Basslines are tricky, and I’ve mentioned it many times before that a lot of people either hate doing them, or just don’t bother at all. For some, making a bassline is a nice challenge, but normally it’s done after everything else has been recorded.
What about doing your bassline first? It could change your whole workflow.
1. It Changes Things Up
I’ve been there before, just as many of you have – beatmaking can become repetitive. It’s fun making beats, and it’s even more fun getting paid for those beats, but after a while it can almost seem like a routine, so it’s good to change it up. By starting your beat with the bassline first, it will definitely spark a renewed interest in producing, which might be exactly what you need.
I always recommend starting slow and building from there, so you can just record a simple 4-bar pattern with the root note, then take it from there.
2. Your Beat Will Be Simpler
A lot of beats that I hear every single day are just too much for me to listen to. Don’t get me wrong, the beats sound really good and some are ready for primetime, but I find that a lof of today’s beats have just too much going on – and so do the basslines.
I’ve sampled basslines and filtered them, but those loops just seem a little too complex for my liking. For example, there is a pack of bass loop samples that I have in my library, and whenever I go to sample from them, I don’t. I actually have no idea why I still have that pack, since I don’t really use it.
But by recording your bassline first, it will force you to keep your entire beat simpler, because you won’t be inclined to go nuts on the pads or keys, and getting carried away because the rest of the beat sounds hype.
3. It Will Be Easier To Build The Beat
As I mentioned, with your bassline first, it will make it much easier to build your foundation and then add layers until it sounds great.
Normally I start my beats with the drums first. Then I’ll add whatever samples I have, and finish it off with the bassline. I know this is probably the standard way of doing things, especially since you want the rest of the beat to guide you while you’re making the bassline, but if you don’t have the influence, then it will force you to keep things simple while you build upon it.
A 4-bar bassline loop to start things off will make you want to add a simple drum loop, then a sample that comes in every 4 bars, etc. As you continue like this, you will want to add more and more, until it’s complete.
4. Your Beat Won’t Be Muddy
This is probably the best reason to start with the bassline. I’ve heard plenty of beats that had a bassline and all it did was muddy up the track. Even though I’m talking about basslines here, there are times when you just don’t need a bassline at all. Some beats are perfectly fine without bass, just ask DJ Premier!
But by starting with the bass, and keeping things simple as you build the entire beat, you’re doing the whole thing in steps, which means you’re less likely to have a bassline that will muddy everything.
5. You Will Have Better Drums
A long time ago, I would have drums on top of my bass and I thought it sounded great. Then one day I was working on a new beat, and by accident, the kick that I was using was in perfect tune with the bass note I had – I was in awe. It was like I stumbled onto a goldmine.
What had happened was that up until that point, I thought my beats were super dope. But what I was doing was using just any type of drums, not realizing that I should try my best to make them match the bassline. The end result was a kick drum that sounded like an extension of the bass, and it gave me a very tight-sounding drum track.
So with your bassline first, it makes it much simpler to find the right kick that will match your bass. Again, build from that and now your drum track will be super tight, making the entire beat sound dope.