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Thread: Playing UBass in ukulele group advice

  1. #1

    Default Playing UBass in ukulele group advice

    Hi all,

    I'm getting a Kala UBass in about 2 weeks to play in my ukulele meetups.

    Can you share advice about things like:

    What bass playing is preferred by Ukulele groups.
    Some do's and don'ts for playing with a group of ukes.
    The worst experiences with a bass player, etc.

    Thanks,

    Ed
    Córdoba 23T Tenor
    Currently strung with D'Addario EJ65T strings and an Aquila Red low G-String.

    Kala UBass SSMHG-FS
    Solid Spruce top and solid mahogany B&S ( I think)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    CH
    Posts
    1,117

    Default

    Most groups should be happy they have a bass player! I think a common complaint is that the bass is too loud, supposing that you're gonna play it through an amp, since there is no way the UBass could be heard against a group of full-on strumming ukers.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.
    Posts
    3,192

    Default

    I've been playing bass uke with The CC Strummers for almost three years. I started because our leader asked if anyone would like to take up the bass to fill in our sound, we have a bout 30 to 40 players most of the time. I never played bass before, but in the almost 50 years of playing guitar before ukulele, I was often told to play bass. When I started, I took a few lessons just to understand the basics. One of the most important things the teacher taught me was the bass player keeps the tempo, everyone must follow, not the other way around. Use enough volume to make that happen, but too loud is not good too. (I once saw Jake Shimabukuro in concert and I thought his bass player was too loud.)

    Not sure why you ask what is preferred or what kind, to me bass playing is bass playing, 1-5s, walk ups, walk downs. You will have to use an amplifier, don't be mis-informed that an acoustic bass will heard without one. I'm one who gets completely immersed (as my signature will attest), I bought a Phil Jones Double Four bass amp and battery. It's top notch, very compact, but there are plenty of less expensive choices.

    Just feel it out when you get there. Have you told the leader? Communication is most valuable. We actually have two bass uke players, and the entire group often expresses their appreciation to us.


    • Member The CC Strummers: https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos
    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, provide ukuleles to kids in hospital music therapy programs.
    • Patronize Bruce Wei Arts eBay store/custom shop in Vietnam http://stores.ebay.com/Bruceweiart-M...nstrument-Shop, good products, reasonable price. (Don't heed old reviews, he makes good stuff.)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    6,625

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    I have found that a bass player helps ukulele groups immensely, especially those who have a lot of beginners or other players who are not used to playing with others. The bass gives the group a common reference point, and helps "fill out" the sound, which can get kind of samey with everybody strumming along.

    With that being said, being the bass player is a big responsibility; everyone will be following you, so if you get it wrong, everybody's getting it wrong. You need to be rock solid. If you're not confident of that, spend some time with a metronome before you go to your group.

    Have fun!



  5. #5

    Default

    My suggestion is to listen to what the ukes & singers are doing & try to play bass lines that support them & fit the music. You can vary the amount of sustain & volume of your notes, depending on the song. Do not drown out the other instruments or vocals. If it's a slow ballad, there's no need to put in a lot of runs which would be a distraction. Agree with others that you can (along with the percussionist) lay down the beat.

    Playing with unamplified ukes & vocals is different from playing bass in a rock group - in that case you don't necessarily worry about drowning other instruments out.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.
    Posts
    3,192

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichM View Post
    ...being the bass player is a big responsibility; everyone will be following you, so if you get it wrong, everybody's getting it wrong. You need to be rock solid. If you're not confident of that, spend some time with a metronome before you go to your group. Have fun!
    I tend to agree, but at the same don't put extra pressure on yourself. I have a very good sense if tempo, but I flub and decided I'm not going kill myself over it, just smile and keep playing.


    • Member The CC Strummers: https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos
    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, provide ukuleles to kids in hospital music therapy programs.
    • Patronize Bruce Wei Arts eBay store/custom shop in Vietnam http://stores.ebay.com/Bruceweiart-M...nstrument-Shop, good products, reasonable price. (Don't heed old reviews, he makes good stuff.)

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kohanmike View Post
    I've been playing bass uke with The CC Strummers for almost three years. I started because our leader asked if anyone would like to take up the bass to fill in our sound, we have a bout 30 to 40 players most of the time. I never played bass before, but in the almost 50 years of playing guitar before ukulele, I was often told to play bass. When I started, I took a few lessons just to understand the basics. One of the most important things the teacher taught me was the bass player keeps the tempo, everyone must follow, not the other way around. Use enough volume to make that happen, but too loud is not good too. (I once saw Jake Shimabukuro in concert and I thought his bass player was too loud.)

    Not sure why you ask what is preferred or what kind, to me bass playing is bass playing, 1-5s, walk ups, walk downs. You will have to use an amplifier, don't be mis-informed that an acoustic bass will heard without one. I'm one who gets completely immersed (as my signature will attest), I bought a Phil Jones Double Four bass amp and battery. It's top notch, very compact, but there are plenty of less expensive choices.

    Just feel it out when you get there. Have you told the leader? Communication is most valuable. We actually have two bass uke players, and the entire group often expresses their appreciation to us.
    kohanmike,
    Thank you. When I start looking at a problem, or looking for information, I start from zero with a wide open mind. I'm thinking I need to actually come up with bass lines, which should be I - IV mostly, so I'm preparing myself. I studied bass guitar years ago so can read bass clef and know my primary role is tempo and time keeper. This time I'm taking a guided approach and will seek out a teacher. Working on the studyBass.com lessons for now. The group members want a time keeper in addition to the fundamental sound the bass brings to acoustic jams.

    I have an old Peavey Microbass III Transtube bass amp. Should be enough since I don't (shouldn't) place loud and shake the walls. I started researching batery powered bass amps.

    Right now I'm going to create simple bass parts for a couple of songs and find YouTube recordings to try them out on. I'm in that "feel the fear, but do it anyway" mode.

    Thank again,

    Ed
    Córdoba 23T Tenor
    Currently strung with D'Addario EJ65T strings and an Aquila Red low G-String.

    Kala UBass SSMHG-FS
    Solid Spruce top and solid mahogany B&S ( I think)

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RichM View Post
    I have found that a bass player helps ukulele groups immensely, especially those who have a lot of beginners or other players who are not used to playing with others. The bass gives the group a common reference point, and helps "fill out" the sound, which can get kind of samey with everybody strumming along.

    With that being said, being the bass player is a big responsibility; everyone will be following you, so if you get it wrong, everybody's getting it wrong. You need to be rock solid. If you're not confident of that, spend some time with a metronome before you go to your group.

    Have fun!
    RichM,

    The responsibility aspect is driving me to take a more "professional" view. I do know that being the timekeeper and holding the tempo are the most important roles I will play. There are one or two people who speed up every song. That drives the leaders crazy. So keeping the tempo will be very important. Way back when I studied bass I got used to using a metronome, and came to prefer using it, even for classical guitar, and now Ukulele. (I'm amazed by how many people are afraid of the metronome.)

    I'm looking forward to my first meetup with my bass - with trepidation.

    Thank you,

    Ed
    Córdoba 23T Tenor
    Currently strung with D'Addario EJ65T strings and an Aquila Red low G-String.

    Kala UBass SSMHG-FS
    Solid Spruce top and solid mahogany B&S ( I think)

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ampeep View Post
    My suggestion is to listen to what the ukes & singers are doing & try to play bass lines that support them & fit the music. You can vary the amount of sustain & volume of your notes, depending on the song. Do not drown out the other instruments or vocals. If it's a slow ballad, there's no need to put in a lot of runs which would be a distraction. Agree with others that you can (along with the percussionist) lay down the beat.

    Playing with unamplified ukes & vocals is different from playing bass in a rock group - in that case you don't necessarily worry about drowning other instruments out.
    ampeep,

    Thank you. I have to try out some combo amp placements. Thinking, should I face the amp into a corner, face the speaker straight up under a table? This will be more fun than I could wish for. The universe always brings me back to bass. (Even when I played in a classical guitar orchestra, I played part IV, the low parts. Sometimes I just played bass notes on the guitar, which the leaders liked.)
    Córdoba 23T Tenor
    Currently strung with D'Addario EJ65T strings and an Aquila Red low G-String.

    Kala UBass SSMHG-FS
    Solid Spruce top and solid mahogany B&S ( I think)

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rakelele View Post
    Most groups should be happy they have a bass player! I think a common complaint is that the bass is too loud, supposing that you're gonna play it through an amp, since there is no way the UBass could be heard against a group of full-on strumming ukers.
    Rakelele,

    Thanks. My current plan is to have people feel the low note,s and just hear the root note. I'm sure I'll get feedback quickly, in real time. Initially I'll be using an old Peavey MicroBass III Transtube bass amp. I'm already having GAS attacks and looking at newer amps and battery powered amps.

    Thanks you,

    Ed
    Córdoba 23T Tenor
    Currently strung with D'Addario EJ65T strings and an Aquila Red low G-String.

    Kala UBass SSMHG-FS
    Solid Spruce top and solid mahogany B&S ( I think)

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