Can a band formulate their own unique sound without a bassist?


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GITARdud391
03-01-2008, 12:19 AM
I know this is something people typically scream "YOU NEED A GODDAMN BASSIST" at, and I'm no Jack White on the guitar either. I really am curious to know if a band can create an environment to write and perform within that doesn't sound completely empty and lacking even without a bassist. I know typically if a band IS lacking some sort of guitarist, it's not the bass section...so I really do wanna know, is there a way to succeed as a band by writing good songs around the preface that you don't have a bassist...?

The reason this comes to point is because my band does really enjoy the intimacy and creative freedom we have with a vocalist/guitarist/drummer, and finding a bassist who is as dedicated to take this where we are isn't quite working out. Now our singer's female, I play guitar, my drummer is pretty unique and extremely talented (hes like the one you are like "oh ****, he's awesome" in the band at his instrument), and we are all good at writing good lyrics and melodies. We actually are told that just as a group we perform well, although we've only played a few times more recently. Our vocalist is really awesome, and I'm not bad at the guitar at all. As a band we know what we want soundwise, and we are actually a pretty talented group (I'd like to think, and I have been told...I'm just sort of bashful or not so sure...but if people say it, hey, that rocks). I really do wanna know if we can make it without a bassist at all. Is there some way to achieve this through specific EQ'ing when mixing? Maybe just throw some alternative ways to achieve this out there, or tell us why it won't work..but please, cause it's sort of a pressing issue on my mind, and all of ours actually.

Doodleface
03-01-2008, 12:22 AM
If you're really serious about not wanting a bassist. Then I suggest YOU playing bass when you guys record and everything. Get a friend to play it live the way you YOU want him/her to.

GD_GC
03-01-2008, 12:22 AM
Well you can do whatever the fuck you want in a band. But the only problem I would have is for lead guitar work. There will be nothing keeping the chord progression under the guitar, and it will sound confusing and random, unless you are GODLY at blending lead and rhythm playing. So basically I think it COULD work, but 1.) it will be hard and 2.) a bassist adds a lot to the sound, so it really won't sound as good.

Ultimate_Gio92
03-01-2008, 12:23 AM
if you record, one of you can play bass... live you have to EQ in more low end i guess

litelbrown
03-01-2008, 12:24 AM
make your singer take up a little bass, just for fill.

b_rob
03-01-2008, 12:28 AM
apparently the grindcore band pig destroyer doesnt have a bass player. the guitarist uses a 7 string( maybe tuned down??) and does a little trick with his cabs where he turns them so that the speakers face the floor of the stage, thus turning the stage into a giant subwoofer.... so ive read anyways.................

emr_steelmech
03-01-2008, 12:38 AM
ive seen a few bands with one guitar, drums, and a vocalist. They all sounded empty and really hollow. I would suggest either a bassist or 2nd guitarist to fill out the sound, but maybe you guys can pull it off, i dont know.

godisasniper
03-01-2008, 12:10 PM
I play with no bassist, just me singing and on guitar and my brother on drums, and that works...but I can't really do lead guitar stuff when we play live. I stick to chord progressions generally, and don't do much soloing. I pick songs to cover where the bass part is just the guitar part but an octave down, and I put more bass in the eq...I'm also thinking of getting an Electro Harmonix POG, which can add an octave down and two octaves up.

qotsa1998
03-01-2008, 12:16 PM
I thin you need a bass player. Without one, you end up sounding thin and empty. For Example, listen to the song Take it or Leave It by the Strokes. The bass is pretty sproadic in the verse, so you kinda get to compare how it would sound with a bass player and without one. Either find some1 who will play what you want to, or hire one when you gig. But that Pig Destroyer trick is interesting.

Matheau
03-01-2008, 01:09 PM
It depends on the kind of music you want to do. For most things, you are probably going to sound too thin, as mentioned above. Bass is the conventional instrument, but there are other instruments that can fill in that gap.

It really depends, but it is doubtful you are going to get a full sound with your set up. Even most punk bands have more versatility then your set up. There are more situations where you would get by better with a bass player over a guitar player, especially if you have a really good singer.

Also keep in mind, unique doesn't mean the same thing as good.

GoDrex
03-01-2008, 01:13 PM
Sleater-Kinney.

Saw them six times and they kicked ass every single time. Bass not needed - but they do tune way down and do bass like stuff on guitar.

Colohue
03-01-2008, 01:23 PM
So you're asking if you can be unique by doing what's most popular to do?

It would be more unique without a bassist as more bands have bassists than do not in my personal experience.

Armagedn
03-01-2008, 01:39 PM
You should really have something to fill in the bottom. You could even have the singer do a synth/keyboard thing on the low keys. It could be done with no keyboard knowledge if she could just hit 2 or 3 keys in the correct pattern while she's singing.

Cammeh
03-01-2008, 03:06 PM
Yeash I suppose it could work.

Gurgle!Argh!
03-01-2008, 03:26 PM
just don't have a bassist. it really isnt a big deal. plenty of great bands don't have one. it just means that you don't have a bassist. so yeah, it'll sound different, it'll lack a sound in a certain place. but that isnt automatically a bad thing.

really, stressing out over it and trying too much to overcompensate just isnt worthwhile. just get on with playing without a bassist. easy peasy.

if you're really bothered by it though, maybe look into a baritone guitar. you can do some awesome things with them. there's a band called 'that fucking tank' who just use baritone guitar (in an open tuning into a bass amp and a guitar amp) and a minimal drumkit, and they sound awesome. think they've got a singer now too, but whatever. its ace-o.

Zycho
03-01-2008, 07:32 PM
You don't NEED anyone in a band. As long as you sound good it's fine. However most bands sound empty and thin without bass.

Wulver
03-01-2008, 08:29 PM
Well, reading this, my idea was to get yourself a loop station and some sort of octave-down pedal. Record the bassline through the octave pedal, and have it repeat behind your actual playing?

Just a concept.

Might also try learning that sort of rockabilly chicken-picking, keeping a basic rhythm going under everything. downtune your upper strings and all.

Jearl
03-01-2008, 09:56 PM
this may not be what you're looking for, but you could always record with you on bass and guitar as said and play live acoustic.
until you find a bassist at least.

it could be kind of cool. it would be two totally different sounds. that way, people have more of a reason to see you live and buy your cd.

stringmagician
03-02-2008, 09:46 PM
If this is your setup, you're going to need a bassist to play decent live shows. Find a bassist who likes your stuff and will let you just tell him what to play. Eventually you can form a bond with your bassist, but until then that person can just be someone that plays the bass for your band.

Recording will be fine without one, but live you WILL need a bassist for guitar driven music.

JagStang5246
03-04-2008, 12:29 AM
Before we found a bassist, we were justing going to record the bass ourselves on the recordings and then have just the bass track and run it through the PA live. Other then that, I suggest getting someone to play it.

SlackerBabbath
03-04-2008, 07:07 AM
I know this is something people typically scream "YOU NEED A GODDAMN BASSIST" at, and I'm no Jack White on the guitar either. I really am curious to know if a band can create an environment to write and perform within that doesn't sound completely empty and lacking even without a bassist. I know typically if a band IS lacking some sort of guitarist, it's not the bass section...so I really do wanna know, is there a way to succeed as a band by writing good songs around the preface that you don't have a bassist...?


Yeah, ever heard of The Doors? All their basslines were done on the keyboards by Ray Manzarek.
I also know a band who's guitarist also handles the bass by playing bass pedals with his feet.

trey-col89
03-04-2008, 11:09 AM
Notice how when everyone says "Oh you don't need bass I know *insert random band* and they ROCK and they don't have a bass player!" yet its always followed by "but they fuck around with the amps and resort to trickery to give the illusion of a bass player... but bass isn't necessary!"

Dude, bass is necessary, just get a bass player. Unless you are cool with an incredibly thin sound (not only do you not have a bass player, but you don't have a second guitarist or anything), or you're willing to spend countless hours figuring out a decent way to get your guitar to sound something like a bass, I suggest you get a bass player.

^ Not everyone is Ray Manzarek

litus
03-04-2008, 11:21 AM
to answer the first question "Can a band formulate their own unique sound without a bassist?"
yes cause without a bassist you already have a "original" sound
but i think getting a bassit or record the bass yourselves is a better idea

kaptink
03-04-2008, 05:00 PM
If it ain't broken don't fix it.

Symmetry4321
03-04-2008, 05:27 PM
If you go for a Free type sound, like in All Right Now, which has no bass except in the chorus, then it could work

Dishburn
03-04-2008, 05:53 PM
Gita,

The Doors seemed to get by just fine without one.

Dish

FLNagle
03-04-2008, 06:00 PM
theres a local band just getting started around here, 3 guitars and no bass. although one of the guitarists has one of the most bass heavy distortions i've ever heard (he plays a semi-hollow with high gain. it sounds really, really nice.) it still does not have the same effect on the overall sound as a bass player.

there was another band around here that had no bass player, but instead a guy on keys playing a bass line. i thought it worked well, and the band got pretty popular.

no, you do not really NEED a bass player, but as mentioned if you dont you will probably find some way of giving the same effect.

Cammeh
03-04-2008, 06:22 PM
You could tune the rythm guitar, down to a low tuning E.G. Drop C

Damascus
03-04-2008, 06:47 PM
Yeah, ever heard of The Doors? All their basslines were done on the keyboards by Ray Manzarek.
I also know a band who's guitarist also handles the bass by playing bass pedals with his feet.

^ Not everyone is Ray Manzarek

True - and the Doors used a bassist in the studio.

However, they did manage live without one. It's possible - and if you can make a good enough sound live, you can always fill your studio sound out with bass like the Doors did - hell, I think the White Stripes even have studio bass on a track or two.

Like everyone else said, it is not easy to sound full without a bass, but it's doable with tricks - low guitar tunings, a bass keyboard, that subwoofer thing that sounded interesting...

SlackerBabbath
03-05-2008, 04:10 AM
^ Not everyone is Ray Manzarek
Maybe not, but practicaly any keyboard player will play bass notes with his left hand. There's nothing intrinsically special about Ray Manzareks playing, just that a keyboardist naturaly plays the bass parts anyway.
Now, if you get a keyboardist to split his keyboards, maybe play one with one hand and another with his other hand, then you can have the left hand keyboard set to a bassy sound, (loads of progressive bands such as Atomic Rooster did this in the early 70s) or, many keyboards can actualy be split so that that the left hand keys will have a different sound to the right hand

Zen5887
03-05-2008, 05:34 AM
So there is like...4 good bands without a bass player and...How many good bands WITH a bass player...

Yeah..

SlackerBabbath
03-05-2008, 05:59 AM
So there is like...4 good bands without a bass player and...How many good bands WITH a bass player...

Yeah..
That's a good point, it's always better to have someone handling all the bass parts rather than someone else doubling up on an instrument, but when a bassist is just impossible to find, 'neccesity is the mother of invention' as they say, and once you've got used to doing it a cirtain way as a band, you may not want to go to all the trouble of breaking in a new member and changing the way you play later on down the line.

rush4life
03-05-2008, 07:02 PM
I've seen these guys perform live, and they only have a guitarist, a washboard player, and a drummer.

http://www.myspace.com/therevpeytonsbigdamnband

It was a great show, really loud, the singer/guitarist even brought up the fact they had no bass player, and said "My thumb is the bass".

So, there's some info for you.

audiobleach
07-13-2008, 09:35 PM
check out my band at www.myspace.com/hudsonhigh.
we don't have a bassist.

20Tigers
07-13-2008, 09:40 PM
It was a great show, really loud, the singer/guitarist even brought up the fact they had no bass player, and said "My thumb is the bass".


Learn to fingerpick. You can cover bass, rhythm, and lead with one guitar.

JagStang5246
07-13-2008, 11:04 PM
Record it the way you want it, and then get someone to play it live. That's the best you can do without actually getting a permanent bassist, but then again, that bassist could become a part of that intimate circle and you could create even better music. Or it could all go to hell.

smb
07-13-2008, 11:09 PM
You may not need a bassist but you need some bass from some instrument.

Mr.Cuddles
07-13-2008, 11:55 PM
get a keyboardist.
notice how they use 2 hands?

solid_moose
07-14-2008, 12:26 AM
You may not need a bassist but you need some bass from some instrument.
This.
You need a low end, it might as well be a bassist, or a keyboardist.

SlackerBabbath
07-14-2008, 03:08 AM
This.
You need a low end, it might as well be a bassist, or a keyboardist.
Unless you're doing folk music, most folk music I've heard is simply guitar and voice.

xCaughtInAWebx
08-03-2008, 10:03 AM
So there is like...4 good bands without a bass player and...How many good bands WITH a bass player...

Yeah..


I have to disagree there.

Maybe its not so much "only 4 good bands without a bass player", but "only 4 good bands YOU know of"

I'm not trying to seem mean but maybe you should open your mind a bit. Start listening to some other bands and styles, you might learn something.

metal-guy
08-03-2008, 10:08 AM
Meshuggah has a bassist only, when live. In studio they don't. But they have heavy down-tuned 8-string guitars. In an interview, they told, that their 8th string was a .72

Raijouta
08-03-2008, 04:28 PM
The Black Keys are just two people - a guitarist/singer and drummer, and they get on fine without a bassist, in my opinion.

FunkyApache
03-07-2014, 09:00 PM
I've seen these guys perform live, and they only have a guitarist, a washboard player, and a drummer.

http://www.myspace.com/therevpeytonsbigdamnband

It was a great show, really loud, the singer/guitarist even brought up the fact they had no bass player, and said "My thumb is the bass".

So, there's some info for you.

Ahh the Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, they're very good indeed :) I like this song of theirs, Devils Look Like Angels ;) but anyway, the guitar player's bottom 2 strings are heavily downtuned, so he's basically playing bass.


To the OP, I'd suggest you should listen to the Black Box Revelation. They're a Belgian band consisting of a singer/guitar player and a drummer. He uses some kind of octave effect so he gets a bass line too (underneath his normal guitar part) and he plays a lot of solo's too, using this really fat guitar sound. I don't know what kind of music you play, but you should give their song High On A Wire a listen. It's possible that they did use a bass in the studio, so in that case you should try to find a live version.

FunkyApache
03-07-2014, 09:02 PM
Ok wtf I'm bumping a six year old thread XD

AlanHB
03-08-2014, 10:38 AM
Ok wtf I'm bumping a six year old thread XD

Correct! And now its a closed thread.