Keys to getting a great Bass tone Pt1 - Your Playing & U
We completely understand here at Still Sound how difficult and challenging it can be to create a proper bass sound wether it is electronic or acoustic.
Control your note lengths
There's a lot of creativity that can go into controlling the length of your notes, but by enforcing silences you can ensure that the notes do not disappear behind the band.
Play in Time
There is a rule I strongly believe in that the less tight the music is the harsher it might start to sound, but the tighter the more punch and warmer the overall tone becomes.
Ensure that when you play along with music you play as tight as possible, but also note that if you play with other musicians details tend to disappear if someone is not locked in the groove.
Use techniques sparsely and when it is appropriate
It is great if you mastered a new technique, but knowing to how use new techniques is one thing the other is to know when to implement them.
Rearrange your parts
It's a great idea to take the utmost care in any part that you play on the bass guitar.
Even in the most standard Chord Progressions I–V–vi–IV or in C Major scale C–G–Am–F
It is good to keep in mind that the lowest string on a bass guitar in standard tuning is an E1, 41.2 Hz
Because as a bassist you can emphasise how deep you want the chords to sound overall in the arrangement.
Just because it sounds nice does not mean it sounds nice together.
A common mistake not only to bass players, but anyone adjusting their sound is that even if it sounds great on it's own it does not necessarily translate well together.
Even in mixing audio we commonly discourage people to use the solo button as you will not have a clear vision of what the overall sound is.
It is better to work on the sound of the instruments that are most important in the part you are working on.
The ironic part for example is that with how heavy and loud for example metal music is, there is not a lot of bass in the overall sound it is actually quite mid frequency focused when it comes to the audible frequency spectrum.
All in all what we want to imply here is that a great tone does not mean the right tone, even if you hit the right notes it might have the right impact.
Great inspirations for thinking about what are do's and don'ts when it comes to bass here at Still Sound are artists like Victor Wooten, Count Basie, Les Claypool, James Jamerson and more because they all have a good sense of when to hold back and when to be progressive.
Its a fundamental for any form of music to know when to pick your parts and how they will impact the sound by the most excruciating detail playing wise. Slight bits of silence can add more weight to the note after, while more legato playing can fill up the gaps and smoothen out transitions.
Part 2 we will be discussing actually dialing in proper tone and what fundamentals to consider when creating your bass sound and why some sounds are horrible on their own but amazing together!