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A question of ethics

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by flyingmarcel, Apr 4, 2006.

  1. Hello All,

    Just got home from playing with a jazz choir at a nearby Jazz Club and an uncommon (for me) incident occured - Wanted to run it by the people here and hope for some advice on what to do, as I'm unsure how I wish to proceed.

    When I showed up, I was a bit early and started to unpack my bass near the stage (I usually try to be at least a 1/2 hour early for any gig, just in case). I put my bass down in order to fold up my cover (the bass was near the small stage). Just then, the bartender walks buy and gives the bass a full on kick (not on purpose, just not paying attention). The bass does a bit of a spin, but was thankfully undamaged. Now, I understand that perhaps the bass was a little SMALL for him to see and all, but instead of appologizing like crazy, he was just like, "sorry" and kept on trucking in the other direction.

    Now, the club was packed tonight, so I didn't want to make a scene since the bass wasn't damaged in the least (thank god for urathaned wood floors!) and went on and played as though everything was fine - But still expecting an appology (or at least a free beer!) before taking off for the night. But still nothing.

    My first instinct is to write the club owner a letter explaining how upset I am with the situation (I played there once a week for over a year, so I know him well), but wonder if this would be in poor taste or considered an unprofessional move. I don't feel that it is, but would love to hear some feedback and discussion about this concern. As I said, I played at this place every week for a year, know the bartender well (as well as the owner), so I would have expected more from him after kicking my bass - instead, it was as though he had stepped on my foot or something!

    Whatever the consensus on course of action is here, that's what I will do, so please.....post up

    Also, to make this a little more interesting (I could use it, the night's been a bit of a piss off), feel free to share any similar stories you might have....


  2. The bartender could have been nicer about it, but it doesn't sound like it's really a huge deal. Your bass wasn't damaged, so a letter of complaint might be seen by them as an over reaction. You'd be well within your rights to request compensation if there it needed to be repaired, but it might be best to let this slide on by.
  3. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Most of my gigging life has been in bars. That's the way it goes there. You do what you can to take care of your stuff and take your lumps when you can't.

    I've had beer poured all over me and my stuff, stood in puddles of mud and swill to play, and had to kick drunks back with steel toe boots. I've fought my bass away from a moron that wanted to play "rockabilly" and spin it around while I was on break. I routinely have to fight off lunatics screaming for Skynard.

    Nobody cares, nobody apologizes and nobody gets compensated when your stuff gets trashed. It's the cost of doing business. There is no dignity and no respect.

    Set limits or grin and bear it as the situation dictates. Indignance while valid is irrelevant and can appear petty. If the gig is not worth the hassle I generally don't go back. If it is then I eat some humble pie.

    If that's the worst that ever happens in a bar you're lucky. I woudn't sweat it. Nothing happened really. Shake it off and move on.
  4. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    It's so hard to keep a bass safe. I always make sure the endpin is in all the way. I try to have the back of the bass against a wall or barrier of some kind. And if possible, I put the scroll and most of the neck of the bass under a chair or stool. You'd think that would only add risk, but in my experience it helps. Even at that, people will bump into it.

    I wouldn't complain....
  5. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Nobody wants to see you damage it, but if an accident happens, you can't really expect people to care. Shake it off and be glad nothing bad happened.
  6. Gufenov


    Jun 8, 2003
    Many non-musicians have no concept of the value of the instruments we play, especially the emotional attachment we form. It's not that they don't care - they just don't understand what they're risking.

    My worst experience was at a party at an American Legion, where the door to a storeroom is on the back side of a very small stage. As the staff cleaned up the kitchen, they would come up on stage while we were playing and snake their way between band members and equipment - all while carrying armloads of pots and pans and other kitchen equipment.

    About the third time I had to move my bass aside (while playing) to make room for another staff member, I asked the lead singer to announce a break, and then I went to the kitchen and told the staff they'd better get it done during the break, 'cuz the stage was off limits once we started playing again. We didn't go back on stage until the kitchen lights went out.
  7. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    If you know the bartender then you may just want to mention to him that the bass costs $XX and that it's somewhat fragile and repairs cost $YY. Ask him if he would try to be more careful in the future. He probably doesn't know how valuable your instrument is. He may think that it only cost a couple of hundred dollars on ebay.

    I wouldn't write a letter or make a big deal out of it. But I would let him know that it bothered you and that you may have been concerned about damage to the instrument. And tellhim that for the past couple of days you've kept checking it to make sure that nothing was really damaged.

    Try to explain it in a way that he would understand. Like if someone had driven into his car. Maybe there's no apparent damage but there could be unseen damage.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    "Jazz Choir" !!! :eek: :confused: ??
  9. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Don't report an employee to his or her boss unless there is no other choice. You'll be in that chair some day too.
  10. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I'm with the FROGMAN on this -- playing in bars is playing in bars. Don't expect concert hall conditions. In some places you're lucky to escape with your life. In the bartender's daily working life, kicking your bass is no more important than a waitress spilling a tray of drinks. An annoyance for a coupla minutes, then forgotten. If you got anything half way civil out of him, you're lucky.

    Be street smart -- protect your bass and your gear the best you can. You can bank on people not seeing your stuff and tripping on it all over hell's half acre. This especially includes your musical colleagues. Stages are small and crammed full of expensive gear.

    Playing in bars is risky (so is getting out of bed, though.) If the risk to your equipment from playing in bars is too much for you to handle, get professional insurance or don't play in bars. Don't take it out on the bartender unless it's a battle that absolutely has to be waged. Of course you know that you should choose your battles carefully...
  11. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Hell, a lot of us have wound up in BOTH chairs: the employee on whom someone dropped the dime and the boss whose headache it now is to deal with it.
  12. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    I'd say let it slide, it's small potatas. But is you see the guy on the street standing next to a mud puddle, well, you'll know what to do. :p
  13. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Your only complaint seems to be that you didn't get as much of an apology as you think you deserved. Such is life.
  14. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I say we kick his ass!

    Actually, I agree with all that was said, altough I also understand your horror. A guitar player I know said to me recently "hey, I'd like to get a bass for my house so that when people come over, anyone who wanted to could play it. Nothing fancy, just something that sounded good and didn't cost more than about $100."

    People have no clue. Sometimes I show up to a gig, look around the room and think "oh crap, is this going to be the night that my neck gets broken off?" I hope not. Defensive bass management has served me well so far. She got whacked with an accordian once and I've avoided that whole circle of musicians since then.
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    You want to know why he didn't give you more of an apology, he wants to know why you left that thing in his way in the first place.

    First things first - don't leave your bass exposed in order to find someplace to put your case. You don't care if somebody kicks your case, you DO care if somebody kicks your instrument.

    As far as stories, I had some dumbass waitress take the cage off a champagne bottle and stand there holding it right in front of the stand. Physics being ineluctable, the cork flies out and ricochets off the front of my Kay. I guess the only bright spot was that it didn't occur in the middle of the bass solo...
  16. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Good plan.
  17. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Choose your battles. Let this one go.
  18. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Another reason plywood basses are so great.

    +1 for SteveC's advice.
  19. +1 on the plywoods. I was at the all eas clinic last Febuary and after my concert I was in the front of the hotel sitting with my bass and some little kid just walks up and starts kicking it. I was furios. His parent was there and caught him before I did and apologized and took that lil' twirp off. I kept my cool and acted like it was fine. If some one that works there bumps into your bass again like that make it a big deal to them without acting violent. Just make sure they know its not ok to touch your bass. Only if they do it again.
  20. You can’t do it now, but if it ever happens again, immediately after you stop it from spinning :D, grab the guy by the shoulders; look him in the eye and say:
    And like Ed said, keep it out of the way, it’s YOUR axe, not his.

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