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What makes a better bass player?

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What makes a better bass player?

Post  MetalJacob on Thu May 03, 2012 2:51 pm

So I'm doing a research project where we gotta do a presentation about something we want to improve about ourselves. Naturally, I chose how to improve my bass playing. We have to have 7 online sources for this presentation so I figured I'd use you guys as one of my sources (and maybe Dman's bass book as another source.) So if you guys could just give some general ideas (theory, timing, groove, notation, etc) of what makes a good bassist and how a bassist improves himself with what type of practice and stuff that would be great. We're supposed to find out what the "experts" think on the subject and so you guys are my experts for this.

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Re: What makes a better bass player?

Post  Stryfer on Thu May 03, 2012 4:21 pm

Here's something I get a lot of compliments for when compared to other bass players in town - filling out a song. This is a direct translation, so let me elaborate:
If we look at a lot of rock or metal bands, we see a tendancy for the bass player to stick to root notes. This is ok, because there's at least two guitars or a keyboard player to add that extra sound.
If we look at jazz, we see a tendancy to go for a lot of walking bass or melodic lines with harmonics and so on. Here, the sound is filled up with keyboards or various brass instruments (usually a saxophone). Same goes for funk, except the bass leans towards a more percussive role.
The point is that without those other instruments, those kinds of bands would sound weak. This is because the bass, whether it plays the main melody or just a simple groove, sits in it's little "bass slot" leaving room for others.

On the other hand we have bands that go beyond a drum/guitar/bass set up and sound just as rich as the above mentioned. Here's three examples and how the bass contributes to the richness:
Red Hot Chili Peppers - It's not just a simple percussive funk bass. It has a very full sound that takes up more than just it's "slot" in the freq. spectrum. The bass provides very vicious and powerful grooves, along with plenty of improvisation without straying too far from the main bass line. This sublte and timed improvisation is the key to creating an illusion that there's more going on than their actually is. What to improve - how much and when to improvise.
Mudvayne - The varied techniques applied to bass lines as well as the combination of slaps, finger plucking, strummed chords and tapped octaves provied a very busy and rich sound. Again, there's the extended freq. coverage, but the key is in the different sounds created through the different techniques applied at precise segments. This creates the illusion that there are more instruments in the mix than their actually are. What to improve - what techniques to use when.
Muse - The sound is key here. The bass moves through a very wide freq. range depending on the sound used. The secret is in the effects and the eq. What to improve - control over and manipulation of your bass sound.

There you go. These are the three things that I've worked on the most, they're not something that people usually pay attention to and have helped me stand out a bit.
It's based on personal research Smile Add it to the standard stuff and that should be enough.

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Re: What makes a better bass player?

Post  Pippynip on Thu May 03, 2012 6:44 pm

+1, +1 and + another sexy 1.

Be as bassy as possible. I drawed a fing on a pikshur to show where, on average, the most played frets should be located.



But on the other hand, don't limit yourself. I wouldn't go so far as to say break the 'rules', but definitely bend the fuckers as far as they'll possibly go.

Playing with other people is essential, IMO. Your rate of improvement is somehow turbo'd.

I've also got a couple of things that relate mostly to performance on stage - I'll outline 'em even if they're not strictly relevant...

Firstly, if you make a mistake, don't let on that you've made a mistake. Ever. 90% of the time, the audience won't notice; 99% of the time, the audience won't care. Unless it's a really major fuck-up. Just keep playing, don't put on an 'o noes I am an embarrass" type face and don't throw a tantrum over it afterwards. The audience is there to have a good time.

Secondly, HAVE FUN. More importantly, show that you're having fun. Make it exceedingly obvious. The crowd will almost feed off that energy. The best live bands are the ones that are most obviously having the time of their lives.

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This is my opinion

Post  mrs potter on Thu May 03, 2012 7:07 pm

Ok so here goes
practice dont make perfec but it makes you better and dont ever think that you are too good to practice!
dont limit yourself - you will sway toward a certain style, groove or trend but from time to time go out of your comfort zone and dont dwell in the valley of excuses as to why you cant, get different music off your mates,, the internet ( legally of course!!) the radio and dont forget to go and see it live too. You might just like it!!
invent things - be creative and play your bass when you are happy, sad, angry, bored, tired, in pain or emotionally bereft of any physical or mental feeling. you will find that it makes you feel better and thats a good thing.
Play with others, they will inspire and you will feel good about it and so will they - the way you play will affect the way they play and the way they play will affect the way you play so the circle should result in one good session!
Above all share a little of your good times with others mentally or otherwise as some may need more than you after all
Sit quietly and Spring will come and the grass will grow all by itself and you my grass hopper will be a better bass player.!

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Re: What makes a better bass player?

Post  MetalJacob on Fri May 04, 2012 4:41 am

Wow, great answers guys! This is exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for because anyone can talk about the basics ( yet again; theory, timing, groove, notation, etc) but I don't know how long I could talk about those things or if it would interesting enough but you guys gave me some great ideas. Thank you very much!

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Re: What makes a better bass player?

Post  Some freaky guy on Fri May 04, 2012 12:23 pm

Pippynip wrote:+1, +1 and + another sexy 1.

Be as bassy as possible. I drawed a fing on a pikshur to show where, on average, the most played frets should be located.


This does not apply if you're Matt Freeman, though.
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Re: What makes a better bass player?

Post  Dropthelines585 on Mon May 07, 2012 9:02 am

In my opinion, the key to becoming a better bass player is versatility. If you lock yourself into a singular genre of music, you're limiting yourself. A well respected musician is also a well rounded one. This helps in developing one's ability to improvise to whatever starts playing. Basically, the more you play, the more you play, if you're pickin' up what I'm puttin' down. A person that only plays metal will only be ever to play metal, therefore falling into the old route note trap. If you play jazz, and then play punk, you end up being Matt Freeman. Feel me?
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