1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Do non-flashy bassists really suck?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Hookus, Oct 28, 2005.

  1. Hookus


    Oct 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    I only bring this up after watching the videos from Google. I guess I am what you would call a non-flashy bass player. I guess that since I have never had anyone show me how to do any of the fancy flashy stuff, like the fast slap and pop and what have you, it makes me feel, well, not good.

    I remember going to GC, and there was a guy sitting in there playing a line like the first guy, and I remember thinking that I did not even want to sit down and play when that dude was wailing away. The thing that I also know is that just because you are flashy, or can play very quickly or intricately, does not make you a good, or desireable bass player.

    I have had tons of people, including fellow bass players, say they loved my style, simple, melodic, and in-time, which seems an oft-neglected aspect of bass.

    So, I guess my question is this: Should you feel less that "good" because you don't know how to do any of the really flashy, fast stuff, or are they really more like "parlor tricks", pretty to look at, but not really good for anything?
  2. Absolutely not! Groove first, flash second (if at all). I do know what you mean about people in shops though.
  3. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Yeah, we suck.

    But we seem to be the ones who get the gigs ;)
  4. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    The guys without the flash get the first calls.
  5. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    I learned to slap before I learned to play fingerstyle. That said, I've been told I am a slap monster, but my main focus is the bass player's job...GROOOOVVIN'! That's not to say I can't walk into GC and hear some kid trying to play "Higher Ground" in the RHCP style and walk up to him, take the bass away from him and beat him about the head and shoulders with it, then totally embarass him by showing him how it's REALLY done... ;) :D

    But the main thing to do is groove. If you don't groove, you don't work. Period. A bassist with no groove is actually worse than a drummer with no meter. At least you can fire the drummer, and replace him with a drum machine! ;)

    But I've never gotten a gig call because of my "flashy stuff". Stick to the groove. If you can play in the pocket, you can work. If you can READ and play in the pocket, you can work a LOT. If you can SIGHT READ, first time every time, and groove your butt off, it won't matter that you can't slap- you'll be turning down gigs. Guaranteed.
  6. KSDbass


    Mar 25, 2005
    whats RHCP?
  7. Red Hot Chili Peppers, if you don't know that band you have to check ou their album "Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magick"

    Anyway, bassists who are nothing but flash generally piss me off. If you can tap and slap at the speed of light, but can't hold a good groove, you SUCK.
  8. Chili


    Mar 8, 2005
    i think its a good thing to no how to groove, i was watching late night with julez holland a few hours ago and ms dymamite was on (not a fan or anything) but the bass player had some really tight bass lines, they were very impressive, and actually some of her songs wernt to bad, but anyway, there is nothing wrong with bein flashy aswell, its not essential, but slap poping and tapping is just a fun thing to do, but when ur writing something for the song, a good bass groove can really make a song, and if theres some flash that will continue the songs story and not just seem to inturupt it then theres no harm in that either, but not bein able to do all the flashy stuff doesnt autamaticly make u a bad bass player
  9. I think while even though the flashy stuff IS just extra, they are more than just "parlor" tricks. What I have grown to understand is that you should never try anything that you are uncomfortable doing period.....no just kidding, only do uncomforable things once you have already established yourself as a groover and that you always start simply and within yourself. It is then that you are warmed up for the flashy stuff.

    Trust me, the better you get at what you said you are good at (which are all the best qualities to strive for), the trickier you'll be able to play at the drop of a hat. As already stated, the flashy stuff only sounds good if a groove is established.

    Edit: Really though, you will be able to do tricky stuff from your vocabulary of tricks (even if its just playing a fast embelishment) after you truly get a groove going whenever you play whether you like it or not. It's all about how into the music your grooving gets you.
  10. People hire you for the groove, the pocket, for the notes you don't play when other people are trying to play.

    If you can do a fancy solo, you'll get to do that 5 minutes each night. If you can't, nobody's going to miss that 5 minutes as long as you groove the rest of the night. If you can't groove and find the pocket, all the solo chops in the world won't keep people from firing you.

  11. If people are complimenting you on being solid and melodic, you must be doing something right!
  12. Fealach

    Fealach Guest

    Apr 23, 2003
    Gone to a better place
    I like those bappity bap flap thup thup clickety clack giggity giggity giggity guys. I have a hard time not laughing sometimes when I encounter one at a store. This one guy had a really nice bass, I hung around to hear what it sounded like... but in 5 minutes he didn't play a note. Just whackity whack percussive noises. I'll take an old fashioned boom boom BOOM boom over that any day.
  13. Keeping a solid groove going is worth twelve or more flashy solos.

    If you're all flash and no substance then you're not much use as a musician. You must be able to groove. If you've got some insane chops that's awesome, but if that's all you've got you're like a house built on mud.

    I wasn't too impressed with that first guy's flash though.

    I don't see why flash has become a synonym for clickety clack slapping. All these wannabes have latched on to Victor Wooten and the like with impressive tunnel vision and started regurgitating licks (I think... it's hard to make out anything recognizable from those guys). Why not take it further? I think Vic has the bases covered in that area, so the rest of us are free to do something else.
  14. sirnoahthepure


    Oct 2, 2005
    Its just a thought

    I believe everyone here is right (to some degree) about flash. But first we must think of what role you want to play in a band. If your being there is to hold down the groove (IE 95%) of the time then do so as it is your job.


    If you can hold down a groove and do flashy stuff then you stand out a bit more and actually help out the fellow musicians you are playing with. Remember my friends light travels faster than sound and they see you before they ever here you. Throwing that flash in there even if you are doing a simple simple bass line can change a listener (not a musicians) opinion of how great you are.

    Skill does not determine greatness (well it does but let me proove my point)

    You are great only if others think you are great.

    Keep up the good work and dont try to discourage those guitar center kids to much there arent very many bass players to begin with.

    wait less players mean more work for me!!!

    Strike that last comment
  15. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia

    that's the problem, everyone only remembers (or wants to remember) the flashy stuff vic does. in one of his instructional videos he stated clearly that first he grooves and gets the basics right; THEN he adds the flash.

    incidiently, as soon as the 'flash' starts at a gig, the bass gets drowned out and all the bottom is lost.

    The better bass players that i have watched only used flashy techniques sparingly and tastefully to emphasise certain notes or phrases in a song.
  16. Crockettnj


    Sep 2, 2005
    North NJ

    agreed and agreed! FinallY! i say this, and other players/bassists criticize and say "thanks jsut cause you cant slap or pop fast".

    It's cool technique, but a whole generation is missing out on a good ole walking bass line.
  17. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Flash is what gets people's attention. Solid playing is what gets you the calls.
  18. Hookus' point is very interesting. It's something I've sort-of wondered about myself.

    I'm sure that those of us who can't do the flashy stuff - like me - secretly wish we could. Yes, we've all been in a music store and heard some hair-raising bass being played and respectfully declined the dealers kind offer to try that instrument.

    'Err, sorry but my bus is along in three minutes...' And we walk smartly out!

    Some of the nicest bass for me is a lovely walking line by one of the many great upright players. Or perhaps Pino Palladino on some of Paul Young's stuff from a decade or so ago. There's plenty more. Yes. Oh dear, what's the guy's name: the bassist who played with the late Setvie Ray Vaughn. He's really on the money for groove.

    Conversely, Flea, Mark King, Victor Wooten, etc... do nothing at all for me. It's like speed metal guitar playing. It appears to be speed for the sake of speed.

    Having said all that I constantly strive to play a little more quickly but always within the groove if I can.

  19. Techmonkey


    Sep 4, 2004
    Wales, UK
    Chili - I was watching exactly the same as you! and I thought to myself, man that guy can really play bass! He had the lushest slap bass tone I've ever heard... nice and grooving, without being flashy or in your face.

    Anywho, I think I'm far too flash as far as bass goes... I started off not really knowing what bass was - and having nothing more then a few videos I downloaded of Mark King or Flea playing some real fast slap bass, that's how I learnt - watching those guys play bass solos... But after a couple of months, some friends of mine who play bass introduced me to the more hidden side to bass playing - the side that only becomes apparent after you start! I got into Jaco and Marcus Miller and JPJ, and suddenly wished I'd spent my time learning to play bass, not a load of second rate slap and pop!

    The problem being, whenever I play a simple groove, and really start getting into it... someone always says, hey tech, play some real fast slap and pop now, it'd work well there! It really annoys me. That's not to say I don't enjoy playing slap bass- I just wish more people would appreciate better basslines. I played modern electric bass to a few friends, and most of them lost interest. I played a Mark King bass solo, where all he's doing is machine gun triplets (Which, I won't lie, is mostly all I did :scowl: ) and everyone suddenly drops their jaws. I'm not dissing Mark King, he's the reason I started playing the bass, and has some really funky tracks... but I wish people wouldn't associate flash with groove so much!
  20. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Personally, I've always seen flashy stuff as a byproduct of having a very high level of control over your instrument. Ya, you can fake gimmicky things and it'll sound pretty bad too. If you've really got a hand around your instrument, flashy stuff just kind of becomes an option that you may or may not explore.

    Of course, that's not to say you can't have total control of the plank and not be able to do flashy stuff. But By and large, I think if you've really got your technique and playing together, flashy stuff is just... there.

    Personally, I explored the fringe techniques that don't get you gigs, as a means of removing any potential bottlenecks in my playing. I don't want to be stuck with any part thinking "shesh, if only I had the physical capability to do X,Y,Z", and this applies to both flashy stuff and not-flashy stuff, because, if you can get the complicated movements under your fingers, the simpler ones should, in theory, be that much easier.

    Bruce lee once said that if you want to punch someone in the face, aim for the back of the head. Similar theory.


    Bruce lee also said "Ultimately, martial arts is an honest expression of oneself. It's easy for me to put on a show, and demonstrate some, you know, really fancy movements, but to present myself honestly, not lying to myself, and to really be honest, that is very hard to do"

    Again, that little nugget of wisdom extends to all arts, and ultimately, flashy stuff or not flashy stuff doesn't really matter in the big picture of art and expression.