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Old 09-04-2019, 08:46 PM
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Help me find bass parts I can figure out


Not the fish, the instrument.

OK, so in another thread discussing the bass line of Miss American Pie, someone mentioned that he knew Bruce Thomas, a famous and fantastic bass player, probably my favorite. So, I was listening to some of his work and I can't play most of it (I'm not a very good bass player), but I was able to figure out You Belong to Me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5jaFC8-mAU

A couple of months back, I was walking and listening to Hendrix and realized I could figure out Fire. Way back, I was able to figure out Money by Pink Floyd, and most of Mr. Big Stuff.

What other fun, great songs are pretty easy to play, with at least somewhat interesting bass lines? I'd like to avoid Ramones-like 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-4-4-4-4-5-5-5-5-1-1-1-1, etc.

Thanks!
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:59 PM
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You might try some Minutemen; Mike Watt is a famously awesome, extremely creative bass player.

The Glory of Man
#1 Hit Song
Shit from an Old Notebook

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 09-04-2019 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 09-04-2019, 09:03 PM
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You might try some Minutemen; Mike Watt is a famously awesome, extremely creative bass player.

The Glory of Man
#1 Hit Song
Shit from an Old Notebook
Those are indeed great bass parts, but I think you missed this part of my OP:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Me
(I'm not a very good bass player)
What's frustrating about starting this thread tonight is that tomorrow I leave for about a week and will have no chance to try out (more reasonable) songs until I get back. Anyway, still interested in suggestions that I have a chance to figure out myself.
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Old 09-04-2019, 09:36 PM
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. . . but I was able to figure out You Belong to Me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5jaFC8-mAU . . .
Can you play the run at 1:43? That doesn't sound so easy. (Another lousy bass player here.)
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Old 09-04-2019, 09:48 PM
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Can you play the run at 1:43? That doesn't sound so easy. (Another lousy bass player here.)
Just start at the 17th fret on the A string and work your way down to the fifth fret in time for the next part, working your fingers pretty hard. Can I play it completely cleanly? No, but it's not too bad.
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Old 09-04-2019, 09:54 PM
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Bass parts are easy. I play the tuba and I can follow most of them. Not Jaco Pastorious.
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Old 09-04-2019, 11:19 PM
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Speaking of Hendrix, the very first bass part I worked out was "The Wind Cries Mary."

I was so-so guitar player, but a novice at bass. If I could do it, then I'm sure you could.
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Old 09-05-2019, 07:24 AM
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Speaking of Hendrix, the very first bass part I worked out was "The Wind Cries Mary."

I was so-so guitar player, but a novice at bass. If I could do it, then I'm sure you could.
I'll give it a try when I'm in possession of my bass again. Thanks!

Ukulele Ike, try Lipstick Vogue:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eM86DdwT71Y
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Old 09-05-2019, 08:17 AM
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Sorry, no specific suggestions, but aren't a huge percentage of rock and blues songs 1-4-5? Ya wanna increase that percentage, switch to bluegrass! Seriously, you could try a lot of classic country - like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings... - if that at all appeals to you. Or roots rock like Elvis. Just will get you comfortable playing along, keeping a steady beat.

When I started, I played a lot of Rush, Who, Clash, Elvis Costello. A lotta fun bass parts there (but I'm showing my age.)

Not sure if this is meaningful, but are you able to "hear" the bass line? Some folk seem to have difficulty doing that - and it is harder in some recordings than others. Because as long as you can hear the bass line, and it isn't relying on thumbing, slapping, chords, harmonics or something, it shouldn't be too complicated to get the notes under your fingers. Then you just have to build up speed and endurance.

Bruce Thomas can be tough, a lot going on, and weird chord changes and time signatures. I'd suggest you worry less about repeating someone else's exact line, than coming up with a line that works with the song and makes sense to you (if that makes sense at all). What you play can be simpler, more complicated, or just completely different from what is on the recording.
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Old 09-05-2019, 08:18 AM
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Old 09-05-2019, 08:23 AM
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Sorry, no specific suggestions, but aren't a huge percentage of rock and blues songs 1-4-5? Ya wanna increase that percentage, switch to bluegrass! Seriously, you could try a lot of classic country - like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings... - if that at all appeals to you. Or roots rock like Elvis. Just will get you comfortable playing along, keeping a steady beat.

When I started, I played a lot of Rush, Who, Clash, Elvis Costello. A lotta fun bass parts there (but I'm showing my age.)

Not sure if this is meaningful, but are you able to "hear" the bass line? Some folk seem to have difficulty doing that - and it is harder in some recordings than others. Because as long as you can hear the bass line, and it isn't relying on thumbing, slapping, chords, harmonics or something, it shouldn't be too complicated to get the notes under your fingers. Then you just have to build up speed and endurance.

Bruce Thomas can be tough, a lot going on, and weird chord changes and time signatures. I'd suggest you worry less about repeating someone else's exact line, than coming up with a line that works with the song and makes sense to you (if that makes sense at all). What you play can be simpler, more complicated, or just completely different from what is on the recording.
Thanks, yeah, I can usually hear the bass line, and I get what you're saying about just grooving along with a song (I do that with blues songs sometimes), but sometimes, I just like to play the real line, especially if it's interesting. "I'll Take You There" by the Staple Singers -- it's a great line, not difficult, fun for me.

Agreed about Bruce Thomas, but that particular song is actually playable by me. What's nice about the Attractions is, since the guitar was such a minor instrument, the keyboards and bass are mixed much higher than usual for a rock song, making the bass parts stand out more. Keyboard, bass, drums -- all three were amazing.

ETA: Just noticed your sig. Very apropos, although it's before he was with the Attractions.

Last edited by RitterSport; 09-05-2019 at 08:24 AM.
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Old 09-05-2019, 08:24 AM
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Back in high school when I attempted to learn bass (never got anywhere with it) the first song I asked my teacher to help me with was the John Mellencamp/Me'shell Ndegocello version of Wild Night. After listening to it a few times in only took him a few minutes to figure it out and start teaching it to me.
I have no idea how good you are and I couldn't even pretend to play anymore, but the intro to that song seems pretty simple.

Also, I don't know if this makes a difference, but isn't Money in some oddball time signature. I feel like it makes regular appearances on various top ten lists because of that. If you're trying to work it out by ear (instead of finding tabs/sheet music for it) that could make it harder than it appears at first glance.
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Old 09-05-2019, 08:47 AM
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Back in high school when I attempted to learn bass (never got anywhere with it) the first song I asked my teacher to help me with was the John Mellencamp/Me'shell Ndegocello version of Wild Night. After listening to it a few times in only took him a few minutes to figure it out and start teaching it to me.
I have no idea how good you are and I couldn't even pretend to play anymore, but the intro to that song seems pretty simple.

Also, I don't know if this makes a difference, but isn't Money in some oddball time signature. I feel like it makes regular appearances on various top ten lists because of that. If you're trying to work it out by ear (instead of finding tabs/sheet music for it) that could make it harder than it appears at first glance.
I'd try that Mellencamp song, but I can't stand his work. But, thanks for the suggestion!

Money wasn't hard to figure out. Parts are in 7/8 time, but I'm just playing along with the notes, so it doesn't screw me up. If I were trying to play the drum part, that might be a different story. It helps that the bass part is mixed so hot in the track.
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Old 09-05-2019, 09:27 AM
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I'd try that Mellencamp song, but I can't stand his work. But, thanks for the suggestion!

Money wasn't hard to figure out. Parts are in 7/8 time, but I'm just playing along with the notes, so it doesn't screw me up. If I were trying to play the drum part, that might be a different story. It helps that the bass part is mixed so hot in the track.
Oddly enough, I hated that song at first, then I picked up a bass and decided it would be a good one to try. I've since come around to liking him, but that had nothing to do with learning the song.

Does Van Morrison's version start out with that same heavy bass?
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:02 AM
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Oddly enough, I hated that song at first, then I picked up a bass and decided it would be a good one to try. I've since come around to liking him, but that had nothing to do with learning the song.

Does Van Morrison's version start out with that same heavy bass?
The beginning seems to have it following the same part on the guitar, so yes. That bass part gets pretty complicated once the song gets going, though -- probably beyond my ability (or, at least my patience in trying to figure it all out).
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:55 AM
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Santana's "Black Magic Woman." A 12-bar in G minor with a lively swaying bass rhythm.
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Old 09-05-2019, 11:09 AM
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Santana's "Black Magic Woman." A 12-bar in G minor with a lively swaying bass rhythm.
Great suggestion! I'm not sure I would actually have been able to figure it out, but I learned it on Rocksmith already.
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Old 09-05-2019, 11:26 AM
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Those Minutemen tunes aren't that hard, really; Mike is a rock-solid anchor. But I understand having limitations; I've owned guitars for close to 30 years now but the number of songs I've figured out on my own can be counted without using all my fingers.

So I went looking and my google-fu tells me that these 5 songs are fairly easy to learn on bass:

Queen - Another One Bites The Dust
Ben E. King - Stand By Me
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean
Nirvana - Come As You Are
Cream - Sunshine Of Your Love

And from my own files:

The Icarus Line - Up Against The Wall Motherfuckers

Don't forget about the Beastie Boys!

Beastie Boys - Gratitude
Beastie Boys - Time For Livin'
Beastie Boys - Funky Boss
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Old 09-05-2019, 11:37 AM
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RitterSport, does slow tempo help you? Ever try tracks like Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" or Tina Turner/Dire Straits "Private Dancer"?
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Old 09-05-2019, 11:38 AM
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RitterSport, does slow tempo help you? Ever try tracks like Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" or Tina Turner/Dire Straits "Private Dancer"?
Yes, slow tempos are definitely better than fast one, when trying to figure out a part. I'll give those a try when I come back! Thanks!

Bo, thanks for the Beastie Boys suggestions. The other ones are all in Rocksmith, so I've already played them, or tried to!
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Old 09-05-2019, 11:51 AM
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Yes, slow tempos are definitely better than fast one, when trying to figure out a part.
Cool. More will come to me as I think on it some more ...

"Walk on the Wild Side", Lou Reed
"Still Loving You", The Scorpions
"Something", The Beatles
"When I Need You", Leo Sayer
"Every Time You Go Away", Paul Young
"Heart to Heart", Kenny Loggins
"If You Leave Me Now", Chicago

(Hopefully ... none of that is TOO slow )
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Old 09-05-2019, 12:46 PM
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If you could figure out "Money" from scratch, I'm confident you could do the same with "Black Magic Woman." Knowing it to be a 12-bar is half the battle won.

I recommend Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive." It's a fast one, but nothing to fear. It's basically just a descending chromatic scale.
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Old 09-05-2019, 12:55 PM
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If you could figure out "Money" from scratch, I'm confident you could do the same with "Black Magic Woman." Knowing it to be a 12-bar is half the battle won.

I recommend Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive." It's a fast one, but nothing to fear. It's basically just a descending chromatic scale.
Do you mean this Pink Floyd song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o2sA0vpA-4

It's sort-of a Revolution 9 song, not much melody there. I must be missing something.
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Old 09-05-2019, 01:07 PM
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U2's "With or Without You" which... according to memory... seems to be the same four notes played 8 times per.
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Old 09-05-2019, 02:33 PM
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...What's nice about the Attractions is, since the guitar was such a minor instrument, the keyboards and bass are mixed much higher than usual for a rock song, making the bass parts stand out more. ...
If you like the Clash, the bass lines on the first couple of albums are right in your face and, as I recall, quite melodic.
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Old 09-05-2019, 03:17 PM
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Do you listen to any Motown? James Jamerson and Wilton Felder were as good as it gets. You can easily google isolated bass tracks for both of them. If you aren't having fun playing ABC or I Want You Back, you need to find another instrument! (JMO! )
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Old 09-05-2019, 03:23 PM
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Here is a guy doing the bass line from Rio by Duran Duran.

You probably can't figure it out, I'm just sharing it because it's good and you will like it.
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Old 09-05-2019, 04:04 PM
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Is it that physically playing the parts is too difficult, or that you can't figure out the correct notes to play? If it's the second, there's no reason not to look up bass tabs on line or watch 'how to play the bass part for song X' videos on Youtube. If it's the first, my advice is to get a metronome program for your phone, and practice playing it half-speed, then gradually speeding up.

I think Jackson Five's "I Want You Back" is a tremendous bass line -- a little bit of everything (run-ups before the beat, single notes on the beat (at one point transforming to eighth notes filling in), descending bass line, even dropping out for a while, combined with a killer instantly-recognizable hook).
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Old 09-05-2019, 04:04 PM
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Here is a guy doing the bass line from Rio by Duran Duran.

You probably can't figure it out, I'm just sharing it because it's good and you will like it.
LOL. I was this close to recommending that guy's youtube channel to Ritter. There's a bunch of tougher stuff on there than what you're looking for---as already pointed out, Rio; Freewill; a few from Primus; and a bunch from the Chilis---but there are some other bass lines he plays that don't look as ridiculous as the above. He does "I Want You Back", as already suggested by Dinsdale, and the search for that song is how I found the guy in the first place.

I can't play. But his videos are so well done, with clear, easy to read tabs, that I think I can.
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Old 09-05-2019, 04:04 PM
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The bass line from "When Doves Cry" is, if nothing else, easy to memorize.
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Old 09-05-2019, 04:07 PM
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When I was a kid my "band" played "When I Come Around" by Green Day and I was able to learn it.
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Old 09-05-2019, 07:38 PM
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As a slight tangent, my go-to tool for any kind of transcription or practicing of bass lines is this:

Capo for iOS / MacOS

If you have either an iPad, iPhone, or a Mac, you can use this software. It's more convenient on the Mac, and it's definitely easier to see on an iPad than an iPhone, but it still works very well for all of these platforms.
Capo was designed for guitar, but works just as well for bass.

With it, I do the following with zero effort:
- Change speed without affecting pitch. I slow it down to 50% and the notes are all still the same, just stretched out.
- Change key. If the song is in C but our singer finds it's too high, I can drop the tune down to Bb and practice it that way, getting ready for when we really play it in Bb.
- Fine tune pitch. This is great for songs that are out of tune slightly.
- Identify chords. The software makes a pretty good guess and labels the chords.

With a little bit of effort you can separate the notes
- You can listen to a narrow band of frequencies or a narrow spatial window in the "stereo sound" space.
- The software displays a spectrum analyzer that gives a pretty rough idea of what the notes are. Overtones muddy the water, but it's a pretty good start for identifying troublesome notes in a riff.

Between the ability to slow down dramatically while amping up the bass/mids and looking at the visual display, I use it daily for transcribing as well as practice.
I used keyboard macro software to set up MIDI controller actions to control this software, so I just twist a knob on a controller to pan through the song.
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:56 PM
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Quote:
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Do you mean this Pink Floyd song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o2sA0vpA-4

It's sort-of a Revolution 9 song, not much melody there. I must be missing something.
Ooof, right in the yarbles. It's nothing like Revolution 9, other than it's not a standard song structure. Listen again. If not a melody, there's certainly a motif. To emphasize the contrast with Revolution 9, it may as well have been done in one take. That guitar part is hard in its own way, and I've seen more than one person play a semblance of it live, and heard at least one early live version from Floyd that dwarfs the one on record.

It might not be your thing, but everything can't be effectively summed up by a comparison to a Beatles song.

And yeah, jamming your way through a long freakout may not be what you meant by easy parts. Getting back into a groove smoothly out of one can be difficult.

Quote:
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When I was a kid my "band" played "When I Come Around" by Green Day and I was able to learn it.
Yeah, I was able to learn that one reasonably well in a week for a cover band at work. It's not hard.

If you don't have a Zeppelin aversion, John Paul Jones is reasonably easy and a quite tasteful bass player.

Ramble On
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Old 09-06-2019, 08:23 AM
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As a slight tangent, my go-to tool for any kind of transcription or practicing of bass lines is this:

Capo for iOS / MacOS

If you have either an iPad, iPhone, or a Mac, you can use this software. It's more convenient on the Mac, and it's definitely easier to see on an iPad than an iPhone, but it still works very well for all of these platforms.
...
Ah, you whippersnappers w/ your apps and devices. Conjured up memories of trying to drop the needle correctly to figure out the various instrumentation - not to mention lyrics... Still not sure what the hell Peter Gabriel was singing about on Modern Love!

Re: on-line tabs and such, be very wary about those. I wanted to work up Tom Waits' Come on Up to the House. First looked on-line for words and chords and printed a few off. Not a single one had it as I heard it when I tried to work it out. Didn't even get the key right (Eb - to my ear.) Of course, after figuring out what key I could SING it in (turned out to be A), I decided with the folk I would be playing it with I preferred a different bass line and feel. (IMO not much would be stupider than trying to imitate TW!)

On edit, Beatles songs featuring the 2d Paul McCartney have some tasteful lines. Make clear why they killed the 1st Paul off!
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Last edited by Dinsdale; 09-06-2019 at 08:25 AM.
  #35  
Old 09-06-2019, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by HMS Irruncible View Post
Here is a guy doing the bass line from Rio by Duran Duran.

You probably can't figure it out, I'm just sharing it because it's good and you will like it.
After that, RitterSport can tackle "Mr. Pink", "The Real Me", and "Tommy the Cat"!
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Old 09-06-2019, 09:06 AM
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Heard one this morning that was nice and slow, but a good bit tastier than I remembered:

"Closer to Home/I'm Your Captain" by The Guess Who

Also thought that Wings' "Let He In" and The Faces "Stay With Me" might be easy-yet-interesting bass lines to try out.
  #37  
Old 09-06-2019, 10:32 AM
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Not the fish, the instrument.
Or the vocal part either, apparently

I was expecting it to be the instrument, just figured I'd drop in in case it was for the vocal register of the same name.
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Old 09-06-2019, 10:41 AM
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My wife bought me a cap that says Bassmaster.

I thought it fitting, tho I didn't understand why there was a picture of a fish on it! ;
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Old 09-06-2019, 11:20 AM
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Runnin' With the Devil?
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:40 PM
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Ah, you whippersnappers w/ your apps and devices. Conjured up memories of trying to drop the needle correctly to figure out the various instrumentation - not to mention lyrics... Still not sure what the hell Peter Gabriel was singing about on Modern Love!
I'm trying to balance out my usage of the tools that are available with real old-school: I have been making a concerted effort to hand-write my transcriptions of full songs in standard musical notation on bound music staff paper.

It's an enjoyable exercise because there are all kinds of nuances to musical notation that one never imagines until actually having to write it, such as rules for stem direction and grouping and so on. I go to my wife (a classically trained pianist who studied this stuff at conservatory) and she explains it.

Aside from the notation aspect, it forces me to accurately break down the various bass rhythms encountered and helps my sight reading.

I don't see ever being able to do this work in ink though.
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Old 09-06-2019, 03:11 PM
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Here's a guy showing how to play "Smoke on the Water".
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Old 09-06-2019, 07:01 PM
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The bass line from "When Doves Cry" is, if nothing else, easy to memorize.
For a song with a bass line with that quality, try Talking Heads "Once in a Lifetime." (The entire song, except for an initial E, is a repeated two bar phrase consisting of two different notes: F# and A. I'm not a bassist, but it is actually a bit tricky for me to retain that level of concentration through the whole song with its different verse, chorus, and bridge parts. Pretty clever.)
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Old 09-06-2019, 07:04 PM
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Here are my suggestions in no particular order or genre.

Sublime or any Ska based music thinking "Wrong Way" as a start.

The Dead South. "In Hell I'll Be In Good Company"

The Band "The Weight"

Metallica "For Whom The Bells Toll" the beginning solo.
  #44  
Old 09-06-2019, 07:27 PM
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As for suggestions to the OP, how about Carol Kaye's bass line for "Good Vibrations"? Fun rhythmic parts in the verse; cool walking type thing going on the chorus. Nice stuff.

I second Dinsdale's Motown suggestion. So much bass fun in those pieces. "It's the Same Old Song" or "I Can't Help Myself" by the Four Tops, "Aint Too Proud to Beg" or "Get Ready" by the Temptations, "I Want You Back," "ABC," "Darling Dear," by the Jackson 5 (already mentioned--but those are trickier.) Lots of great bass all over Motown.
  #45  
Old 09-06-2019, 07:53 PM
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I love old rock opera stuff from Broadway. Stuff like “Hair” and “Jesus Christ Superstar”

Those bass lines are fast moving and tend to do a whole lot with the middle range of the instrument. I like that because it is a different sound from always reaching for the low notes, and you can almost always play those songs with a 4 string.

One of my favorites is the opener from JCS, Heaven on Their Minds.
It start a with a driving beat that carries on for the first third of the song, it shifts gears into a neat backing line that uses plenty of major and minor pentatonic stuff.

The full score for JCS is well over 200 pages long, and they were not slacking for any part of it. Those musicians sure earned their pay.
  #46  
Old 09-06-2019, 08:38 PM
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I have messed around with the bass for many decades. I can't read music, nor do I want to learn. I also don't care for tablatures. I get the most enjoyment from trying to figure out a song's bass line by listening to it over and over and trying to figure out each note by ear.

Some stuff is just about impossible for me to learn "by ear," either because it's too complex (e.g. Zappa, Joni Mitchell), or I simply can't hear the bass very well. OTOH, I have found the bass lines by some groups/musicians are pretty easy to learn by ear.

When I was a teen I figured out the bass lines for many of the songs on Black Sabbath's first four albums. Most are not difficult to figure out. And I love the style.

I know the OP said he didn't care for them, but if you are new to the bass, most songs by The Ramones are easy to figure out. I love playing along with them. (On The Ramones' first album, turn the balance control all the way to the left channel. The only guitar you will hear is Dee Dee's bass! Super easy to figure out the bass lines when you do this.)

Probably the "funnest" album I have ever figure out the bass lines on is Big Lizard in My Backyard by The Dead Milkmen. It's a blast to play along with; the bass is right out front (so you can clearly hear it) and the songs are hilarious.
  #47  
Old 09-07-2019, 06:36 AM
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Thanks to everyone! There are some great and some hilarious suggestions here. bordelond, sure I'll get right on those. I might actually be able to play parts of the Duran Duran song, though -- that will go on the list, since that video lays it out so well. Crafter_Man, it's not that I don't like the Ramones, it's just that their bass parts are pretty mindless. minor7flat5, no iOS devices, unfortunately. I do use Rocksmith on the PC, which has helped get my fingers moving on the neck and strings, and there are hundreds of songs on YouTube that use the same interface.

I'm on vacation, so I can't respond to every post, but I really appreciate the responses. When I get back home, I'll definitely try all of the reasonable ones here. I'm not trying Primus -- that guy is a bass (the instrument, not the voice part) god.
  #48  
Old 09-07-2019, 08:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RitterSport View Post
Crafter_Man, it's not that I don't like the Ramones, it's just that their bass parts are pretty mindless.
I guess I can't disagree with that. But I still love it.

I would like to reiterate just how wonderful the bass lines are on Big Lizard in My Backyard by The Dead Milkmen. As an example, check out Beach Song. Should only take you a few minutes to figure it out. And other than the chorus - which is even easier - that's the whole song! Same goes for Bitchin' Camaro. For something a bit more challenging, figure out the bass line in Swordfish. It sounds complicated, but really isn't.

Last edited by Crafter_Man; 09-07-2019 at 08:41 AM.
  #49  
Old 09-08-2019, 09:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RitterSport View Post
Do you mean this Pink Floyd song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o2sA0vpA-4

It's sort-of a Revolution 9 song, not much melody there. I must be missing something.
You missed the first minute of it. I was referring to the guitar+bass riff at the beginning, not to the abstract atonal jam that followed. That guitar+bass riff is also reprised about a minute from the end. I wasn't suggesting you mess with the stuff in the middle!

When I was young some friends of mine who couldn't read music and could only play open-tuned guitar chords with a single finger would jam together. They mostly played Hawkwind songs, but I first learned "Interstellar Overdrive" from jamming with them. The riff starts on B and descends to low E based on an elaboration of the chromatic scale. I recommended it as good figure-it-out material.
  #50  
Old 09-09-2019, 06:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond View Post
Heard one this morning that was nice and slow, but a good bit tastier than I remembered:

"Closer to Home/I'm Your Captain" by The Guess Who
That was Grand Funk Railroad eh.
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