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Author Topic: Do you play bass any different when you don't have a drummer?  (Read 9830 times)
jansenw
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« on: January 13, 2008, 06:01:57 PM »

I had a drummer that couldn't make it to worship and wondered what other bass players do...

Do you play bass differently when you are without a drummer?  If so, how?
« Last Edit: January 13, 2008, 06:04:00 PM by jansenw » Logged
dano
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2008, 06:58:20 PM »

I tend to hit the one harder than normal and I will also play more simple lines just to make the rhythm more obvious. I guess that's another way of saying I try my best to make sure the rest of the band has a strong foundation to play off of.
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2bhumble (Dave)
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2008, 10:11:04 PM »

Just as Dano has said, keep it simple. Dano explained it well when he said to give the band a strong foundation to play off of. As a bass player without a drummer you need to keep a good steady beat going and nail number one good and hard. I have played without a drummer a countless number of times and I am getting to where I prefer it that way. 
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Manbass
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2008, 06:49:49 AM »

Generally, but not in every piece, I make a conscious effort to play Root and Root/5th only and only on 1 and 3 count, stacato to emphasize the missing percussive rhythm.
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LeCompte Catholic Thunder Bassist
OldBassDude
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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2008, 09:15:20 AM »

Like most of life, a lot of this is simply attitude more than technical specifics.

The key thing is to have the mindset that in the absence of a drummer YOU are the rhythm section.  The bass player's primary role in that situation is to make sure that the tempo and other rhythmic elements are maintained.   It's real easy to let the tempo of the song wander without a drummer or to lose the rhythmic feel of the song.  Use whatever specifics you can for the specific song to make that happen.  And if you are used to playing without a drummer, make sure you practice without a drummer ahead of time so you know what you are going to need to do in advance!

I agree with everything that has been said so far.  Keep it simple - resist the temptation to use this opportunity for that difficult bass solo!

It's interesting that this came up right now.  This week I may be playing without a drummer for the first time in over a year because both of our regular drummers are high school students and will be on a youth group retreat. 
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rfclef
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2008, 11:17:14 AM »

We just got an electronic drum set at church.  LAst week was the first week we used it (did not get to play this week... they had a visiting group play for service... Angry (lol)  PLaying with the electronic drums was odd as I could not hear them much through the monitor and mostly heard the clicking of sticks on the pads... but I digress...

I noticed that, without intending to, I tried more imaginitive (for me) than my normal sticking to the roots without drummer.  so, there ya go...
« Last Edit: January 14, 2008, 07:46:32 PM by rfclef » Logged

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aikakone
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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2008, 11:21:51 PM »

New to the forum. Hi, all.  *first post, etc*

In my playing situation, our drummer (and guitarist) is often not there.  I don't play differently without the drummer, but I have had to play differently at times when the guitarist shows up and wants to attempt soloing.  I can't hear him most of the time time, and he was doing "Amazing Grace" as a solo one Sunday.  I usually play it one particularly frilly way because normally I'm working to fill up the sound.  With him present, I really had to take a back seat and play under him to make him sound better instead of tromping all over the work he was trying to do.

Yes, it is what a bassist should be doing, but it was a great (and enjoyable) challenge to play in a more restrained manner.

But to the original, no... a drummer present or not doesn't change how I play.  I've tried to play with him and locking as a rhythm section unit, but so far we haven't reached that level of musical symbiosis.  If we had that, perhaps I would play differently.
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tony c
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« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2008, 06:33:57 PM »

Without a drummer, I tend to play more meat and potatoes ... nothing fancy, just trying to keep a beat and establish the slightest groove.   Maybe a little more percussive than normal.  Our guitarists tend to just strum (kind of folk guitar, Kum-Bay-Ah-ish), so without a drummer, I sort of have to establish the beat.

Anyone have trouble when there's no drummer, and someone in the congregation brings a monster sized tambourine, and is wayyyyyyy off tempo?  I can ignore just about everything around me, but a tambourine that's off track, well, I can't escape!

tony c
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2008, 04:42:17 AM »

Absolutely. When I have a drummer, I rely on him to keep time, as long as his time is solid. It frees me up to play a little more melodic, throw in some chords or tapping here and there, and 'fill out' the sound.

When I don't have a drummer, I concentrate on keeping time first and foremost, and tend to not be as busy overall, unless the song has a real solid groove being laid down by the piano player.

Tony, I hear you about the tambourine guy! Grin At the church I used to attend, we had this wonderful, big hearted guy that wanted to praise the Lord with all of his might. He led to that church not having any tambourines. He would sing, louder than anybody else, way off key. And he would play the tambourine, way off beat. It distracted the worship leader so badly that he put away all of the tambourines. This guy was amazing. I have never met anybody else who was both tone deaf and had no sense of rhythm.

After the tambourines disappeared, one time the worship leader and I were talking over dinner, and he told me 'I have to look away from James while I am leading worship. His loud singing and off beat clapping are so distracting, that if I watch him, he will throw me off every time!' Grin
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Brim
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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2008, 07:45:59 PM »

When our drummer is out or we're doing an acoustic set, I tend to play a bit more with rhythm in mind. For example, I use more muted and ghosted notes to fill in and also I try to set up the "kick" with the low notes. Listen to Jaco and Manring. They are great at this. Their sense of rhythm blows me away.
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rjohnsongroove
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« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2008, 11:09:22 AM »

I emphasize the rhythm without a drummer.  I try to mesh with the guitar player most of the time. 
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JohnH
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« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2008, 06:28:01 PM »

Yeah, I try to thump out a more constant beat when the drummer isn't there.*


*Doesn't matter, nobody follows me anyway.  Sad
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Corey
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« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2008, 07:02:05 PM »

When I first started playing (back in the 70s-sheesh) I had the most awesome drummer I have ever played with. And it has spoiled me for any other drummer since. Our drummer is ok, but she tends to wander time wise-mostly because shes one of the main singers-and so I have to hold down the beat. Not that I dont embelish things a bit, but I have to come back to the beat pretty fast. When the time gets a little off, I move over and try to catch her eye, and then sync back up. I always locked in with the kick, but in this group Ive had to really get my timing chops up. So I guess its a good thing.
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JohnH
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« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2008, 04:28:52 PM »

Without a boring history - our WT went:
Initial:  kbd, 2 guitar, banjo, flute, singers.
I showed up and added the bass.
4-5 months later college buddy of the awesomely talented guitarist arrived as drummer.  Spoiled me.
Drummer and awesome guitarist left (Drummer, last I heard, went to Islam  Shocked )  Awesome guitarist fills in periodically when our other guitars are unavailable.
We then had a 14 yr old boy with no rhythm and a 12-13 year old girl who was a little blonde metronome.  We even caught her singing along while she played!!  Alas, a little timid and  busy with all the school and extracurricular activities.
Current drummer hadn't played in 30 years - his wife didn't even know he had ever played!!!  Anyway, he is having an absolute ball and is fantastic!!!  Constantly changing tempo drives him nuts too but he's helping work on it.  He use to play guitar so he know that angle.

He and I lock in well together - he knows more what he's doing that I do and I think he locks his kick to me.  The drummer and I are behind the keyboardist so there is no eye-locking to get back in sync - our physical setup is awful but there isn't any other place to setup where we'd have to tear everything down every week (been there, done that).

Oh, and we finally got the banjo player to convert to guitar  (You've never heard Lincoln Brewsters Majestic until you've heard it with a banjo!)  albeit a twelve string guitar tuned like a banjo but, whatever. Wink
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liam_g
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« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2008, 10:10:22 PM »

With a solid drummer, I feel the pocket is generally just on the back edge of the beat, so that's where I try to hit. By "back edge" I'm talking milliseconds here, nothing major, just a feel thing ... not playing slow, or "late".  Without a drummer, I'm more dead on the beat, rather than laying back.  Also, if we have a weak drummer, or even just a non-assertive one, I feel it's my duty to take over the time. I'd prefer for the drummer to be the time, but if not, I'll do it.

Cheers,
Liam
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