are bass players made or born?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by steveg, Jan 1, 2003.

  1. steveg


    Feb 26, 2002
    Madison, WI
    I've been playing music for over 30 years now, mostly fingerstyle guitar, with a bit of bass here and there. I love bass, the sound, the feel, the groove. I'm adequate at it. Unfortunately, I just can't seem to get beyone adequate.

    Is it possible that the ability to play bass really well is just not there for everyone?
  2. b0r3d


    Dec 26, 2002
    Bass players are probably born, not made... I think I was born to play the bass... I love the sound to it, and I just started playing about a week ago, and I'd say I'm pretty good... 'Course, all I can play is tabs right now, but they still sound pretty good.
  3. Bob Clayton

    Bob Clayton Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Deptford, NJ
    i think that like any talent, you have to be born with it, there is only so much u can be taught

  4. Bob Clayton

    Bob Clayton Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Deptford, NJ
    thats how i started, keep at it man, pretty soon u'll be using those tabs to start a fire, you be able to play by ear...just don't depend on tabs too much

  5. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Bass players are made.

    Jaco didn't become the world's greatest by not sitting around for 10+ hours on end nightly learning songs and practicing finger techniques.

    granted some people may be born, more suited to play bass(long broad fingers) anyone can become a great bassist if they put the time and effort required to master such a craft. anyone ever see that upright player with one hand? he has a flexible stump for a left hand(no fingers) and I would consider him a very good bassist. Or the kendo(stick fighting) master with no legs.

    the same can be said about practically any interest you may want to invest in. some people might be a little more better off to begin, but anyone can succeed and master whatever they are willing to put the time and effort into. Its all about dedication and time, if you truly love something and are willing to put in the amount of effort required to be proficient at it, it does not matter what it is.

    can I get an amen :D
  6. Benbass


    Jan 28, 2002
    Wrong Robot has it right. If you look at the really great players they do have one thing in common. Tons of Practice.
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Well I'll go for the middle of the road, sit on the fence answer of "a bit of both".

    I don't think I'm a natural bass player, or even a natural musician as such, but I do think I was born with a certain creative flare and I chose to play music.
    The fact that I've been playing for 12 years means I'm 'in tune' with music (forgive the pun) and gives me the skills and experience to play, but the creative flare I was born with is what allows me to build a great line and write good music.
    If I'd have got into art the same aspect of my personality would allow me to sculpt or paint or whatever. if that makes any sense whatsoever?!

    I think some people are naturally more co-ordinated than others towards music or art - ie, some people just make great drummers, but most don't ;)

    this is just the old nature vs nurture debate really
  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I tend to agree, it's a bit of both. Sure, Jaco spent 10+ hours a night practicing, but I don't think that was the only thing that made him great. I think some people are naturally disposed to certain things. You have to kinda feel a resonance with the instrument (at least to some extent), if you see what I mean.

    I wonder if I'm a natural bass player. I think I am to *some* extent. I'm not the most natural bass player, but I see some other people attempt to play, and think maybe I'm natural-ish. I'm most definitely a natural musician & composer. I think I'm more of a composer than player, but my 'most natural' instrument is the piano.
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    That's interesting...

    I too feel like I'm a natural 'sometimes' - when I can find the right groove immediately or play along with people naturally. I think my biggest skill is being able to find an original sounding bass line quickly (most of the time!).
    Usually I can kind of hear where the bass should be, it's almost as if my ears put the bassline in for me, sometimes at least!

    I'm also good at writing, in particular melody. I do come up with a lot of material - most of which gets abandoned - but the ones I stick with I'm usually really pleased with - except that I tend to write pieces and then feel they'd bee better played on piano or strings or summit.

    I sometimes feel that bass quite rightly has a limited place in music. While bass could quite happily be used to play the music I've written on it, I feel that the music would carry more weight if played on another instrument. I.e. I feel bass is best used for playing bass parts - for emphasising the lead.
  10. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Sure there is a certain amount of "talent" involved ... I mean Charlie Parker (or Jaco or whoever) was obviously a great talent in the sense that he could hear things very easily. He probably wouldn't have goitten those ideas out in air unless he had practiced his ass off day and night and played gigs and then practiced even more however.

    My favourite example is saxman John Coltrane, who really WASN'T a kid genius. He was perhaps "talented" a bit above the average musician, but it was through obsessive and systematic practice that he became the premier saxophonist (and still is IMO) in jazz.

    Talented or not, you're not going to be a great if you're not putting time in your craft.

  11. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Amen to Wrong Rabbit! I for one, am a self made man. As a child I was raised to believe that I was clumsy and uncoordinated with a bad sense of rhythm and bad ears and I should not waste my time trying in vane to learn to play an instrument. (BTW, never do this to children...always encourage them) I was 26 years old before I developed the self confidence required to pick up an instrument that had fascinated me for the past 10+ years. I did suck really bad for way too long (and I still kind of do) But now I play with people who say that I have better technical skills than other bass players they play with and allegedly rock solid timing. And all that I do is practice with a metronome. Practice makes perfect.
  12. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Ok , what you're saying may be right, but Bird DID show sign of genius even at a very early age, and I think a lot that why he was humiliated was because he didn't have technique to perform it. He shedded like crazy and then came back and was smokin'.

    Anyway, my point was it's possible to become a very good jazz musician WITHOUT being a supernatural talent.

  13. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Before I played bass I played Trumpet, Sax, Drums, and trombone, and I tried guitar. I had tried all these different instruments and while I liked them a lot, I never felt totally comfortable with them. The first time I picked up a bass, I felt very comfortable with it, and I liked it more than anything else I had tried, this in turn would lead me to believe that I had a natural gravity towards and with bass. But in the same breath, I can say I couldn't improvise a bass line when I first started, at least not a creative one that followed the key and the chord changes accurately, I couldn't rip 16th notes, I couldn't slap or pop or anything, it took a lot of my time to do these things, and I still play 3 to 5 hours a day because I am always striving to learn more and get better.


    Nov 11, 2002
    I didnt read every word from the previous post so if someone already said this then sorry, anyway, I do beleive some people are born with it, the same goes for everything, basketball players,football players,engineer's ,etc.
    My dad used to play ever since he was a kid, we both function more on the left side of the brain(i think thats what it is) but anyhow we both are natural at arts, (not bragging by any means) wether it be music,3d animation which is what i am in,or building stuff, anyything creative) however, I know a lot of people who are opposite of me and still make it, and sometimes end up being better.... so I think it goes down to how much of a passion do you have for it, and how determined are you? I have a mad passion to be a good bassist, but my determinitaion isnt the best b/c of school and other things, but I still manage to play atleast an hr a day, sometimes more, and then regular with the band twice a week.
    It's all about what you make of it, and also if you are talking about making it as pro as in like where you make big bucks out of it, then people with hook-ups are always nice. If you have hook-ups to the industry then your chances are better at being heard and maybe getting some kind of contract.. im not sure though so dont quote me on this stuff. Just have fun and practice practice practice. oh yeah, a cool thing to do if you dont have a 24/7 drummer is getting somekind of drum machine or something where you can change your rythyms but yet still keep with a drum beat, that helped me out so much.. DR-5 is wut I have and its perfect for drum beats,plus its got lots of other effects.

    anyway good-luck
  15. Steveg, I'd ave to say that in my opinion bass players are made, even the greats sucked when they started. And the virtuoso's well the only thing that separates virtuoso's from your average bass player is the amount of practice and work they put into their craft. You said your having trouble getting past being just an adequate bass player, but at the same time you said that you play "a little bass here and there"...I think your question and its answer are found within the same paragraph.
  16. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I was built in a lab. Out of styrofoam and cheese whiz.
  17. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Right side controls creativity, musical, artistic, spatial, abstract thought...etc.
    Left side controls things like Math and computational,writing, logic, reason...etc.

    a funny thing about the brain, your left side controls your right eye and your right side controls your left eye. If I remember correctly same with appendages, I think that your left actually controls your right arm and your right leg...but I can't remember exactly)

    brain science is weird.
  18. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    your just saying that because cheese is a fun word to say(and write, and think about)

    you might as well have said you were made from sliced broccoli and squished alfalfa sprouts

  19. I guess it depends on the individual but,I`m going to say:

  20. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yup, I think the left side controls the right side of the body (and vice versa) - not just the eye & the arm and leg, the whole right side of the body. I think.