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character of the bass player

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by jwstoker, Oct 13, 2009.


  1. jwstoker

    jwstoker

    Nov 30, 2007
    the Netherlands
    Just curious:
    1. do you think we as bass players share some characteristics in our personality?
    2. Do you think you must have certain characteristics to be an asset to your band specific as a bass player?
     
  2. pmaraziti

    pmaraziti Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2006
    Singapore
    Uhmmm, I don't know thousad of bass players but some characteristics in common to those I know are:

    * Quite a funny sense of humor, sometime sarcastic
    * Always try to conciliate band's members wishes and opinion, I'd say accomodating

    I do think people who know me think this also about me...but never checked
    I'm not sure where the sense of humor comes from, at least I cannot relate it musically. The second characteristic might come from the role of bass... the glue between harmony and rhythm...
    Other charateristics are pretty inconsistent in my small statistical basis
     
  3. AnchorHoy

    AnchorHoy

    Dec 29, 2008
    New Jersey
    A willingness to play a supporting role, for the good of the music. Allied to that is a strong respect for the idea of cooperation within the band, especially if there's a drummer involved

    The recent rise of bass virtuosos hasn't changed the essential role of the bassist in the vast majority of Western popular music (i.e. not a gamelan orchestra or other strictly Asian kind of thing). Boiled down to its essential core, bass is primarily a supporting instrument. Most of the time, in a band setting, the most vital part of your job is to create the conditions that let other players shine in the spotlight

    Think about all of the annoying problems that so many gui****s and diva-singers are prone to. I would submit that 99% of these can be reduced to one underlying reason:

    Look at MEEEEEEEEEE !!!

    That's not to say that a good bass player has no ego, or desire to be appreciated. IMHO it does say that a good bass player is capable (and willing....) to keep their ego, and Monster chops (when applicable), in check for the good of the music. If you get solo space to shine in, then cool beans, but it's not the be-all and end-all of our existence

    One other thing I've noticed is that many times the bass player is the most knowledgeable member of a band when it comes to the nuts-and-bolts of music: Theory, live sound and recording technique, arrangement, sometimes reading ability

    If you want to try and tie that to personality-types, IMO it is evidence of an inquisitive nature that tends to look beyond surface appearances and dig deeper than other folks in the band. Granted I'm painting with a Very broad brush here, but in general, guitar players and vocalists tend to be more interested in "how", and bass players tend to be more interested in "why"....

    Hadn't really thought of that in those terms before, but I would agree. Some of the funniest musicians I've run across over the years have been bass players

    Also the most perceptive in terms of "people watching" and drawing useful conclusions from that study

    All of the above, plus the ability to make the best of an otherwise bad/boring situation. Hey, I absolutely Loooove playing Peter Gunn, especially when the soloists are doing well, but after 5 minutes or so, it can get old

    I'll still do it anyway, especially if it keeps the ladies shakin' it on the dance floor :D
     
  4. Qvist

    Qvist

    Jul 20, 2007
    Denmark
    ****, it's like looking in the mirror. I've always been the "funny guy", making jokes all the time, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.. well, what are you gonna do :p

    I bet that's why a lot of bass players are set really low in the mix aswell, because they always think like "meh, I'll just sacrifice my tone and blend in with the muffled low-end." That's bull crap, sometimes we gotta step up!
     
  5. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    Probably one of the more thinking dudes of the band

    Interested in how stuff works
     
  6. pmaraziti

    pmaraziti Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2006
    Singapore
    yeah, on top on the two characteristics, I'm also part of the thinking type of guys... :)
     
  7. jaywa

    jaywa

    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I think there's a pretty strong perfectionist trait in bassists... well, the good ones anyway. They expect a lot out of themselves and their bandmates and so they're not always the most popular or likeable member of the band... but they keep the band on their toes.
     
  8. Etingi

    Etingi

    Nov 3, 2007
    I think part of the sense of humor thing comes from a good bassist knowing he's pretty much in control of the overall sound. Like "Yeah I can play what you want to hear, but just wait until I throw in something unexpected and get my kicks from your reaction." When a repetitive song gets boring I like to change things up just to see the drummer's face, and then he'll play something different to go with it, and I'll look at him like "what do you think you're doing? Play it right." It's the little ways you can mess with other people in the band that make me glad I'm not on a six string.
     
  9. makanudo

    makanudo

    Dec 26, 2008
    We are always the laid back, funny, friendly good looking guy int he band:)
     
  10. RickenBoogie

    RickenBoogie

    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Anchorhoy's post is spot on. In my current band, I've become the member who keeps everyone else focused. We have a female lead singer/guitarist, who's energy is frightening, and she has trouble keeping to one thing at a time. But she's a great singer, and songwriter, so it's worth the extra work. Everyone else looks to me for leadership, though it's pretty democratic. Our original songs are all credited to the whole band, no matter who actually comes up with the idea. A far cry from the last few bands I was in, where the "leader, singer, guitarist" called all the shots. Even told me how I should play bass in certain places. I obliged, I was the bassist.
     
  11. bass players are the quiet, confident lurkers who are content to look good on stage without stealing the show because they get more chicks then the lead guitarist.

    at least thats how it is in my band ;)
     
  12. Igital

    Igital

    Dec 19, 2008
    Norway
    My wife, who has been hanging around with bands/musicians for 20+ years due to marrying me, claims that if you show her a band pic (without instruments of course) she can almost always pick out the bassist and the drummer and very often lead guitar/singer as well. I have tested her several times and she really has a fairly high accuracy, especially with bassists. She claims it is a mix of several factors: place in the picture, clothes, expression, physiognomy(!) and part gut feeling. But she also claims that if she meets someone and gets an impression of the personality it is much easier. So in her opinion a a lot of us have something in common. I'll have to ask her to describe the "typical bass personality" to me, but since she's married to one I'm not sure if I'll get a straight answer...;)
     
  13. ObsidianDagger

    ObsidianDagger Guest

    Jul 17, 2007
    LOL I think pmaraziti hit a couple big nails right on the head. I think bassists don't get egos because we don't suffer from rock-star-delusion syndrome when we pick up our instruments (at least, not as much as a guitarist).
     
  14. Godbody

    Godbody

    May 27, 2008
    The bass player usually has more complete knowledge of their bandmate's gear than they have. They're better equipped to replace a broken tuning peg or swap out pickups. They usually seem to be the ones that have reasonable suggestions for what guitar cab or kick pedal to buy, and they're usually the ones that know the PA inside and out.

    Here's a big one: Bassists almost always have the best grasp of musical theory, even if others in the band have superior technique on their instrument.
     
  15. ggunn

    ggunn

    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    All the self-congratulatory posts notwithstanding, my opinion is "no" to both. That's the problem with stereotyping people; it's all too tempting to paint ourselves as superior to those "gui****s" and "divas".
     
  16. scsm

    scsm

    Jul 26, 2009
    Manhattan, KS
    That sounds like a challenge...everybody send pictures now!!!
     
  17. JonathanAlvarez

    JonathanAlvarez

    Aug 31, 2016
    Melbourne
    Oh , I like that one ha ha ha
     
  18. tlc1976

    tlc1976

    Aug 2, 2016
    Michigan
    1. Never thought about personality traits. I am a quiet engineer which happens to fit along the lines of several posts so far. I built my bass, stand, and the trailer we hauled our gear in. Now one thing I have noticed is it seems most bass players have the higher singing voice in the band. But that one excludes me.

    2. IMO a bassist has to be accommodating. We have great power over the music (more than some realize), and we have to use that power wisely for the benefit of the band as a whole. We won't go far if we just want to start soloing all the time.
     
  19. JonathanAlvarez

    JonathanAlvarez

    Aug 31, 2016
    Melbourne
    .. because with great power come great irresponsibility. ;)
     

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