how to work with a bassist


RickBlacker
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RickBlacker
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01/12/2010 4:44 am
Hey all..

My friend, who sort of talked me into picking up and learning how to play the guitar is a bassist. Or well sort of. He and I have gotten together a few times to try and see what we can come up with.

What we end up with is, me, doing my own thing, him doing his own thing. I try to talk theory with him, but it goes out the door as he knows no theory and does not really seem to have much interest in learning it. Thus, for example I say, ok this riff is in the key of C, I get the deer in the headlight glazed stare.

I know i can't be the only person who has had to deal with this, rather you're the bass player and your friend is the guitarist. Either way... How do you deal with this and do something productive?

At this point, I'm to the point where I'm ready to say... Ok, we are just going to march up and down the major scale. I suppose there is some good that can come up that like getting in synch, getting our timing down. Regardless...

Do I simply have to hold his hand and show him the major/minor scales on his bass? I've already purchased him a scale book over a year ago.
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# 1
Razbo
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Razbo
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01/12/2010 12:53 pm
This is only my humble opinion....

If he has no interest in theory, don't try to force it on him, he just is not going to care. Or worse, he's going to be reluctant to jam with you anymore because you are getting frustrated that he won't learn what you learn. (Screw Rick, he's gettin' to be a drag, man! :D)

You didn't really indicate, when you are doing your thing and he's doing his, if you are in key, or it sounds ok or sounds like crap or what.

I might suggest not doing anything original. Instead focus only on jamming some songs written by others, that way there is no need for debate on what key, what scale, whatever. It is what it is. Maybe choose songs along the vein you are interested in (like something that uses A Harmonic Minor?).

Over time you can maybe say 'hey look I wrote this thing, lets try it...' then gently lead him into the bass lines you were looking for in it. Still no need to teach him theory... That kind of thing is like leading a horse to water. :)
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
# 2
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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01/12/2010 12:57 pm
Originally Posted by: RickBlackerHow do you deal with this and do something productive?

Let's assume he's not interested in learning anything about how music works in even simple theory terms in order to communicate.

Figure out what you want him to do. For example:

1. Make up an extremely simple riff in A harmonic minor. Even just an A note pumped in even 1/8th notes. That way you can practice playing the scale over his bass line.

2. Make up a slightly more interesting bass line (or a whole song!). Write it out in GuitarPro on a bass tab line. Give him an audio & a print copy. See if he can learn. Teach it to him. Then play your guitar part once he does.

If you are going to have to teach him totally by rote, "Put your finger here, play this rhythm (play example on guitar or GuitarPro file), etc.", then you might as well teach him to play something you enjoy.

Alternately, you could have him learn some Dokken songs. :)
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# 3
RickBlacker
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RickBlacker
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01/12/2010 4:36 pm
Originally Posted by: RazboOr worse, he's going to be reluctant to jam with you anymore because you are getting frustrated that he won't learn what you learn. (Screw Rick, he's gettin' to be a drag, man! :D)[/quote] I've done good to not let my hesitation show. Nor am I really in a position to complain either. I've not really tired to take the time to teach him any basic theory.

Originally Posted by: RazboYou didn't really indicate, when you are doing your thing and he's doing his, if you are in key, or it sounds ok or sounds like crap or what.
Well, what he's playing sounds good, what I'm playing I think sounds good, they just don't sound good together. Totally different keys, timing, rythms. But... Nor am I easy to play along with either. I must admit that. My interest level in playing chords is very low, thus, I've spent very little time learning them. Sure, I know my open chrods, sure, I've played around with barr chords but by far, not profecient with either type of chord. Having said that, sure, I can play power chords. Those are very easy and in my opinion, are a a lazy persons chord even though... Yes, I know... They are the essence of rock. 90% of my interest is in melody, scales, rythmic riffs, constantly moving across and up and down the fretboard.

[QUOTE=Razbo]I might suggest not doing anything original. Instead focus only on jamming some songs written by others
GREAT suggestion. One crux. I have no interest in learning other bands music. Well... I might be interested in learning some Def Leppard and AC/DC. The reason being... I love Def Leppards style. Their rythms. Same with AC/DC. They have some very solid driving rythms.

If a band came out tomorrow that had Def Leppards rythms and tones, AC/DCs driving force behind their rythms, sprinkle in some George Lynch leads. I could die a happy man.

Actually... Now that I think about it. If Def Leppard would go back to their earlier days. High and Dry, Pyromania. That would make me rather happy as well.
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# 4
RickBlacker
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RickBlacker
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01/12/2010 4:52 pm
Originally Posted by: CSchlegel
1. Make up an extremely simple riff in A harmonic minor. Even just an A note pumped in even 1/8th notes. That way you can practice playing the scale over his bass line.[/quote]
And I have thought about this. It's my own fear of his reaction that I've not suggested it. He's a bit of a proud soul if you will and I think he would scoff at something so simple. But, if I don't suggest and at least try it with him, I'll never know.


Originally Posted by: CSchlegel
2. Make up a slightly more interesting bass line (or a whole song!). Write it out in GuitarPro on a bass tab line. Give him an audio & a print copy. See if he can learn. Teach it to him. Then play your guitar part once he does.
[/quote]
Had not thought about that. He has asked me to tab out some of the things I've done so he can try to match something up. I've not done it, not because I don't want to persay, rather it's time consuming and I find that if I have time for guitar, I'd rather be playing, rather than tabbing things out. None the less, this is a great idea..

[QUOTE=CSchlegel]If you are going to have to teach him totally by rote, "Put your finger here, play this rhythm (play example on guitar or GuitarPro file), etc.", then you might as well teach him to play something you enjoy.
Thats actually quite funny and holds truth at the same time.

[QUOTE=CSchlegel]Alternately, you could have him learn some Dokken songs. :)

Uh huh. You just want to see me pissed off and go Pete Townshend on my guitars.
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# 5
Douglas Showalter
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Douglas Showalter
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01/12/2010 7:08 pm
The best way to develop a common bond when working with other musicians is to first, as mentioned above, find a common thread between you. Most times, this involves playing songs you both know and enjoy. I noticed you mentioned not having an interest in learning other people's material. I would not recommend this approach. Without input, there is no output. If you put work into playing some common songs and progressions together, the both of you with time will find a common ground and will have a ton of fun playing together.

A very common starting point with this is playing a 12 Bar Blues. Here is the form if you are unfamiliar with it;

12 Bar Blues in A

A7 - A7 - A7 - A7 - D7 - D7 - A7 - A7 - E7 - D7 - A7 - E7

You can play this over and over and over again and still find new and interesting ideas to mess with as a duo. Trust me, the journey through playing the blues never ends. You can play your pentatonic and blues scales and he can simply play the root notes with a nice groove. You can than sneak some theory in there by "encouraging" him to play other notes in these chords. Here are the notes in each of these chords;

A7 - A, C#, E, G
D7 - D, F#, A, C
E7 - E, G#, B, D

He can do no wrong by playing these notes while you solo and play the chords along with him. This is a great way to start learning how to play together.

Again, I strongly recommend putting some songs together that you both enjoy listening too that both of you could easily learn. The key is is to learn how to play and interact together, as every musician is different even if they are playing the same instruments. Best of luck and hopefully this helps.
:D
Douglas Showalter
# 6
RickBlacker
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01/20/2010 2:32 am
All...
We got together last Saturday for a few hours. I went through some basics with him. I could tell that in some ways I was causing his eyes to gloss over, but in other ways, I could see the light bulb begining to light.

I started small, talking about scales. Worked on the Major and Minor patterns with him. Then, I setup a metronome so he and I could march up and down the patterns in beat. Turned out good. He wants to start doing this every saturday. Not sure that's going to work out with the wife, but, good to see that he's showing an interest in leaning some theory.

I think I'm going to try to get him very familiar with the Major, Minor and Harmonic Minor scales. Key's A, E and probably C. I like A and E because they are on open strings.
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# 7
JeffS65
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JeffS65
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01/20/2010 3:22 am
Originally Posted by: RickBlackerNor am I easy to play along with either. I must admit that. My interest level in playing chords is very low, thus, I've spent very little time learning them.


This, my friend, is something you truly want to get over. Not to be too direct but you really want to.

First, a great lead player is often a great rhythm player. Why? A sense of timing. Not just 'metronome' timing but the kind that thinks in terms of when to play and when not to and the musical tension that comes with that.

Second, a nearly sole lead focus is a trap. I didn't bother playing lead the first two years I played and became a solid rhythm player and so much so that I had someone say that it was too bad I wasn't capable of lead playing (odd? yes)...Forward only two more years and my lead playing catapulted well past what I thought I could ever play. As they say, I could shred. Why? See that first point. Even though I knew so little theory and still do, I had a really good sense of timing and melody that I think I gleened from rhythm.

Third, jamming will become an increasing drag. Being able to comp some simple chords and fall in to a pocket is a uniquely cool experience. I think it's a trap to focus on the 'complicated' part of playing. Hum me an Yngwie Malmsteen song? By contrast, bet you could give me a few bars of Billy Squier's 'The Stroke'. A very simple song but memorable all day long.

I'm not intending to drill ya down but I've seen so many guitar players do the same thing and wonder why no one wants to jam. It's hard to jam with the kind of 'how many guitar players does it take to screw in a light bulb' type of guy. (answer: 10. 1 to screw it in and 9 to say they could do it better and faster). I don't think you're doing that but it is a possibility when the basis of the playing is not the anchor of being a good rhythm player.


# 8
RickBlacker
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RickBlacker
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01/20/2010 3:43 am
Hi Jeff...

I hear you loud and clear and I agree with you. I don't have a problem with power chords. Not found of the other chord types though. I know, it's a lazy problem. Or, lack of interest problem really.

To be honest? I actually prefer rythm over lead. I think it takes just as much tallent to create inspiring, memorable rhythms as it does to create a lead lick.

I'm currently working on some material now that is requiring me to start looking into chords. In some ways, I put the cart before the horse. The good thing is though, it's all in the same key, same scale.
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# 9
Kwote
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Kwote
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01/26/2010 3:59 am
This is going to sound oversimplified but here it goes,

Get another Bassist. It's no offense to him but if he's not willing to get with the program that you are on I'm sure there's someone out there that is.

Not that you can't or shouldn't work with him. But I'm willing to bet there's other people out there you'll gel better with.
# 10

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