#1
A friend from a previous band is putting together a ska band and has asked me to play bass. I accepted, but then I realized I know next to nothing about ska basslines. Are there any little tips to ska bassline writing?

Any help would be awesome.
#3
basically just stick to messing around with the major scale, sometimes minor. know what chords the guitars doing and when you're stuck just play around with the root, third and fifth. and if you don't know what that means, learn basic theory, and scales. it helps. especially in ska. and just listen to a sh!tload of ska
#4
Quote by minifridge
basically just stick to messing around with the major scale, sometimes minor. know what chords the guitars doing and when you're stuck just play around with the root, third and fifth. and if you don't know what that means, learn basic theory, and scales. it helps. especially in ska. and just listen to a sh!tload of ska

I learned the scales in preparation actually.
#6
Quote by minifridge
nice. do you know what the root/first/second/third, etc, etc, means?

Isn't the root the first? Unless I'm confused.

Otherwise, yes.
#7
Yeah, you should be alright. Listen to a lot of ska so you can get the feel for how the bassists fill out the song. Work on the 12-bar blues patterns as well, I've found those VERY helpful in writing ska stuff.
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#10
Quote by watchingmefall
What kind of ska and of what wave? I'm surprised nobody has asked this.


So am I. There is a difference between original, Tu-Tone and Third Wave...
#12
Quote by watchingmefall
What kind of ska and of what wave? I'm surprised nobody has asked this.

I was gonna ask this too
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#13
... what defines the types of Ska?
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#14
As you increase the wave, the punk influence tends to increase (I think that's right, correct me if I'm wrong).

Anyway, a good musician to ask about this is Jonnomainman, who used to play a lot of Ska, I think...
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#16
Ska is such a varied genre, it's realy hard to create "the ska bass line".
The most basic ska feel is created by root-third-fifth-third, wich is used in every wave of ska.
But that's definatly not all there is in ska.

Also the so called drop-in happens sometimes in ska, wich means that there's no bass / bass drum on the first beat. (in too much too young by the specials for example)
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Last edited by sam_ofzo at Dec 30, 2008,
#17
For those who ask, tu tone is The Specials, third wave is Reel Big Fish

If it's third wave, arpeggios are your friend! Just follow the chord and play the arpeggio to it. And you'll be sounding ska in no time. Playing every beat of every bar will help.

Tu tone has more reggae-influenced basslines, where more emphasis is on the groove and feel rather than pounding out quarter note lines for every bar of every song.

If it's more punk/hardcore (think Streetlight Manifesto) influenced ska then follow the guitar more on the punky bits (teh powerchords) and when the guitar plays the traditional ska beat, hit it up with the arpeggios.

And Chris - no ska in the band anymore apart from 4 bars of one song! We're more alternative atm. The song's we write are heavily influenced by what band's we personally transcribe and stuff. So like, my frontman's been transcribing a lot of Metallica recently, so more metal has come out into out more recent songs. My lead guitarist has been working out some Extreme so that comes in on the lead lines.

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#19
Ska bass fills out the complete sound. Theres alot of melody in it, it's usually written based off the horn lines too (or vise versa)

I'm assuming you're playing 3rd wave. So basically you're walking in the clean verses and when you get to distortion on the guitar, you follow it around with a few little licks here and there to make things fancy. Streetlight manifesto's bass player is pretty much insane and he's all over the fretboard 24/7. You can check out some reel big fish, Big D and the kids table, The Flatliners, Forces of Evil, Mad Caddies, Mighty mighty bosstones.


If you wanna check out the 2nd wave, you need to have the specials, it's like a requirement for a ska love to have them =]. There's also the madness, the toasters
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#20
I bought my First Ska album today,infact it was called Ska Anthems.
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#21
Learn how to walk and learn the basslines of the style you are playing. I love Streetlight Manifesto's basslines and Reel Big Fish's, too. I would suggest learning Everything Goes Numb by Streetlight and Turn the Radio Off by Reel Big Fish. That would get you the feel of the music, as long as it's third wave ska. It's not an easy genre for any sort of beginner. And it's hard to find any musicians who are serious about a ska project, at least around these parts...
#22
I asked the same question.


Simple quarter note arpeggios i have found. You need to know your theory for ska and really helps you no matter what kind of music you play. It really reinforces the major, minor,minor,major, dominant, minor, diminished, major thing. it is mad fun too because bass is more important in ska than in rock, punk, metal or other kinds of music.
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#23
i played bass in a ska band for a few years, my bass playing style was always changing as i liked mainly 3rd wave stuff at first, followed by 2nd wave and now i'm back to the roots. for what it's worth, the best ska bassist i've heard is sir horace gentleman of the specials. his phrasing and general 'bass taste' is incredible. just listen to tracks like 'ghost town' to see what i'm on about. nothing flashy, but the bassline MAKES that song.
#24
Listen to early catch 22 (keasby nights) and streetlight manifesto to hear som good major/minor scale wanking. I think that's how every ska bassist should play.
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#25
if i were you, i wouldnt actually write lines for songs. i would strictly improvise. much of the ska i listen to has very complex bass parts that i assume would be difficult to memorize. often times when im listening to a ska song i will just improv the bass parts. ofcourse its good to know common patterns of notes to use, but dont go off of one bassline. this all relies on your ability to improvise well. know the major and minor scale, and know the chord changes...you should be fine. and improv is way more fun than playing pre composed lines.
#26
Quote by even deeper
if i were you, i wouldnt actually write lines for songs. i would strictly improvise. much of the ska i listen to has very complex bass parts that i assume would be difficult to memorize. often times when im listening to a ska song i will just improv the bass parts. ofcourse its good to know common patterns of notes to use, but dont go off of one bassline. this all relies on your ability to improvise well. know the major and minor scale, and know the chord changes...you should be fine. and improv is way more fun than playing pre composed lines.

+1 to that
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#28
could someone tell me some more punk orientated ska. I bought an album but its much more reggae. I would play it but wouldnt see myself using it in a band situation. Just wanted somethiung a bit different.
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#29
Operation ivy, leftover crack, the flatliners, Big D and the kids table, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Left alone, The Suicide Machines, Some of Rancid's stuff, Some of NOFX stuff, Mustard Plug, Morning Glory

and if you want ska with hardcore breakdowns, The Flaming tsunamis
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#30
I play in a ska band called the Sugar Packets, lame I know, my friend plays guitar will just go off with chords and I'll find the scale and just build off the root note to that scale, sometimes going back and forth between the major and minor.

Like one song starts in D minor and the chords go, Dm, C, F, G on guitar. So I build off D minor scale for the first two, then I go to F major scale when he hits that F and then back to the D minor scale when he plays G.

Work on walking basslines, depending on the speed they'll keep you busy enough to be happy. Learn theory, etc. Just mess around with your friends. Have him play chord progressions and just improv like hell. It works for me and my amigo.
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