One (or two) of the most important tools that a bass player should have in his bass players toolbox is well trained ears….. Why? Well, because not all songs have a bass clef written for an actual bass… Most bass clefs were written for piano and not bass. Additionally, back in the days prior to the electric bass, double bass’s were often overshadowed by newer electric amplified instruments and many times were not fully heard during live or studio recording sessions.
Many bass lines that are played in songs were simply created on the spot by the bands bassist with very few bass lines saved as actual sheet music. For this reason, if a bass player wants to replicate a bass line to a song as a cover, he or she will need to listen very closely to the actual recording over and over and take notes in order to write the bass line for the song.
There are numerous “free” bass tabs available all over the internet, and unsurprisingly most all of them are all different. Why? My guess would be because most all of those that have attempted to “transcribe” the bass lines were all hearing things differently. Why again? Because very few have actually worked at training their ears to hear those low frequencies – you know, those ones in the 80 to 120 Hertz (Hz) range without getting them confused with the kick beat of a drum. Another area would be in the identification and the distinguishing of bass notes from guitar notes when bass notes are being played (especially) above the twelfth fret of the bass.
So, for my next challenge, instead of simply focusing on learning a new cover song, I am challenging myself with learning one old song that was recorded by numerous artists – done in different keys. “King of the Road” by Roger Miller!
I will be learning the Original 1964 Version of the song by Roger Miller, in the key of Cmaj, using the bass lines of Bob Moore and his double bass, and also the studio cover version done by Randy Travis in 1996 in the key of Dmaj (studio bassist unknown).
Although Roger Millers original songs bass line is a bit simpler to play, trying to replicate the “Double Bass” tones will be a real challenge using an electric bass. The studio bassist for the Randy Travis version was obviously very talented from what I am hearing on the recording and has added several syncopated notes and riffs in his bass lines. Timing will certainly be an issue on this one – and for both, all I will be relying on is my ears and my “Transcribe!” app.
I plan to use round wound strings on my MIM modified (Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder PUP’s and updated controls and wiring) Fender P bass for the Travis version, and flats on my modified Squire P bass (using the removed original PUP’s, controls, and wiring from my MIM Fender P bass).
Keep on Thumpin’