As I was playing bass this morning, I discovered something interesting. Well, I guess I discovered it a while ago, but understood it today. I learned that in those really soft moments in a song (usually during free worship) where there is maybe some acoustic guitar playing, a barely perceptible amount of pad and nothing else, that the bass can really smooth out that relationship and bring an incredibly mellow feel to the song.

By playing a lot higher on the fretboard with any tone controls on the bass turned completely off, you get a very warm and round sound that contrasts the more percussive sound of a regular guitar and adds more body to the pad. The application was the song “Jesus Paid It All”, and right at the end, we were playing a very light intro progression. At that point, you can play the regular bass notes (except up on the D and G strings around the 15th fret) and occasionally wander off on the scale. Just make sure that you are following the melody or it will become obvious. The whole point of this is to smooth the sound over and mellow it out, not add spice to it.

So there ya go. If you play the bass, give that a shot and see what you come up with during practice. If you DON’T play bass, then tell the bass player to try it out. This is one of those things that make the bass guitar so much fun. It is such an incredibly versatile instrument, and if you don’t already know how to play it, I highly recommend it. It will teach you a ton about rhythm and how to work with the rest of the band, namely the drummer. In fact, more often than not, you might find yourself as the second drummer who plays a stringed instrument!