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Do we even need a bass player!!!


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One of the best live bands I've seen is Royal Blood. Just a drummer and bassist, both extremely talented. They created a huge wall of sound. No guitarists were needed. 

Om also have bass as lead instrument and no guitars and create some incredible music both recorded and live.

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Now here's a coincidence; SWMBO reminded yesterday that we had tickets to go see a couple of bands at Rebellion in Manchester last night, and both bands (the Picture Books and the support, whose name sadly eludes me right now) were two piece bands (guitar and drums) without a bassist. The support band used a good deal of octave on the guitar (kinda like Royal Blood, but the other way round) to add bass into the mix, but the Picture Books didn't, and for their stuff really didn't need to. They do have a very unusual drummer, tho, with lots of biiiig booming toms, very little snare and no cymbals at all (no hihat, even).

 

Both bands were very different in terms of music than the norm (but still firmly in the Rock camp), but both were very good, and well worth seeing...

 

So in terms of the original OP question...no, not all the time...

 

Actually, thinking on, one of my favourite gigs of the last few years was the Cadillac Three at the Ritz in Manchester, and they don't have a bass player per se - they have a drummer, guitarist/singer and a sit-down lap steel bloke who takes care of the bottom end (and other duties) - he was using two 810 Orange rigs, and sounded glorious...

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Bands play song that, most of the time (not always), require a bass part. It can be provided, depending on the genre, by a bass guitar, a double bass, a cello, a tuba, synth bass, organ bass... Whoever plays that part is the bass player. 

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A band playing a gig to any backing tape isnt a truely live band.

 

My drummer says he takes cues from me and I obviously take them from him.

 

The vox/guitarist and lead guitarist take their cues from the rhythm section. If any one part was absent, I dont believe we would gel as a totally live act.

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Do we need a bass player ?? Well , I'm a fan of songs first and foremost and my definition of a decent song would be one that you can sing while strumming an acoustic but still sounds good. So - no , we don't need bass players. As a result , I try to make sure that any bass part I play brings something to the table in order to earn it's keep.

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On 21/04/2022 at 11:59, Paddy515 said:

A band playing a gig to any backing tape isnt a truely live band.

 

On a related note, I notice an increase in the use of pre-recorded keyboard parts in quite a few of the bands I listen to.  I don't have a problem with that per se, as it may remove the need for another player just to play 2 chords or whatever, but I guess it could be a slippery slope... 

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21 hours ago, odysseus said:

On a related note, I notice an increase in the use of pre-recorded keyboard parts in quite a few of the bands I listen to. 

Being a funky sort of chap, I find most of the groovy bands I listen to have both keyboard bass and bass guitar... Parliament or Trouble Funk both have phat keys bass lines plus bass guitar supplying syncopated funky stuff.

 

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For me no Musician is indispensable. If the music is original then we don’t miss what we don’t know. If it’s a different arrangement of a popular song/ composition then we sometimes question what we are used to.The bigger question for me is do we need actual musicians.With all the tech/computers samplers etc. From a lot of the comments I used to hear from the younger people I worked with as long as the music sounded good to them whoever made it and with what became a mute point. From a performance prospective as long as there are flashing lights smoke and a rhythm then jobs done. I know this doesn’t necessarily apply to all types of music but missing a certain Musician from alive performance to a large part of an audience is secondary as long as the main attraction the people come to see is there.I know I am about to get Ba rated but here goes. I play in a trio. Bass ,guitar, lead vocalist. We play to backing tracks with drums and whatever is missing from the song minus harmonies.We generally get a great reception from wherever we play. Other than musicians no one ever questions where the rest of the music comes from they just enjoy what we do.Bass players miss bass players the majority of the non playing  public don’t care.

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On 18/04/2022 at 17:40, Skybone said:

The Alarm didn't have a bass player, because he was on tour with The Mission.

 

For me, The Alarm will forever be Peters, McDonald, Sharp and Twist. 

 

Just find it odd that it was Mike Peters who called time on The Alarm at Brixton Academy (trust me here, it wasn't staged, the other three knew nothing of what was going on) and while a less than dynamic solo career followed, he's the one who keeps The Alarm just limping along, constantly rerecording and unnecessarily tweaking stuff.  So he didn't want it and now he really needs it. 

 

I mean, he's a nice guy, I've met him a lot of times and also had a very long chat with him on a flight from New York a couple of years ago (he recognised me, which was nice), but I fear this career path is a little misguided.  I've witnessed him playing with backing tracks and it wasn't pretty, so I have no doubt he'd be happy to go out sans bassist.

 

 

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1 hour ago, NancyJohnson said:

 

he's the one who keeps The Alarm just limping along, constantly rerecording and unnecessarily tweaking stuff. 

 

68 Guns v31.0 to be released later this year...

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3 hours ago, Rich said:

there's a band I wish I'd seen

 

I saw them a few times in the late 80s/early 90s... Funky and tight as! And few bands were as able to get the whole audience dancing. And they're still playing, despite Big Tony's illness...

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I think that quite often the band with a bassist, where you can't really hear much other than low end mush, are more victims of the venue's acoustics than an engineer's failings. Bass can be a nightmare to mix if a room is really bad. Sadly some of the biggest venues are just appalling for bass. RHCP at the NEC was a standout gig I went to where the bass was pretty much inaudible. It also depends where you stand in the room. If it's awful when you're standing right next to the sound engineer's booth then its quite possible the venue is a bass nightmare.

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As others have said, and in my experience, bass at larger venues is lost in the mush, so I'd say no as there's little point. I mostly see jazz in smaller venues, and even then, a competent keyboard player can fill in. So again, no. My guitar playing is coming along nicely 😉

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I know they divide opinion and that Jack White liked his Whammy pedal for dropping things lower sometimes, but the White Stripes did a lot of stuff that a lot of people liked with no bass. Icky Thump is still one my favourite albums, and one I listen to again and again. Little Cream Soda is one of those songs that can get me to put down the bass and reach for a geetar.

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One of the problems with bass is the wavelength of the notes. The A on the 2nd fret of the G string is 110Hz, so wavelength of around 3m and the open A string around 6m. That's going to be a problem in most pub sized venues  

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10 hours ago, Spoombung said:

Music nearly always sounds better without bass

 

I'm imagining Mozart string quartets with 3 violins and a viola, Messiaen organ music without the pedals, Shostakovich symphonies without double basses, Chopin Ballades without the left hand.... I'm not having a eureka moment here 😔

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10 hours ago, zbd1960 said:

One of the problems with bass is the wavelength of the notes. The A on the 2nd fret of the G string is 110Hz, so wavelength of around 3m and the open A string around 6m. That's going to be a problem in most pub sized venues  

One of the reasons I've always been big of using a HPF (I've had a couple of amps with HPFs built-in, but these days with my Walkabout I use the lowest of the EQ settings to cut low bass) to remove the very bottom end, as in small venues it causes more problems than benefits...it's all about the mids for me...

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