Playing actual mistakes in recording - how do you handle?

I am working through a couple tabs now and noticing (I have also noticed this before) that oft times there are actual, good ol’ plain mistakes in a recorded song’s bassline. Generally some of the older tunes where digital correction wasn’t available.

These aren’t variations along the way for interest, they are just clearly the original bass player missing the right note, or the note at all, and clearly are not meant to be there.

These of course tend to trip me up when ‘memorizing’ a tune, as it makes it harder to remember where the (single note at times) mistake is. But should they?
Why copy a mistake when you know how it should be?

When you find these, what do you do / how do you handle.


Personally, I don’t subscribe to the idea (or ideal) that all bass lines all the time need to be reproduced verbatim, warts and all. I would always use musical judgement and apply that (always with respect to the original intent or feeling).


The best covers come when an artist brings their own interpretation of the original, rather than a carbon copy of the original. Do what you feel like doing at the time.


Yeah this is what I have basically come to, with the exception of the Beatles, lol.
Actually, very few to none of what I would call ‘mistakes’ in Paul’s recorded basslines.

Paul does a ton of variations throughout tunes, but I would also bet those variations change every time he plays them. Almost every repeat of the Silly Love Songs main riff varies throughout for example. But that is different.


If it sounds good, I would just leave it be. My former bass coach told me, when he gigs, he rarely plays exactly the same from one gig to the next.


I never play the mistake.
In the recordings I’ve found, the mistakes were generally left in because the take - aside from the bass player - was good. Everyone hit the part and the bass mistake is almost always a chord tone, so it’s usable.
But I’d never do it on a gig.
If, somehow, the mistake was the part of the bass line that made it amazing, then learn it that way. But I have zero examples of this in my experience.

I love the days of mistakes recorded.
The confusing and deceiving world of releasing flawless recordings after hours and hours and hours of retake after retake create bizarre and unhealthy impressions and expectations in players.
Live to tape.
That’s how I want to live and play. Gimme them mistakes.


I have this disease bad. Deciding when something is done is agonizing for me.


Listen to Roxanne by the Police. At the start, you hear some piano and Sting laughs a bit. On purpose? nope. Sting’s butt hit the piano on accident and he chuckled over it, they left it in.

In Love Shack Cindy goofed and sang Tin Roof Rusted at the wrong time - it wasn’t supposed to be a capella

The famous one is Gilmour coughing at the start of Wish You Were Here. He heard the playback, and quit smoking cold turkey, but they left it in.


Victor Wooten has a video on youtube where he plays all the wrong notes in a song and it still sounds OK. It’s how you play them that matters more than what you play. Take a look at that video, it’s an eye opener.

1 Like

I’ve just listened to this and now won’t ever be able to un hear it. Fabulous.

1 Like

“Ademolished” lol

I don’t feel so bad now! :smile: