Jam Tracks / Improv. Tracks - Share your bassline

@Gio: if/when you have a minute (actually, 2:39 + change), I’d really appreciate a short feedback from you on my bassline attempt. Just a few pointers what to look out for, what to work on, which rookie mistakes to avoid in the future, …

Thanks!

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Absolutely @joergkutter!

I gave it some listens, and here are my feedbacks:

  • I like your more compositional / song-structured approach. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but leaving out the first few bars and then entering with a bass statement was real cool!
  • The bassline is varied in a real nice way. It has two arrivals, and the second one makes you want to hear a resolution - it’s a nice structure for a repeating form.
  • great job in finding and experimenting with fills all over your bass
  • It sounds like you’re aiming for what you want to hear and not just playing through a finger formula.

All real good stuff.
The main stuff I hear to work on would be rhythm related.
It sounds like your ear is really tuned to the notes and the melodies you want the line to carry, but the rhythm feels a bit pushed through.
The rhythm could be much more accurate.
And by that, I don’t mean metronomic. I mean: the drum feel on this is a behind the beat, kinda sloppy, relaxed feel. You want to emulate that and match it on bass.
Your tendency in the recorded track is to rush, and against this soundscape and drum feel, it stands out to me.

This is a problem that I’ve had for the entirety of my playing career. It has to do mostly with what you focus on. If you’re a melody-tuned player (guilty), it is easy to focus on the notes you want to hear, and the sounds you want, and not so much on the precision of when they show up.
Guilty, guilty, guilty.

If I were your teacher, I would subscribe the following:
Find live drummer loops on youtube, or download the funk drum loops on Drumgenius (that app I love).

THEN - listen to the drum patterns until you’re singing them. Until you are feeling like you could dance to them - until they are deep in your bones. THEN - lay your left hand over the strings so they’re all muted.
THEN - play a bass line on the muted bass.
Only pay attention to how your rhythm is phrasing. The only mission is for your non-pitched muted plucking to groove completely with the drum loop.

THEN… if you’ve got it… you can play ONE NOTE. A groovy one note bass line.

That’s it.
And do that for a different groove every day, or every time you sit down to practice. Hopefully it will transition your ear a bit deeper into the rhythm.

Great job on the line, I’m so glad you and these other awesome folks were able to get some mileage out of my jam track, and keep it up keep it up keep it up!
Hope this is helpful.

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@Gio your analysis is very interesting, and if you have a minute I would love an analysis of my track too. it could be short, I don’t want to consume too much of your time :slight_smile: but that’s too interesting, I can’t resist asking :blush:

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Ha! You got it @terb.
I’ll find some time and give some feedback. I love that y’all are putting yourselves out there and asking for the real deal constructive criticism.
Makes my 'lil musical heart all warm and fuzzy.

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Thanks so much for the awesome feedback, @Gio! And, it seems, you really got my number :grin:

Thanks! Yeah, it was intentional (and I am not just saying that now) - I really wanted to let the motif stand for itself for one repetition before joining in.

This is so spot-on! I guess I was aiming (too) high given my experience on the bass, and that meant that I really was struggling to get the notes right. Also, the fact that I wanted to bring in several different fills (to break the monotony) didn’t exactly help either. So, while I was sweating to fret the right notes, I certainly wasn’t paying nearly as much attention to the rhythm feel.

Interesting to hear that it is (mostly) rushed; I could only notice that it didn’t quite groove along all the time. In any case, there were many takes and at some point I had to let it go…

Awesome advice on how to move forward. As always, it seems simplifying things before complicating them is the way to go. (My affection for fusion and a certain lack of patience is going to play some interference here, I am afraid :slight_smile:)

Thanks again - much obliged!

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Hail @terb!

I got some listens in.
Very niiiice, sir.

If you’re in the lesson room (which - for me at my local guitar shop - is, literally, an underground room with brick walls, surrounded by weird decrepit gear, with ceilings too low for me to stand all the way up) with me, here’s what I would say:

  • great use of space. The line breathes, leaves plenty of room for the keys and drums - it fits the vibe real nice.
  • You listened and prepared well - the chord progression is followed nicely and the kick drum pattern is locked into
  • Well composed - everything has a nice back-and-forth flow. The bass line is clear, and the embellishments add to everything nicely.
    I would be a proud and satisfied teacher.
    At this point we would probably go out and you would buy me coffee in celebration. Possibly also a croissant.

THEN… we’d come back to the bass cave and I would add the following:

First - expand that vocabulary! There’s nothing wrong with the choices you’ve made or the lines you played (nice rhyme there, eh?) but I’d like to hear more phrasing and choices that sound like you’ve played 1,000,000 Cmin pentatonic bass lines, and you’ve built up a sweet and solid arsenal of bass ideas in that space. The lines, as they are, sound a little bit stiff. Perfect if it was a Devo song, but in this style, they stand out.

Second (and closest to my heart) - you (like myself, and countless other excitable bassists) are tending to rush when you play a more exciting or moving line.
It is pretty subtle, and I’m only jumping on it because it is such a easy tendency to ignore, and such a terrible tendency to let grow. Here’s a rather long bit about playing fills, embellishments, solos, melodic connections, improvisations of any kind in a bass line:

Never ever ever be THINKING about what you’re playing while you’re playing it. You have to be thinking long-term, already hearing (in perfect, grooving rhythm) where you’re landing, and what will follow.
It’s like we have this switch in our pattern brains that goes like this:

bass line
bass line
bass line
OTHER THING!!!

bass line
bass line
bass line…
OTHER THING!!!

And every time the other thing shows up, our ears go to what we’re doing, our fingers get excited, and things move out of groovy phrasing and go into “I’m excited about what I’m doing” phrasing.
Musically what happens is we rush those phrases. We’re thinking about what we’re doing, and our vision is (usually) from the beginning of our fill to the end of it, rather than a smooth and clear vision across the width and breadth of the groove.

So: When you are developing the bass line and when you reach for the fill - don’t think about the fill. Think about the time and groove behind the fill, and think about the next bar, and how relaxed and groovy it will be.

…I could go on and on and on about this - it’s something I’m working on currently myself, so it’s at the forefront of my brain!

That’s a long and exhaustive way of saying - relax and focus on the groove, and don’t worry about the fills… And if this seems antithetical with my first comment (expand the vocabulary) I promise it isn’t.
If you have a wide and deep vocabulary, when you’re more fluent, you don’t have to worry about each individual word - you can focus more on the main idea. Same with bass lines.
Broaden your vocabulary so that you don’t have to think about your vocabulary so much when you reach for a bass line variation.
And… don’t rush those fills.
It’s all about the groooooove.

Great job, @terb. Hope this helps.

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Self critique for mine:

  • too repetitive/doesn’t go anywhere
  • I managed to be to fast and too slow at different points
  • lack of articulation and punch
  • stuck to “safe” intervals
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We are all our own harshest critics, @howard! But, where a teacher like @Gio and @JoshFossgreen will also see good things, we almost exclusively focus on our shortcomings! That said, I think being “repetitive” and sticking to “safe intervals” are probably some real good characteristics for a (supportive) bass player :smile:

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Alright, you BassBuzzians.

I didn’t know how hard the challege was until I tried it myself.
I kept it all in Cm pentatonic… except one or two Ds… sorry!
I kept it simple at the start - embellished more as I went.
I kept it all in the low C position based off the A string.
And - most difficult of all - I tried to keep good time while an out of time keyboard player tried to throw me off.

Massive props to you all for the attempts - and I’m happy to add my own.
High fives all round.

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Hey @Gio and thank you very very much for this precious analysis !

yeah, sure. there are not much variations, and I guess I sit in some kind of safe zone. that’s a hard thing for me because, as I’m primary a guitarist, I try to force myself to keep a solid bass line before enhancing it. but yeah, sure, I need to expand that vocabulary, in a bass-friendly way ! in the hope it will make my lines sound kind of more living.

yeah, sure again. it makes the line sound a bit flubby, or blury. I will work on it for sure !

yeah, sure again again :slight_smile: I’m totally guilty of thinking, and, while doing that, I’m not grooving. at all. I’m re-listening to my track and it’s pretty obvious now !

Thank you again @Gio , all the thing you point out are very precious to me, and I will work on all of them !

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I just noticed that the times I go fast or slow in mine it’s because it sounds like I was following the keys and not the drums. I bet I was :slight_smile:

Ok lesson learned there.

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I’m not going to lie… funk is not my thing. :smile:

But I gave it a try…

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I just listened again to my recording and, even though I read the Wikipedia definition of Funk before recording it, it’s certainly not funk. I guess I somehow feel the need to fill in as many blanks as possible and play melody instead of rhythm. On the bright side… I may have been channeling Geezer Butler because I hear a snippet of Black Sabbath’s N.I.B. near the beginning. LOL

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Yeah, I think you are right… it ain’t funk :smile: But, the important point is you took the challenge, and the fact that you had to work with what was given is the most important process here. You don’t have to like something in order to learn from it, I think! Case in point, I had a teacher for a while and she “made” me practice Back in Black from ACDC. Now, that is not music I normally listen to, and in my “snobby” arrogance I had labeled ACDC’s music as, uhm, simplistic. Well, boy, did I get humiliated trying to play some of these bass motifs. I was all but breaking my fingers to just pull off the fretting, not to mention how off my timing&rhythm was :grin:
So, awesome to take on the “challenge”, but, yeah, I think you basically almost completely ignored what the drums were doing :rofl:
But… next time, it might be a metal riff, and then it’s me in deep water!

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Thanks, @Gio! Nice study in restraint and then slowly filling the “natural” spaces!

Restraint is just soooo hard when you want to show off your newly acquired skills (“look, Ma, no hands!”), but really can’t quite pull it off yet :grin:

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Thanks for sharing Korrigan! Definitely some Geezer Butler in there. :slight_smile:

One thing I notice listening is that a lot of the time you’re pretty well synced rhythmically, but other times you drift off from the band. If I were you, I’d listen for those spots, and see if you can identify what was going on when you got off (probably something to do with thinking of notes, if you’re anything like the rest of us…).

Thanks everyone for being brave enough to post your recordings! Hearing ourselves play can be so humbling. Maybe I’ll give it a shot when I have some time to spare…

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Okay I did it! I was just adjusting pickup height on my new Fender Mustang and used this as an excuse to “set levels” (i.e. see what kind of weird chords I could superimpose on Gio’s track) -

WARNING TO MYSELF AND OTHERS: Don’ttttt play “bass” like this if someone hires you for a session. :stuck_out_tongue:

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the little Mustang sounds great, full yet percussive. I think I would love a P/J configuration :slight_smile:

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Dude.
You are fired.
:raised_hands::kiss:

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Yeah, and he only did half of the job (1’14!) - I demand more chord layering and noodling!!! :grin:

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