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Writing bass lines/riffs

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Geezer Brown, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. I can't seem to come up with any inventive bass lines or riffs, any suggestions? I work on stuff at home, but whenever I write, it either sounds copied or it just straight up sounds like crap :meh:. At practice, we really only have enough time to go through our set, and I rarely have time to work on anything other than following my guitarist and maybe throwing in a few simple fills. Help me please? Perhaps toss a few good books my way?

    Thank you,
  2. ChrisHooker


    Jul 29, 2012
    Maryville, TN
    With limited group practice time, I'd highly suggest recording your practices. This way you can still work at home on your own.

    I'm not good at all at improv - translating what my head thinks to the fingerboard in real-time, so the way I usually write lines is to listen to the beat/groove and chords/notes/any other riffs going on and try to hum what I think would work well as a bass line. Then I figure out how to play that.
  3. ChrisHooker


    Jul 29, 2012
    Maryville, TN
    Also, I'll add that sometimes if you can't think of anything that works along with a pre-written gtr part... it might be that the gtr part doesn't leave any space for you.

    If you can't get the guitarist to change, try muting him out and replace his line with simple chord changes while you write your bass line. Then bring him back in and see how it works together.

    ..Or maybe the groove/vibe isn't there, and you need to rework the whole rhythm section so it's not so straight forward and hokey.
  4. Improv (which I know is important) isn't really one of my priorities as I am in a metal band. I'm decent-good when it comes to writing supporting lines under my guitarist. What I mean is more of a riff, something I can show to my guitarist that HE can play...
  5. Very true, he does this often, there are no breaks in our songs. I've tried just writing bass and drum grooves with my drummer, but I just get brain dead and unable to think of something creative to play
  6. basso_profundo


    Mar 12, 2012
    Denver, CO
    I'd get with your drummer and woodshed stuff. If the bass and drums lock on a riff, then the guitar will follow.

    That being said, it's sometimes hard for guitar players to hear a riff originate from a bass. I would guess that's especially true for Metal, where the songs are largely driven by the guitar and the bass tend to mirrors the low end of the riffs. Imagine that the Metal songs you really like didn't have a guitar playing - does the bass carry the song?

    I doubt you're going to find a book on how to write good Metal riffs. Make music of things that sound good to you! Even if you can hear that one of your riffs sounds like something else, be proud of it! Nothing is truly original, even Miles Davis and Jaco had influences they copied. Metallica's first two albums sounded a lot like Iron Madien - who cares!

    What I do sometimes is come up with what I think are really awesome bass lines, record them with a drum track (either canned track or I play a MIDI drum kit on keyboard), and then attempt a guitar line over it (either with an actual guitar or with my bass playing above the 12th fret). That way I have a rough sketch that I can play to others of how I think my bass line would work in a band.
  7. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards

    This is what I do when I don't have time at band rehearsal.
  8. CrashAlpha


    May 16, 2012
    i am good at coming up with inventive bass lines, but I am playing to my strengths - I.e. there are things that I am good at that aren't "typical" so the riffs and lines sound unique. But there's a point where everything you do sounds the same. To keep for getting stuck in a rut, you have to pay attention to other styles and develop new strengths - even if you aren't really into the the genre. I'm not a fan of funk, but I sure am happy to learn the fantastic things funk bassists have developed. Next thing I know, I have a new strength.