Bass playing and box patterns

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Re: Bass playing and box patterns

Postby ugly rumor » Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:01 am

I figured out what box patterns are!! They are what you see when you've been dosed and the box has an interesting grain! I got it!! I got it!!!!
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Re: Bass playing and box patterns

Postby hippieguy1954 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:46 am

Rusty the Scoob wrote: I might find the nearest cardboard box and stand in it.


Promise? :smile: :smile: :smile:
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Re: Bass playing and box patterns

Postby Walknbluez » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:43 pm

Walknbluez wrote:The song in question was "Don't Ease Me In". Easy two chord song but I'm not really playing it like Phil and I think I'm using the fifth (lower fifth) too much so there's too much of a cowboy tune feel to it. They want me to bounce around more and get rid of the cowboy feel. I've listened to several versions with Phil and I can't quite cop what he's doing so I decided to keep it simple when we first started but agree that it's time to venture out more. That's when the box pattern suggestion came. Here's a recording of the song....if it's not too much troube maybe you guys can critique my playing and give me some ideas how to venture out on this one (either using the box pattern theory or something else, whichever works)?

http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_11108808


rustythescoob wrote:
You're actually pretty close to what Phil's doing! I'd make just a couple of tweaks:

You're starting nearly every verse with the two-beat country feel, and extremely behind the beat. This song is from their initial country period back when they had a ton of energy, and came back right when Brent was re-energizing the band, so make it bounce a little more: Shorten up those first few notes a little and play a more on top of the beat.

There's nothing wrong with using that classic root-five bassline, but you need a little more variety. Sometimes go root and then the higher five, etc. The same goes for your climb-ups between chords - what you're doing is fine except that you're a little too consistent. It doesn't have to be any more complicated than what you're already playing, it just has to keep changing. Slight and subtle variations are enough for a song like this, you don't want to make radical changes that stick out like a sore thumb. If it helps, sit down and plan out 10 different ways to play a verse that all still sound like Don't Ease.

Playing Phil is the opposite of being a normal bass player where we train ourselves to be consistent, you have to be a little bit unpredictable at all times.


Rusty, thanks so much! After they said that, I was like, I'm not worthy to be playing Phil. You've restored my confidence somewhat! :P

When you say I'm behind the beat, do you mean on the entire song or just at the beginning when I was starting the two beat country feel? I have since changed the way I play this as of last week, and instead of those two notes I've got about nine including a passing tone before I go to the B. In any case, I think playing behind the beat, ahead of the beat and on the beat are things I have to work on for other songs as well....it really makes a difference in the feel of the song. I think sometimes I have a hard time getting this right. Ironically, even though I was behind the beat on this one, I think on other tunes I have a problem where I'm playing ahead of the beat when I actually should be playing behind the beat and makes the song seemed rush, even if the drummer isn't rushing the tempo. Can that happen? GDTRFB is a good example I think. When I listen to '77 versions of this it seems Phil is behind the beat and I like the feel it gives it. Although the 90's versions of it it seems different. I digress but I think this is important for me as well.

As for box patterns, I fiddled around with the info on the link eric provided and it actually proved somewhat helpful and gave me some ideas.

Thanks to you all for your help, I really love this site and feel at home here! The only problem is I've got a zillion questions because I'm constantly thinking about this music!
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Re: Bass playing and box patterns

Postby beaner » Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:41 pm

This is a very cool thread, as always you are all incredibly helpful. Who said Phil sounded like "a sand worm in heat"? It's in one of those books I think.
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Re: Bass playing and box patterns

Postby ugly rumor » Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:51 pm

I would be much more interested to know how someone knows what a sandworm in heat sounds like. There are definately some fetishes I am unfamiliar with. And would you have to be involved to find out? wierder and wierder, the more I think about it.
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Re: Bass playing and box patterns

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:26 am

Walknbluez wrote:Rusty, thanks so much! After they said that, I was like, I'm not worthy to be playing Phil. You've restored my confidence somewhat! :P

When you say I'm behind the beat, do you mean on the entire song or just at the beginning when I was starting the two beat country feel? I have since changed the way I play this as of last week, and instead of those two notes I've got about nine including a passing tone before I go to the B. In any case, I think playing behind the beat, ahead of the beat and on the beat are things I have to work on for other songs as well....it really makes a difference in the feel of the song. I think sometimes I have a hard time getting this right. Ironically, even though I was behind the beat on this one, I think on other tunes I have a problem where I'm playing ahead of the beat when I actually should be playing behind the beat and makes the song seemed rush, even if the drummer isn't rushing the tempo. Can that happen? GDTRFB is a good example I think. When I listen to '77 versions of this it seems Phil is behind the beat and I like the feel it gives it. Although the 90's versions of it it seems different. I digress but I think this is important for me as well.

As for box patterns, I fiddled around with the info on the link eric provided and it actually proved somewhat helpful and gave me some ideas.

Thanks to you all for your help, I really love this site and feel at home here! The only problem is I've got a zillion questions because I'm constantly thinking about this music!


Of course you're worthy! It's a myth that Phil is some unattainable pinnacle, he's just a very creative and knowledgeable player, and you're well on your way.

Seems like you have a good understanding of how to play behind or ahead of the beat, it just takes a little work to put it into practice. Try it against a metronome, they don't lie and they are always right on the beat.

In the Don't Ease recording your moments of two-beat feel are way behind the beat while your walking parts are a on the beat. It's probably driving your drummer crazy if he's paying attention, actually... no offense intended.

One good compromise for Don't Ease between full-time walking feel and 2-beat feel is: Instead of Root, Five, hit Root Root Five Five. That way you're playing four quarter notes but still keeping that country feel. It's just one of many variations you can use, and makes for a good transition if you're ramping up your activity level as the song progresses.

Phil's 77 GDTRFB recordings are definitely behind the beat do have a great feel! The most likely cause is that by that point in the show he was probably pretty drunk. :lol: He himself considers that period to be sloppy, and while I agree, I love it. I try to purposely inject some looseness and sloppiness into my Phil playing for that reason, and have to conciously tighten it back up to play 80's GD, JGB or Phish. By the 90's he was probably bored and ready to go home by that point in the show.

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Re: Bass playing and box patterns

Postby Walknbluez » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:21 pm

Rusty the Scoob wrote:
Walknbluez wrote:Rusty, thanks so much! After they said that, I was like, I'm not worthy to be playing Phil. You've restored my confidence somewhat! :P

When you say I'm behind the beat, do you mean on the entire song or just at the beginning when I was starting the two beat country feel? I have since changed the way I play this as of last week, and instead of those two notes I've got about nine including a passing tone before I go to the B. In any case, I think playing behind the beat, ahead of the beat and on the beat are things I have to work on for other songs as well....it really makes a difference in the feel of the song. I think sometimes I have a hard time getting this right. Ironically, even though I was behind the beat on this one, I think on other tunes I have a problem where I'm playing ahead of the beat when I actually should be playing behind the beat and makes the song seemed rush, even if the drummer isn't rushing the tempo. Can that happen? GDTRFB is a good example I think. When I listen to '77 versions of this it seems Phil is behind the beat and I like the feel it gives it. Although the 90's versions of it it seems different. I digress but I think this is important for me as well.

As for box patterns, I fiddled around with the info on the link eric provided and it actually proved somewhat helpful and gave me some ideas.

Thanks to you all for your help, I really love this site and feel at home here! The only problem is I've got a zillion questions because I'm constantly thinking about this music!


Of course you're worthy! It's a myth that Phil is some unattainable pinnacle, he's just a very creative and knowledgeable player, and you're well on your way.

Seems like you have a good understanding of how to play behind or ahead of the beat, it just takes a little work to put it into practice. Try it against a metronome, they don't lie and they are always right on the beat.

In the Don't Ease recording your moments of two-beat feel are way behind the beat while your walking parts are a on the beat. It's probably driving your drummer crazy if he's paying attention, actually... no offense intended.

One good compromise for Don't Ease between full-time walking feel and 2-beat feel is: Instead of Root, Five, hit Root Root Five Five. That way you're playing four quarter notes but still keeping that country feel. It's just one of many variations you can use, and makes for a good transition if you're ramping up your activity level as the song progresses.

Phil's 77 GDTRFB recordings are definitely behind the beat do have a great feel! The most likely cause is that by that point in the show he was probably pretty drunk. :lol: He himself considers that period to be sloppy, and while I agree, I love it. I try to purposely inject some looseness and sloppiness into my Phil playing for that reason, and have to conciously tighten it back up to play 80's GD, JGB or Phish. By the 90's he was probably bored and ready to go home by that point in the show.

A zillion questions are not a problem!


Thanks again...I think I'm already doing better on that tune.

You know, I THINK I know what playing behind the beat or ahead of the beat is but I'm not exactly sure if I know. And Phil's playing on alot of 77 GDTRFB's seem spot on and not sloppy, so I didn't quite connect with what you were saying. For example, this one from 5/26/77, he's absolutely spot on but it is a much diferent feel than the one say from Dozin' at the Nick in

5/26/77: http://www.archive.org/details/gd1977-0 ... 32302.shnf

1990: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gttPt6ba7qY

Would you say that the 77 version he is playing behind the beat and the 1990 version he is playing on the beat (or ahead of the beat)?

If not, then can you give me an example?
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Re: Bass playing and box patterns

Postby Walknbluez » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:50 pm

I actually forgot I had posted the above question about playing behind and ahead of the beat so here I am again. :-) Rusty, could you give me an example? Or anyone?
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Re: Bass playing and box patterns

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:18 am

Ah, yeah, I forgot too, sorry!

Phil's a tough guy to use as an example of ahead of or behind the beat as he's not very consistent. (Just one of the reasons I hate playing the GD with non-deadhead drummers - they aren't expecting such an unconventional approach)

Billy is behind the beat in 5/26/77, clearly and consistently the whole time, so he might be a better example. Phil is mostly behind the beat during the solos but sometimes pushes it, especially when he repeats the root during the sections in E and often on the little climb to C#m. At 6:15 the whole band starts pushing the beat a little and even more at 6:40. The tempo doesn't actually speed up, but the whole band plays on top of the beat so it feels like it's moving forward instead of kind of moseying along.

The band, especially Jerry and Brent, starts out way ahead of the beat in your 1989 youtube clip before settling into the tempo during the first verse. At that speed playing right on the beat feels like playing behind the beat in a weird way.

Phil is way more ahead of the beat than he is in 1977, more ahead of the beat than the rest of the band, and a lot more consistent.

It's subtle... we're talking about the tiniest fractions of a second.
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Re: Bass playing and box patterns

Postby easytoslip » Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:02 am

eric wrote:Better yet, forget all this theory crap , and at your next band practice , throw on your meanest Bass Face , and break out a gnarly cover of "I'm the Man in Box" by Alice in Chains ....


ha ha YES :lol:
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