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Thread: Backing track for Bass??

  1. #1

    Post Backing track for Bass??

    Our bluegrass gospel trio is about to lose our bass player to construction work.
    He has been playing an electric bass.

    We play a progressive style and it seems that it is going to be next to impossible to find a bass picker that can hang with us any time soon and we have some gigs coming up.

    I have been kicking around the idea of recording a bass track and playing it behind the guitar and mandolin that would be picking live.

    What are some of the pros and cons? Has anybody ever done this?
    How would the crowd accept this in a bluegrass setting?

    Thanks in advance for your opinions!

  2. #2
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backing track for Bass??

    Quote Originally Posted by baggster View Post
    Our bluegrass gospel trio is about to lose our bass player to construction work.
    He has been playing an electric bass.

    We play a progressive style and it seems that it is going to be next to impossible to find a bass picker that can hang with us any time soon and we have some gigs coming up.

    I have been kicking around the idea of recording a bass track and playing it behind the guitar and mandolin that would be picking live.

    What are some of the pros and cons? Has anybody ever done this?
    How would the crowd accept this in a bluegrass setting?

    Thanks in advance for your opinions!
    I expect that you will be far better accepted without a bass than with a recorded track. Speaking for myself, I do not want to hear that, but there are actually some musical advantages to acoustic music without a bass. And Iím a bass player.

    So, my opinion is no, and I donít know your location, but Iím surprised you canít find a competent bassist. Try the local community or pro orchestra, jazz players, etcÖ

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backing track for Bass??

    eBass mandolin tuned in fifths and someone who can play alternating bass double stops and arpeggios?

    I found the learning curve as a mandolinist really easy, you can ‘play’ bass in a couple of hours. No problem.

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backing track for Bass??

    Are the other two instruments in your trio guitar and mandolin? If so, why not try to recruit a fiddle player instead of a bassist? I reckon a fiddle could be an asset in gospel music.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backing track for Bass??

    Our acoustic Gospel band's normal instrument config is banjo, rhythm guitar, fiddle and double bass. Our double bass player is also an excellent lead guitarist and mandolin player. I normally play either banjo or mandolin, but I also play double bass when needed (and our double bass is mine).

    For some gigs and/or songs we'll have our double bassist play lead guitar or mandolin instead. For example, if we know in advance that our venue is small and crowded, often we won't even attempt to bring the double bass and we'll have our double bassist play lead guitar. Or if it's just for a few songs in a set which we'd like to highlight him on lead guitar or mandolin, and if we feel it would be helpful, I'll play the double bass.

    We do also have a rhythm guitarist. Between the two guitarists, they can support the bass line pretty decently. Not to say that a double bass isn't necessary, but with the support of the two guitarists, we can get along quite well without double bass when we need to. This is also one of the advantages of a 4-person band, plus having some multi-instrument players can be handy.

    If your guitarist is an acoustic player, I'd suggest asking him or her to cover the bass line more prominently on guitar. The low E and A strings on guitar are sufficient to carry a lot of the bass line if used properly and it might get you by until you get another bassist. Everyone else just needs to follow the guitar instead of the bass.

    If your guitarist plays electric, that's harder because the sustain of an electric guitar can make the lower tones sound muddy, where the bass line becomes hard to follow. Then the choice becomes whether you want electric guitar sustain, or cutting back the sustain, the sound of a bass.

    For our band, we'd avoid using backing tracks. It's another thing to coordinate with on stage, and backing tracks don't offer the flexibility of a live bassist.
    -- Don

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backing track for Bass??

    For our band, we'd avoid using backing tracks. It's another thing to coordinate with on stage, and backing tracks don't offer the flexibility of a live bassist.
    This.

    Others may differ; I strongly prefer not to use canned, pre-recorded anything in a performance setting. I gig alongside a guitarist, and I play switch on guitar and mandolin. Sometimes I crank up the bass and down on the treble on guitar and emphasize bass while he's performing. I don't like using a drum machine, much less would I care for being fenced in by a canned bass track.
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    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backing track for Bass??

    Playing to something pre-recorded can be tough. If you can't hear well, don't start at the right time, speed up, slow down, miss a chord, etc. it is going to be a lot more noticeable than with a live player that is able to compensate. The closest thing I have played with is one gig where we had a quartet and the usual fiddle player was playing bass since the bass player could not make it. For a couple of fiddle tunes he used a loop pedal to keep the bass going long enough to play a fiddle solo.
    You have to REALLY listen and nail your timing or it will be a mess.
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    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backing track for Bass??

    As an upright bass player who gigs every weekend, I highly encourage the comedy show that may well erupt from pre recorded bass tracks. It will double my pay and the demand for my services!

    You could achieve the same general effect using a looper pedal and a lower octave pedal, with the advantage that you can engage the audience with stories about your bass player being in jail or some other banter while inviting them in to the process of looping. Checkout Josh Daniels "live from the shed" sessions over on facebook.

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  13. #9

    Default Re: Backing track for Bass??

    I hear you man.

  14. #10

    Default Re: Backing track for Bass??

    To be honest I have been thinking about that and I believe it would be fun.
    For instance when I am introducing the band I could get folks to clap for the bassist.
    Then my brother could joke about me trying to get two rounds of applause (since I will be laying the bass track)
    And if we mess up we can always blame it on the bassist.

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backing track for Bass??

    Well, at least you know where your challenges will be with a backing track.

    Personally, when my wife and I sit down to listen to a live performance, the last thing we want to hear is a backing track, and believe me, we can tell the difference.

    Have fun!
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
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  16. #12
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backing track for Bass??

    The only band I ever saw pull this off was Timbuk 3 (remember them?) and that was with a drum machine, which I think would be easier to work with than a 'bass machine.'
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
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