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Called to play a solo.


TimR

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Bass solos generally aren't great. If I had to do one I'd like to have the following rules

  • I'm not on my own. The drummer continues, maybe with a stripped down beat. Maybe the odd chord from someone else.
  • It's short - maybe 8 bars as suggested by others.
  • The bass keeps the main feel of the song going, playing a variation of the actual bassline - either stripping it back or adding embellishment as appropriate.

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Nail Soup said:

Bass solos generally aren't great. If I had to do one I'd like to have the following rules

  • I'm not on my own. The drummer continues, maybe with a stripped down beat. Maybe the odd chord from someone else.
  • It's short - maybe 8 bars as suggested by others.
  • The bass keeps the main feel of the song going, playing a variation of the actual bassline - either stripping it back or adding embellishment as appropriate.

 

 

 

Yes. That's a pretty straightforward method that works well.

 

Think having the guitar comping is useful otherwise there's often a danger of getting lost. 🤣

 

Depends how long the phrase is as to how many bars you keep it going for. 8 bars might be a bit short if it's a 2 bar phrase over 4 chord changes. Certainly 16 would be plenty to establish some repeated patterns.

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I’m not a fan, but if called upon to do so (usually during the band introductions) I like to keep to a nice little groove (funky if appropriate) and that’s it. Nathan East shows how it should be done (from 0:30).

 

Edited by ezbass
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27 minutes ago, toneknob said:

play Seven Nation Army in whatever key you happen to be in, repeat until someone comes to the rescue

 

Similar to me , with my limited abilities , they get a loose rendition of Beatles ( taxman ) blended with Jam ( Start ) until they get sick of it and move the song along .

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4 minutes ago, fretmeister said:

I've even done it in "Black horse and the cherry tree"

 

The looks I got.... I have decided to interpret them as lust. Pure unbridled lust.

 

Given the horse theme, perhaps it was the idea of the bridle which was turning them on?

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6 hours ago, TimR said:

What do you do?

 

Join in the fun using your wealth of background theory knowledge and years of experience to instantly craft an interesting line that has groove and entertains resulting in whistles and cheering from the adoring crowd.

 

Or something else?

I used to get at least 20 solos per gig in my jazz bands and inevitably you come up with many different approaches. For me the key to keeping the audience engaged is to learn the melody to every song you play and jump off from there. That way it's still musical even if everyone drops out, as they often do in arguably less savvy bands. Real jazzbos won't tend to be impressed if you just quote the heads too often, so I always tried to mix it up with other approaches too. It got a lot easier after the first few thousand and even the bluegrass guys I play with these days like to bust my chops by calling bass solos on some very unlikely tunes. I often whip out my slide and play dobro parts when they do that, but it just seems to egg them on. Fine by me though. 😎

 

In my own duo band it's often been just bass and drums and I hardly ever take solos. The drummer takes dozens though, and people seem to like it just fine.

Edited by Passinwind
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2 hours ago, bassbiscuits said:

Dear me! I thought live performance was supposed to be fun? 

 

I don’t often need to play bass solos, and have nothing prepared, but I’m pretty sure I could improvise my way thru a few bars of something without being too precious if the situation called for it….

 

Agreed. Fun. If you're not comfortable doing it (and this is known) then trying to make someone do something is hardly fun. Is that precious? If so, then so be it. This came up in the 'complaining' thread and the very first rule (to me) is never show a band mate up on stage.

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I don’t do any of my own improvised bass solos, not my bag.

 

I played in a pretty well respected Free tribute band for a few years, Mr Big had to be in the set, I learnt Andy Frasers bass line including the solo, note perfect, that track always went down a storm and it was really nice to get some extra special personal applause when our vocalist said it featured me on bass. 👍

 

A very good local rock covers band used to have Mr Big in their set, if ever I was out and about watching them, Dave the bass player would drag me up on stage to replace him and play it with the band.

 

Sometimes it’s nice for the bass player to be recognised.

 

 

 

 

Edited by steantval
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I don't think I spectacularly enjoy a bass solo; I'm definitely in it for the song and the groove. Playing in jazz, or at least jazzy situations, I do end up with a few per show. I know the harmony and can build phrases which support the changes on the fly, and I'd say I'm adequate rather than a stand out soloist, although I still sometimes go awry if I'm not in the right headspace. What I need to do to improve is probably more to do with my perception of the solos themselves rather than the theory or structure. While I'd happily play the form and the groove all night, I need to think of the solos as equally valuable musical moments rather than a diversion which I need to trot out before getting back to the good stuff.

 

I'm currently mixing some live tracks and will have the chance to listen to myself and perhaps gain a bit of perspective on how those moments come across from an audience point of view. It isn't entirely accurate, as it was four hours straight with free drinks before and throughout, but a few lowest common denominator attempts are ideal really- I don't need to hear the good bits- it's the weakest parts and what makes them weak which are most useful to observe.

 

Give me a bit fat groove for as long as you like each night, though. That's my happy place.

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4 hours ago, Steve Browning said:

 

Agreed. Fun. If you're not comfortable doing it (and this is known) then trying to make someone do something is hardly fun. Is that precious? If so, then so be it. This came up in the 'complaining' thread and the very first rule (to me) is never show a band mate up on stage.


That’s a fair point Steve - I can’t argue with that.

 

Im not advocating humiliating other band members and I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable if I knew they didn’t want to do something. 

I was just surprised so many people felt so strongly about the proposition of taking a bass solo if called upon.

 

All my gigs currently are dep jobs where I do my best to fit in with the vibe of what’s going on around me.

 

If that included being called upon spontaneously to solo I wouldn’t dream of refusing - I’d just do something hopefully adequate and move on. 

Edited by bassbiscuits
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4 hours ago, TimR said:

What do you do?

 

Join in the fun using your wealth of background theory knowledge and years of experience to instantly craft an interesting line that has groove and entertains resulting in whistles and cheering from the adoring crowd.

 

Or something else?

[Youtube]

 

Edited by shoulderpet
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7 minutes ago, Bilbo said:

You are listening to the wrong bass solos....

 

I've never yet heard a good one. 

 

The nearest thing was probably Anasthesia (Pulling Teeth) by Cliff Burton of Metallica. And the only reason that kind of worked was because the drums eventually kicked in and carried the second half of the song. 

 

All this noodly doodle honky jazz, ala Jaco shite is total noise pollution to my ear. 

 

Of course this is just my personal opinion totally based in my own taste (or arguably lack thereof) but apart from an intro, or a short (4 bars max) break mid song, which can be really effective and sound great in context, the bass should never be used as a solo instrument. YMMV

 

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I don’t get the snobbery for or against bass solos.

 

out of 12 songs, I reckon 5 of ours have “lead bass” parts. I sometimes follow the vocal melody, sometimes I go off on one - and smash a shed together…because, why not.

 

our guitarist shoves solos in the others, there are songs where we both do it.

 

i don’t really care for the sentiment that bass players have to just sit and hold down things, or plod along.

 

In our band we all have a pop - it makes it different to other stuff.

 

Anyhow,

Kindergarten by Faith No More

Please Do Not Go by Violent Femmes

 

two examples of where the bass just does what the guitar would conventionally “solo”.

 

Some guy on a stage leathering out slap bass solos without accompaniment gets a bit dull…but more power to them if they get paid to do it.

 

each to their own.

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22 minutes ago, AndyTravis said:

I don’t get the snobbery for or against bass solos.

 

out of 12 songs, I reckon 5 of ours have “lead bass” parts. I sometimes follow the vocal melody, sometimes I go off on one - and smash a shed together…because, why not.

 

our guitarist shoves solos in the others, there are songs where we both do it.

 

i don’t really care for the sentiment that bass players have to just sit and hold down things, or plod along.

 

In our band we all have a pop - it makes it different to other stuff.

 

Anyhow,

Kindergarten by Faith No More

Please Do Not Go by Violent Femmes

 

two examples of where the bass just does what the guitar would conventionally “solo”.

 

Some guy on a stage leathering out slap bass solos without accompaniment gets a bit dull…but more power to them if they get paid to do it.

 

each to their own.


There’a solos and solos. I’d quite happily listen to Geddy tear into the middle bit of Freewill. But someone noodling around all on their own? Nah.

Edited by wateroftyne
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48 minutes ago, steantval said:

I don’t do any of my own improvised bass solos, not my bag.

 

I played in a pretty well respected Free tribute band for a few years, Mr Big had to be in the set, I learnt Andy Frasers bass line including the solo, note perfect, that track always went down a storm and it was really nice to get some extra special personal applause when our vocalist said it featured me on bass. 👍

 

A very good local rock covers band used to have Mr Big in their set, if ever I was out and about watching them, Dave the bass player would drag me up on stage to replace him and play it with the band.

 

Sometimes it’s nice for the bass player to be recognised.

 

 

 

 

There are bass solos and then there are BASS SOLOS, the above is the latter. I used to be in a band that covered Free for one of our sets and I tailored a solo together for this gem from the live versions. The beauty of Fraser’s work on this is that it is a well thought out, building composition, without any ‘look how fast I can play’ histrionics.

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