for the percussion attack to go with the left hand bass note. They'll also use the pedals to pump out the low register roots once in a while, but they'll play the fast lines with their left hand. In practice, the only organists who really play full bass lines on the foot pedals are the ones playing baroque music on a pipe organ, where it is all written out and practiced well in advance of live performance.

    Here is a clip of keyboard bass... Hohner on top (bass), wurly on bottom (chords).

    They do it, because the keyboardist can, and it's one less pay split amongst the group.

    I also think that band on the OP clip sounded pretty good. Nice vocal harmonies on a simple, but catchy pop tune. The keyboard bass could have been more on top of the beat though...

Share This Page