Guitar player trying to come up with bass parts for a song

Discussion in 'Bass Guitar Discussion' started by vejichan, Nov 19, 2019.

  1. vejichan

    vejichan SS.org Regular

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    Bass players..I am a guitar player writing a song. An tips and advice on how to come up with a solid bass line to fill out the bass in the song?
     
  2. Adieu

    Adieu SS.org Regular

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    There's basically two theories to basslines:

    1) follow the rhythm guitar (sorta)
    2) don't follow the rhythm guitar (sorta)
     
  3. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    It's bass and drums together. If you focus on that, things will sound cohesive.
     
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  4. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    Make it fit harmonically (by analysing what chords/arpeggios the guitar would be broken down into on a base level) and rhythmically with the drums.
     
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  5. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    The basic approach -> Play the root note of whatever the guitar is doing, and sync the timing of it to your kick drum. Done.
     
  6. GenghisCoyne

    GenghisCoyne im here to party

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    didnt say bassic...
     
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  7. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    The root note thing is a chicken and egg problem. It's sometimes more like the guitar is playing whatever it is over the root note that the bass is playing. Same thing, but the bass determines the root instead of finds it. If you are programming drums, it's something you can do with the kick, too, if you record bass to a click first. But there are no rules...
     
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  8. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    It can be, but I find it not to be the case so much when you've written your music entirely on the guitar without any thought of what the surrounding instruments are doing. I know that when I write anything "guitar first", the root note is almost always either included or heavily implied in the guitar parts.
     
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  9. Merrekof

    Merrekof SS.org Regular

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    I usually listen to the root note of the guitar and follow the drums. Once I know the riff, I start improvising. I throw in a lick or arpeggio, play and try out different octaves and harmonies and go with whatever sounds right. Sometimes it sound like crap, sometimes I play just what the song needs.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
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  10. TedintheShed

    TedintheShed Retired bassist pretending to play guitar

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    The key isn't what you play, it's the space in between.

    Unless you want a dis-harmonic passage or you are soloing you indeed follow the root, but the transition notes from one root to the other is what can make a part shine and create movement within your song. Sure, you can pump root notes, but that makes the song lack luster.

    For a prime example, listen to John Entwhistle and The Who. His lines generally follow the root, but has a lot of movement. Billy Sheehan is another example, although he can take a soloists approach at times he still understands that balance is needed within the song. Billy even once stated that one of his favorites is Cliff Williams of AC/DC, because he is always where he needs to be,
     
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  11. Tuned

    Tuned SS.org Regular

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    A long-time bass player who took a guitar here. The opposite of what the OP is, sort of.

    Try doing this, which you may find interesting:
    1. hum your harmony progression, no matter what your rhythm/riffs are
    2. when it is stuck in your head well enough and you don't think about your riff anymore, hum a simplistic pattern of just a few notes that will sound good over all or most of the chords of the progression, that tie the chords together with only minute changes. (When you analyze afterwards you will probably find that most of the notes are functional stages of the tonality. Just saying)
    3. take an instrument and improvise over the pattern in such a way that it mostly falls together - or interacts well - with the kick drum. More often than not it will fall on odd number beats, or on on-beats, with some fillings inbetween.
    4. depending on what your time signature is, you will feel that every 1st beat of the bar, or the 1st and 3rd beat of the bar ask for the root note. Again, more often than not, the root note will appeal to you on the on-beat of the kick drum (which doesn't mean you have to play the root each time). It is up to you what you play on the rest of the on-beats but the 5th , 8th (sometimes flat 7th and 8th) you will find reliable at most times.

    If you're effectively through with the above, then you probably have a Motown tune by now, ha ha)). Seriously, dubbing the guitar part is bad taste. Remember what Newsted was told about '...And Justice for All":
    - "And where's the bass?"
    A bass line is harmony, melody, and rhythm. Sorry to say obvious things but, if you think about it, a bass line without any one of these three is just... shite. For this reason, I was never fond of '0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0" kind of bass lines, or 'R-5th-R-5th-R-5th', for that matter.
    The director of the jazz big band I played in back in the day used to say, 'drums is the heart of the orchestra, bass is the legs. You stop the heart or break the legs, the orchestra is down'.

    When I try to think now of what a 'good bass line' is... the first thing that comes to my mind is: a Pantera album (but not the first one nor the last one, ha ha). Listen to the en semble. Now listen to the bass and drums below the solo, when there's no rhythm guitar track. That interaction of the bass and drums is a whole different dimension. They easily and powerfully carry on the song when there's no guitar to be heard, and often a time they do not play the riff of the song.
    IDK why Pantera came to my mind now. I haven't listened to them for years, and I never copied Rex Rocker in my life. Just think of them two as a perfect example what a rhythm section should be.

    Sorry for so many letters ;-)
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
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  12. SamSam

    SamSam GAS problems

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    You could try watching a few videos on how to create baselines. For basic (primarily improv lines) I'll play it safe and use root, fifth and octave notes (and play with the order, you don't have to start on the root).

    From there on once I am comfortable with a part I will expand the lines from there.
     
  13. BlasphemyMadeFlesh

    BlasphemyMadeFlesh Line 666

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    The way the bass guitar locks in with the kick drum is crucial, this is absolutely critical, as a long time guitar player the understanding and interaction of bass guitar syncing with the kick drum is something I did not understand for years. Certain styles of music like hip-hop and rap live and die by how good a beats' bass line and kick drum interact and sometimes frankly the bass doesn't make any "correct music sense" and is still awesome. Also, the bass does not have to be blazing or busy all the time to fill up musical space in an intelligent way. Record to playback and see what sounds good to you!
     
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  14. Adieu

    Adieu SS.org Regular

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    "...MUSIC like hip-hop and rap..."



    ...R U ON DRUGS????
     
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  15. Merrekof

    Merrekof SS.org Regular

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    In all seriousness, the bass in hiphop is sorta like the guitar in death metal. It is crucial. Not talking about modern day hiphop but if you really want to expand your bass skill, consider looking into 80's and 90's hiphop. They also "borrowed" a lot of bass riffs from funk bands from the 70's.
    Check out the sugar hill gang for example or Notorious Big. Or that cool bassline in that song Forgot about Dre, can't remember from who that song was..
     
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  16. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    Here's some stuff that can add some character:
    - Don't forget harmony, melody and rhythm.
    - Think giant chords where sometimes the bass lines up with guitar line, sometimes maybe it drifts away from the guitar line. What harmony/tension is that creating combined with the guitar line?
    - Playing on/off and in between rhythms too in order to make it move around or breathe more.
    - You can have two completely different melody and hamonies going on at the same time but they still line up.
    - Anything is possible. It's all about if it sounds good to you. Remember sometimes the bass can take the forefront of attention too. It doesn't always have to be just low end reinforment.
    - Remember to experiment with techinques like slapping, snap, picking with a pick/fingers, slides, bends walking basslines etc.
    - Pay attention to dynamics too. You can have a melody line that builds up to a cresendo at a specific note like building up to the end of a phrase and it hits right before a break etc. Stuff like this.
    - Use intervals sometimes too
    - Make unique bass riffs like on guitar. Turn the bass into something interesting. Something that makes you actually pay attention to it. Like it's playing wih the guitar. Sometimes called question/answer playing etc.
     
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  17. Politics of Ecstasy

    Politics of Ecstasy OG Shredder

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    This guy kills me sometimes, really ^ lol


    ANYWAY, this is a COOL thread, and very useful, cool tips

    What do you guys say, for instance like i think Ted mentioned, you’re using a VST? How would you program the bass in that case

    VST first or bass first with guitar, OR Bass+VST in tandem from the ground up? Does that make sense?
     
  18. Descent

    Descent SS.org Regular

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    My main problem with most guys on here and in digital world in general that compose music is that they follow the drum programming very closely to what the rhythm guitar is playing, sometimes the kicks and snare lock with every note on the rhythm, and so do the fills, in essence making a drum part an extension of their guitar, which makes it ultra stale. Then the bass follows exactly the rhythm guitar and is mixed low just as support.

    I think you should follow the rhythm guitar on the chords and the notes on your fretting hand while keeping the drum part on your picking/plucking hand. Try to write something that stands out and complements the song, doesn't have to be complex, sometimes simple is better - look at Judas Priest and AC/DC. Iconic bass lines and simple as hell.

    Some slop is also OK as long as it serves the song.
     
  19. Politics of Ecstasy

    Politics of Ecstasy OG Shredder

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    Always the voice of wisdom of the classic masters, Descent gotta point, so what do you say in regards to VST and Bass writing, one before the other or both together ?
     
  20. Descent

    Descent SS.org Regular

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    There's also Steve DiGiorgio - he's basically Malmsteen on bass but also keeps a super solid rhythm when needed.

    It is all supposed to serve the song. Program drums like a drummer and play bass like a bassist, listen to bands with iconic drummers and bassists within the genre.

    I usually do drum programming before bass, but might just start a song with the bass, so you never know.

    You can also humanize things on the drum programming as to where you might have to re-record your rhythm tracks cause there is a bit of drift on there. I used to to a hybrid drum programming approach where I'll use drum library, humanize it and physically play my fills so there's some slop. A huge hair tugging event...it works.

    I found it easier to get a drummer.

    It also depends on the genre. Each genre has its subtleties, so try to pinpoint those and add them to your playing.
     
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