Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bottom Feeder Basics That Can Take Your Bass Playing And Stretch It Like A Pro

I always tell Musicians and bassist's to listen to different types of music, not just to listen to it, but to gain knowledge and take your music farther as a result. You have to take your music past its own genre. By that, I mean you have to listen to musicians who can use their instruments and come up with mind-blowing chords and notes that will not just mystify their own band members, but fans who love their type of music.

It could be blues, jazz, country or classical ensembles. I tend to listen to progressive rock bands like Enchant and their "Tug Of War" album(Inside-Out). As well, I listen to a lot of old Country Blues, and people like Frank Zappa and Stevie Ray Vaughan, who are, if you really listen closely to their unique chord structures and application of guitar technique are really, Jazz men.

If you don't try new things with the way you play bass, it will be old and stale. This is one of the reasons good musicians don't become great, and eventually give it up. Integrating new ways of playing Bass There are a number of ways to change the way you play for the type of music your band is styled after.

Don't worry so much about music that is played with a wacked-out meter variation, that just confuses everyone, and most bands don't have the time for shit like that. I would say having some variation in the chords and the phrasing of each instrument can lend it's self to new ways of taking your band down new paths of musical freedom and expression.

For most songs, the bass just plays a backing role and that's fine. But if your band wants to spread it's wings in a progressive manner, the bass player should attempt to apply lead guitar techniques, and the lead should reciprocate that. There are also other ways to play that can take your bass playing farther. Do a forensic audit of your bass guitar, amp head and cab, along with any accessory items such as effects or even the types of strings you use.

Number one, do the pickups in your Bass have the right clarity and give for the music you play?

If not, change them. Try to incorporate different music in your Jam's with the band, and possibly come up with new material on the fly. Try to record every practice session so it gives you new insight, or chord variances that jive with what your band is doing.

Combining different working amp heads and cabs is also essential to changing your sound. Bassist's tell me that just one whole amp head and cabinet together don't usually give you the sound you want, or the chance to interchange different amps and cabs. I try to get musicians to use minimal effects when playing, especially if you have had limited experience with them.

Bassist's and guitarist's seem to overuse them at the expense of our talent as a guitarist, and ability to take notes and chords farther naturally. Try effects by buying Jim Dunlop's (Blow Torch), basically a stomp that mixes midrange distortion in your bands overall sound, and tweaks your distortion and gain mix on the bass. A great stomp Box. Go to www.jimdunlop.com

Try to muddy your sound to some extent on the bass, because a lot of musicians seem to think that cleaner is better. By tweaking a combo of different amp heads and cab, along with minimal effects and mic placements as well, will go along way to getting your sound out of the doldrums. Now, this may not be involved in the overall sound of your bass, but if you use the same Mic's for recording, practice and on-stage, clean your mic's!

It has a definite affect on your overall sound. Think of all the saliva, smoke, food and what ever else gets imbedded in your mic. Take the top of the mic apart and use a paper towel to wipe it down, then use a good alcohol wipe to clean and sanitize it, to get of those little nasty critters that embed themselves on top of the screen, and on the inside as well.

The strings you use are important as well. Have a fresh set on hand at all times, and try to change the gauge for the type of music you're playing, which can have an effect on your tone and your ability to manipulate the strings. Just because you play with thick strings mainly, doesn't mean you're able to play anything.
Experiment, Experiment, Experiment. You won't regret it Bottom Feeder's. Now, get back to doing what you love most, creating music that takes you on a journey that most musicians or people never take.

Mark Grove-CGP
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