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What Bass is all about ?


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Hey guys !


so yeah i've been playing electric guitar for about 6months now ... but now I want to swop to bass , not only for a band but because it looks fun and kewl .


So can u guys tell me more about Bass vs guitar maybe ? I know bass is the bridge between lead and drums ... but can a bassist play songs on his own ? (Except for bass solo's ofc) ... I dont wanna not be able to play any songs that ppl would recognize ... I know most songs bass is just the rythm ... but all ?... So bassically would I be able to play bass alone ?


and yah what its all about and all and all :D


Thanks a lot !!


R0adrunner :D

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I'm guessing you are still relatively new to guitar and haven't much time in bands, or you would know the answer to this already.


Simply put - the frontman get you to sing the lyrics, the guitar gets you to hum the melody, the drum gets you to tap your feet, but the BASS get the butts on the dance floor.


There isn't room on this forum to adequately answer the question ... this would depend on what type of music, your talent and ability, what kind of band you are in. The factors are innumerable.


If you are looking to "stand out" from the crowd as a bassist, perhaps a jazz ensamble is more to your liking. The walking bass lines lying under the melody and the occational solo allow a really good bassist to stand out.


In rock, it is mostly playing with the melody. Depending on your band, you may be able to walk some lines and even solo occationally (warning - really long bass solos suck). However, if the bassist cannot lock with the drummer, the whole band comes a train wreck. In my jam band, the bass monitor points at the drummer, not to me. I am responsible for keeping the rhythm, and the guitarist feed of me for the melody. By a minor adjustment to the last two bars of a part of a song, I tell the lead when to stop soloing and when the band goes back into chorus.


My son's band had a guitarist that was "forced" into being a bass player because they had three guitars and no bass. After about six months, there was a hassle because the bassist wanted to play guitar and the guitarist didn't want to play bass (Guess how McCartney got started on bass?).


To paraphrase Pat Morita "Do bass yes, OK. Do bass no, also OK. Do bass so/so, not OK."


I have never learned to play guitar, never want to. Bass is my instrument and I would rather play nothing else.


Last word of advice ... hope this band has a decent drummer. It makes life so much easier.


Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn


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Welcome to the LowDown! :wave:


Electric bass guitar is an instrument that produces pitches (notes) in the lowest range of human hearing.


Like many instruments, bass can play different roles or functions. In an ensemble (group), bass typically fills the bass role. However, bass is also capable of filling melodic (lead) and polyphonic (chord) roles.


In most popular music today, bass is a part of the rhythm section, along with drums and typically rhythm guitar or piano. The bass role is rhythmic; it is probably the instrument most closely aligned with drums. Bassists and drummers form the core of the rhythm section, and they need to work together closely. In this way bass is a bridge between the drums and the rest of the ensemble.


The bass role is also harmonic, typically defining chords by playing the lowest pitch. In smaller ensembles -- a jazz trio -- the harmonic role is expanded to "outline" or "sketch" the chords instead of playing them outright. Either alone or in conjunction with the other rhythm section instruments, bass defines the harmony. In this way bass is the foundation to the accompaniment to the melody (lead).


Bass can be played as a solo instrument, although this is not as common. Search for "solo bass" on this forum to see some discussions on this.


In some genres of music and in certain bands, bass is more or less prominent. Bass usually takes a back seat to guitar for most of classic rock. For example, Michael Anthony's bass line to Van Halen's "Jump" is designed to make room for Eddie's keyboard and guitar parts (and the vocals, of course). As such, on its own it doesn't say much. (It's mostly 8ths on an open E string).


In a band like RHCP, though, Flea's bass lines often define the songs themselves. Like "Give It Away". Most people would recognize the song just by the bass line alone.


You can always make your own arrangement of any given song. Take Clatter\'s latest CD, for example. Amy (a member of this forum) made her own arrangement of Rush's "Limelight". She plays parts of both Alex Lifeson's guitar part and Geddy Lee's bass line.


Finally, you don't have to stop playing guitar once you start playing bass. It's a bit harder to learn and maintain technique (chops) on more than one instrument at once, but not impossible. I play guitar, too, but bass is my primary instrument.

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For example, Michael Anthony's bass line to Van Halen's "Jump" is designed to make room for Eddie's keyboard and guitar parts (and the vocals, of course). As such, on its own it doesn't say much. (It's mostly 8ths on an open E string).
It's actually open E quarter notes, but I digress.


The bass is the sonic glue between the percussion & drums and the harmonic and melodic instruments in an ensemble. Traditionally, the bass has a supportive role -- defining each chord through the use of root notes. Other notes in the chord are often used to outline the harmony and provide harmonic direction towards the next chord in the composition.


This traditional function of the bass is vital and should not be overlooked. Throughout the history of the instrument, however, there have been players that have sought to expand the capabilities of the instrument to play melodies, chords, improvised solos, noise-like textures, etc. Players throughout history whom have done this are too numerous to completely list, but some notable names include (click each name for more info):


- Domenico Dragonetti

- Giovanni Bottesini

- Milt Hinton

- Slam Stewart

- Paul Chambers

- James Jamerson

- Larry Graham

- Stanley Clarke

- Jaco Pastorius

- Victor Wooten

- Edgar Meyer


Most of the successful ones had a very firm grounding in the bass' traditional function.


A nice film on the nature of modern bass playing and the similarities and differences between different bassists is Mike Gordon's film " Rising Low . It looks like it's only available in Region 1, so I'm not sure you'd be able to watch it in South Africa unless you have a multi-region DVD player...but it's great.

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this is the best way i can explain bass. I love bass, i also play drums. Ive been drumming now for about 11 years.. been playing bass for like 5 or 6. Ive been in many bands. I dont play drums anymore seriously just as a hobby. I however play bass as my serious main instument in a band. I dont know, there is something about bass that makes my brain go bonkers. I love it..Love the sound..Love the feel, love everything about bass! but, let me get back to what i was going to say.


Bass: Bass is the insrument in the band that, if its not there. People will notice. If it is there people WONT notice. Its one of those shy stong quiet types. Its kind of like. you ever met a friend in your social group? Like the quiet kid, who never says much. kind of hides in the backround. but when hes there..you will never know.. but when hes gone...you will be like..."hey where is so and so" thats for most bassist. then you have bassits like flea, and les claypool, geddy lee. who are basically the main dish of the band. aka the lead. Bass, IMO. is just one of the coolest instuments ever. it can be the main part of a band. or it can be purely the backbone. i dont know..i feel like im seriously rambling. but, im not going to lie. bass excites me to the max!

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kewl tnx for the replies guys :D


so yeah depends on the music , some music bassist is just the ryth and some bands the bassist is more main.


And also depends on the band/song , sometimes if you played the bass you would recognize the song ... sometimes not(maybe just the rythm now)


Coz I mean in a band its kewl but I still need to practise and all , and I dont wanna ONLY practise on stuff no-one would be able to recognize etc ... which is wouldnt be .. right ?


bands I like are like Metallica , sum 41 , Blink 182 , SOAD , RHCP etc. And I know MEtallica has an awesome bass solo = Pulling Teeth , which is real cool


Tnx guys - I think I am going to swop .. it seems great and fun and kewl :D

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Bass, to put it simply, is the bridge between melody and rhythm in a band. A bass player makes or breaks the groove buy either locking in with bass drum and playing accents with the snare and high hat, or failing to. It is both easier and harder than it sounds, and the togetherness of the whole band depends on it.


Like all good musicians, a good bassist can play as fast as the groove calls for, but has the taste to know where to play fast and where to milk one or two notes, or not to play at all, when it helps to carry the groove, and supports the song. You learn how to do that by listening to and learning to play the bass parts of great bass players, and learning harmonic theory, either formally with a teacher, or informally by listening to those bass players and getting the feel of what they do from them. It takes a lot less time to learn the theoretical part with a teacher, but learning how to apply it is a lifetime study, and formal instruction can't teach that.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.





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bass can serve many roles, used for fills, back up, or it can be a instrment of mayhem, example chris barker anti-flag

it can be used for self expression, i love bass, i love to talk it up but a person needs too express, take hendrix and page, im sure they could have been awesome bass players but they could express themselfs on guitar the best.

but we have pastorius, miller, wooten. to name a few. its about how you can express yourself, miller did a pastorius but slapped it, thats good stuff,


3 the bass is about getting people pumped, when u listen to music before say a wrestling match for example the guitar is awesome but when your jumping up and down to stay warmed up, u jump to the bass beat, provided its locked on to the drums



Play hard

express yourself

be free

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Originally posted by West1871:

bass [...] can be used for self expression, i love bass, i love to talk it up but a person needs [to] express, take hendrix and page, im sure they could have been awesome bass players but they could express [themselves] on guitar the best.

I had a similar thought after I posted. An instrument is just an interface between the music inside of you and the rest of the world. You can "say" the same thing musically on a number of different instruments. Music is a language. What do you have to "say"?


In terms of the typical role of bass, the best analogy I could come up with is the magician's assistant. The magician gets the fame and glory, but the assistant is doing a lot of work to make the magician look good. On occasion the assistant gets to step into the spot light, too.


The same could be said of bass players. They make the music (and by extension the other musicians) sound better. Like making an ordinary song sound interesting, or a good guitarist sound great. Not as many bass solos, perhaps, but not unheard of either.


Also, in comedy, a duo can get a lot of laughs if one of them acts as the "straightman". The straightman doesn't deliver the punch lines that make the crowd laugh, but if he didn't set up the jokes his partner (the clown) wouldn't be nearly as funny. Imagine if Costello tried to deliver the legendary "Who's On First" without Abbot, for example.

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