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  #31  
Old 05-13-2021, 09:06 AM
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stephenT stephenT is offline
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Originally Posted by lfoo6952 View Post
Do bass players really frown upon playing bass like a guitar? Two of the best bass players who played it like a guitar were Carol Kaye and Paul McCartney, and with a pick no less.
They both could play guitar but neither played bass like a guitar. Bass happens in different parts of the musical measure and performs a completely different function.
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  #32  
Old 05-13-2021, 10:56 AM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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I think it's important that both Kaye and McC were active making pop records in an era where the arrangement had to work on a tiny radio. You could almost always hear Carol Kaye pretty clearly, McCartney only sometimes. As opposed to, say, James Jamerson on those Motown records. Brilliant, but on a transistor pocket radio you'd never know he was there.
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  #33  
Old 05-15-2021, 11:25 AM
Scott of the Sa Scott of the Sa is offline
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I am a guitar player who can play bass, I just prefer to have someone else play it. I tend to get to bored and then I get busy to try and make it interesting and then I end up making the sound sound bad. In a band setting (guitar bass drums) a simple bass line usually makes the song work.
One time I tried out a good bass player who played too loud. In about 15 years of playing this gig, it is the one time where I got critisized for the music being too loud. We could not keep up with the guy and he wouldn't turn down. Needless to say he was not invited back. And then I was not invited back after that summer.... hmmm.
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  #34  
Old 05-15-2021, 03:28 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Originally Posted by Scott of the Sa View Post
I tend to get to bored...
There's nothing boring about doing it well. Simplicity is hard.
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  #35  
Old 05-15-2021, 05:08 PM
Gordon Currie Gordon Currie is offline
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Originally Posted by Scott of the Sa View Post
I am a guitar player who can play bass, I just prefer to have someone else play it. I tend to get to bored and then I get busy to try and make it interesting and then I end up making the sound sound bad.
This describes precisely the root of the problem. We guitarists, as a class, tend to overplay.

Even though we may be capable of playing the notes on a bass, does not mean that we have the discipline to stop overplaying.

A band I was in had two guitarists and a drummer. The other guitarist and I traded off playing bass as we could not find a competent bassist.

I remember how hard it was to mentally switch between the two instruments. However, I got a deeper understanding of elegant simplicity and how to work with drums. Super invaluable skills for ANY musician.

As Brent just said, it is NOT easy (unless you are playing bass like a guitar, which IS easy).
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  #36  
Old 05-16-2021, 04:07 AM
Tannin Tannin is offline
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Spot on Bret and Gordon.

This is why (on a previous page) I said "bass is a state of mind". As a guitarist, I am a chronic overplayer. I am forever sticking stuff in just because I have the technical ability to play the notes and I get bored easily if I'm not stretching myself.

As a bass player, I never did, and it didn't get boring. I was happy to just go de-bomp , de-boomp all night long.

Why? Where is the difference?

Maybe it is where you sit (in your head I mean). Playing guitar we (certainly me, and I reckon most other guitarists too) think about what we are playing and listen to ourselves. But a good bass player doesn't listen to himself, he listens to the band. I think maybe that's why I could play simple stuff for a whole song or most of a whole night and not get bored: as a bass player you get in tight there with the drummer and stay there while your ears go for a walk and listen to the band. I think the very best rhythm guitarists (Malcom Young, John Brewster, Keef) do the same.

(Shoot me if I'm getting too metaphysical there.)
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  #37  
Old 05-17-2021, 12:16 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
Spot on Bret and Gordon.

This is why (on a previous page) I said "bass is a state of mind".
And just when you think you've got the "think like a bass player" thing figured out, something comes along where you have to "think like a tuba player."

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  #38  
Old 05-17-2021, 06:33 PM
Tannin Tannin is offline
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^ Made me laugh.
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  #39  
Old 05-23-2021, 11:51 AM
nightchef nightchef is offline
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I have strong feelings about this, which I will now share.

It's not just that some of the best electric bass players in the instrument's history approached the instrument from a starting point on guitar.

It's that I can't detect any discernible difference between ex-guitarists and non-ex-guitarists when it comes to being "in the pocket", overplaying, etc. There are non-ex-guitarists who are very active, even busy (but in a way that serves the song well), and there are ex-guitarists who tend to keep it simple. If you didn't already know which two of these four bass players started as guitarists and which didn't, I seriously doubt you could tell which is which by listening to their playing: Bruce Thomas, Rick Danko, Leland Sklar, Joe Osborn.

There is nothing about playing guitar that makes a musician inherently unsuited to understand and fulfill the role of a bass guitar in an arrangement. If a guitarist-turned-bass-player is excessively busy, neglects the groove, or generally fails to use their instrument in an appropriate, ensemble-friendly way, that is not "playing like a guitarist." It's playing like a bad musician.
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  #40  
Old 05-23-2021, 02:49 PM
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Bass 101- Root, V If you can do this with authority, you can play upright in a bluegrass band. Of course good bass players do more, but not much

Get a copy of the BBC Beatles recordings. Go to school on early rock and roll bass grooves. Listen closely to McCartney playing stock grooves 95% of the time. Listen for the quirky 5% that makes the song.

Listen to James Jamerson on all those Motown hits.

Learn a walking bass line to a I IV V change.

Pay attention to how often a studio pro plays next to nothing.

Lock into the kick drum. You can groove with two or three notes.

If you are the upright bassist in an acoustic group, you are the kick drum. Oh, you'll never lack for gigs.

Yes you will have to learn the iconic bass parts. Sunshine of your Love, Something, Foxy Lady, Mustang Sally, etc.
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  #41  
Old 05-23-2021, 05:53 PM
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I think this is pretty interesting (real bass players will all have heard it I guess, but still).

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  #42  
Old 05-24-2021, 01:09 AM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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I have a theory about Jamerson -- that if a song took the band more than a few takes to nail, those are the ones where Jamerson got bored and really started to stretch out.
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  #43  
Old 06-01-2021, 02:15 PM
SJ VanSandt SJ VanSandt is offline
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Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
As a bass player, you have one job: make the singer sound good. That's it. Nothing else. Make the singer sound good. Your job is to make people say "Great band!" or "Wow! I love the singer!"

Most people won't notice how good you are. If you don't like that, don't play bass.
I like this, though it's a bit absolute: nobody ever accused Jaco of ruining Joni's songs. Bassists can be collaborators, like any other instrumentalist, and remarkable chops can add remarkable things to the mix. But I think Tannin's point is that the bass player is never the "star" nor should try to be. Leave showing off to the soloist.

But I don't know if that's what bassists mean when they say, "don't play bass like a guitar." Playing too many notes, trying to step out front at inappropriate times, or trying to draw attention to yourself - these aren't things good guitarists do either, is it?
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  #44  
Old 06-01-2021, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by SJ VanSandt View Post
I like this, though it's a bit absolute: nobody ever accused Jaco of ruining Joni's songs. Bassists can be collaborators, like any other instrumentalist, and remarkable chops can add remarkable things to the mix. But I think Tannin's point is that the bass player is never the "star" nor should try to be. Leave showing off to the soloist.

But I don't know if that's what bassists mean when they say, "don't play bass like a guitar." Playing too many notes, trying to step out front at inappropriate times, or trying to draw attention to yourself - these aren't things good guitarists do either, is it?
I believe that many comments here are not understood from the intended viewpoint of the premised statement.

It has nothing to do with a bass player being "notey" but more about a player's ability to support the rhythm structure of the song.

"Bass players who play like guitar players" perceive the song structure more from the perspective of melody and tend to play to support that.

Obviously there's some overlap, but that's the general distinction between players who either support the rhythmic structure or support the song's melody. There's room for both types of player, but I know which one I'd rather favor as a bass player or as a listener.
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  #45  
Old 06-01-2021, 07:01 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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...Obviously there's some overlap, but that's the general distinction between players who either support the rhythmic structure or support the song's melody. There's room for both types of player, but I know which one I'd rather favor as a bass player or as a listener.
The bass player you want on your next session/gig should be doing both as a matter of course: providing harmonic structure to support the melody and a firm rhythmic pulse - without either of which all but the most rudimentary arrangements fall apart. FWIW the best jazz players understood the importance of their function back in the days when upright bass ruled the bandstands (and, other than in a small-club setting, was more felt than heard), and IME those who have truly mastered the concept tend to be jazzcats either by training or exposure...
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