#1
So I realized I know nothing about what techniques bassists in heavy metal bands use. I'm more oriented to the punk rock and occasional funk style. I'm not like switching genres but my guitarist sometimes comes up with drop d or c riffs and I don't really know what to compliment them with. I usually just end up playing the root note of his chords.

I don't have much interest in metal but I listen to some of the alt stuff like Avenged Sevenfold, Breaking B, etc.

So what are some of the standard things metal bassists do? Fingers vs pick, scales, etc.
#2
One thing you DON'T want to do is scoop your mids and boost treble and bass. If you do this then do it in moderation, otherwise you end up sounding like mud and a lot of clicks. A band that pops to mind is Korn...man do I attest to that bassist's tone.
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#3
Metal originated from the blues, so start playing some blues, or learn your blues scales.

http://www.cyberfretbass.com/scales/blues/index.php there is a lesson on how to play blues on there.

Good metal bassists (Steve DiGiorgio, or however you spell it, Eric Langlois, or Steve Harris) use their fingers because of the raunchy, grindy sound you can get from digging into the strings. Build on your alternate finger technique, and perhaps look into a 5 or six string bass for those drop tunings.

Most metal bands use drop D on the basses, to give it that low feeling, or an octave pedal, but if you get a fiver, sixer, sevener, or higher you can reach the low B without dropping, and keeping the standard GDAE.

You can find a few good lessons by Steve, who was the Bassist for DEATH, and other well known death metal bands, which build on the three finger plucking. Index, middle, ring, which can also be used in any type of music, mostly fast stuff.
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#4
personally, if the riff is not that hard, or even if the riff is seriously hard, i think its the better idea to follow the guitar riff. this idea comes from the bassist of Dream Theater so if you dont listen to that kinda music, i recommend you to play the root note and 7th with distortion.
#5
Modern metal is more rooted in Classical than Blues.

EDIT: ^ Dream Theater did not invent the unison riff...
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#6
i personally think that its better to use picks for bass in metal, mostly because unless you're really really good at fast finger picking you don't want to sound sloppy and picking is a lot more precise at high speeds. tone wise... a lot of it has to do with your set up but i think that it sounds kind of bad when the bass sounds really muffled in metal because metal is based on tuning low and the bass puts out such a low frequency that you can't hear it even if you turn up over the guitarists. listen to the facelss or lamb of god for the perfect tone in my oppinion. oh and you def. want to use a thicker gage of strings. eliminates a lot of the clicking.
#7
Quote by FenderAmpeg93
One thing you DON'T want to do is scoop your mids and boost treble and bass. If you do this then do it in moderation, otherwise you end up sounding like mud and a lot of clicks. A band that pops to mind is Korn...man do I attest to that bassist's tone.


That's interesting. My settings are kind of scooped right now because I felt like I couldn't get any clarity with the mids up. Of course, that was a while ago so my ears might be better now.
#8
Play with a pick and play it HARD!

most "metal" basslines do a mixture of following the guitar riff and playing rootnotes, there are countless exeptions but this is a general rule-of-thumb. Alot of basslines will play the guitar riff, but change it slightly or play something that sounds Kind of like it but is not quite the same.

I'm just saying that's the general, meat and potatoes of hard rock/heavy metal bass. it's not law; allways keep an open mind and get creative with your playing - I love doing arpegios (like, saft songs or intros, not sweep picking (though I like a bit of that too!) and playing melodies (steve harris?) and stuff.
#10
Metal does NOT need to be played with a pick. It is only more precise at high speeds if you are extremely sloppy with fingerstyle. Seriously, learn to play with fingers, when you get into tech/Prog metal (Dream Theater, Some Death Metal Acts) you will be thankful, as the string skipping involved will be an absolute hassle with a pick, not to mention often it will not be as smooth. Good fingerstyle players include Ryan Martinie (Mudvayne), Steve DiGiorgio (Sp?) (Death/Testament/Sadus), Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse), Sean Malone (Cynic), Martin Mendez (Opeth), Les Claypool (Primus), John Myung (Dream Theater).

Go do metal homework
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#11
Quote by Nikki197666
Metal does NOT need to be played with a pick. It is only more precise at high speeds if you are extremely sloppy with fingerstyle. Seriously, learn to play with fingers, when you get into tech/Prog metal (Dream Theater, Some Death Metal Acts) you will be thankful, as the string skipping involved will be an absolute hassle with a pick, not to mention often it will not be as smooth. Good fingerstyle players include Ryan Martinie (Mudvayne), Steve DiGiorgio (Sp?) (Death/Testament/Sadus), Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse), Sean Malone (Cynic), Martin Mendez (Opeth), Les Claypool (Primus), John Myung (Dream Theater).

Go do metal homework


+1

finger picking sounds better, at least in the metal I listen to.. (older stuff I guess you can say).
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#13
Quote by eazy-c
Modern metal is more rooted in Classical than Blues.


Metal came from rock. Rock came from blues.

Even neoclassical metal is nothing like what most people consider classical music. It takes a few superficial elements. Metal is still a form of pop music rather than art music.
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#14
Quote by abornael
Metal originated from the blues, so start playing some blues, or learn your blues scales.

http://www.cyberfretbass.com/scales/blues/index.php there is a lesson on how to play blues on there.

Good metal bassists (Steve DiGiorgio, or however you spell it, Eric Langlois, or Steve Harris) use their fingers because of the raunchy, grindy sound you can get from digging into the strings. Build on your alternate finger technique, and perhaps look into a 5 or six string bass for those drop tunings.


i didnt know iron maiden was metal o_O
haha most metal bands use picks for bass. My type of metal, being more melodic like In Flames, Unearth, use fingers as do i, for the tone. If you are going to be a drop-d band use a pick. if you play low-b it just sounds crappy with a pick
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#15
Quote by PluckU
i didnt know iron maiden was metal o_O
haha most metal bands use picks for bass. My type of metal, being more melodic like In Flames, Unearth, use fingers as do i, for the tone. If you are going to be a drop-d band use a pick. if you play low-b it just sounds crappy with a pick


Where the hell do you get that from?
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#16
Quote by PluckU
i didnt know iron maiden was metal o_O
haha most metal bands use picks for bass. My type of metal, being more melodic like In Flames, Unearth, use fingers as do i, for the tone. If you are going to be a drop-d band use a pick. if you play low-b it just sounds crappy with a pick

What the ****? Tuning and playing styles don't depend on each other. If you didn't know Iron Maiden was Metal then you shouldn't be talking about Metal.
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#17
Quote by abornael

Most metal bands use drop D on the basses, to give it that low feeling, or an octave pedal, but if you get a fiver, sixer, sevener, or higher you can reach the low B without dropping, and keeping the standard GDAE.


Technically you can. However, not dropping can make things harder. Remember, you have to play everything else 2 frets up on the other strings if you play drop B songs on a standard tuned 5er. It could make the song harder.

And playing drop D songs on a standard tuned 5 can be very hard to do as well. See: Walk with me in Hell (Lamb of God). Lots of pedalling onto the open D. Much rather would take the (minimal) time to drop tune than play the song having to fret the D on the low B every other note at speed.
#18
Quote by Nikki197666
Metal does NOT need to be played with a pick. It is only more precise at high speeds if you are extremely sloppy with fingerstyle. Seriously, learn to play with fingers, when you get into tech/Prog metal (Dream Theater, Some Death Metal Acts) you will be thankful, as the string skipping involved will be an absolute hassle with a pick, not to mention often it will not be as smooth. Good fingerstyle players include Ryan Martinie (Mudvayne), Steve DiGiorgio (Sp?) (Death/Testament/Sadus), Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse), Sean Malone (Cynic), Martin Mendez (Opeth), Les Claypool (Primus), John Myung (Dream Theater).

Go do metal homework




Ok, you don't HAVE to play with a pick. I just think it sounds alot better. most "metal" I listen to is 80's stuff like scorpoins and saxon and rainbow and that - I'm not into my screaming - most of the stuff I listen to lends itself to a plectrum for tone.

...still have to play hard though...
#19
Quote by PluckU
i didnt know iron maiden was metal o_O
haha most metal bands use picks for bass. My type of metal, being more melodic like In Flames, Unearth, use fingers as do i, for the tone. If you are going to be a drop-d band use a pick. if you play low-b it just sounds crappy with a pick


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#20
Quote by jimRH7


Ok, you don't HAVE to play with a pick. I just think it sounds alot better. most "metal" I listen to is 80's stuff like scorpoins and saxon and rainbow and that - I'm not into my screaming - most of the stuff I listen to lends itself to a plectrum for tone.

...still have to play hard though...


Considering he only names 2 death metal bands (Death and Cannibal Corpse), your point fails.

And possibly the biggest metal band of the 80's (Iron Maiden) have Steve Harris playing fingerstyle. Most likely, it is simply a coincidence a fair number of your favourite bands have pick wielding bassists.
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#21
Quote by jimRH7


Ok, you don't HAVE to play with a pick. I just think it sounds alot better. most "metal" I listen to is 80's stuff like scorpoins and saxon and rainbow and that - I'm not into my screaming - most of the stuff I listen to lends itself to a plectrum for tone.

...still have to play hard though...


Pick and fingers is about a 5050 split in metal. However it tends to be the finger players (there was a good list above) that get more credit and have better lines which are more fun to play. There was a good article on talkbass about cutting through metals (Guitar,drums,vocals) Here. You can get away with using a pick but the players that do suffer in the mix and often aren't heard.

Basically, use fingers because there is nothing they can't do that a pick can, one rather clunky tone aside.
#22
Tapping occurs a lot more in metal than any other genre to my mind (other than solo artists), and i find it immensly hard to switch between tapping and picking. If you're not a fan of Protest The Hero though, this might not be so relevant :S
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#23
Quote by Ouch_needles
Tapping occurs a lot more in metal than any other genre to my mind (other than solo artists), and i find it immensly hard to switch between tapping and picking. If you're not a fan of Protest The Hero though, this might not be so relevant :S

It also happens in Dream Theater, Primus, Helloween, Atheist, Behold... The Arctopus, Australia, Mr. Big, Racer X, just at the top of my head.
Last edited by watchingmefall at Dec 22, 2008,
#25
Quote by Deliriumbassist
When did all this PTH arse-bumming start happening? Exactly the same happened with BTBAM, and now they're barely mentioned in the bass forum.

Fads, you know. In a month or two everybody will forget PTH and a new band will be here to annoy us.
#26
I hate to say I agree (being that they are my favorite band)

it isn't anything new, or revolutionary
and it absolutely bothers me when people say "Oh, a hard metal song? Try Blindfolds Aside!"
which is neither hard nor metal

guitar following, fills, and tapping a slowly over one string doesn't really constitute anything

he's an amazing lyricist, does great vocals, and is even a pretty good bassist if you ask me,
but nothing worthy to conjure this obsession (besides plain old being obsessed)


anyways, rambling aside, I still love them
(but I think they will still be around for a bit to annoy you guys...)
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#29
Well the only metal I play on bass at the moment is mastodon, and Troy Sanders plays fingerstyle. He gives an interview for bassplayer, which explains his technique.
http://www.bassplayer.com/article/mastodons-troy-sanders/Jun-05/9688
Obviously, him singing at the same time means playing nothing but root notes sometimes, but he does fill the mix well. Take some tips from that link, it may help.
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#30
Quote by Deliriumbassist
I've been listening to them for a fair while now (since I go sent a copy of A Calculated Use of Sound a few years back), so they don't annoy me. It's the fanboyism

I'm only a pseudo-fanboy

more so because I recognize the difference between "fun"
and "omg this is absolutely amazing because I normally listen to pop-punk/emo"


back to the topic on hand,
I think that clean bass can sound very nice with metal
something about "booming" low end and clarity on top
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#31
Quote by watchingmefall
I can also recall we had a Justin Chancellor fanboyism a couple of months back now that I think about it.


I seem to have a habit of being behind the times.

I got into BTBAM about 8 months after colors came out, and the associated fanboyism. Currently into another of my Tool fanboy stages. Next year, I'll be ranting on about PTH I suppose.
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#32
I just don't get into fads. I hear people talking about PTH and BTBAM etc. and listening to them just doesn't do anything for me. For brutal, there's stuff from a more Death Metal realm to entice me, for melodic styles, Dream Theater and Opeth have me hooked. I spose the bands I'm into have all had their phases, but I just never get hooked onto current trends
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