Bass Tones and Techniques 101 | Page 2 | The Canadian Guitar Forum

Bass Tones and Techniques 101

Discussion in 'Bass' started by Dorian2, Oct 30, 2019.

  1. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Thanks for the great pointers. I'm aware of many of them as I have played in bands for years as a guitarist so I understand the role and how to approach it in a band context. Right now I'm looking for a Tone that is a base Bass tone for my own sound. From your explanation of how you dial in your tone, that's exactly what I do with guitar so that's good to know. I've come to the conclusion my original plan of completely approaching the Bass as a "new player" probably isn't the best way to go. I have a lot of experience with the 6 string brother of Bass which in many cases is fully transferable. Just different frequencies. At this point I need to find the sound(s) that compliments my guitar's sound(s). More specifically in recording and not so much in a live mix at this point.
     
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  2. Frenchy99

    Frenchy99

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2016
    Location:
    North Pole
    When playing with a band, working with the drummer becomes essential. You become the beat.
     
  3. _Azrael

    _Azrael

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Yes and no.

    While guitar is physically similar to bass and thus has many transferable skills, musically (IMO) bass has more in common with drums.

    Just about any guitar player can play rhythm guitar on one string an octave down, many don’t know how to comp percussion on a stringed instrument.
     
  4. Budda

    Budda Gold Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Location:
    London, Ontario
    Most don't know what the last half of that sentence means haha.
     
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  5. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Yeah. I was talking in a general sense. And I've been known to comp percussion with other guitar players (Acoustic) when they tend to lose the beat. SO following the idea of the thread, do you have any suggestions on technics for Bass as far as percussion. I'll assume Slap Bass is a good example of that, which is a technique I know nothing about. I'm also interested in hearing about any non standard chord tones to play on Bass given a specific guitar chord. Say for example an A note on the G chord for the 9th sound. I remember something about that type of deal with Cliff Williams somewhere. I like to think that Bass has more in common musically with guitar and other strings but rhythmically more in common with drums. But opinions vary.
     
  6. _Azrael

    _Azrael

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Cliff Williams is more adding the third. You can basically play any note in a chord and aren’t limited to playing the root, but I suspect you’ve already figured this out. A lot of bass lines are root/fifth or root/fifth/third unless you’re playing walking bass lines, which will typically walk up and down the neck outlining the chords

    As a tip, most guitarists play ascending licks. Bassists on the other hand will often (but not always) do descending lines and resolve on the root.

    As for techniques, it’s not so much about slap as it is about plucking, muting and note duration. With fingerstyle, most guitarists go for sustain and pluck the top of the string. With bass, pull through the string so that the pad of your finger mutes it momentarily between notes, like the beater hitting a drum. It’ll give more a more percussive thump instead of a drone with a better separation between notes and (potentially) a deeper groove. Standard wisdom is to strike on the kick and mute on the snare, but once you get a feel for that you can experiment with pushing and pulling the beat.

    If you have any experience playing drums or a good ear for it you can start to play fill patterns. When you and the drummer are locked in and playing the same fills the fills gain more power.

    As for guitar, I don’t generally try to lock in with the guitar players and most of the time I don’t even know what they’re doing. I spend most of my time locked with the drummer laying the foundation and driving the song using passing tones to connect the chord changes together. I play most of my counterpoint off the vocal. Sometimes I’ll play off or double the lead guitar. It’s pretty rare that I actually double the rhythm guitar, and that’s usually only for a few bars to emphasis what he’s doing before switching back to the drums.

    That said, that’s how I play. Plenty of other people have their own (equally valid) way of playing.
     
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  7. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Thanks for the great reply. I do play fingerstyle and Classical to a degree not worth writing home about, but passable to the average listener. All the technique I learned in Classical is coming home to roost on the Bass. I had a heavy Bass hand when I played Piano so it's starting to awaken at this point. I was just playing guitar focusing on the triad inversions on the EADG strings. I started to see the very well known to me scale patterns emerging in a different light. I can get out there sometimes. ;)
     
  8. _Azrael

    _Azrael

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Location:
    Edmonton
    When I first started on bass I played scales because that’s what I knew, but I didn’t understand why some notes worked and some notes didn’t. I don’t have a strong grasp of music theory, so things like major/minor 3rds and flat 5ths and 7ths in the chord progression were throwing me for a loop. I wrote my bass lines using trial and error until things sounded right.

    It wasn’t until I learned to arpeggiate the chords that things clicked together and improv became much easier. I play the major shape over a major chord, the minor shape over a minor chord, a diminished shape... blah, blah blah... you seem to have a stronger grasp of chord theory than I do, so hopefully this clicks faster for you than it did for me.
     
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  9. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Fortunately for myself my goal at an early age was to go to a Post Secondary music program for guitar. This was all preceded by a number of years on Piano. But all that aside, my intention for Bass is to get a good feel for what all of the different levels of Bassists here do for their sound, technique, and note choices to get certain sounds, etc. A good example of that is when Keto mentioned the Strings being so much more of a difference on Bass than guitar. I find both string and pick differences make a HUGE difference in guitar sound, so I was surprised that Bass is even more so? I still have the approach of a guitar player on Bass though, so this is a main factor in me picking your brains. Devil's in the details as they say.

    I watched a video after your post earlier which put it more into context with what I think you were saying to me and it was a great help in reinforcing what you said about the role of a Bass player. I've been checking this guy out for a little while on and off. More so now that I'm into it more than before.



    Be interesting to hear what yours and other Bassists thoughts are on this.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2019
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  10. laristotle

    laristotle Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2019
    Location:
    acton
    I watch him too. Really helpful pointers.

    Here's a site you should check out.
    Talkbass
     
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  11. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Thanks Larry. Been to TalkBass a number of times to reference my current gear and get other info. Great site.
     
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  12. _Azrael

    _Azrael

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Location:
    Edmonton
    To put this into context, most guitarists use nickel plated steel strings, and many of them will argue there’s little difference between Ernie Ball, D’Addario, GHS, etc. Many of them are using a lot of drive/distortion, which compresses the sound and exaggerates the harmonic content.

    With bass, the tone is usually cleaner and the sound of the string is more audible and the texture of the string is more prominent in the mix.

    Further, string selection changes how you sit in the mix. A metal player may prefer stainless steel strings for the extra high end to slice through heavy guitars. An R&B player may prefer flatwound strings for their thumpier, more old school tone. A pop/rock player may prefer nickel plated steel roundwounds for a punchy sound with some bite.... or, because a P Bass with rounds sounds more like a guitar and produces that extra thick sound that makes everyone think your rhythm player has killer tone.

    Add in string brand on top of that... I find GHS are thick and wooly while Ernie Ball are clear and balanced (some might call them thin), with Fender kind of splitting the difference.

    The more you move toward jazz and R&B the more complex/interesting the bass lines. Most pop and rock is fairly simplified, but it’s on a sliding scale in terms of how complex the harmony is (how blues is your rock?)

    What Scott teaches is right on the money, but it’s difficult to apply in a rock context if that’s your goal. It’s like teaching a guitar player jazz chords when he’s playing Sex Pistols through a Metal Zone.... the additional harmonics beyond the 5th cause dissonance.

    I played in an R&B/Neo-Soul band for a bit and it really pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to learn how to play bass better. This song for me was a master-class is bassline composition and is a practical application of everything Scott mentions in that video;

     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2019
  13. laristotle

    laristotle Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2019
    Location:
    acton
    I like walking along the fretboard like that.

     
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  14. Granny Gremlin

    Granny Gremlin Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2016
    Location:
    Toronto - Riverside
    Omg talkbass is a hive of bitches. Last bass Outpost is much better.
     
  15. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    @_Azrael , yeah I get that. The 2 years I spent in Post secondary music was a "contemporary" school of music...aka all Jazz. You get to the point where even if it isn't your style there are always great lines to fuse into the basic rock structure. People like Stu Hamm and DAve LaRue are great for that type of deal, amongst many others like JPJ mentioned above. .
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2019

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