Discussion - Mythical Bass "Versatility"

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by gmstudio99, Aug 30, 2000.

  1. gmstudio99


    Mar 11, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    Hell, even I've done it, posted something like "get a XXXX bass, it's more versatile than that other one"...

    But...really? Is this really true?

    Have any of you ever encountered a gig where you showed up with the "wrong" bass for the gig? Now, I'm not talking about exotic things like Ashbury's or bringing an URB to a funk show or something. I mean your regular, standard issue electric bass...can you bring a "wrong" bass to a show?

    My theory is that any bass can cut any gig.

    There is no "versatility" requirement that truly must be met.

    Can anyone support or refute that?

  2. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    Versatility, its a subtle subject.
    Everything depends on how much you want to fit in a gig.
    Of course ANY bass can do it. But will it do it the proper way or the way you want it to?.

    I had an Ibanez ATK300 with just 1 pickup and It was very versatile, but there where things that I just could not get the sound I wanted. Like Stanley Clarke's Slap sound.. it was not a Jazzy style bass.

    Thats my 2 cents.
  3. I agree almost... almost any bass can do the job.. but will it fit your taste.. and it depends on your technique as well.. I'd kill a bassist if they were to go slap around a ric.. hehe... and I'd laugh if I saw someone going all funky with those norton basses.. but for all you stuck up ppl who need a certain look for your bass.. I guess not just any bass can cut it =P but if you're a nice passive and not picky person any bass will do hehe *getting repetitive* you guys know what I'm trying to say.. Later!

  4. GM.. I agree with you, I've said the same thing before in different threads where people were asking "what kind of bass should I get to play a certain type of music." I think you can play any style of music with any bass. When people talk about so-called "versatility" in basses, I think they're talking about tones. For instance, my Reverend Rumblefish XL-4 is more versatile than my standard Rumblefish 4, because the XL has a three-way selector, so you can get single coil, series, or parallel. Thus, it has more available tones. A Lakland, with it's J-MM set-up, offers more tonal versatility than, say, a P-bass. But ultimately, I think "versatility" comes from the player, not the instrument.
  5. Doug


    Apr 5, 2000
    Buffalo, N.Y.
    Yes and No.
    My bass is not that versatile for slap. The pickup configuration makes it a little difficult for me. It sounds great, but it's meant more for the fingerstyle player, which I am. So I guess it's versatile for me.:)

    But I can see what you're saying.
  6. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    there are many gigs that i have heard of where the appearance of the bass must conform to some preconceived notion - if you are doing a beatles cover band, you are better served with a hofner or rickenbacker than with a fender. furthermore, sometimes the bandleader might want everybody to have a white instrument, for appearances.

    other than the appearances thing,there are certain tone considerations. i mean, yeah sure, you can play slap funk on a p-bass, many great funksters of the past did, but if you are trying to get a marcus tone, you are going to fail.

    if you mean for a regular rock gig, than yeah, but that's like any other instrument - sure jimmy page coulda played a ric 620 guitar, but would it have sounded like his les paul? no, which would've affected the music. i mean, yeah, he coulda played it all on a uke too.
  7. jcadmus


    Apr 2, 2000
    How's this for versatility -- the tuning keys on my five string do an excellent job of cleaning my ears. Just insert one end, roll up the volume and bass, and hit a B -- the vibrating action is excellent! ;)
  8. gmstudio99


    Mar 11, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    What a lot of you seem to be saying is that you have basses that are adequate for what you do, but when you want to sound like someone else, sometimes your bass is lacking...I agree with that, but then have to ask this: of those people you're trying to "emulate", who are THEY trying to emulate? Ususally, no one...they're playing their own sound/style in their little niche...

    Might we learn something from that?

    John Turner, I know exactly what you're saying about having the right "image" for certain gigs...A BC Rich Warlock is going to turn a lot of heads at a Grease pit orchestra gig, in a bad way...you are exactly right.

    But to all, what gigs can't I do on my MIA Jazz?

  9. Versatility is in the hands of the player. Certain music styles have to be played a certain way. I watched Vail Johnson, bassist with Kenny G., play an entire set with one instrument, and they played everything from Jazz, to blues, to latin. He just played the bass a different way for each song. (I tried to see what kind of bass it was, but of course the camera's were focused on Kenny G and the guitar player).

    I am in the school of get the best instrument you can. A lot of times you will play through someone else's rig/PA anyway, so having a run of the mill bass will let you down more often than not.

    Having a bass that sounds good makes me play better. I just like the sound of the thing. So I play it, often, with whomever, playing whatever wherever.

  10. Obiviously, any working electric bass can do any gig. However, i recently aqquired a Samick acoustic bass that i love and gives me alot of verstility on certain songs. I have electric strings on it, and on like a bluegrass or really old country song i will cut the highs and boost the lows and the thing relaly does sound like an upright. On other songs i play it with a "conventional" EQ settings. I could play it on every song, but it's not the best bass for every song, and my 5 string electric, or my MIM Fender P do the job for the "non-acoustic" songs. it's a judgement call. But i think it give me good versitility, and maybe even more importantly, the band notices the difference, and the crowd notices.(How rare is that??) Several people have asked me about the acoustic bass and one guy told me it sounded just like an old dog house on a song. No way can i get that sound out of my electric basses. Trent
  11. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    >...can you bring a "wrong" bass to a show?

    I believe if you bring a Fender Jazz or Precision to the show, then for sure you have brought the "right" bass. I can't think of too many gigs either of these wouldn't cover and sound great. (Yes, I know there are some, but not very many).

  12. Doug


    Apr 5, 2000
    Buffalo, N.Y.
    I never really try to sound like anyone but myself. There is a certain sound that I was after and got, but I never relied on the bass to get this sound for me. I pick my basses based on construction, feel, and sound. But I don't try to emulate someone else's sound with the bass.
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I guess it seems that way but in my case I'm trying to sound like me. While I can get lots of tones from a single pickup bass, I prefer my two pickup basses because I can make drastic tonal changes quickly. Is this neccesary?... no, but I know lots of players who don't "need" a G string.
  14. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    beatlemania :D
  15. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Within certain limits, such as JT's "Beatlemania" observation, the most important thing you bring to the table as a bassist are your hands, not the name on the headstock of the bass. Get the best bass, for you, that you can, and learn to use your hands to get the tones you want from it. I've played every kind of gig imaginable with my fretless 6, country to metal. Never got any grief about appearance or tone......now the number of strings, that I heard stuff about, but only BEFORE the gig, never after :D.
  16. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    In certain music image is important. I honestly don't think you could show up to a blues or country gig, a gospel gig, or a swing big band gig with the batlike Warlock bass Gene Simmons used to play. I don't think you could play heavy metal and look right with a Hofner "Beatle" bass.

    One metal band I played in had a rule...no Fender, no Gibson. Also, my red and white Yamaha Attitude Deluxe would be OK for hard Rock like Mr. Big, but would be out of place in Korn or Limp Bizkit.

    So I do not subscribe to the idea that a "one bass fits all" idea is workable for someone who plays a wide variety of music and may be called upon to play the diversity of a studio musician, for example. What would be right for reggae would be all wrong for Kid Rock or Deftones.

    Jason Oldsted
  17. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    That is a bad thing to say. Just because the brand of a bass it is not admited?? I dont know what Korn or Limp Biskit plays... but I do know that for Heavy Metal Geezer Butler used a P-Bass, also Nikki Sixx Used a Gibson Thunderbird, etc etc.
    I think we all mean that the instrument as is can cut a gig. Not its apareance.
    A guy once told me: Hey you are using a Bass that looks oldie, (Ibanez ATK300 , old style) to play Dream Theater... are you nuts ??? So I replied: Ok... bring your bass and play like ME.
    He couldnt play. The bass is not important. Its you.
    As Rick Turner said once: "My basses have digital tone control, the 10 digits of the human hands."
  18. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    I would think that any GOOD bass player using a GOOD bass...would be able to cut it through a gig. Adaptability is a talent too...:)
  19. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    then again, someone wants to do my gig, they better have at least a 6 string :D. fretted and fretless.
  20. White_Knight


    Mar 19, 2000
    I agree with gm especially. Personally, I think that you can use any bas for any style. I think what people want to know is if it will sound how they want to sound for that style. Sure, you can slap on a jazz. Then again you can also slap on a p; however they won't sound the same. I think it's that difference in sound that people are asking about. Personally, I think that neither is wrong. After all, you're the bassist: if you want to slap with a J then go ahead. If you prefer the P tone then go ahead. There's no right or wrong here.

    For my closing example: I have a Hamer rip-off of a Fender jazz. I play everything on it: jazz, ska, punk, softer acoustic, everything. I like it's sound. However, you may prefer the tone of a different instrument for a different situation. Perhaps the meaty P bass tone for punk instead of the less edgy jazz tone.

    As with strings, amps, pickups, playing technique: it all depends upon the sound you're striving for. Again, there is no right or wrong. Also, I believe that a huge ammount of tone has to do with the player. Sure, the bass imparts a bit of it. But then again so does the amp, cable, pickups, strings, etc. I think that a competent player can make most basses sound how he/she wants them to (excluding extremes such as a URB, etc.).

    [Edited by White_Knight on 08-30-2000 at 08:46 PM]