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Old 04-11-2021, 01:13 PM
frankmcr frankmcr is offline
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Default Playing bass like a bass, not a guitar

I know just enough about electric bass to know that real bass players don't care for people who "play bass like a guitar".

So as someone who's thinking of maybe trying to play some electric bass, can anybody recommend a book (preferably) that outlines the differences, and discusses playing bass like a bass?
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Old 04-11-2021, 02:56 PM
superbitterdave superbitterdave is offline
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Unfortunately I don’t have a book recommendation and when I play bass, it’s based entirely in my experience playing guitar.

That said, one of my favorite bass players, John Entwistle, was known as trying to play bass like a guitar which is part of what made him so great.

My 2 cents . . .

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Old 04-11-2021, 03:05 PM
lfoo6952 lfoo6952 is online now
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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.
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Old 04-11-2021, 03:45 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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I play bass and I'm not a big fan of "casual players" who are normally guitar players and approach playing bass like it's a guitar, just an octave lower.

I have great appreciation for players who spent more time listening to an emulating good upright bass players. Anchoring the rhythm is where it's at for me when I think of good bass players.

There's nothing wrong with melodic style playing, it's just that it doesn't serve to work as part of the rhythm section of an ensemble. Playing alternating root fourth / fifth patterns combined with connecting runs seems boring if you're used to flatpicking or even shredding, but it serves the purpose.

Carol Kaye was exceptional at knowing what benefited the song, and that's why she was in such demand as a session player.

Frank, I don't know what the best method instruction would be, but I recommend that you do some critical listening to several types of music that you consider within your wheelhouse and emulate what YOU like. If you're looking to accompany other folks it's going to be more about working with a song's feel and not so much about any particular technique or style. With bass, when you're starting out as a new player remember the adage of keeping it simple. Play along to recorded music and you'll quickly figure out how best to keep your playing "in the pocket".

You'll also find that it will serve you well to pretty much forget the first string. You can play anything you need to on the E, A, and D strings. Once you start playing you'll understand what I'm relating here.

Last edited by Rudy4; 04-11-2021 at 04:38 PM.
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Old 04-11-2021, 03:49 PM
leew3 leew3 is offline
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Rudy4 nailed it. I am a guitar play who also plays bass. I think I've done the work he outlines in his post so try my best to lock in and maintain my place as part of the rhythm section with the drummer (when there is one). that said, I'm careful to identify myself as someone who plays bass, but don't think I can yet claim to be a genuine bass player!
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Old 04-11-2021, 05:06 PM
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posternutbag posternutbag is offline
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This is so interesting to me because Leo Fender created the “Precision” Bass to fill a specific niche. That niche was a lack of upright bass players in session, so he created a bass guitar so that guitarists could easily sub as a bass player. It’s literally built into the name of the instrument. It is a bass guitar. I guess if you don’t want to sound like a guitarist playing a bass guitar, play a double bass.

Alright, with the sanctimony out of the way, my suggestion is to approach it not so much like it’s a different instrument, but rather recognize that as a bassist you have a different role to play. The parameters of that role are somewhat dependent on the setting, but ultimately you are (usually) the bridge between the rhythm and the harmony. In terms of books, I got a lot out of “Bass Guitar For Dummies”. You just need to recognize that all of the examples are in E and because of the symmetry of the bass guitar you can move the grooves to any root, then you are set.

There are also lots and lots of lessons for free on YouTube. I really like “Scott’s Bass Lessons”, Julia from “Thomann’s Guitars and Basses”, and especially “Luke From Become a Bassist”.
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Old 04-13-2021, 05:58 AM
Dave Hicks Dave Hicks is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by posternutbag View Post
...

In terms of books, I got a lot out of “Bass Guitar For Dummies”. You just need to recognize that all of the examples are in E and because of the symmetry of the bass guitar you can move the grooves to any root, then you are set. ...
I agree, the Dummies book is helpful. The bass may look like a guitar, but it's actually part of the rhythm section (and the harmony section).

D.H.

Last edited by Dave Hicks; 04-13-2021 at 08:06 AM.
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Old 04-13-2021, 06:42 AM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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One might look no farther than Jack Cassady for a fine example of how to work within an ensemble context with electric bass. Here's an example demonstrating both solid backing bass and the "hot solo bass" Jack is known for:

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Old 04-13-2021, 10:48 AM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudy4 View Post
One might look no farther than Jack Cassady for a fine example of how to work within an ensemble context with electric bass. Here's an example demonstrating both solid backing bass and the "hot solo bass" Jack is known for:

And Happy Birthday Jack Casaday! Jack is another guitar player turned bass-ist.

Always loved that video, not just for the playing but the setting which was once familiar to me. Now in my later years I bought a used gold-top Casaday bass, which I enjoy playing.

No acoustic guitar content, but this live cut is, to my debased taste, about as good an example of rock bass playing absolutely dominating a song (though Jorma rises to the occasion as things progress). Another player would have certainly played this differently. I can understand someone thinking Jack's choice here was a wrong/inferior choice and not liking it, or commenting on the overall quality of that band or style of music.



And so back to the OP's point: I agree that too-busy playing can fail to work and that every artist should have imprinted on their indelible rule book: "Simple is Always an Option to Consider." And good feel and groove with simple parts isn't just a gimmie either.

But.

More ornate or complicated playing on bass is no crime -- to my taste can provide a wonderful experience. My rule here is that every instrument in an ensemble can be part of the rhythm section, and should know that -- and every instrument in an ensemble can express melody (not just the bass player, but the drummer).

As a player I know I fail in both areas (complex/melody and simple/groove) often enough. But as a player of whatever skills, composer, and listener I think (unhypocritically) that both roles can work. Not only is is OK to think differently on this matter, you may well be right.
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Old 04-13-2021, 05:45 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankmcr View Post
I know just enough about electric bass to know that real bass players don't care for people who "play bass like a guitar".

So as someone who's thinking of maybe trying to play some electric bass, can anybody recommend a book (preferably) that outlines the differences, and discusses playing bass like a bass?
Hooray for you for "getting it."

I usually tell people I'm a bass player who has a guitar, and as such I do my best to be polite about my feelings toward bass-playing guitarists. My best probably isn't very good.

I don't think there's a book that can teach you how to think and feel like a bass player; I think you need to listen to bass players. And tuba players, and two-fisted piano players.

I also don't think a book can show your hands what to do. A live, human teacher can do that if you find the right one.
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Old 04-16-2021, 05:29 PM
AcouStickistNS AcouStickistNS is offline
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Default Ed Friedland

Even though I’ve played bass for many, many years, I never had bought any of Ed Friedland’s books, which are highly regarded. I had played my bass in my high school jazz band way back so I had the understanding, despite by being influenced by Chris Squire and Geddy Lee where prog rock took bass to a new level.

You might also consider watching bass players that are controversial. Look at some early videos of Billy Sheehan doing wild finger tapping and playing chords. Even David Lee Roth said Billy was so good he can make a bass sound like a guitar, leaving bass purists to say “great, now all they need is a bass player”.

Some fun tunes for bass can also be found in Stevie Wonder’s music. Some songs like “Sir Duke” have lines where all instruments play the same line, then break off back into their traditional parts.

I also venture into the other side, have done open mics on solo bass. I also have an 8 string NS Stick which is a hybrid guitar/bass/tapping instrument.
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Old 04-16-2021, 08:22 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by posternutbag View Post
...my suggestion is to approach it not so much like it’s a different instrument, but rather recognize that as a bassist you have a different role to play. The parameters of that role are somewhat dependent on the setting, but ultimately you are (usually) the bridge between the rhythm and the harmony...
IMO the late John Stockfish (ex-Gordon Lightfoot/Jim Croce) wrote the book when it comes to playing electric bass in an acoustic setting; listen to these syncopated melodic lines he lays down under Croce's guitar (the only two instruments on the tracks BTW), while still providing a steady pulse that never loses its rhythmic drive, focus, or musical interest - proof positive that you don't need to stick to the old one-five (with the occasional rising-scale run between verses) when playing folk:



Then again, sometimes there's just no substitute for a good ostinato groove that the band can lock into and jam - John's last appearance on a Lightfoot recording:

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Last edited by Steve DeRosa; 04-17-2021 at 09:33 AM.
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Old 04-16-2021, 08:52 PM
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I have always found that there is a lot of wisdom in the words spoken by Willis Conover in the introduction to Miles Davis At Newport 1958:

“In the Ellington conception, it isn’t the instrument that’s being played that makes the difference, but the man who plays it.”

Someone like Phil Lesh fits into a band in a completely different way than, say Flea. And it’s interesting because although Phil doesn’t play traditional bass lines, he isn’t playing like a lead guitarist, either. He is, I think, thinking in terms of counterpoint, and that is what makes himself such a unique musician. He has a distinctive voice on the instrument, and again, it isn’t the instrument that is important, it is the musician.
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Old 04-16-2021, 09:30 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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The Dead’s whole rhythm section is “another way of looking at it.”
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Old 04-16-2021, 09:34 PM
merlin666 merlin666 is offline
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Quote:
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.
Yeah I watched a few Carol Kaye videos and she is quite firm that use of a pick is the best way to play bass guitar.
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