My song writing goes through cycles of concentrating on a subset of instruments that I can play semi – competently.
For a while, I abandoned the string bass and used a synth bass (or even the low strings on a lap steel). My wife suggested that I play an octave lower, which meant I really had to play my string bass. I absolutely love my 3/4 Gretsch Electromatic Junior Jet bass. Its a guitar players bass, but it’s sound is amazing for a shortened bass. I even have figured out how to make it sound like an upright fretless bass – with a little bit of processing.
There are a handful of songs that I have started listening to again like Kate Bush “Wuthering Heights” and Belle and Sebastian “Seeing Other People”. They are centered around just a simple drum, bass and piano part. Well, maybe not that simple, but they are just gorgeous songs.
For the last two songs, I started with a bass line, and I love it – it makes writing the other parts much easier, in fact, to the point where I can improvise. Because I’m playing drum box and bass first, laying down a great rhythm part really is the backbone of the song.