Bass or Bassist?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by MonkForHire, Oct 12, 2003.

  1. MonkForHire


    Oct 5, 2003
    I wqas watching "Standing in the Shadows of Motown", and this bassist was talking about how he met James Jamerson. He said that Jamerson went on stage, took the bassist's bass, and started to play. The bass was supposedly very low-quality, but Jamerson made it sound like a million bucks. Now, my question is, does the quality of the bass matter? I mean, I know if the bass is totally unplayable that's one thing, but if the bassist is good, shouldn't that be more powerful than the bass they are playing?
  2. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I don't know.
    I sound the same regardless of the bass I play on.
    It's just easier to get what I want with some instruments than with others.
  3. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    Exactly! Technique is far more important then Equipment...

    It's just easier on a better instrument and Quality will almost always last longer / hold up to pro & semi pro use.
  4. beam


    Dec 29, 2002
    95% bassist
    5% bass.
  5. Well actually I would have to say it's more like 90% electricity. Then the bassist and bass/equipment comes into count :)
  6. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Not on my acoustic bass!

    Seriously though, Some styles and techniques I use are not easy to get on other basses because of how they are set up, but for the most part I sound like me on any bass I play. sometimes though, picking up an unfamiliar bass might nspire me to do something different.

  7. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    I think that's the most accurat percentage... If you suck at bass, your not going to sound good no matter what you play on... I say the better you can make a ****ty bass sound, the better you are.
    But just really, if you suck you suck...
  8. Go play a show with no mic since its acoustic, wait wheres the electricity ;) I win I win :bassist:
  9. Oliver


    Jun 21, 2003
    Perth, Australia
    i say its the bassist although maybe not when it comes to my old samick, not even Stanley Clarke could make this thing slap. my old samick is a shocker, the thing wont slap, the electronics are crapola.

    but yeah, if it a "good" cheap bass then good bassists do miracles on them things:
  10. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I'm the kind of guy who comes to beat up Squiers and pull out funky grooves out of them.
    Then you leave the guy and say "Cool bass. I like it" and they go "D'OH" :p
  11. Oliver


    Jun 21, 2003
    Perth, Australia
    ohh yeah i believe ya man, i groove with the samick all the time, but trust me it wont slap, its just the way its built
  12. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    I'm sorry man, but as much of a piece of crap my old sammick is (actually the pickups and electronics broke somehow, forcing me to buy an Ibanez GSR200), I could get pretty slappy on that... Never buy one though.Let's mind the language, shall we? There are kids watching.
  13. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I think that the bass does have a lot to do with it, but not as much as the bassist. I would say around 70% bassist, and 30% bass. If the bass really was only 5%, there would be no market for $1000 + basses.
  14. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    Yeah, that is true... But you don't see a lot of people that are 'ok', with a $2,000 dollar bass... Probably because they are not good enough for it.
    How about 80% bassist, and 20% bass...?? I mean, Victor Wooten and Les Claypool could probably show up most of TB an Ibanez GSR200. :D :p
  15. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I wouldn't bet on it. ;) There are a lot of tallented bassists here. And if you give a good bassist a lousy bass, its going to effect him no matter how good he is. It might effect super-star bassists even more than the average guy because they may be very used to a much better bass.

    But as far as percentages go, I dunno. I was just making an arbitrary guess. :p

  16. The bassist..............[​IMG] .......Treena
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    This debate - bassist vs. bass - has been done many, many times on TB - probably more than any other subject, over the last few years.

    But I think there is another point here which relates specifically to James Jamerson - so his innovation and why he was so good, is all about his note choices and the way he introduced rhythmic variations.

    So - he wasn't a great technician - he only used one finger on his right hand, only played fingerstyle - and he wasn't particuarly interested in the sound of the bass. So, what I mean is - he never changed his strings and always played the same Fender bass. He was much more interested in the notes and getting the right line for the song - which was what made him ahuge favourite with producers. So - he just came in and played great lines - didn't spend ages fiddling about with getting a particular tone - it was just one sound - but great note choice, rhythmic feel and always perfect for the song.

    So - he wasn't worried about the things which cause modern player to buy several basses and seek to develop them - so he wasn't pushing the boundaries on tunings - like Michael Manring. He wasn't using technique like slap/pop or tapping, which require differnet action/setup. He wasn't interested in singing fretless tone or harmonics.

    So the nature of Jamerson's playing was all about him and very,very little about what bass he played - it may not be the same for other bass innovators...:meh:
  18. I'd like to see claypool and wooten take us on!!! That'd be something worth paying to see! I'm sure there's somebody on TB who's way better than they let on, and is actually as good as those two if not better. I say we challenge wooten and freinds to a duel.
  19. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Most important is the ability (chops) of the bassist...the sound is in the hands. But certainly the better the bass, the easier it is for a bassist to get the most out of his/her hands.

    But the "best bass" for one is not the "best bass" for all. A quick (I hope) anecdotal illustration.

    I was playing in an eight piece horn/jazz/funk band in the mid 80's, and we were opening for a band called the Shaboo All Stars. The bassist was the late great Charles Calmese, who played with the Steve Miller Band on "Fly Like An Eagle". We took the stage and I slapped my bass (a Charvel 4 string, neck thru...nice bass) once to check the signal to amp, and the neck snaps right at the head stock :eek: .

    I ran back stage, found Charles, told him my predicament and asked if I could use his old P Bass that would probably be worth a gillion dollars to a collector today. Charles said "no problem, man", hands me the bass and I run back onstage.

    Well...James Jamerson would've thought the action was too high on this sucker. The strings, all of which were deader than doornails, were of different make, and Charles abviously only changed a string when he broke one...which was probably never. I could not get tone out of that thing to save my life, and nearly crippled my hands trying to play it. I made it through the set, but just barely.

    I gave the bass back to Charles, thanking him, but asked "how the f*&% do you make it through a whole night playing that thing". He just laughed. He goes up next and proceeds to just rip the place apart, groovin' like a MF'er and getting tones out the wazoo.

    It wasn't the bass, but the bassist.

    RIP, Charles. :bassist:
  20. dave_clark69

    dave_clark69 Guest

    Jan 17, 2003
    This will make no sense.
    Your playability or goodness is out of 100, so a maestro person would be 100, some 'naff' person would be 40. Your bass and rig is - numbers out of like 50. A good bass like a vigier is like -2 and a 'crud' squier bass is -40. Add them together. So A bad bass will hinder you, stopping you from playing anything good. But a good bass will help you express yourself, with a range of tones.

    You can look at it as the car driver, or the car. Would michael schumacher go on for a 7th world title in a jaguar? Could Panis win in a ferrari?