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Advice for aspiring Studio Players or anyone that wants to "Go Pro"

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by tommixx, Apr 3, 2005.

  1. jessestern


    Mar 14, 2011
    Los Angeles, California CA
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar, D'Addario, Reunion Blues, Moollon, Levy's
    Active pickups were popular in the 80s and 90s. They tend to sound dated. There is a current trend toward "vintage" and lo-fi sounding gear. Passive pickups are more reliable, as anyone can tell you who has ever run out of battery at an out-of-the-way gig or studio. Active pickups carry a lot more volume, which is cool for live, but irrelevant in the studio. Active pickups tend to sound brittle in the studio, less warm, less punchy, more bright. Passive pickups tend to sit better in a mix. I'm pretty much talking about rock/pop/soul and country here. If you're doing R&B or electric jazz, or hip hop, these aesthetics might not apply.
    AngelCrusher likes this.
  2. hernameisrio


    Sep 27, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    Maybe they're more versatile as far as where they sit in the mix? Or there's less chance of hum/distortion? I feel like I should know these things given that I work in studios sometimes, but I never thought to ask.

    This is a good thread, I haven't been on here in a while so I'm gonna catch up on my reading. :D
  3. Slade N

    Slade N Supporting Member

    May 28, 2005
    portland, or
    @jessestern, thats interesting. for quite some time i heard the opposite. passive for live and active for recording. i would imagine that in the end it truly depends on a lot more factors than just active or passive
  4. Hey Tommixx, thanks for the post and everything you wrote is spot on. I got to work behind the scenes as a tech in LA in the 80's and it was almost always the case where the Yngwie bass guys with fridge racks were passed over for the guys that walked in with one or two basses and sat quietly to the track and made notes.
  5. StudioStuntz


    Jul 19, 2015
    For starters:

    • Learn how to play and sell every style and feel possible.

    • Learn how to sight read. Back in the early-mid seventies, Stevie Wonder was auditioning bassists. They were to follow the arrangement note for note. Legend had it that the first wrong note played, was also your last!

    On the other side of the spectrum, I witnessed a session wherein "Uncle Hal" was going over the chart with the bassist, explaining how to play and/or interpret the written parts...guess he knew someone and was likeable.

    • Learn how to sight read with feel.

    • Listen to the lead instrument, voice or otherwise, and the lyrics and play accordingly.

    • Many contractors will tell you ahead of time how true you must be to the written notes.

    • Keep it simple until/unless instructed otherwise.

    • Make sure all your gear is always in tip-top shape, no crackles, pops, or hums.
    retslock, Need Gigs and ROGI like this.
  6. Slaptapandpop


    Sep 30, 2016
    Hi, I'm a new member here, and this is my first post. There's a possibility this has already been asked but I'm not going through the whole 14 pages to find out:
    Assuming my chops, equipment, professionalism, and everything else are up to speed, how hard is it to make get started, and make a living as a session player, studio bassist, etc? I men, how hard is it to actually "break in" to the industry. I'm sure that even at a very high level of playing there is a lot of competition and some players will not make for no reason other than, just because they didn't. After everything is up to snuff, what are my chances of making a living as a bassist?
  7. Peter Weil

    Peter Weil Seeker of The New Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Not that great. But persistence pays off, if you have the skills and personality. You really should read the thread.
  8. Slaptapandpop


    Sep 30, 2016
    Sorry, I didn't mean to sound like that. I do plan to read the whole thread (about to right now) It's something I'm currently considering so I'm trying to figure out what it would really be like before I invest 2 years in getting myself up to snuff.
  9. Swampman Cory

    Swampman Cory

    Nov 9, 2009
    Los Angeles / ex-Michigan
    Endorsing Artist: Reunion Blues, 64 Audio, Mesa Engineering
    It takes a lot more than two years of investing; it's a process that never stops. If you don't want to put in fourteen-pages of reading, you're not going to want to put in the lifetime of work.
    twinjet and Peter Weil like this.
  10. elgranluis


    Feb 14, 2003
    El paso, TX
    Buddy... You are not an engineer until you have an engineering degree. You do have your ingenuity. Just thought id mention this since it seems that nowadays anyone that can do sound check is not even a sound tech, they are full blown engineers!
    ROGI likes this.
  11. twinjet

    twinjet GE90-equipped Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    I do hope you read the whole thread. I just finished it myself and discovered a ton of gold.

    @tommixx , where ya at bro? Got any more wisdom? Fun stories?
  12. JonathanAlvarez


    Aug 31, 2016
    One of the best post I had read. :thumbsup:
    Not just for season players, but for musicians in general. People who are team players in anything must show:
    -Friendly attitude
    That can take you way far from ... that guy with attitude... whom nobody want's to work with.
  13. JonathanAlvarez


    Aug 31, 2016
    You are correct, people use to mix the title with the skill set. I am not denying Tom knowledge, he may have all the skills , and may know more than the Engineer in charge of the studio, but the title of Engineer is given by an University degree, same as Doctor, MD, Accountant , etc.
    Tom your tread is gold for all the knowledge you shared, so you are also a good writer.
  14. Wow thanks guys! Been away for a while still working everyday and still learning and earning every where I can. These days work is where you can find it unfortunately. It is even more challenging now than I think it ever has been. Labels have come and gone and studios have come and gone since I started this thread years ago. I really appreciate everyone that has taken the time to read it all and everybody who has contributed so much for the good of everyone. The real key is to be passionate about what you are doing. The passion HAS to sustain you when everything else seems against you. There are many frustrations to choosing this life and I see them all the time. However, I still stand by EXACTLY what I said in the initial post. It really is that simple! Do what you love and the money WILL come. I have been around a long time through good times and bad but I have remained happy because I get to do what I LOVE to do everyday. On my worst day I feel blessed to be able to make a living doing something I am so passionate about. I LOVE MUSIC and making it and hearing it and watching and hearing other people do it. If you don't feel the same way you should probably consider doing something else to make your living because at the end of the day it has to be about more than just the paycheck....Keep it up, YOU CAN DO THIS!!!


  15. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Love this advice. Thanks for posting this -- it's great to hear the voice of long, hard experience. I especially liked this one:

    twinjet likes this.
  16. twinjet

    twinjet GE90-equipped Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    T, your words have inspired me a lot. My new mantra is something you said: Activity breeds activity. Been making sure to get out and play where possible.

  17. Ben Bass

    Ben Bass

    Mar 17, 2017
    New York
    Great Post, less is always more I find when it comes to studio/ session work, always remember that you are working on someone else's dream song/ track, so be polite, courteous and as the Op mentioned, prepared!
  18. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    I agree with the OP on this stuff. Sessions are dying down a little but I'm still getting work. It's just not as much as 15 years ago. Funny to read he had 81 basses. That's a ton, but back in the day there was so much money flying around plus endorsements, that it was not uncommon to have a room with stacked cases.

    Pretty much everything he said is in line with my experiences. Another thing about being a pro is just being a good hang. In the studio, that essentially means to be quiet a lot. Don't be the mixing room chatterbox. I could add a lot more, but this thread has covered a lot of ground already.
    svtb15 likes this.
  19. In my experience I'd say just keep playing, doing what you do and want to do and above all have fun with it. In all honesty there is a lot of great bands out there who never get mainstream attention, well of course unless you want to conform into yet another crappy pop group it seems these days (my own personal rant) but honestly when I was in bands before we had a overhanging understanding that we'd make the best music we could, give the best performances and have the most fun we can but also never expect someone would come knocking on our door the next day with a multi million dollar record deal, new gear and a tour bus all ready for us to tour the country or world and we were cool with it and never disappointed.
  20. I just finished reading the whole thread.

    tommixx... thank you very much for sharing your knowledge. It gives me, an outsider..a non studio musician, an insight of how it works in the studio.

    The principal is the same in every industry, I worked in financial sector. I moved from one company to another in these past 25 years, and I could do that because I have good reputation in the industries that I was in.

    After 25 years of corporate life I got bored.. and three months ago I decided to retire, I'm only 49 years young :D and now, I'm starting a new path... play music.

    I play music my whole life, started with classical music (guitar) when I was 13, and started playing bass guitar with bands at 16. Music has always been my passion but I never tried to take it to another level, i.e., play professionally and do paid gig... I will now, and your thread gives me an insight and guidance on the path.

    So thanks tommix and others who contributed, John Thomasson, CamMcintyre and others who contributed to this thread.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
    MarkA likes this.

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