I’d like to discuss utilizing the 6 string bass as a soloist. The great thing about working as a solo bassist, is that no one can tell you that your playing too many notes. As I mentioned in the “Art of Bass Looping” articles, performing a solo bass gig can be a killer experience or a complete failure. Trust me… I’ve had both. You have to remember that even though we want to play a million notes to show off our skills, the music has to sound good to the listener. Practice making music that is rhythmic as well as tonal. Hold off on using effects until you get some smooth grooves going.
Having a wide array of tones, allows you to create music based around a certain tone. For instance, try tapping using only the neck pickup, then play the same tapping line using the bridge pickup, then both pickups. You may decide that one pickup works better for one song compared to another. Try this method on all solo pieces until you find the right tone. Tapping solo basslines is a great example of when you can play too many notes or not enough. Just remember, music is supposed to be fun, so go for it!
6 string slapping is a personal favorite of mine. Combine a slap bassline with a few select chords to create some pretty interesting lines. One method to practice when it comes to solo slap bass, is to try and imagine yourself having theme music as you walk down the road. What would it sound like? Would it be smooth or rough, fast or slow? Applying a bassline to an actual movement, such as walking, can bring music to life. Next time your watching T.V., listen to the music during a program or commercial. The music is meant to bring out a feeling. A solo bass performance should do the same for the listener.
I’d like to thank Steve Bernstein of Redding Ca. for allowing me to borrow his beautiful custom made 6 string. The bass features a mahogany body w/purpleheart stripe, birdseye maple wings, Moses graphite neck, Hipshot UltraLite tuners and Seymour Duncan ASB-6 pickups and STC-3 circuitry. Great job Steve.