Thursday, February 3, 2011

Establishing a Bass Line

'99 Fender Precision Bass

While the Great Blizzard of 2011 ran it's course outside I stayed in and generated some low frequency sound waves to keep warm.  When I started "playing" the bass a few years ago I discovered what a great tool it is for picking out chords of songs without tabulature or sheet music.  By playing along to a recording I can flush out the root notes of a song without too much difficulty.  The human ear can differentiate low frequencies much better than higher ones and I think this explains why I don't have near as much luck when trying to guess chords with my six string instruments. 

Last night I unintentionally learned a new song on my bass by the Velvet Underground called "Oh Sweet Nuthin' ".  Slow tempo three chord songs are right up my alley.  To be honest I had never heard this song before but The Black Crowes recently covered it and put on on their DVD "Cabin Fever".  I noticed the simple groove and after a couple run throughs I had a rudimentary base line established and playable either up high or lower on the neck.

Just like pounding out Morse code on a telegraph key the bass guitar requires a steadiness and a precision sense of timing.  That is if you want to sound good at it.  Speaking of telegraph keys, my post about Vibroplex nameplates last month reminded me of this excellent embossed and filled nameplate on the grill of my bass amp.  Here is an example of a well established company that wants to project a "vintage" quality in their product right down to name badge on the front.  The sound quality side of this company's product speaks for itself.  

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