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It's Midi bass lines for me. My bass playing defeated me.

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by burntfrijoles, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Friend of Leo's

    Feb 12, 2010
    Jacksonville
    I dusted off some old projects in Logic this week. I was stunned at how bad my bass playing can be.
    As background I don't write my own songs, although I made some pathetic attempts at doing so. I mostly create backing tracks with Logic. Covers of my favorite rock and blues tunes.
    Back to these uncompleted recordings. After listening to the dynamics and timing of my bass tracks I found some bass scores and, using the pencil tool, created midi bass lines. I used the stock bass tones in the Logic library (I'm sure there are better bass samples out there). Anyway, the recording prior to EQ and some tweaking of the note lengths, velocity already sounded better.
    It's just not worth my time or effort to learn bass parts any longer. My bass playing would only be described as "in the pocket" in Bizarro World. (for those familiar with Superman)
     

  2. woodman

    woodman Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Age:
    72
    Nov 28, 2004
    Mint Hill, NC
    I feel your pain! When I absolutely have to use bass guitar, it takes forever to edit tightly enough to pass muster. It usually takes gobs of compression too. MIDI's quicker by a factor of 3 or 4! ... You can find a lot of interesting bass sounds in the Logic loop library — if you hear a sound you like, drag the loop into your track, bag the notes and place your own — the sound remains. A lot of the loops come with their own compression and EQ.
     

  3. jhundt

    jhundt Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    63
    Mar 23, 2003
    Netherlands
    but then it's no longer a person playing an instrument; it's no longer you making music. It's no longer anybody making music, it's just click/snip/cut/paste "let the computer do it". Why would you even bother to record it?
     

  4. paratus

    paratus Friend of Leo's Ad Free + Supporter

    Dec 2, 2010
    Michigan
    If you need help with bass parts I would be happy to give it a shot. I use Studio One 3, I don’t have experience importing stems, but it doesn’t look too difficult to import .wav files.
     

  5. jimilee

    jimilee Tele-Meister

    Age:
    47
    370
    Dec 19, 2017
    Chattanooga
    By this logic, we as guitar players should learn to play and record drums and any other instrument we’d like on the recording. That being said, if the OP is using canned backing tracks along with drums and bass, what part IS he playing? That’s the part I’m now confused about.
     

  6. w3stie

    w3stie Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 19, 2010
    Brisbane
    I think unless you're Nathan East your recorded bass parts will need tweaking, so MIDI is a good idea. You're thinking like a producer who says, what does the song need.
     
    burntfrijoles likes this.

  7. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Friend of Leo's

    Feb 12, 2010
    Jacksonville
    I use drum loops and "draw" drum patterns too. I can't play drums. I really can't play bass. I play guitar and sing (poorly). Ray Manzarek played the Doors baselines on his organ. It wasn't a real bassist but it supported the music.
    I can get bass and drums that support the music using a computer. I won't apologize for that. The rhythm playing and the lead playing will be mine. That's what I want to focus on.
     
    RLee77 and JustABluesGuy like this.

  8. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Friend of Leo's

    Feb 12, 2010
    Jacksonville
    I create the backing track from ratch. First I lay down a drum track using a loop or EZ Drummer preset. Next I lay down rough rhythm guitar track using an acoustic or electric. I usually add a bass track or my own vocal track (as a guide) next. Then I redo the rhythm track. Sometimes there are multiple guitar rhythm tracks. I repeat the process until I have everything but the lead and fills. There's my backing track. I can then play whatever I want. Sometimes it's as simple as drum and bass backing track. I occasionally add a keyboard track as well.
    For example I recently did a back track for David Gilmour's cover of "Don't". It was just drum and bass. Previously I created a backing track for Dire Straits' "Lady Writer". I has drum, bass and rhythm guitar.
    Most of the time the backing tracks are pretty straight forward and I do fine with simple bass lines. It's the bass lines where the groove is more complicated that I find difficult.
    The backing track serve only to accompany me playing the guitar.
     
    jimilee likes this.

  9. KCKC

    KCKC Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 10, 2008
    Hingham, MA
    My down fall is drums. I'll lay down a scratch vox, guit and then bass.

    Recently I 've been working on building drum trax with ez drummer. Using the presets is very easy - drag, drop, done!

    Finding the exact loop can be a challenge for me. I have to learn how to edit/tweak them once they are in place

    I say play to your strengths and let tech take care of the rest. My problem is my strengths aren't that strong!!:D

    KC
     
    burntfrijoles likes this.

  10. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Friend of Leo's

    Feb 12, 2010
    Jacksonville
    This is key. I also find decent drum tabs from time to time, particularly on Songsterr, and can easily create my own. Logic has a draw feature for Midi tracks and I am sure other DAWs do as well which make it easy to "program" drum parts.
    There are enough midi packs that work with EZ Drummer as well.
     

  11. jimilee

    jimilee Tele-Meister

    Age:
    47
    370
    Dec 19, 2017
    Chattanooga
    Thanks for the clarification. As a bass player, I too find it difficult to lay down something meaningful if I didn’t write it on bass first.
     

  12. TeleTex82

    TeleTex82 Friend of Leo's

    May 4, 2010
    San Antone
    Have you ever tried a Trio pedal? There's a little bit of a learning curve but best backing track experience I have had for practice and writing.
     

  13. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Friend of Leo's

    Feb 12, 2010
    Jacksonville
    I owned the Trio Plus for about a year. Used it lot for about 6 months but it's too limiting. Even with sequencing vers It'a great practice tool but is not really not that superior to a simple looper. I try to create reasonably detailed covers for my backing tracks. Some songs require those signature bass lines or something more than root/fifth.
     
    TeleTex82 likes this.

  14. jhundt

    jhundt Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    63
    Mar 23, 2003
    Netherlands
    I retract my statement. Of course for home recording you should use whatever works best in your situation, and whatever makes your recording best for your purpose.

    I posted when I was feeling a bit grumpy about something totally unrelated, so please accept my apology.

    It's a discussion I frequently had with my son. We are very different about music. I grew up in the 60s. I learned to play by getting out and mixing it up with other musicians. I learned to record on a 4-track cassette machine. I assembled a very good group, and when I needed drums (for example) I would let the drummer play. I wouldn't tell him what to play, because he was a very good drummer and his insight, choices, and performance were almost always better than what I would have imagined. He added to the creative process.

    My son, who grew up in the 90s, recorded alone in his room on a digital work station. He used old hand-me-down Midi gear including some kind of drum machine that he learned to program pretty well. I used to ask him "don't you want to play with a group? wouldn't you just like to turn around and say to the drummer - give me a beat!??" And he always said "No, I want it to be just the way I make it, I don't want anybody else playing on my tracks." Well his stuff sounded OK too, so I guess any way you want, it it's all right.
     

  15. middy

    middy Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    47
    Apr 28, 2010
    Dallas, TX
    People underestimate how much practice it takes to be good bass player.

    1. Developing tone/touch in your fingers. You won’t have “that sound” until your fingers know how to pull it out, just like guitar.

    2. Pocket. You have to be tighter to the groove, and your ears and fingers have to develop that connection in a slightly different way when you’re playing an octave lower.

    3. Less is more. Know when not to play. Work on leaving rests in your lines and not letting every note ring out. Alternatively, sometimes half notes and even whole notes are appropriate. Don’t be afraid to play nothing at all for a bar or two. Start paying attention to the bass lines in the music you listen to and try to incorporate what you hear.

    4. No slop. Bass players can’t hit wrong notes or even clam a few without messing up everyone’s groove. It’s a rigorous and thankless job. That’s why we always look so serious. If you have a good bass player, buy him a beer.
     

  16. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Friend of Leo's

    Feb 12, 2010
    Jacksonville
    I am just poor at 1 & 2. I don't try to overplay because I don't have the skills. In recording you can hit a clam because you can always "punch in" to correct the offending note. Even in a straight forward blues I sound stiff. A good friend of mine is excellent musicians always tells me you need "more grease".
     

  17. craigs63

    craigs63 Tele-Holic

    512
    Aug 23, 2009
    Naperville, IL
    Eh, it's just thicker strings.
    Would this thread go over on talkbass.com with 'midi guitar parts' ?
     

  18. woodman

    woodman Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Age:
    72
    Nov 28, 2004
    Mint Hill, NC
    Finding the exact loop can be a challenge for me. I have to learn how to edit/tweak them once they are in place


    Right — loops and EZD patterns are rarely a snug fit unless you're writing generically. The art is in customizing to fit your song. Of course, it pays to find one that's fairly close. But deep editing is about the only way to bring MIDI to life.
     
    waparker4 likes this.

  19. Sollipsist

    Sollipsist Tele-Holic

    Age:
    46
    517
    Aug 25, 2016
    89108
    Your reflexes might be slightly slow but overall your timing might be good. I've saved many sloppy sounding bass tracks simply by "nudging" the whole track just a few ticks earlier.

    Think of it as accommodating for your own personal latency :)
     

  20. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Friend of Leo's

    Feb 12, 2010
    Jacksonville
    Actually that's a fine idea. Thanks. I will find a project where I am displeased with the bass (that will be easy) and see how much I can correct by using "nudge".
     
    Sollipsist likes this.

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