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Author Topic:  Why are bass players getting a free ride?
Jim Robbins


From:
Ontario, Canada
Post Posted 14 Dec 2016 5:03 pm     Reply with quote

PSG players calling out six stringers is an old tradition on the Forum. Recently there's been a thread about drummers and another about singers (started by Mike Perlowin, a musician I greatly admire).

So hence my question: why are we giving bass players a free ride? Some of them are bad. Often they work. They waltz in with their basses, next to no set up, usually have a borrowed amp that is already there, only 4 strings to tune.

And what about keyboard players, with their ET all the time?

And fiddle players and those mandos with their tweedly ways?!
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Jim Fogarty


From:
Phila, Pa, USA
Post Posted 14 Dec 2016 5:10 pm     Reply with quote

Easy.

If a singer or a guitarist screws up, they sound wrong.

If the bass player plays a different note (or key!) from the rest of the band, everyone ELSE in the band sounds wrong.

Especially playing a fretless instrument with a slide, you do NOT want to piss off the bass player. So.....free ride.
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Brooks Montgomery


From:
Idaho, USA
Post Posted 14 Dec 2016 6:48 pm     Re: Why are bass players getting a free ride? Reply with quote

Jim Robbins wrote:
PSG players calling out six stringers is an old tradition on the Forum. Recently there's been a thread about drummers and another about singers (started by Mike Perlowin, a musician I greatly admire).

So hence my question: why are we giving bass players a free ride? Some of them are bad. Often they work. They waltz in with their basses, next to no set up, usually have a borrowed amp that is already there, only 4 strings to tune.

And what about keyboard players, with their ET all the time?


And fiddle players and those mandos with their tweedly ways?!


Bass players get a pass, the same way foundation/concrete workers get a pass when there's a problem with a house. They come in, pour the foundation, work hard, and then leave. No ego, no fanfare. If the house has problems, the architect, the contractor, and the finish guys get the blame, and but also all the credit.

Most bass players, my experience is, they come in, lay down the foundation, and are kind of invisible, unless they f-up. Then they are grouped in with loud drummers.
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Frank Agliata


From:
Jersey Shore, USA
Post Posted 14 Dec 2016 7:15 pm     Reply with quote

In support of the bassists . . I was a journeyman bass player for many years. There was always work for a good bassist. Either as a stand in or group member for live performance or in the studio. Unless your a frontman, you're pretty much invisible.
Your job is to strictly serve the song and help the band sound good. The only time you're noticed is when your too loud or too "aggressive". It can get boring and at times and I may have overplayed on occasion. Wink
It's much more rewarding and enjoyable playing guitar or steel IMHO.
So I'll give the bass guys somewhat of a pass . .
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Peter Freiberger


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 14 Dec 2016 7:37 pm     Reply with quote

We bass players like four strings because of all the time we save on tuning discussions. Not to mention no compensators or cabinet drop. By the way, let me know where all those gigs are that furnish an amp. I'm considering taking up fiddle. All the advantages of just four strings, and even lighter. Just got this record today!
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 15 Dec 2016 3:54 am     Reply with quote

they don't get a free ride, it may appear that they do.

This past year I was hired to play multiple gigs with a very loose band with the worlds worst Bass player. The bass player, real nice guy, just happens to be best friends with the band leader. He was not going to be replaced.

Not only did I stop accepting gigs, so did the guitar player and the drummer , all for the exact same reason.

These were pretty high paying gigs as well, but it wasn't about the money, it's about the music .

My guitar playing friend said, with regard to the Bass player,

"there should be background checks for Bass players before they buy a Bass"
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Dick Sexton


From:
Greenville, Ohio
Post Posted 15 Dec 2016 5:38 am     Classic... Reply with quote

"There should be a background check before they could buy a bass"!

That's what my guitar player thought about me and my steel... Really liked my vocals though! Lol!

I guess it's perspective.
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Charlie McDonald


From:
out of the blue
Post Posted 15 Dec 2016 6:09 am     Reply with quote

If it's been a free ride, I've enjoyed it.

Always looking for the center of the beat. It's great being low sideman on the totem pole.
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Henry Matthews


From:
Texarkana, Ark USA
Post Posted 15 Dec 2016 7:14 am     Reply with quote

Bass players fix problems you don't even know you have.

They can also create problems you don't even know you have.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 15 Dec 2016 8:18 am     Reply with quote

Henry Matthews wrote:
Bass players fix problems you don't even know you have.

They can also create problems you don't even know you have.



and they can create problems that we should never have and never had before Smile
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Herb Steiner


From:
Spicewood TX 78669
Post Posted 15 Dec 2016 8:39 am     Reply with quote

Here's the thing, guys... rant all you want, but we all know the real world needs bass players more than it needs us, right? Because when gigs dry up, money is tight, and the band has to go from five pieces to four, who do you think is gonna get fired? Wink

Will it be the less-skilled and unassuming bassist who also sings harmony and is the guitarist's brother-in-law? Or will it be the very subtly arrogant steel player?

Or will it be the hotshot virtuoso bassist who shows up just before gig time and lets everyone know just how great he is ad nauseum? Or will it be the loyal and uncomplaining steel player who helps with the PA and only wants the band to improve and have fun?

The four descriptions are interchangeable. Either way, the answer is the same.

Okay, dose of reality over. Back to ranting, please. Smile
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Roy Carroll


From:
North of a Round Rock
Post Posted 15 Dec 2016 9:07 am     Reply with quote

I'm pretty sensitive to bass players. A bad one will do me in every time. I've been blessed to have been exposed to some really good ones in the past and present. My Dad was a great bass player and played on the road many years. He taught me the value of a good bass player. As a steel player, one can get by with a mediocre bass player, however, as a singer, I cannot do a the job with a half a--ed bass player. He is usually the only guy on stage that is playing the root note and it needs to be in tune! I find as a singer and a steel player, I need to hear the precision of a good bass player, "carrying the mail" as it were.
So, to all of the good bass players out there, here's my "Get Outa Jail Free" card! You get my vote for a pass. I'm thinking the way to lighten the load and make bass players jealous.... learn harmonica! You can play it through the P.A. Laughing
P.S. Herb is right, the first guy to go in the band is the steel player. The last guy to go is the bass players brother in law.(front man) for all you Aggies.
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Kevin Hatton


From:
Buffalo, N.Y.
Post Posted 15 Dec 2016 11:04 am     Reply with quote

One bad bass player can destroy a whole band. I've seen it happen. Most people playing bass can't play bass. It's the cheapest instrument of least resistance. Whenever I go to Nashville I search out the stand up bass players. It takes a lot more talent to play stand up than electric. When you see and hear a REAL bass player it moves the audience more than the drummer in my estimation. I've seen good guitar players who played outstanding bass because they knew their 1-4 and 5-1 transition phrases and didn't over play. Pocket rhythm is lost on a lot of people also. If you ever get to play with a REAL bass player you'll remember it. I have had that opportunity luckily. In combination with a real well trained drummer the audience will not be able to sit down for long.
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Steve Hinson


From:
Hendersonville Tn USA
Post Posted 15 Dec 2016 11:11 am     ...yep... Reply with quote

What Herb said.
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Eric Philippsen


From:
Central Indiana, USA
Post Posted 15 Dec 2016 12:40 pm     Reply with quote

Bad bass players are often just guitar-player wannabes. Lot of them.

I'll never forget a call I got to play a gig where the bass player was all over the place. After the second tune the leader turned to him and said, "Just give me bomp-bomp."


Last edited by Eric Philippsen on 15 Dec 2016 12:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 15 Dec 2016 12:41 pm     Reply with quote

Kevin Hatton wrote:
Most people playing bass can't play bass.


I think it's more of "some" rather than "MOST "


I've read on guitar forums many times that "MOST" Steel players can't play Steel ! Shocked
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Paddy Long


From:
Christchurch, New Zealand
Post Posted 15 Dec 2016 2:33 pm     Reply with quote

A good bass player is a blessing, and fortunately not that scarce in my neck of the woods --- unlike good soundmen hehe !!!
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Jack Aldrich


From:
Washington, USA
Post Posted 15 Dec 2016 4:17 pm     Reply with quote

One of Jack's laws: Bass players work, good bass players work a lot. I've worked with a lot of good bassists, and a few times with someone who didn't know what a bass is for.
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robert kramer


From:
Nashville TN
Post Posted 15 Dec 2016 6:39 pm     Reply with quote

One thing I liked about the good old days was the tradition of the bass player / front man. It was a talent and there were countless great ones both famous and local. There was nothing like a country show date or club date back then when you could just sit down where country music played.

Last edited by robert kramer on 16 Dec 2016 11:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jim Robbins


From:
Ontario, Canada
Post Posted 16 Dec 2016 7:13 am     Confession Reply with quote

I'm glad so many of the comments are positive.

My confession: one of the great joys of my life is playing music with other musicians -- singers, drummers, bass players, whoever. I have found that many musicians who aren't psg players are nevertheless good musicians, nice people, fun to make music with. Go figure.
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Rich Upright


From:
Florida, USA
Post Posted 18 Dec 2016 7:05 pm     Reply with quote

My area of Florida is blessed with some of the worst bass players imaginable,so bad that in a band I was in once, we got another steeler & I hadda move to bass 'cause every one we auditioned sucked.
'Course, the steeler that replaced me sucked, too, but I'd rather have a bad steeler than a bad bass player.
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Bob Blair


From:
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Post Posted 18 Dec 2016 7:27 pm     Reply with quote

Aim lower Jim!
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James Jacoby


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 19 Dec 2016 1:25 am     Reply with quote

I played lead guitar for years, but tired of trying to sound good with the mediocre bass players, I had to play with. I started playing bass, because of that, and because of my prior lead playing, I knew what was required, and was soon busy, as a bass player--but I never gave up my lead playing.Several years later, I started learning PSG, but I still play bass most of the time, because of the lack of GOOD bass players, and I'd rather rather play bass, and be in a good sounding band, then suffer, playing lead, or steel, with an incompetent bass player(who will pull the entire band, down to their level) I don't get a "free pass"--I have two 6 string basses, and 4 bass amps, so I am always sure I sound good. I have a four string I carry for sit-ins, that are intimidated by the 6 string. -Jake-
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Tom Gorr


From:
Three Hills, Alberta
Post Posted 19 Dec 2016 3:12 am     Reply with quote

No free pass. A band doesn't pop without superior bass talent... and bass players with attitude are a more tolerable addition to the stage act than singers or guitarists with attitude.

I was a guitar player wanna be steel player that was hired to play bass because I could play a different style of lead guitar than the regular lead guitar player. The bass was the hot potato instrument in this band... being handed off from player to player over the duration of a set....although I was still considered 'the bass player'. I learned that playing an extended version of Taking Care of Business is soul destroying.... and somehow Stuck in the Middle With You made my night. The main problem with most bassists is they don't truly learn their craft and express it in an exciting way. There seems to be an expectation by band members that they are to be utility musicians. Totally wrong.

Cynicism aside.... I love listening to the 0.5% of bassists who truly have their craft honed.... the ones that can do it with amazing counter melody and a living- breathing rhythmic flow. There must be some good ones in Nashville .. go figure... because in spite the complaints of new country, the best part about it to me is the awesome bass talent in some of the radio tunes. Far superior to the oldie goldie stations )
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Henry Matthews


From:
Texarkana, Ark USA
Post Posted 19 Dec 2016 9:20 am     Reply with quote

Good solid bass players are hard to come by around here. What I like in bass is good solid playing, nothing fancy. Just the right notes at the right time. We have several lead bass players in the area also that think they have to play melody on the bass, not good. About as bad as the piano players and guitar players around here that play the melody right along with the singer and your ride but that may be another thread. Smile

Bass players can make or break a band. I play off what the bass is doing and if they are in the wrong cord or the wrong beat or timing, it really throws a kink in my playing. Makes a long night. Why do some people think they can stick anybody that owns a bass on stage and that will be sufficient. Some of these steel shows are guilty of that. Dang, a bass player at a steel show should know The Other Woman and Pride. A free, ride, nope, they don't get one.
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