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What makes a bad bass player?


benh

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The title was going to be "What makes a good bass player", but I thought this one was more interesting.

I ask this because I'm forever watching bands (well, bass players!) and trying to learn things from other people's techniques and tricks, whereas I know people who go and see a band and tell me "That bass player's sh!t", when I've thought they've been more than up to the job.

So I wonder, what IS a bad bass player? Are there really any players in "famous" bands that are no good?

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Someone who is a "bad" bass player in one band might actually be "good" in another band! Assuming they can actually play the instrument, the rest is all about context I would say.

A bad bass player does not listen to the drummer (and may not listen to anyone else!) - that's a no brainer!

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Bad or great is all a matter of opinion. I suppose if you mean technically bad, there's probably loads of famous ones.

For me, it's not just the level of ability, but all the other bits that go to make up a good musician from my point of view.

Being open to the ideas of others.
Turning up on time.
Being easy to get on with.
Always happy to learn something new.
Puts in the work away from gigs and rehearsals.

That's how I try to conduct myself but I know it doesn't exactly make me a good bassplayer, just a bit easier to get along with and more likely to stay in a band (providing the others are like-minded)

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1. Thinking that bass is such a simple instrument you don't need to work hard to get good at it.

2. Thinking that in an otherwise traditional pop or rock band a bass can be entirely divorced from its role as rhythm instrument.

3. Thinking that good bass technique is best showcased by littering lines with little flourishes all the time.

4. Thinking that all the parts of every song including intros and transitions need an uninterrupted bassline.

5. Thinking that 4 strings means you're less competent.

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Any clone to me is a bad player, no matter whether they can play in time or not, if they are just sapping completely on one persons creativity and claiming it as their own that's when I personally see them as a bad player because they lack their own creativity to the extent they completely use someone else's and try to pass it off as their own, tribute acts are different and it is part of the act.

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[quote name='Lozz196' post='971872' date='Sep 29 2010, 05:04 PM']2 things in my view:

1. A bass player that can`t lock in with the drummer
2. A bass player who doesn`t play for the song, only for themselves - as in "look at me, I`m so good"[/quote]



+1 for the above

And who does not LISTEN to the music.

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Here's where I may differ from some of the above, a bad bass player is boring.

Some people feel that a bass player should only be noticed if they are removed. I feel that a bad bass player is any bass player who does not make the track. It doesnt mean flash, it doesnt mean lot of notes, or flourishes, it can mean playing just the root notes. I dont care, but what they add has to lift the song.

Otherwise they are no better than an unimaginative drone making (usually) dull music duller, and that just plain sucks....

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[quote name='maxrossell' post='971880' date='Sep 29 2010, 05:10 PM']1. Thinking that bass is such a simple instrument you don't need to work hard to get good at it.

2. Thinking that in an otherwise traditional pop or rock band a bass can be entirely divorced from its role as rhythm instrument.

3. Thinking that good bass technique is best showcased by littering lines with little flourishes all the time.

4. Thinking that all the parts of every song including intros and transitions need an uninterrupted bassline.

5. Thinking that 4 strings means you're less competent.[/quote]
That No.5 is spot on. When i was young i asked a drummer who had a massive kit why did he mainly set up his kit as 4 piece and not 6 or 7. He said " if ya can't rock a 4 piece pal, you ain't got a chance rocking a bigger kit". That stuck with me for bass

Edited by Lord Sausage
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[quote name='thisnameistaken' post='971881' date='Sep 29 2010, 05:10 PM']There are two types of bad bass players:

1) Bass players who you notice. If you notice the bass player he's doing it wrong.

2) Adam Clayton.[/quote]
Do not agree and it ain't ego. It totally depends what you are playing. What if its a tune with a good or famous bass riff. What if its hardcore funk etc

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[quote name='51m0n' post='971905' date='Sep 29 2010, 05:27 PM']Here's where I may differ from some of the above, a bad bass player is boring.[/quote]

thats more a bad musician than bass player. Also how would you know that his playing hasnt already made the track 10x better? You would need to mute the bass. I think anyone can play bass, the difference between us and monkeys is the use of expression through the instrument

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1) Poor time keeping (musically).

2) Poor groove, different to the above. Timekeeping and groove are different.

3) Bad technique, don't let people tell you that good technique isn't important because it's vital. People who tell you otherwise are lying to you, usually 'cos they can't be bothered to improve their playing. Having good technique enables you to play what you are hearing in your mind.

4) Not playing for the music. Slapping over ballads etc :).

5) Not listening to what's happening. Good listening is vital to good playing.

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Let's say a player is chugging along on root note quavers for the whole night. Are they doing it because it is the best
thing for that gig/band,or is it because they are unbelievably limited and cannot do any more than that?
I'm not saying everyone has to be super-technical monster players,but a good player will play what is best for the situation,
whereas a poor one will,and can,only play within their very narrow confines.

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[quote name='Doddy' post='972014' date='Sep 29 2010, 07:33 PM']Let's say a player is chugging along on root note quavers for the whole night. Are they doing it because it is the best
thing for that gig/band,or is it because they are unbelievably limited and cannot do any more than that?
I'm not saying everyone has to be super-technical monster players,but a good player will play what is best for the situation,
whereas a poor one will,and can,only play within their very narrow confines.[/quote]
Off subject. But why tablature disapproval. Its one of the oldest forms of written music. Its like disapproving of latin. Ain't saying this cos can't read music, oh yeah and not being arsey, just curious! :)

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[quote name='Lord Sausage' post='972022' date='Sep 29 2010, 07:45 PM']Off subject. But why tablature disapproval. Its one of the oldest forms of written music. Its like disapproving of latin. Ain't saying this cos can't read music, oh yeah and not being arsey, just curious! :)[/quote]

Because in the real world of gigs tablature doesn't exist. I don't want to turn this thread into another tab thing,but I'll
happily talk via PM if you want.

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[quote name='Soliloquy' post='971997' date='Sep 29 2010, 07:08 PM']1) Poor time keeping (musically).

2) Poor groove, different to the above. Timekeeping and groove are different.

3) Bad technique, don't let people tell you that good technique isn't important because it's vital. People who tell you otherwise are lying to you, usually 'cos they can't be bothered to improve their playing. Having good technique enables you to play what you are hearing in your mind.

4) Not playing for the music. Slapping over ballads etc :).

5) Not listening to what's happening. Good listening is vital to good playing.[/quote]


[quote name='Doddy' post='972014' date='Sep 29 2010, 07:33 PM']Let's say a player is chugging along on root note quavers for the whole night. Are they doing it because it is the best
thing for that gig/band,or is it because they are unbelievably limited and cannot do any more than that?
I'm not saying everyone has to be super-technical monster players,but a good player will play what is best for the situation,
whereas a poor one will,and can,only play within their very narrow confines.[/quote]

What I said :lol:

Good technique is soooooo important, little things too. I studied very briefly a couple of years ago with US bassist Todd Johnson. I adapted some of his floating thumb technique to my playing with great results. There's nothing worse than 'ringing' low B's :).

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