Hey Bassists,

I play guitar in a funk/blues/r&b/hippity-hoppity outfit that has a really...um..inexperienced bass player who gets better everyday but has basically ( ) started from scratch. I realize that this isn't really the genre to to have said impairment but I'm stuck (happily) with it for the moment. Anywho, I've been thinking about how to rectify the lack of whatever it is bass players do and I've been thinking about the groove. What we play is very groove-centric and very syncopated...what I am asking is what should I be doing to help him along? What can I tell him or ask him to do to keep rhythm on lock down? How can I play guitar in a more bass like idea. I have thought of switching to a seven string guitar to help cover more of the low register and it would be challenging and fun, but not an option that I really want to follow. So please help out a poor guitarist out and give him some bass player advice.

You can't polish a turd. If your bassist is inexperienced and unable to groove, you can't fill that in by playing lower notes on the guitar, that's just going to make a big horrid muddy mess. That's not a lot you can do other than wait for him to develop more as a player.
Spare a Cow
Eat a Vegan
According to Mythbusters you most certainly can polish a turd. The point of my question went a little a drift in its writing and for that I'm sorry. Is there something that I can do in MY playing to help the sound? Are their ideas and concepts about bass playing that I wouldn't naturally think of by myself (as a guitar player) to help him in his endeavors?
Groove is going to result from the ability of your bass player to lock in with your drummer. The bass and the drums are two sides of the same coin, so to speak. The guitarist can be of little help in this regard, I'm afraid. A lack of groove often results from two things: the bassist and the drummer are not locked in together and functioning as the foundation of your rhythm section, and/or your bassist is focusing too much on technical precision and flashy chops (or your drummer is a Keith Moon-type lunatic).

It is not enough for the bassist (or anyone in the band) to be able to "play the notes" and nothing more. He or she has to work on timing with the drummer. Metronome practice is all well and good, but it is not the same as playing with a drummer. A metronome practice session will not teach your bassist when to "swing" the notes and when not to.

A lot of it comes down to knowing the song so well that everyone can relax while playing it. That opens up opportunities for everyone to "feel" what they are playing, without having to concentrate on the notes, the positions on the fretboards and the timing count. Have your bassist engage in additional practice sessions with your drummer, and have them focus solely on the rhythm and on the "mood" of the song (you can play any song in the same time signature, but with different "moods"). Once your bassist knows how to play the song almost without thinking about it, his or her mind will be free to adapt the playing to the feel of the song, just as you are all trying to accomplish.

It is a matter of hard work on the basics. Expertise is little more than having truly mastered the basics. So send your bassist and your drummer to the woodshed and tell them to get to work.

They'll nail it.

Good luck!
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley
Last edited by FatalGear41 at Apr 24, 2013,
^ That advice right there is gold.

I'll just add that it's a matter of practice. You improve most when you play with people better or more experienced than you, so just practice more with your bassist, and have him really practice more with the drummer. He'll improve in time, but it's important that he practice and improve. Don't try and fill any proverbial holes or take on his role by tuning down or buying a 7 string guitar. The bassist is the bassist and he has his role and job to do.
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Spector and Markbass
Thanks, great advice thus far! Why cant a guitar and kit establish groove?
Quote by jrenkert
Thanks, great advice thus far! Why cant a guitar and kit establish groove?

It's not that a guitarist can't groove. It's more that from your post it sounds like you want to "cover for" (for lack of a better term) your bassist as he progresses along his path to improvement. I'm saying there's no sense in trying to take on his role in the band yourself and you shouldn't feel like you have to "make up ground" so to speak in the lower register to compensate for a bassist that needs improvement.

Just encourage him, help him where you can and practice with him whenever possible. He'll improve and in time he'll learn to lock in with the drummer and just groove, but it's more about being supportive and dedicated as a band, not picking up the slack for a member (on a different instrument no less) who needs a bit of improvement.
Composite Aficionado

Spector and Markbass
Dude my best advice is to tell him to either practice up and get better or get a new bassist dude
Quote by jrenkert
How can I play guitar in a more bass like idea.

Dont waste ya time on that

Just be patient. If he's serious he'll up his game. Or just be straight with him, give him a chance if you like him/he's a friend, and tell him you are going to look for another bassist who can hang.
Ok so if there isn't anything I can do tonally there must be something I can do rhythmically. How does one establish the groove? How can I, as a guitar player, focus more on that and what does the bass player do specifically that make it central to the groove?
for me, the groove is as much about what isn't there as what is. its the gaps that make it IMO.
look up some bootsy and notice the parts where he isn't playing.
ah what the hell granted this is funk, but where better to find some groove!?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHE6hZU72A4

as for playing guitar to link up and help out with the groove, call and response always works well