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Do bassists want to hear bass solos?

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[quote name='Rich' timestamp='1438863486' post='2838151']

I don't think it's the only defensible position -- to my mind, another one is 'I don't particularly like solos of any sort, but hey, each to his own'. Other than that, brilliant post.
As ever, the trouble begins when opinion starts to be presented as fact...
[/quote]

Well the 'fact' is bass can be and is played as a solo instrument.
The 'opinion' is that it shouldn't be.

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[quote name='MarkW' timestamp='1438862806' post='2838143']
Every now and then I wish I had the ability to solo, but I'm hopeless at it: I have neither the proficiency to be melodic nor the technique to be flashy.

But to my ears a bass solo can be every bit as pleasing as a guitar solo, provided that technique isn't used as a surrogate for musicality. Stu Hamm's solo at the end of 'Love Thing' is a very simple but beautiful piece of playing, whereas the pyrotechnics of Mark King et al, whilst hugely technically impressive, just leave me cold.

That said, even if I could solo I'd never get the chance - our 'rock god' guitarist would be too busy starching his pants at the front of the stage to let me get a look in...
[/quote]

As Bilbo suggests: not all solo is improvised. In fact I suspect if you recorded your guitarist and disected what he played you'd find an awful lot of 'borrowed' runs and licks and probably not a lot of difference in each performance.

What do you think guitarists spend all their time in their bedrooms doing?

No one pulls solos out of thin air. At least not really good ones. ;)

Record an 8 bar loop on your phone or PC and just play. Next time you get the nod play something 'you just made up on the spot', anything you will play will amaze them.

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[quote name='TimR' timestamp='1438869814' post='2838256']
Well the 'fact' is bass can be and is played as a solo instrument.
The 'opinion' is that it shouldn't be.
[/quote]
Yes I know, that's kind of what I was getting at.

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IMHO, the only trouble with bass solos is that you suddenly loose (and miss) that low-down, rhythmic groove that (with the drums) provides the framework holding the song together. Essentially, the bassist is quitting his/her post and trying to do somebody else's job. To relate this to some of the vid's already posted:

Beck and Miss Wilderbeast = gratuitous musical gymnastics; for most of the time, melodic chords from the keyboard were the only glue holding stuff together (I still wouldn't want to try and ban it tho :) ).

The Weather Report number left me thinking: "Fabulous stuff, Jaco, but can we have some proper bass underneath that as well please?!"

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The fact is that bass can be (and is) played as a solo instrument. Some hold the opinion it 'should' not be played as a solo instrument. Neither position is mutually exclusive.

But what's more important? The solo itself (its phrasing, the notes, the range, its function and the musical effect on the audience) or the instrument upon which the solo is played. Of course a bass can be used to play a solo. So can a tympani, a triangle and a theremin. The point is whether one makes the solo a vehicle for the instrument or the instrument a vehicle for the solo.

Let us agree that the performance of a solo demands certain characteristics from an instrument. The ideal instrument for performing a solo might be one which covers the range from a piccolo to a double bass; the shape of the instrument would be such as to offer easy access to [i]all[/i] notes without cramped positioning or hunching.

This 'ideal' instrument might have the capacity to provide a separate chordal foundation over which a solo might be constructed. The player might be afforded the ability - if desired - to draw notes out as one does upon a string or woodwind instrument. One might add the proviso that said instrument ideally be capable of being played both electrically amplified and unamplified and therefore be independent of power sources but that's a bit of a stretch.

Taking all this into account, the design, appearance and function of such an instrument would emphatically not resemble an electric bass guitar.

And what of range? It is a fact that the most popular instruments for soloing can - if required - operate within the upper range of the female human voice and are designed with this in mind. Generally speaking, the conventional bass cannot do this, which is why bass solos are vanishingly few in either popular or classical music when compared to solos performed on violins, pianos, saxes, guitars, clarinets flutes etc., ad inf.

Yes: solos can be performed on the electric bass and some are even quite good. Stepping forward for a brief, complementary musical passage or fill can be quite lovely. But in my experience there is no bass solo which can withstand reasoned comparison to a solo delivered on a violin or even a cello.

The fact is that many hobbyist electric bass players cannot play another instrument. They are therefore forced by their 'limitations' to play their solos on a bass. Sheer common sense must tell them a different instrument would be better suited to the task but the option is closed to them.

Consequently they are compelled by circumstance to the erroneous declaration that the bass is 'as good' as anything else for soloing. They are wrong and we may hope they secretly know it; but their investment of time and money combined with issues of self image leads many to an unhealthy defensiveness and unsustainable denial.

As a result, bass solos are mostly about showing what can be done on a bass rather than providing an apposite musical idea which complements the musical piece in its totality. The bass solo is about the bass rather than about the solo. Hence one might as well be playing the solo on a plank with a ball peen hammer, simply because a plank can be played as a solo instrument.

Edited by skankdelvar

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Some wisdom in that post, Skank, but it does require a consensus on conventions. The biggest barrier to basses playing solos 'as well as anyone' is that most of a bass guitarist's career is spent NOT soloing. S/he, therefore, spends proportionately less time developing the phrasing etc of which you type than, say, a saxophoinist or guitar player. There are players who, for reasons known only to themselves, have spent an unusual amount of their time focussing on the art of soloing and who, consequently, are more adept at it. These specialists are generally more worthy of our attention because they are better practiced and do it better. Some of their work is more successful than others but we are into subjectivity again. The ability of a bass guitar to project in a way that the double bass cannot makes it a perfectly credible alternative to many other instruments. Violins and cellos have their limitations too.

I think there are some highly pertinent examples of how this works when you move away from pop music and start looking at things like flamenco where a solo guitarist is actually an isolated accompanist. A lot of classical music was written for ballet but is performed without dancers and so on. The music to Noggin The Nog is one of my favourite pieces from childhood but, sonically, it shouldn't work. It is far more complicated than your post suggests.

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[quote name='Bilbo' timestamp='1438876027' post='2838335']
The biggest barrier to basses playing solos 'as well as anyone' is that most of a bass guitarist's career is spent NOT soloing. S/he, therefore, spends proportionately less time developing the phrasing etc of which you type than, say, a saxophoinist or guitar player. There are players who, for reasons known only to themselves, have spent an unusual amount of their time focussing on the art of soloing and who, consequently, are more adept at it. These specialists are generally more worthy of our attention because they are better practiced and do it better.
[/quote]

Imagine how these adepts might have flourished had they taken up the piano rather than spending decades wrangling a sound out of a less usable instrument. The sheer waste of talent brings tears to my eyes.

Face it, we only believe in bass solos because we're poor old numpty bass players who think we're being oppressed by the system; rather like tiny, cherubic orphans believe in fairies who will spirit them away from their humdrum lives in the castle laundry.

So whenever some 'expert' favours us with a solo bass piece we get all excited because it's like someone saying 'Yes, Cinderella, you [i]shall[/i] go to the ball'. Then reality strikes home and its back to burping out root notes in some ghastly pub covers band and [i]being told what to do[/i].

It would make you weep if it didn't make you laugh. :(

Edited by skankdelvar

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[quote name='Bilbo' timestamp='1438854854' post='2837976']
the only defensible position is 'I like good solos and don't like bad ones but it is entirely down to me to decide which is which'.
[/quote]

Which is exactly what most people who don't like bass solos have said, with the caveat of "I like good solos and I dislike bad ones, but I have never heard a good one"
Which is my position.

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Some folks know how to do it ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wh3SBp9qzTM

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[quote name='toneknob' timestamp='1438847672' post='2837857']
Another favourite of mine. Would you consider this to be a "solo"? (same goes for The Fish by Chris Squire).

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RunHx-LTgo[/media]
[/quote]
I think this is much tastier from the same player... 2:16 to 2:38 [url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzeDE-pXfjY"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzeDE-pXfjY[/url]

If there's a four string solo to be done then I much prefer something like this from Willie Weeks than any shredding/slapping/tapping/gonzoid/80-notes-a-second type of affair... from Donny Hathaway's live album... 8:06 to 12:16 - fun, fat, funky and pours like aural treacle out of the speakers [url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUNz3A1cVus"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUNz3A1cVus[/url]

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Not usually a fan of them but this effort is right up my street, doesn't really abandon his job as the bass player the way many do during a solo and it's just a fabulous bit of playing B)

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCIWmldNbyA[/media]

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A number of comments to the effect that "Bass is as capable of soloing as any other instrument", etc. Perhaps, but that doesn't make it a good thing. Remember, a gentleman is someone who can play the banjo but doesn't...

Edited by Dan Dare

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Plenty of non bass players like a decent bass solo. I get applauded regularly by lay people :lol:

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[quote name='Old Man Riva' timestamp='1438889534' post='2838499']
If there's a four string solo to be done then I much prefer something like this from Willie Weeks than any shredding/slapping/tapping/gonzoid/80-notes-a-second type of affair... from Donny Hathaway's live album... 8:06 to 12:16 - fun, fat, funky and pours like aural treacle out of the speakers [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUNz3A1cVus"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUNz3A1cVus[/url]
[/quote]

That one always (usually) goes down well with Bassists.

Another fave of mine - Marcus Miller (18 at the time).
Timing, well phrased and articulated, relaxed and played with confident ease
from beginning to end. And if I dare, 'melodic and lyrical'.
Not exactly tearing it up, but that's what makes it nice on the ears (IMO).
Solo at around 02.48
http://youtu.be/_2or5RqfyIc

Edited by lowdown

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My first thought would be to say no, I don't like bass solos. But then I love this one.

So I dunno.

http://youtu.be/VC02wGj5gPw

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There's some sense in the comments about bassists not being used to soloing. It does show sometimes with some players who look like they've been thrust into an operating theatre and told, "go on, have a go". The song in any genre can completely fall apart.

Having said that I like many good bass solos. It's all playing, it's all music. If I like a good bassline, a good bass fill, why not a tasty solo? Artists should never fear preconceived notions about where the limits of their medium might be. And critics should be encouraged to voice their criticisms - this is where taste and quality control come from.

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[quote name='paul h' timestamp='1438896681' post='2838583']
My first thought would be to say no, I don't like bass solos. But then I love this one.

So I dunno.

[media]http://youtu.be/VC02wGj5gPw[/media]
[/quote]

I really don't like electric bass guitar solos, I played them back in the 70s and was never comfortable playing them or listening to them.

I just don't think rock and the electric bass guitar is a great combination for soloing, there are exceptions.

Jazz is a different story, and what Tal is doing I consider a jazz solo and one of the best, I might ad.

Blue

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[quote name='Leonard Smalls' timestamp='1438866702' post='2838211']
As Bilbo says, you can't beat a good bass solo...
I prefer one with a groove going on behind it, which goes somewhere and has some sort of reason behind it (even if that reason is only that it sounds excellent!).
For me, the best bass solos are by Bootsy as they're always in context, the show builds to it and it sounds like no-one else.
Like this - bass solo has a short build up from 4'50" on; there's a good 8 minutes of it with vocal interludes and it's all pretty darned awesome in the true sense of the word!

[MEDIA][media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YuSo7467mA[/media][/MEDIA}
[/quote]

Love it, even sounds like something I would try to so, as I use a lot of effects. However, to me this is a guitar solo.

Blue

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[quote name='discreet' timestamp='1438777713' post='2837128']
No, no, no, no, NO!! Electric bass guitar is not and should not [i]ever [/i]be a solo instrument. It only shines [i]in concert[/i] and in a supporting role. If you're a bass player and for some unfathomable reason want to play interminable 'solos' then for God's sake do everyone a favour and buy a guitar. Then go and play it somewhere where I can't hear it!

All that Jaco/Manring/Wootten stuff leaves me cold... like a stupid dwarf, it's not big and it's not clever.
[/quote]
Entirely agree.

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Thought about this a little bit more. Almost more so than any other instrument in a band (bar the drums), the bass has a job to do. If you're good at that job, you'll be making a significant harmonic and melodic contribution to the songs without ever taking a "solo", and still be focussed on the job, which is to "lock in" with the drummer and keep it all driving along. Have you ever heard a bass solo - or a drum solo come to that - that was anything more than a showcase for the player's technique? I'm not talking about little fills and runs here, which any bass player worth his salt will play where they're needed and where there's space for them. Have a listen to the guitar solo in "Tangerine" by Zeppelin. VERY simple little tune, no shredding, could easily be played on the bass. Now imagine it had been. Why would you? Have you ever heard a bass solo that you could say was essential to the song and done for entirely musical reasons? I haven't, except for a couple of examples from the Classical world, and they're very short and to the point.

In m opinion, we're much better off using all that technique to do our job in the interests of the music

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We used to play a song that had, not quite a solo, but a bit where it was just bass and drums and our guitarist used to always introduce me as Derek Smalls, so no, I don't like bass solos!

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How about Bernard Edwards' little solo in Le Freak? As basic as it gets, and arguably the most interesting bit of the song. Not that that's saying much mind you...

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A guitar can wail and scream like the human voice, and can cover all those other human emotions because it has the right range.

I'll listen to bass solos occasionally, and it can be interesting to some extent but they do tend to smack of "look at me, I can do what the lead guitarist does".

I've never heard a bass solo that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up...that's the sum of it for me.

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