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Rhythm Bass? What To Do When the Rhythm Guitar is Missing

Rhythm Bass

Q: I play bass in a rock/metal band with only one guitarist, who does plenty of guitar solos. I was wondering if you had suggestions on how to fill up the space, so to speak, to overcome the lack of rhythm guitar. Any insight you might have would be greatly appreciated!

A: Although it’s been a while since I played much metal (and admittedly, I was a drummer back then), I do know that the role of the bassist generally is in line with the rhythm guitarist.

Unless much has changed from my days of Slayer, Sepultura and Napalm Death (you wouldn’t believe how much of a metal head I was back in the day), the bassist usually was almost a carbon copy of the rhythm guitarist, minus the power chords, that is.

So my advice would be to take whatever the guitarist was doing when he was playing rhythm (on the original recording, for example) and rock that: rhythm and roots.

In metal, it’s really about the roots of the chord and the rhythm is king! Unless, of course, we’re talking Dragon Force-style metal here but, when I personally hear the word metal, I’m thinking Cliff Burton (who was also fantastically melodic at times), Rex Brown, Steve Harris and Tom Araya.

Rhythm is king! Lock that done and play hard, my friend!

Readers, what’s your routine in these situations? Tell us about it in the comments.

Photo by Gonzak.

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