Simple or complex?

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BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15849
How do you like your bass lines? Do you like a nice simple line which thumps along and gets your bum wiggling, or do you prefer lots of complex and articulate ornamentation or a whizzy complex solo?

I was practising some of the tracks I’m doing at the Huddersfield Jam, and I have to say, some of the simple ones are really really satisfying to play (not through ease but just because they thump along and give you a good kick)
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 9138
    Both, depending on the music. Tried playing American Pie in an acoustic band and the bass player stuck to roots. Fell flat on its face 'cos the bass on the original pops around all over the place, it really moves the song along. OTOH finding the one and sitting on it creates space for other people ...
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • vasselmeyervasselmeyer Frets: 2364
    I think that depends on the song. Mike Gordon would sound ridiculous in a Stax band but equally Duck Dunn would sound way to simple in Phish.
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7097
    Depends on the band.  

    Gives me an excuse to post some Dead Letter Circus.  Love the bass work in this band

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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15849
    I agree it depends on the band - my question was more when you are playing, or in your bad context, what do you prefer?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 33249
    I agree it depends on the band - my question was more when you are playing, or in your bad context, what do you prefer?
    When I'm playing, always simple. This may or may not be related to not being able to do complex :).

    I think my context is always bad too...
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 2783
    Very simple and I intend to keep it that way. The lads in our band love the sound of my bass so no need to change what is working.

    But today in Dublin I listened to a duo cover Hallelujah. Electrified acoustic guitar and electric bass. The bass player was all over the neck, played roots too and it sounded great. Amazing in fact, he also managed to look so cool and collected....
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • Placidcasual79Placidcasual79 Frets: 690
    I prefer my baselines to be 'if you want me to stay' by sly and the family stone
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  • proggyproggy Frets: 2137
    My favourite bassists are Chris Squire, John Paul-Jones and Percy Jones, so complex I suppose.
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  • valevale Frets: 1039
    edited July 7
    i would generally say simple best for bass. less is more. but not in a boring 'just play the root note 4x way' but recognising that its bigness of sound & presence means it can get away with saying far less (than higher frequency instruments) while still making the same quality & depth of statement.
    is that wank speak? i'm ok with that. i'm an arts grad so it's what i'm trained to do.
    & when recorded a very busy bottom end in a mix can drown out the upper ranges, unless you mix them down, in which case they get lost & it doesn't matter how busy they were.

    & especially live, bass isn't just the audible stuff but the vibrations that you feel through you. if that is very busy it can create sort of antsy nervy feelings. maybe that's an autistic persons way of experiencing it, but it makes me feel a bit edgy to be in the same space as a lot of very busy low frequencies that i can feel through me.

    my true bass gods are severin & hooky. & couple of others but they are my core. & while hooky can be considered a guitary bassist, that's still a long way from being a guitarist in the showy widdly style. he works the length of his neck & takes liberties, but he's still essentially deeply bass.

    but then occasionally a busy bassist will catch my attention.
    jon entwhistles bass solo in my generation. a perfect contrast solid & complex double. all in there.
    & some of those early 1980s busy funky-synthy-flangey-chorusy basslines. john taylor's rio for example. mostly that style really annoys me, but when i like it i like it. & rio is a good one.


    hofner hussie & hayman harpie. what she said...
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 9138
    vale said:
    is that wank speak? i'm ok with that. i'm an arts grad so it's what i'm trained to do.
    lol awarded for that ;)
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • vizviz Frets: 5011
    vale said:



    john taylor's rio for example. mostly that style really annoys me, but when i like it i like it. & rio is a good one.


    Correct. 

    Also New Model Army is great - amazing bass playing for a political northern folk punk rock band, or however they’re classified. 
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15849
    To be fair, I didn’t mean simple as root notes in a 4 - more that there was more thought put into each note to really work its way into a song, rather than complex where a bassline is full of riffing and solos
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3369
    thought put into each note to really work its way into a song

    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15849
    thought put into each note to really work its way into a song

    Sting was always too busy thinking about his bank balance or his hair to really put any thought into any note...
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  • It's all about the groove. As long as the bass and drums are locked and vibey then both busy and simple bass lines can be appropriate.
    E.G.
    Norman Watt-Roy for the Blockheads.
    Ryhthm Stick - lots of notes, moves around. Pretty technical.
    Clever Trevor - fewer notes but hits "dirty" on the groove 'o' meter
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 904
    I like my bass lines to 'fill in the gaps', with as much melodic content as possible. I try to interact with  other elements happening at the same time, so the music becomes a whole, rather than some chords laying over the top of a root.  Doesn't have to be complex to do that.
    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 2783
    Why try to emulate the sound of your 'heroes' irrespective of how or why they play bass as they do? Challenge yourself to play the bass as YOU hear it in your head. Make it sound like you are playing it rather than copying what you think one of your heroes would play. In other words be you when you play. Does it really matter if the bass lines are extremely simple, very complex or somewhere in between if the audience respond to the music your band is making? Audience reaction is always the litmus test of a band.  Bass is an important element in the overall band sound - if what you are doing works, just keep doing it.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3369
    Rocker said:
    Does it really matter if the bass lines are extremely simple, very complex or somewhere in between if the audience respond to the music your band is making?
    Response is what this thread is about. 


    Norman Watt-Roy ... Blockheads ... Ryhthm Stick - lots of notes, moves around. Pretty technical.
    Even includes a brief quotation from a Jaco Pastorius composition. Therefore, will be dismissed out of hand by some.
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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