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Writing good basslines?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Masterbasser71, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. :help: Yeah yeah, I know, you gotta have rhythm to be a bassist, if not you're a percussionist. I've been accused by my jam band that I just do 8th notes and 16th notes, and that I always double up on what my guitarists are playing. What do I learn to keep them from getting frustrated at me? Oh they're 21 and I'm 17, so its kinda stressful for me. Help? How do I improve my basslines? I've been playing for 3 years, should I be cranking out basslines like sweat? Are they expecting too much? :rolleyes: Oh the joys of being a bassist in two bands. :hyper:
  2. sb69coupe


    Aug 9, 2004
    Raleigh NC
    When you speak of "good basslines" what exactly do you mean? To give us a good idea of where you are as a bassist, tell us what kind of lines you are playng now. You mention that you are playing 8ths or 16ths, but are you just holding down the root, or are you playing over the chords by moving off the root and through the other notes in the chords?
  3. ToR-Tu-Ra


    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    Hmmm... I'd say it all depends.

    If you're playing punk rock, you most likely NEED to play only roots, eights and/or sixteenths the whole tune.

    Another thing, maybe those wise guitarrists ain't that wise and they're not giving you enough space and that's why you end up doubling their playing.

    Some recordings of your basslines would be usefull to know what's going on.
  4. Kroy


    Jan 19, 2006
    Not if you're Matt Freeman of Rancid.
  5. ToR-Tu-Ra


    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    You got a point there. Matt kicks a$$!!! I don't consider rancid to be straight punk rock, tho. It's got more stuff thrown into, like ska, hardcore and even some jazzy stuff in the way Matt plays. When I said punk rock I's thinking about the earlier stuff, pre '85.

    Hmm... It's been a while since I've heard rancid. I'll listen to "... and out come the wolves..." right now. Thanks for reminding me of Matt!

    See ya!
  6. Kroy


    Jan 19, 2006
    No problem. I'm not really a punk rocker by any stretch but I like to listen to any band in any genre where the writing is good and the musicians are excellent. I've been learning 'Maxwell Murder,' I've got everything but the solo. I haven't really sat down and focused on that part of the song yet. I love it though, it shreds.
  7. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    That's a pretty good thing to start with. Even if the song does call for mainly roots, you should still be constantly aware of where the third and fifth of the present chord is.

    One even simpler implimentation of this is to just concentrate on TENTHS - that would be an octave-up from a third. Tenths are easy to play, and are often a very cool harmony to play on a bass. If the chord calls for a minor third, it's three strings over (higher in pitch), on the same fret; if it's a major, then it's three strings over ('down'.. uh - no, 'higher'.. OK - I mean 'toward the floor'), and one fret higher then the one you're on.

    If you want to sound 'automatically-funky', then just before hitting your normal root on-the-one, you can simply pop the note that's two frets before the octave of the root note you're about to go for, and then right-away hammer the octave - then play that root on the one. ...Like "bit-a-bump, bump, bump [rest]; bit-a-bump..." (the first and last 'bumps' are the low-root on-the-one) Instant-funky!

    Yeah! ..So here's a part that uses both, all based on the same root-chord: "bit-a-bump, bump, bump, [rest]; bit-a-bump, [rest], bump, [tenth]"!

    So there ya go - maybe a couple of those'll keep'em off your back for a little while.

  8. ToR-Tu-Ra


    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City

    That's a killer solo! I really like all that album

    Now, back on topic . . .

    Where in the world did the original poster go?:meh:
  9. sabbath was mostly 8ths and 16th notes. sounds like your using the wrong side of your brain. relax listen to some bach or beatles. hear what the bass is doing? study some motown or some maiden. take a simple rudimentary approach and your bass will flow soon enough.
  10. J Funk

    J Funk

    Jan 14, 2006
    I'm J Funk, and relatively new to Talkbass.Com. I hope everyone is well.

    Similar to the aforementioned suggestions, one I'd offer is to "arpeggio" the chords here and there. And mix that with Joe P's idea. Of course, precaution needed so this doesn't clash with the guitar lines.
  11. Chromaticism coupled with 16th note rests should do the trick. Everything about making innovative basslines revolves around subdividing and placement of various rests.

    Practice reading and writing music and you'll get out of the rut.
  12. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Hm.. Good point.

    Really!! Hey - let's PM the bum!


    (edit) OK, I PM'ed him.
  13. Haha, I think Sabbath will do that to ur basslines :hyper:
  14. Woops! Sorry guys. And thanks a lot for your help, I'm gonna try all of those techniques. :)
  15. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    Creativity and theoretical knowledge helps . It also helps to just screw around with your bass, maybe with a metronome, and eventually cool stuff comes out.
  16. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI

  17. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    One thing that might help you is to take some of the albums which influence your band as a whole and, assuming your musical knowledge is up to it, transcribe the bass parts. Write out the music either as tab or (ideally) as actual notes on staff paper. It's tedious, but it forces you to examine the notes and how the bass part fits into the rest of the song in a way that just learning by ear doesn't.

    Even if the superstars of your band's chosen genre do nothing but play 8ths on the root, you will at least have some solid ammunition when dealing with your guitarists. "Hey, Rex from Pantera does it...." :D
  18. read your profile your only 17 so i feel i must save you...... this is your bands way of telling you they think you suck. either you need to practice more,or take things more serious. do you play with pick or fingers? you seem to have cool influences, can you play faries wear boots? my suggestion is to learn some material that really grooves. if you want to find out if its them or you bring them a song to play that challenges your rythmic skills and see if they can pull it off. youd be suprised.....
  19. ToR-Tu-Ra


    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    It would also help to know what kind of music you're playing...

    Jazz is mostly quarter and eight notes and I don't see anybody complaining about that.

    Also, too busy guitarrists leave little room for "better" (busier) basslines.

    You could try using chord tones (root, third, fifth or seventh) on beats 1 & 3 and non chord tones (second, fourth, sixth) on beats 2 & 4. If you play eight or sixteen notes, do the same on the beat subdivision.

    Or find the spots where the guitarrists rest a bit and throw some notes in there to upset them ;)
  20. Start listening to other types of music. Listen to the good bass players. Listen to groups like Rush, Yes, Cream, Iron Maiden, Rancid, weather report
    Different styles of music, all pretty decent Bass players

    Think of rythmns and create lines with spaces. In other words dont just play 16ths. start using rests, slurs and hammer ons, lift offs, start the line on some note other than root.
    learn the chordal scales.