#1
Have you noticed that a lot of bass players in three piece bands really stand out as opposed to ones that are in the standard 4 piece? is this because the higher frequencies that both guitars in the production just tend to over shadow the lower frequencies of the sole bass? or is it just some strange coincidence that bass players in 3 piece bands have an ego and like their sound turned up a bit in the recording? just listen to the jam, or cream. it's so easy to hear the bass line!
#2
in a 3 piece there is more space that the bass has to fill and since their are more out there they have to be a little better i guess. i don't know i could be biases, i'm in a 3 piece
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#3
well generally, bass is the sole rhythm or main rhythm in 3 piece bands, so it needs to stand out
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#4
it's really about the mix and the genre of music. In a 3 piece the bass is more audible, because there aren't as many instruments to compete with.

In anything more than a 3 piece, typically an engineer will try to make a well balanced mix rather than make the individual instruments really shine. Cake is a fantastic example of this. Their bass player is very very funky, and really cuts through the mix, even though there are a very large number of people in the band.
#5
Because of the space left empty that would otherwise potentially be filled by a second guitarist, the bass player in a power trio has much more freedom with their lines. Often they provide really solid counterpoint, as well as maintaining their role as rhythm section member.
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#6
Its my favourite configuration in a band, and I often play in three piece groups (both in jazz and blues), for the reasoning above. As a rhythm section member in the three piece configuration there is much more room to spread out into counterpoint without it sounding overly muddy and chaotic.
#7
the more melodies, the less can be made.

live, the lead guitarist has to focus on his solos. if that guitarist is doing something really chordal in the rest of the song, what the bass does still has to be filling up all that space during the solos. it'd be weird if the only part with the really sweet groovy line was the solo (the closest to that would be Audioslave I suppose, but he still is doing the same thing) so usually the bass is funkin up every part of the track with his pounding beatdown of awesomeness.

so the bass isn't strong because he wants to be, but because it fits better, and keeps the song cohesive.
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#9
The less instruments there are in a band the easier it is to hear each one. Less stuff going on.
#10
Just to give an example of one that unfortunately doesn't have a standout bass-player, High On Fire. I love Pike's lead lines, but the bass usually just copies Pike and is hidden underneath his guitar and the drums.
#11
it just depends on the bassist. so both are true. alot of people think that the bass copies the 2nd guitar but i think that oftentimes the 2nd guitar copies the bass.
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#12
Quote by KingOfBlood
Just to give an example of one that unfortunately doesn't have a standout bass-player, High On Fire. I love Pike's lead lines, but the bass usually just copies Pike and is hidden underneath his guitar and the drums.

also the bassist usually has thick distortion which cuts a lot of the low end and just sounds like a detuned guitar
My Rig:
Yamaha RBX 375 bass
Peavey Millenium BXP bass (won at Summer Slaughter 2010, signed by all the bands)
Eden Nemesis NC410 320w combo amp
Check out Tyrannicide, my death/thrash metal band:
http://www.myspace.com/tyrannicidemetal