You can download the PDF of this resource here.
As a bass guitarist, your role in the band is to work with the drummer and provide a good rhythmic grounding to help the rest of the band stay in time and help the congregation understand the rhythm.
Lock in with the bass drum
This means listening to what your drummer is doing with his bass drum pedal (if you are using in ear monitor mixes it’s worth asking for the bass drum to be quite loud in them) and aiming to be playing in a similar (either simpler or more complex) pattern, rhythmically.
It’s helpful to tell the drummer in advance that this is what you’re planning to do - this will hopefully encourage them to be consistent in their bass drumming!
Keep it simple!
What sounds good at home can be quite confusing and muddy when you’re playing along with a band! It’s best to keep your playing simple, focussing on keeping a consistent rhythm that complements the feel of the song.
Pick a rhythmic pattern to use for consistently for each section of the song. For instance, for each verse use the same rhythmic pattern, changing to something different for the chorus.
You might choose to use a slightly busier pattern during the chorus to help build, or drop right back during the bridge.
When you’re enjoying playing and you get to an E chord, the temptation to give that lowest string a lovely good twang and really feel the shake of the church building is strong. Although that feels great when you’re the one playing, any notes that are particularly loud or soft will sound out of character to the congregation.
Listen with a critical ear
Listen critically to what you’re playing and how it fits with what’s happening around you. How does your pattern fit with the vocals (they’re a key part of the song)? Does what you’re playing reinforce the rhythm of the melody? Sometimes this can mean leaving some beats as gaps to help create a sense of rhythm.
Similarly, keep an ear out for what other instruments are doing. If the guitar or the drums are playing a busy pattern, help their rhythms stand out by dropping back slightly. If the keyboard is playing bassier notes, try and complement them by playing more lightly.