Are our expectations of ourselves too low?/Are bassists lazy?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by cnltb, May 31, 2018.

  1. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    In the bass world,things that in the classical world would not attract as much as a glimpse are hyped to no end.
    People that can barely hold an instrument are referred to as 'great players'. Things like reading are sometimes talked about as thought they were some kind of magic. ( you get my point)
    Are bassists lazy?
    Do many have too narrow a field of vision when it comes to the craft and art or playing music?
    Are our expectations of ourselves too low?
    Do we not take ourselves seriously enough to really learn to play(and associated skills) properly?

  2. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    I don't think you're describing the "bass world." I think you're describing the "garage/basement band" world.

    What "great players" are you alleging "can barely hold an instrument?"
    Wulfensteiner and Lobster11 like this.
  3. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    I am speaking in general terms Yes, but am not going to name any names, sorry.
    The '?' in the title is there for a reason and I do not want to say too much about my own opinion. Only this much:
    Reading, should go without saying.
    Knowing where every note is, on the fingerboard should go without saying.
    Knowing basics like the circle of 5s, modes(at least those of the ionian scale) and the 12 bar blues sequence in all keys should go without saying, regardless of genre.etc.
  4. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Endorsing Artist: Eventide, GHS Strings, G&L Guitars, NS Design, Tsunami Cables
    You're painting with an awfully large brush here.

    The classical world is vastly different, and has its own set of requirements. Reading music is one of those, as that's how that music is shared and communicated between musicians. However, get them to improvise or go "off page," and by and large they can't. That doesn't make them lazy.

    That's not the case with mainstream (rock, pop, jazz, etc..) music as you have plenty of "great players" that can't read, but they can pick up a song by ear after one/two listens. The inability to read doesn't make these players lazy.
  5. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    The answer to your questions is no. You make the music you want to make. A guy who plays country isnt lazy, he just likes country music. The only people getting hyped to no end are the pretty people. IMO.

    Lots of kids read every day in band class.

    I've never seen someone who can barely hold an instrument being touted as great, however I've seen many competent players that have been pros for years ridiculed as horrible or basic.
    Wulfensteiner, bolophonic and Oddly like this.
  6. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Agreed with the above but I do feel there are lazy musicians out there. Those who feel it’s ok to wing it. Learn songs close enough but not correctly. But I get it. Some musicians are just more serious than others. Some are motivated to get it right some aren’t.
    Oddly likes this.
  7. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    I think that your definition is too broad. My great grandfather played fiddle in a band. They played every fair, wedding, shindig, whatever within traveling distance for years. My grandmother told me the neighbors would come over in the evening just to listen to one or two of them just fool around. By your criteria every one of them would be a lazy musician in some way. IMO you're only lazy if you are not meeting the requirements of the particular situation that you are in, and you're not trying to fix that.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I read musco quite well. In fact, I practice it at least weekly by reading materials generally not considered "bass guitar" music.

    That being said, every song I have learned for the better part of a decade I have learned by ear. If get the call for a fill-in gig in a modern cohntry band, I am likely not going to find sheet music for the latest Kenny Chesney song.

    In short, I know how to read. I haven't HAD to for a job in years.

    My point is, one can certainly build a great career playing bass guitar not knowing how to read music.

    Theory? I agree with you 100%.
  9. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    It might be.

    People being able to read certain things their own way seems to aid discussion. My hope is that it does that here too.
  10. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    There are many ways to judge a musician. Just because they can do one thing and not another doesn't make them lazy or in competent. A lot of professional athletes have a difficult time playing another sport, or another position on their team.
  11. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    As usual, I don’t understand the concept of bassists slagging other bassists — whether individually or as a whole. Terrible premise.
    Wulfensteiner likes this.
  12. Wulfensteiner

    Wulfensteiner Inactive

    Mar 24, 2018
    Melbourne, Australia
    In fairness, there are definitely some bass players, famous and otherwise, who could fill their spot more and could outright be perceived as 'lazy', but in a different light, their bass lines may be a certain way to serve a certain style of music or to you know, be a bass player.
  13. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    As a rule, I dislike having to work with people with limitations. Yet, because I try not to have limitations, I then find ways to create arrangements that maximize everyone's productivity even with their limitations.

    At a general level, it bugs me that so many players need time to find an A flat. I'm not saying you should be able to find all the places where you can find one, and do it instantly. But at least find it without having to play five notes and ask if that's the one. If you play a pitched instrument, be able to find a note, and know what a major scale looks like. Why are so many rock musicians so proud of not knowing? I don't know.
  14. Wulfensteiner

    Wulfensteiner Inactive

    Mar 24, 2018
    Melbourne, Australia
    I don't get that either, no it is NOT cool to not know basic stuff haha. I've worked with guitarists who get it wrong too.
  15. There are many opportunities for musicians. Some rely on reading music (like session work, pit orchestras, theme parks), and some don’t (bar bands, jamming).

    All my life I have encountered 2 types of musicians: those that begin by reading music in a school band environment, and those that begin by ear in the rock/pop world. Each has certain closed doors they must accept. The readers can’t always improvise or fake their way through a tune by ear, and ear players can’t take sightreading gigs. Usually, though, with enough experience and ear training, the readers can catch up to the ear players, and sometimes (though much rarer) the ear players can catch up to the readers with notation.

    There are even the rare few that develop both a strong ear and good reading abilities at an early age, and continue to master them both throughout their life. There are no closed doors for this kind of musician.
    joebar likes this.
  16. My experience is that the loudest opponents to formal and complete training are those that don’t have it. Like trying to justify their viability. I suppose the same thing happens on the other side too. I guess there are classical readers that berate the ear players, and claim reading is the only necessary skill.
  17. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    I'll admit to laziness. I'm happy to wing it, to some extent.
    Here's the thing, though.
    I was in a promising band last year with a guitarist who absolutely had to get it right, every song (all covers) had to be exactly perfect.
    That band, even if the drummer and I had stuck with it, would never have played out.
    In fact, the guitarist is most likely still in a rehearsal room somewhere trying to be note-perfect.
    There comes a time when good enough IS good enough.
    blue4 and joebar like this.
  18. dan1952

    dan1952 Commercial User

    Jun 27, 2012
    Anderson IN
    Artist Endorsement with Supro Huntington Basses / Owner, Dan's Music, Inc..
    I started as an ear player, but learned pretty quickly to follow sheet music or a chord chart. Didn't learn to read notation till I took a teaching job at the store owned by the leader of the jazz trio I was playing with. He told me, "All you have to do is stay one week ahead of your students," so that's what I did. Then I signed up for a class in bass violin at Ball State University where I was a History/Political Science major. After a year, the professor suggested I take private lessons, which I did for 2 years, using the Simandl method, thus learning bass clef. Learning to read helped my ear playing, because I learned the numeric relationships between the notes in different scales. I've hardly ever had to read bass clef for a gig, but it's still been helpful.
  19. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    I developed my ear to a really high level; I also have some degree of perfect pitch as well.
    A few years ago, I decided to brush up and learn to read . Hadn’t done it since high school and even then, not very well).
    I found that reading came easier after developing the ear; you can anticipate changes due to knowing typical professions and such.
    I agree with just about all of the OP’s remarks. Is it really too much to ask for, for a player to know their fretboard? Or to have good timing? To have a general understanding of harmony?
    It should go without saying, if you’re playing out with other musicians.