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Being taken for granted

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by LennyPenny, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. LennyPenny


    Mar 14, 2011
    Hi all,

    I need to get some things off my chest with which I hope/assume some of you struggle as well.

    -I study music at the Popsoul Studio in Antwerp, Belgium. At the start of the academic year (October) we were put in combos according to our level of skill and expertise. With this combo we practice 3x a week for 1.5 hours. We can propose songs we'd like to do, as long as we write them out ourselves and if the teacher thinks it's an appropriate song (not too difficult for the other members, not something we've already done several times throughout the year style-wise, etc.).

    -I've been told I have good ears, which is true I guess because I learned most of the songs I know by ear.

    -Our guitarist hasn't been playing for very long, so he's not very skilled technically, but he works very hard and he's just a great guy to have around, so no issues there.

    The thing that's been bugging me lately is that I get the impression that I'm taken for granted. It's like everyone assumes I can play anything because I tend to pick up new things relatively quickly, but they don't realize this puts quite a lot of pressure on me. And when our guitarist manages to play a fairly easy lick, our drummer and singer (both girls) can't seem to praise him enough for it. I realize this makes me sound very bitter and jealous, and I guess I am in a way.
    Also, when I play a little line or phrase I made up myself to make a song more interesting, no one seems to notice but me. I know the bass isn't typically a very ego-based instrument, and I'm not at all after attention, but I hope you'll agree it's nice to get some encouragement and appreciation for stuff like this.

    I'm also going through a bit of a rough patch so I often find it hard to focus on my playing, which makes me feel like I'm ruining our rehearsals for them.
    I've never been the most happy person in the world, it's simply my nature to be a bit gloomy most of the time. But since my combo-mates are very hyper and happy most of the time, I tend to feel like the depressed one.

    I'm aware this makes me come across as a bit of a depressed prick, I just wanted to put it out there because I hope some of you have felt the same.
  2. A lot of these emotions are things most humans experience to some degree. As a 44 year old, 27 of those years playing bass I can tell you it's not uncommon for the bass to me somewhat marginalized.

    I am not as personable as I would like to be but I play well, simple solid, great gear, try to be a good listener and some bands get what I do and make me blush with all the compliments but many don't make me feel special.

    Getting older has taught me it is unrealistic to expect to be treated like I'm special. Also most people are thinking about themselves and not me.... Meaning whatever my perceived issue is it is seldom personal. This is hard to remember at the time but like playing bass is a skill we can improve with practice so are interpersonal skills.

    Regardless of the situation my goal is to focus on what I can offer ( especially helpful when feeling depressed) and try not to have unrealistic expectations.
  3. PlaysAJunker


    Feb 21, 2013
    Get some anti-derp-pressants. Doctors hand them out like candy, should be pretty easy to hook that one up.

    And it sounds like you are being emotional over very little. The nature of music is that people will criticize you, and not give you "props" (accolades) for some other stuff, and they are probably wrong in all that. But you know what you can play, and how good you are, and -- just have strength. You are mighty. Internalize success.

    To me it sounds like you are just depressed. Meds, man.
  4. Tom-Phil


    Nov 29, 2010
    Hamilton OH
    My son hit me with this piece of undeniable wisdom: "When you've got a good bass player, you don't even know he's there. When you've got a bad one, he's all you hear". Being an unsung hero is part and parcel of the gig, my friend. Love what the bass is, and what it does. Do it honor, and be happy!
  5. flam


    Sep 20, 2010
    Tempe, Arizona
    I don't have anything useful to add, but I just wanted to say I'm similar. In my head I'm usual pretty happy, but on the outside I come across as gloomy and that I hate everything. I get a lot of **** about it, considering one of my band mates is the happiest guy ever, and the other one is stuck thinking I never have anything positive to say.

    My band situation is similar too. Everybody just assumes I can play anything. They pretty much ignore bass, until I overplay. I'm torn between wanting recognition, and understanding my place as a bassist.
  6. Two things come to mind for me:

    One, play hard and never stop. Someday, someone will see you and connect with you and will deeply appreciate your behind-the-scene contribution. You will form the nucleus of a good band.

    Second, a joke. The bass player is the REAL ego in the band because he thinks he's holding this whole thing together.
  7. Once again, last night's gig was me holding it down and locking with the singer, while the guitar played fumbled, rushed and miscued, the drummer slowed down and flayed around, forgot the grooves, the trumpet player acted like he smoked way too much weed, even though he doesn't smoke or drink. Everyone complimented the guitar player and the drummer, no one said a word to me... Par for the course... But the singer knows what I am doing - I love that smile she gets when I groove under her vocals. That makes it worth while...
  8. abemo


    Feb 27, 2012
    Arvada, co
    Its the nature of playing bass, so get used to it or switch instruments. The thing you'll start to notice over time is that, the guys (or girls) you play with won't say anything when you nail a difficult bit quick or sound really good, but everyone else will try to get you to join their band, and when your band or combo breaks up, every other member will try to start something new with you. A quality bass player is always taken for granted, until you need one. The tradeoff is you'll never want for people to jam with.
  9. vegas532

    vegas532 Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2006
    Pensacola, FL.
    Bassists are always taken for granted, in some form or another. I'm playing with a project where the wanted more "bass driven" sound. After I'd lay down parts and the guitarist and the singer would get their hands on it, the basslines would either be buried, chopped up into "accents on the beat" or removed almost completely. It's just the nature of not only the instrument, but other musicians not being aware of its importance.
    I'm okay with it, however. I play surely for the joy of making music...not for being recognized as "Mr. Bitchin' Bassist". ;)
  10. LennyPenny


    Mar 14, 2011
    I don't play bass to get attention, I guess I'm just not entirely used to being the one whom most people tend to recognize the least. For the most part I enjoy the fact that what I play isn't as obvious as other instruments, but I don't think it's that strange to want SOME appreciation for what I add to the overall sound.

    Anyway, I know I love playing bass and I won't be giving it up over something like this.
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Start your own band and make everyone suck up to you for their paychecks.

  12. LOL! I'm sorry, I just read the OP and this line in particular stuck out to me. I know what you meant, but, out of context, that seems like a really bad thing to hope other people feel, haha :D

    Okay, now I'll read the rest of the posts...just had to get that off my chest ;)
  13. Just do what I did and start a band where bass is a lead instrument. Now everyone bows down to me BUUUUAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH
  14. It seems you already know why they don't praise you despite the fact that you play very well. They don't praise you because they know that you're good; it's not a surprise to them when you play something difficult or complex, while it IS a surprise when your amateur guitarist accomplishes something. They expect you to perform well. Don't think of it as a lack of praise, think of it as a constant pat on the back! :D

    Or maybe you're just not cutting the mix. Work that EQ, pick up a Ricky, and blow them away ;)
  15. I've heard it put that bass is the easiest instrument to play technically and the hardest to play tastefully. Not sure if that's 100% true, but you get the idea. As to being taken for granted, I've equated bass playing to the guy who runs the light board at a venue/theater for a play, etc. When it's done very well, no one notices - and yet it's the most important part of the stage presentation. When it's done poorly (even for a moment), the whole room notices something is off and sometimes the whole room just "stops".

    Rock on, bro.
  16. 40+ years get used to it you are the bass player. They don't notice you while you are there but miss you like hell when you drop out.It is a role we chose not to be the one that takes the credit for making it rock. But if we weren't laying down the groove they would have nothing to dance to. So remember we have a very important role in the musical puzzle know that and who you are and you'll be okay.RTS
  17. LennyPenny


    Mar 14, 2011
    I was aware of the ambiguity of that sentence, but I didn't know how else to put it :p

    I did actually, I'm in a 3 piece band with drums, bass and piano. The pianist and I play solos quite a bit and even when playing underlaying grooves they still stand out more.

    All very true, I've been told that several times, guess I forgot about it.
  18. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    What you're feeling will go away and you'll laugh about it later. Both girls want to or maybe are getting with the guitar player. After that all plays out and they start to despise each other they'll all come running to you. Of course this is after the fact. who knows you might get some on the rebound. Now that I've said that, if you want attention and need constant feedback from others you may have to switch to a lead instrument. My dispositon as a bass player and person is that I'm solid in myself and as a player already and I don't need or look for compliments. Keep being the same studious, big earrred person that you are. It will payoff in the end as yuu play more and start to meet real musicians who care more about the music than what you or someone else looks like.
  19. I actually *like* being taken for granted in this respect---to me, that says I'm doing my job. If I want to be noticed, I can always mess something up. :)

  20. I find this is general across most instruments: really good players don't get compliments as often, people do take for granted that they are good. The real compliment is that they come to your shows- or for bandmates, want you in their other bands/projects.

    On the other hand, perhaps this band is missing opportunities for exciting new textures and arrangements. Maybe a little section of drum and bass, where you can strut your stuff for 16 bars or so, is in order? Doesn't have to be a million notes a second or even a solo really, either, just something cool, confident, and exposed, to create both a nice contrasting texture in your set and some kudos for what you're bringing to the table.

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