Drummer-Bassist Observations

Davo-London

Gold Member
How do you interact with your bassist?

I ask the question as a drummer-bassist who's surprised how little I interact with my bassist when I play the drums. However, when I play bass I am conscious of the drums and adjust my playing to both match their tempo and their groove. I’ve been playing bass for so long (40 years) that it’s intuitive. The better the drummer, the more I interact by eye and/or by the style of play.

Counter-wise, as a drummer I can go whole songs without noticing the bassist and then try extra hard to listen before forgetting again. I confess I play with distinctly average bassists. I’m sure this would be different if I was playing with myself!

Couldn’t resist – sorry.

So, Question time, how do you consciously or subconsciously play in sync with your bassist?

Peace
Davo
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Always seen them as my 'brother in arms' so to speak.

I bend over backwards to form a cohesive unit with them. Together you are the rhythm section. The foundation on which everything else is built. If you don't gel with the bass player it's distinctly noticeable.

One thing I learned from a young age is, the best bands always have tight rhythm sections. There's something to it.

I couldn't imagine going more than two bars without locking in with my bass players, let alone ignoring them for entire songs. The concept doesn't compute.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
So, Question time, how do you consciously or subconsciously play in sync with your bassist?

Peace
Davo
At church, my wife plays bass. Since I was the one to teach her bass, we sync up my kick drum pattern and her bass patterns as needed.

In different bands I'm in, I do my best to figure out bass patterns and match those. If the bass player is all over the place, I just play as simply as possible.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
The other night we told the crowd that my new baby girl looks suspiciously like our bassist John, dimples and everything. :)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I like to see the bass player's plucking hand so I can see what they are feeling. If I'm playing a money beat....I don't really need to look at the bass player.

I usually focus on the best rhythm player on the stage and lock with them.

I've haven't been blessed with a great bass player...ever...with the exception of about 18 months in 2010. (she is Robben Ford's bass player currently)

So I do what I have to.
 

trickg

Silver Member
Even if it doesn't appear that I'm interacting with my bass player, I'm ALWAYS listening to what they are doing.
 

lsits

Gold Member
I must be the odd man out in that I sync up better with the rhythm guitarist. I guess that's because most of the bands I've been in have gone through bassists about every six months.
 

Davo-London

Gold Member
My band leader is a guitarist and so I definitely focus on his vocals and guitar. I guess it's down to the quality of our bassists. Sad to see a lot of poor bassists about. Yet as an experienced player I'm struggling to find a band.

Davo
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
So, Question time, how do you consciously or subconsciously play in sync with your bassist?
If you're actively, consciously *thinking* about playing with a bass player, something has probably gone a bit wrong, or you're just getting to know each other's playing. Could be a tempo or feel issue, a rushed section or phrase, or just plain locking up better. The conscious moments should be for corrections and adjustments, so if there are very few of those, it's a good sign.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
My band leader is a guitarist and so I definitely focus on his vocals and guitar. I guess it's down to the quality of our bassists. Sad to see a lot of poor bassists about. Yet as an experienced player I'm struggling to find a band.

Davo
Really, as a bassist? Do you sing lead or harmony?
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
Over the last decade I’ve played a lot with two guys:

Bassist #1: a funk player who loves to lock in with the kick. At our first meeting we locked in on several tunes (Cut the Cake, Give it What You Can, etc.) and have never looked and/or watched each other much at all (it’s much more fun to watch the women dance to funk). Occasionally we’d discuss an arrangement, and if it felt good we’d play it that way until we tired of it.

Bassist #2: a rock player who noodles very tastfully (think Entwhistle). Hence, I play very simple rhythms & fills while he pecks and slides through changes & fills. I think he sounds great and stay out of his way. We watch each other when coming into changes, and respond to each others playing that way. Some sections sound fantastic, some are train wrecks.

moar eye candy

 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
I like Davo play both bass and drums... and some piano/keys as well. I think it just depends on the grouping and the people.

It is like the guy who was griping because his singer changed the set list during the gig. Some guys I have played with a very rigid, both drummers and bassists, they do their thing and don't deviate. So no matter what I'm doing on drums or bass, the other guy isn't going to change, so there isn't usually a whole ton of interaction during the gig. On the other hand, I've played with some guys that come from more of a jazz or other improv background and there is a lot more interaction and a lot more playing off each other.
 

mrfingers

Senior Member
In my cover band I don’t bother locking in with the bass-he has his own problems with the songs’ bass parts. My jam band is a different story altogether-the bass and I lock in during the he jams: sort of “ask and answer” or trading patterns. That’s way more fun than the covers.
 

Jbravo

Senior Member
Although I’m a self taught bassist, I’m capable of playing and singing quite a few Rush songs( although not of the older super high vocal range stuff).

After basically being away from drums for 30+ years, I am definitely more confident in my bass abilities. But I’ve recovered a good amount of drum capability over the last 2.5 or so years I’ve been back to drumming.

If you want to gig, it’s a bassists market. Competent bassists can always work. Competent drummers are a lot easier to find.

In don’t play out anymore, and doubt I will, but I think it’s critical that the rhythm section meshes, and would put extra effort in trying to help a less talented or experienced player improve on it. If the other player was incompetent, or just didn’t care, I probably wouldn’t choose to play with them...
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
If you want to gig, it’s a bassists market. Competent bassists can always work. Competent drummers are a lot easier to find.
I think this very much depends on your area. I feel like, personally, that I find more opportunity playing drums than bass where I'm at. I don't think this is because I'm a better drummer than bassist either.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
I've been fortunate enough to have played with bass players with great time, which helped me with my time.

I've also been fortunate enough to have played with some really creative bass players, which helped me with my creativity.

Sometimes, a tight bass player gives me the opportunity to play more creatively, and sometimes a creative bass player helps me play tighter.

Each type of bass player has their own merits, and I'm glad to have played with both types.

In the end, how I play is therefore somewhat determined by the type of bass player I'm playing with.

Practically, though, a bass player (and every other band member for that matter) has to have a bit of both (ie. time and creativity), the ratio of one to the other not being all that important, otherwise the music risks becoming too sterile or unaccessible to the listener.
 

TMe

Senior Member
Are we talking about a "bassist" bassist, or a "failed guitarist who thinks bass is easier" bassist?

The former is a rare bird. The latter I try to ignore while locking in with the best rhythm player in the band. In my experience, that's usually the singer.

The ability to devote more of your attention to listening than playing comes with experience. If you're not locking in with the bass, but you are locking in with someone else - not a problem. If you're so focused on your own playing that you're not really listening to anybody, you might want to work on that.

Unless you're in a band where that's the only way to keep time, where the drummer is like a train rolling past and everyone else has to get on board or get flattened. I played in a band like that and people were impressed with my drumming, but I thought it was the absolute least fun I could have behind a drum kit. I'd rather play alone in the basement than play AGAINST other people.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Are we talking about a "bassist" bassist, or a "failed guitarist who thinks bass is easier" bassist?
The former is a rare bird. The latter I try to ignore while locking in with the best rhythm player in the band. In my experience, that's usually the singer.
Hmmmm, in my experience singers can have the worst time, words off-cue and all. But I don't play with complete total pros.

I have to agree it can depend on the band. cp photos example is a good one.
I think locking should be pretty effortless, or at least 'consciousness-less'. That said, I don't pay as much attention to a bassist as I do the overall song.
 
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