Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #93088  by FractalEye
 Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:01 pm
I want to play Bass on GDTRFB, but I don't know what to play.
I don't have the skill to pick it out by ear.
Phil is amazing, and I don't expect to play as well as him, but I love the bassline.

Can anyone give me an idea of what I can play?
Tabs would be great, but any help would be cool.
 #93090  by Adam Deckard
 Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:30 pm
In Phil's book he says his initial approach to the bass was to play on the off beats and stick to the root. You cant hear a song and play along? Well GDTRFB has the chords E, A, C#m and B. You've got the internet, you can take it from here with a little motivation. Look up E major scale. on a bass with your index, middle, ring, and pinky on the 11th 12th 13th and 14th frets respectively and calling those fingers 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively play this shit starting on the low E string and when u see a number thats lower than the one before it, that means go up a string.... here it is man 2, 4, 1, 2, 4, 1, 3, 4. try that for starters. hope it helps. oh yeah and look up a dude on here named "Rusty the Scoob", he's ur best bud.
 #93101  by Rusty the Scoob
 Wed Feb 02, 2011 6:42 am
Heh! Thanks, Adam! I'm always glad to help! :cool:

Welcome, FractalEye!

Phil is impossible to tab in most cases as he is consistently inconsistent - he always plays his style but his style is that the specific notes change often drastically from day to day or even verse to verse. So the only real way to do this is to learn his style.

GDTRFB is a great place to start, you only need two scales - Mixolydian, which is the most important scale in the Phil universe, and Dorian/Minor/Minor-pentatonic even - the C#m is so brief you don't have time to really get into detail with it. It's not all that different from playing a standard blues, even.

Here's a video that I made a while back explaining Phil's primary approach - it's on the song Cassidy but the concepts translate over nicely. Start by watching this and let me know how much of it makes sense.

 #93664  by FractalEye
 Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:54 am
Rusty the Scoob,

I know what you mean about Phil being all over. Yet whatever he does always sounds great, and always fits the song. There's gotta be some way to talk about it and convey his concepts. Your vid is a start, thanks a lot for sending it my way.

I know about arpeggios (though I need to work on them more, particularly for things other than major chords), and I get the concept of the passing tone.
I followed you through the discussion of the Bb passing tone, and then you went to the octave A. But I lost you soon after that.
I'll try again. I particularly had trouble following with the end where you're walking the bass all over. I'm afraid I don't yet have the knack of walking the bass, though I wish I could. It sounds good when you do it. :-)

I'm willing to work on Cassidy, or any Dead song. I'm also particularly interested in learning:
Fire on the Mountain (only 2 chords :) )
Iko Iko (also only 2 chords, I think)
(though I guess I'm getting outside the content of this topic by mentioning them)
If you think some of those are easier than GDTRFB, I can work on those first, then work up to GDTRFB.
I love the way Phil plays, and I don't see any books or DVDs on how to do it. I wish Phil or someone would put out something like that.
I appreciate you showing us how to do some of it.
 #93681  by Rusty the Scoob
 Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:00 am
I'm glad I can help!

Where in Cassidy did you get lost? Was it the minor arpeggios?

You've got a lot of good solid starter songs there. I whipped up a few real quick videos this morning to see if I can help:

Fire on the Mountain:

Iko Iko:

Two more are coming after I run an errand.
 #93981  by FractalEye
 Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:03 pm
Rusty the Scoob,

Thanks a lot for the vids. I'm having a great time working through them and playin' along to some of my favorite songs. I've got down Fire pretty well, and I've got a version of Iko that works, though I still to do more work to learn how to improvise better with that one. I'm now working through Bertha. I've got some questions on that one, but to be a good citizen of RuKind, I'll post them under the Bertha song in this forum, if that's cool.

I'm on travel right now, but when I get back to my normal computer I'll put down what I think the tabs are for Fire and Iko under the right song, based on what I think I saw you playing in the vids, and let you critique 'em.

Your vids are a big help. I'm also trying to use my ear to help me figure out things when you go too fast for me to tell exactly what you're doing. But knowing the basic chords and concepts (like no IV or VII notes on Bertha) helps a ton.

I've got to mo-ove on to GDTRFB next. It's so much fun to play along to these songs.