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dachuckster

Anyone try a keyboard for bass instead of bass guitar????

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New here, but have been lurking for the past five years, playing for 23 years, now i'm 39 years old.

 

I enjoy the stringed instruments, but have been enjoying the keys a lot lately (lucy in the sky with diamonds intro comes to mind).

 

My question is, have any of you decided to use a keyboard for the bass/botton end instead of using a bass guitar player? I recall seeing Missing Persons a long while back in concert and they had no bass player, but two guys on keys/synth and the guitar w/ drums. It was the thickest sound i'd heard at the time. I'm kinda leaning that way because i know some great key players, but not enough decent bass players. We play mostly rock and some 80's retro. Two guitars, singer, drums......and?

 

Your thoughts and experiences? I will do it cause i'm comfy with it, but i'd like to know the pro's and cons of other musicians experiences.. Thanks!!

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I mostly hate it when bands do that. For straight ahead rock I think is sucks. That said, check out the band Soulive. They are an excellent funk, fusion, rock, 3-piece band with keys, guitar and drums. Their Keyboard player lays down some great bass lines with very nice tone.

 

Bad old joke: How many bass players does it take to change a light bulb?

 

None. The keyboard player can do that with his left hand. (rim shot)

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I remember when I was way younger, there was a popular band out of Chicago who had a regional hit. I went to see them at a big club and they were only 3 pieces: drummer, guitar player and keyboard player who also covered bass. I was disappointed and thought it was 'odd' even though they were pretty good.

 

It's like: let's replace the drummer with a machine! As much as you might love to do it, it would seem 'odd' to alot of people.

 

That my opinion and I'm an 'old guy' so I could be way wrong on what would/wouldn't appeal to the younger crowd these days. You could always give it a try and if it doesn't seem to fly, hire a bass player.

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I played left hand bass for years. This was a while ago. After two of our bass players left for travel reasons we auditioned many bass players and we all thought they came up short, so I volunteered to play left hand bass on my keyboard. I played synths and sample playback modules through a small mixer > custom made subharmonic synth called a PitBull >Rane parametric EQ > a Peavey 500 watt amp > 2 15" speaker cabs. The parametic was important for tuning to the room.

 

I did this for several years, and occasionally bass players came up to me to compliment me on the sound and my ability to mimic a real bass. It can be done well.

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I played left hand bass for years. This was a while ago. After two of our bass players left for travel reasons we auditioned many bass players and we all thought they came up short, so I volunteered to play left hand bass on my keyboard. I played synths and sample playback modules through a small mixer > custom made subharmonic synth called a PitBull >Rane parametric EQ > a Peavey 500 watt amp > 2 15" speaker cabs. The parametic was important for tuning to the room.


I did this for several years, and occasionally bass players came up to me to compliment me on the sound and my ability to mimic a real bass. It can be done well.

 

Professor Longhair, Dr. John, and The Rascals were the only ones I've heard do it well. And Fess and the Dr. use(d) Bass players live.

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I think it's a great idea. There's no rules in the RnR play book and if there were the first thing I'd be doing is breaking them. I've always thought it's better to be different than the other 300 bands in town.

 

Hell, just playing some songs on keys makes me different that the other 300 bands in town here where the stereotype is drums, bass, 1 or 2 guitar. The same ole same ole gets boring pretty quick.

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Professor Longhair, Dr. John, and The Rascals were the only ones I've heard do it well. And Fess and the Dr. use(d) Bass players live.

 

 

Don't forget the Doors. Ray Manzarek was a monster on keys.

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Professor Longhair, Dr. John, and The Rascals were the only ones I've heard do it well. And Fess and the Dr. use(d) Bass players live.

 

I currently play with a great bass player and I couldn't do what he does, so I no longer play left hand bass. However, I've heard other people play left hand bass and do credible jobs and they weren't superstars.

 

There are lots of great musicians that aren't famous.

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I started off on keyboards in the early '80s and started to learn other instruments as the years went on. I used to switch off on bass guitar and keyboards in a band I was in back in 1990. It was kind of fun and I could understand why John Paul Jones said it was enjoyable to be "half the band."

 

I re-visited this same bass guitar/keyboards role in 2005-2006 with a couple of country/rock bands. It definitely added a lot to the group instead of just having bass guitar only. The sound was a lot thicker with a real bass guitar, but the bass keyboard sound was certainly servicable.

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As a keyboard player I think it can definitely work, although not my preference either for most rock. Joshua Redman uses a keyboard bass for his soul/jazz stuff and it's killer.

 

For a better idea for how this can sound with rock material, check out Jeff Beck's "Guitar Shop" from the late 80's.

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Lee Michaels - Third album (titled strangely enough "Lee Michaels") One side is just Hammond B3 and drums. (Frosty) All the bass was either left hand or pedals. For those who don't know, this was a power Blues/Rock. (Probably the best sounding B3 I've ever heard.) The entire album was recorded in a single 8.5 hour session. Amazing!

 

When I was playing with a rock cover band last year about 1/3 of my bass playing included playing keys with either left hand or pedal bass. Rock requires bass, just not bass guitar. We also had a lead guitar/keyboard player. The whole thing took up a lot of stage space.

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Don't forget the Doors. Ray Manzarek was a monster on keys.

 

Amen.:thu: The doors used a Bass player live too.

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Lee Michaels - Third album (titled strangely enough "Lee Michaels") One side is just Hammond B3 and drums. (Frosty) All the bass was either left hand or pedals. For those who don't know, this was a power Blues/Rock. (Probably the best sounding B3 I've ever heard.) The entire album was recorded in a single 8.5 hour session. Amazing!


When I was playing with a rock cover band last year about 1/3 of my bass playing included playing keys with either left hand or pedal bass. Rock requires bass, just not bass guitar. We also had a lead guitar/keyboard player. The whole thing took up a lot of stage space.

 

That's my fave of his, except for "Stormy Monday". Love "Who Could Want More".

 

Back in the 70s I saw Gary Wright at a Day on the Green in Oakland Coliseum- three keyboards and drums.

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Back in the eighties I sometimes played in a trio with a drummer and a keyboard player who played bass on the keyboard with his left hand. Though on some tunes he might play a standard four string bass. Mostly though he stuck to keyboard bass. At that time the regional military bases paid a set rate for bands that played at their enlisted and officer's clubs. And with a three piece band we made some serious scrilla. We could pretty much live on what we made playing on Friday and Saturday night. And we would also play gigs during the week too. Sure, the keyboard bass was a little cheesy, but only to us musicians. The folks that went where we played at really didn't care or know the difference.

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It's been done plenty of times. I do it when our bass player can't make it to gigs. And beside, by eliminating the bass player you have one less person to wait on and work around.

 

Do it.

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The Doors used a bass player in the studio, live Manzerak played bass on a Rhodes Bass keyboard.If you listen to the Doors live you'll hear that he simplified many of the bass lines so he could play both parts.

Go for it, at least you'll be different from the hordes of guitar,bass & drum trio's out there.

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I play left hand bass on several songs in my classic rock band.

 

If you want to hear how it sounds in a live setting, click the link in my sig and check out: "Workin for the Weekend", "Maybe I'm Amazed", "Sister Christian", or "Headed for a Heartbreak".

 

I'll tell you how I do it....when I setup the split for the bass, I pan it hard left, sending the bass output through the left output, and all treble/midrange through the right.

 

These 2 outputs go to a small rack submixer, and from there the left side goes to channel A of my power amp and on to a 1x15.

 

The right side goes to a 4x10.

 

Another thing is you really want to take the time to customize your bass patch - don't be afraid to use a little compression, EQ and overdrive - listen to "Workin for the Weekend" in my link for an example of that....

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I'm both a keyboardist and bassist... The bass player in my band is the same. I bring out my Minimoog for him to play onstage.

 

It really depends on what kind of sound you're using. If the keyboard is making sounds that an electric bass cannot do (i.e. masively deep, sub-bass tones, VCF resonant sounds, buzzy sounds (think Parliament, Gap Band, etc), then go for it.

 

But if all the keyboard is playing is the "Fingered Bass 1" or "Slap Bass 2" GM preset, forget it!

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Wade that doesn't sound bad at all. You guys have really come a long way since the last demos of your band I heard.

 

Keep rockin!

 

Max

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Wade that doesn't sound bad at all. You guys have really come a long way since the last demos of your band I heard.


Keep rockin!


Max

Thanks man.

 

We definitely suck less with time - which hopefully will explain my newfound tendency to encourage people to stick with it and try to make their band BETTER, rather than bail because some other aspect of the band isn't up to snuff.

 

Face it - all of the good bands that I know of - on this board and in real life, have been together a while - they didn't get good overnight.

 

Cooter's band has been together what - 20 years; and they're tight as hell.

 

I hope this can be an inspiration to others who are coming off the bench and into the game - stick with it! Once, I was THAT bass player - inconsistent, not solid, yada yada yada.

 

But the guys stuck with me, and now i've got endurance, confidence and better presence and groove.

 

It don't happen overnight people, and the conditions for "off the bench" players vs. active and experienced band members differ greatly.

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Good marriages are just like that. My Wife always said that a band is like a marriage of five people without the sex. Jives with my experience.

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I play left hand bass on several songs in my classic rock band.


If you want to hear how it sounds in a live setting, click the link in my sig and check out: "Workin for the Weekend", "Maybe I'm Amazed", "Sister Christian", or "Headed for a Heartbreak".


I'll tell you how I do it....when I setup the split for the bass, I pan it hard left, sending the bass output through the left output, and all treble/midrange through the right.


These 2 outputs go to a small rack submixer, and from there the left side goes to channel A of my power amp and on to a 1x15.


The right side goes to a 4x10.


Another thing is you really want to take the time to customize your bass patch - don't be afraid to use a little compression, EQ and overdrive - listen to "Workin for the Weekend" in my link for an example of that....

 

The way *I* did it was I used my Sabine rack tuner as sort of splitter. I would put my Korg Poly-61 in one input and my Ibanez BTB 5-string bass through the other, then have the output go through a Boss CP-50 compressor/limiter/gate and finally into my Fender Bassman 60. Sounded pretty good!

 

I just put the Ensoniq ESQ-1 into a DI box and right to the snake, listening to it through the floor monitors (no keyboard amp). I only used it for piano and organ sounds, so I never saw the need for any effects, other than some lush reverb on the P.A. mixing board.

 

If I ever have another band where I switch off on guitar and keyboards, I'll probably use a rack multi-effect for digital delays so I can do cool stuff like Greg Hawkes' solo on "Bye Bye Love."

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The way *I* did it was I used my Sabine rack tuner as sort of splitter. I would put my Korg Poly-61 in one input and my Ibanez BTB 5-string bass through the other, then have the output go through a Boss CP-50 compressor/limiter/gate and finally into my Fender Bassman 60. Sounded pretty good!


I just put the Ensoniq ESQ-1 into a DI box and right to the snake, listening to it through the floor monitors (no keyboard amp). I only used it for piano and organ sounds, so I never saw the need for any effects, other than some lush reverb on the P.A. mixing board.


If I ever have another band where I switch off on guitar and keyboards, I'll probably use a rack multi-effect for digital delays so I can do cool stuff like Greg Hawkes' solo on "Bye Bye Love."

Ah - the ESQ-1 - my first real keyboard.

 

I sometimes miss that beast - I love how you can switch to a different preset and any sustained notes will continue to sound using the old voice!

 

No gaps in the sound whatsoever; more modern boards need to have this very cool performance feature.

 

I don't miss the dog-slow envelopes that quack like a duck though. :lol:

 

IIRC, Hawkes used the delay built in to his MiniKorg on that lead; most any onboard delay processor would work okay for this kind of thing.

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Good marriages are just like that. My Wife always said that a band is like a marriage of five people without the sex. Jives with my experience.

I thought a marriage was like a band, but without the sex. :freak:

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