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Bass Player -VS- Bassist

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by HHHolmes, Mar 4, 2003.

  1. I got into a discussion last night with a group of guitarists who have a "band" around town here.

    They have the "bass player" by committee angle going - "aw man - I want this guitar solo - you play bass this time". There's 3 of them - so there's lots of switches

    Anyway, they're friends of mine & ask me to sit in on a few songs if I'm at their gigs. They (& the drummer - who's not a guitarist) always comment that things are smoother when I play, then when they're hacking away.

    My answer to them was to get a bassist & stop with the bass player committee. They couldn't see a difference between bass player & bassist.

    In my thinking (& I know the doctor warned against this activity) a bass player is the guy holding the bass guitar. A bassist is the one who understands what to do, puts in the time to learn how to do it & has the things it takes to make a song groove.

    Am I off base?

    (grits teeth, winces - pushes the submit new thread button)
  2. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    I sat in with a band like that once. The things that they asked me the most after the first rehearsal? "Hey, what made you come up with that part during the chorus?", "Bro, what you did during the bridge was sweet. What made you think of that?" "Whoa, that was interesting! It never occurred to me to play the verses like THAT!"
    Hey, if it works for them, then God bless 'em.
  3. I'll have to agree with you there. I've heard numerous guitar players playing bass, but they play it like they were playing their guitar and not a bass. No sense of groove the more notes they play the better it sounds to them, almost like they were soloing instead of holding down the groove through out the song. Leave the bassist to do their job, after the drummer and bassist the rest is all frills.
  4. dave_clark69

    dave_clark69 Guest

    Jan 17, 2003
    ditto i would say that you can only earn the 'ist' if you play the instrument not that you can play it. you have to learn it to become an 'ist' kind of a reward if you are stuck on a grade like mwah on grade 6 but hav only been playin since august so...
  5. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    Bassist, bass player, bass guitarist it doesn't really matter. Each role in a band must be filled by someone who want to do that in that situation and not someone who has drawn the short straw (although it worked for Sir Paul).
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    IMHO, it's not about semantics at all.

    My poor analogy;

    - if an "electrician' is a "bass player," they could install your wall sockets and your chandelier

    - if an "electrician" is a "bassist," they could wire your house
  7. TravellinMan


    Jan 11, 2003
    NW Indiana
    A Bass Player is a guitar player with a Bass, a Bassist is a thumper that studies that bass and learn's everthing he or she can to improve the low end or make it tight! Ed King was the Bass Player on Lynyrd Skynyrd first albulm, be he also is a great guitar player as well, if you don't think so check out LS's;Pronounced he plays bass, and Second Helping which he plays guitar! But he would rather thump on a bass!
  8. SlavaF


    Jul 31, 2002
    Edmonton AB
    It shouldn't be a punishment or a chore to play bass! What a crazy world guitarists live in!

    "Bassist" sounds more professional that "bass player"

    The way I see it is, a "bass player" is just that; a guy who plays a bass. "Bassist" is a serious, commited person who enjoys bass and tries to do the best job he can.
  9. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    Being a Bassist is a concept & mind set that most guitar players just don't get.......I know some guys who double......but they almost always get 'Failure To Groove' citations:D
  10. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Well, I say that if you are serious then you are a Bass Player.

    If it were the other way around they'd call it bassist magazine, right?

    Remeber if you are a 'bass player' playing a 'bass guitar' you say ta-mA-to

    its the 'bassists' playing their 'bass' that say te-ma-to...

    ...or something.............:rolleyes:
  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    The UK did have a magazine called Bassist.
    ...go figure, eh?
  12. ....and the US has Guitar Player magazine,
    the UK has Guitarist magazine.
  13. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    I subscribe to a magazine from England called 'Bass Guitar'..........go figure:confused:
  14. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    Are you guys implying our semantics suck here in the US? :p ;)
  15. A Guitar Player is someone who play's a guitar but isn't necessarily good at it. The person could know the major chords and that's all..

    A Guitarist is someone who believes themselves to be a good player of the instrument and proves it.
    Know's what they are talking about and can pretty much sight read most music or is quick to learn

    A Bass Player could be someone who has a Bass guitar but can keep beat worth ****, does'nt mean they are any good. Or they may just go 1-1-1-1-2-2-2-2-3-3-3-3 and so forth

    Now a Bassist is a player of the instrument who can not only keep time but can pretty much adapt to most anything, someone who has put in the time and effort to know what they are talking about, has gone through the theory and can prove that they are what they claim.

    That's what I think... :bassist:
  16. T.B. Player

    T.B. Player

    Aug 10, 2002
    Orange, Texas
    I'd have to agree that there is a difference. My father-in-law is an awesome guitarist who has had to play bass in different bands and we've had this same discussion. He said when it came to bass he really didn't have a clue about the initial approach to the instrument so he just played like the guitarist.

    When we jam together he always stops me mid song just to ask me why I approached certain notes a certain way, or why I played a certain way. He says a full time bassist just knows what to do better and make the songs work right. I agree.
  17. I feel that being a bassist is almost a genetic thing. when i first started playing i played guitar but i always felt like something wasn't quite right. then i heard a bass for the first time ( when i was about 11) i knew then that thatwas what i was missing. i borrowed my schools Squire p-bass and shedded everyday as lat as my parents would let me( hey i was 11 ) anyway i played that bass until i wnet to highschool and then had to give it back to the school before highschool. so i switched back to guitar and got that "somethin's missin'" feeling again played guitar all through highschool and ended up going to college for guitar performance. about 3 years ago i finally got a bass again and i felt at home once again( and the say you can never go back home) i now consider my self a BASSIST and not a BASS PLAYER hell i'm going to the bass collective in the fall (can't wait) to study with greats like Patitucci and Garrison and others. well that's my story

    :bassist: :bassist: :bassist: Hey even these little groovers are called Bassist that must prove it
  18. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    I personally don't like calling myself a bassist very much.. :meh:

    At this point of my bass playing career I think I'm still in the 'bass player' phase, in the sense that I can make it work but I really don't have that much experience and need a lot of playing to make my personal style appear. In other words, I'm still somewhat insecure about my playing.

    Perhaps in couple of years..
  19. Don't worry about the wording; that's just a quibble. It's not important for this purpose IMO (and I say this as a professional editor!), and I wouldn't even really accept that there's much of a distinction. You can call me a bassist or a bass player, and it really makes no difference to me at all.

    The important things are not whether the band has a bass player or a bassist but whether the band has somebody, anybody, who's capable of the right kind of conception and execution on the bass. If you can play the bass well, it really doesn't matter whether you're called a bass player or a bassist. Every good bassist/bass player I know has been called both, and few or none care.

    So my suggestion is, don't get mired in any semantic morasses about why they need a bassist rather than a bass player, and instead just say something like the band would sound better if someone dedicated to the bass did all the bass playing.
  20. Ben Mishler

    Ben Mishler

    Jan 22, 2003
    San Jose
    I would defintley have to agree with the definitions that seem to be generally agreed upon so far. A bass player is some one who can play bass, but that is not really their main instrument, and they will fill in occasionaly, when there is no one else better.

    A bassist is someone who plays bass as their main instrument, always plays in bass in bands, and will fill in on other instruments the same way some one who plays guitar might fill in and be a bass player.

    That is my two cents on the issue.