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Do you feel you need to justify your instrument?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Sir Squier, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. Sir Squier

    Sir Squier

    Apr 29, 2005
    I find the general consensus amongst both musicians, and the general music-listening audience is that bass is an 'easy' or 'simple' instrument. I know that on a forum such as this I don't need to defend the complexity of bass.

    Because of this perception of my instrument, I'm very conscious that my playing has become increasingly more complex, perhaps needlessly over the years of playing my instrument. The old 'less is more' adage and 'make every note count' philosophy in no way apply to my technique. I seem to have some kind of moral objection to playing crotchet root notes in 4/4, I'd rather set my bass on fire. I've found myself confined to playing only jazz because it provides the stimulation I need.

    Of course, it's probable that this is something unique to me and I'm just pursuing what appeals to my taste. But always in the back of my mind, regardless of the style of music I'm playing, I feel I have an obligation to prove to everyone in the audience that bass is an instrument just as sophisticated as any other. It's as though I'm having to defend the honour of bass players everywhere every time I play.

    Does this resonate with anyone else here?
  2. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Have you mastered the dozens of ways you can play crotchet root notes in 4/4?
  3. hxcJORDAN


    Jan 16, 2012
    Northwest Ohio
    Anybody that says bass is easy does not play bass well. "Well" meaning keeping tempo and in the pocket with the drummer.
  4. WashburnAB95


    Nov 18, 2013
    The bass is very very simple

    HOWEVER Simple =\= Easy
  5. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    I think that is quite easy for some people. And there's nothing wrong with that... if you have the skills without having to sweat for them, good luck to you.
  6. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    I try to strive for a balance. I always hope to do what's best for the song but I do the extra stuff for my own enjoyment. If someone notices my extra effort and compliments me on it it's bonus. My two guitarists are absolutely amazing and I love watching their solo's while I hold the bottom end down. Honestly, if I wanted the Limelight, I would probably Play some Saxiphone.
  7. Jefff


    Aug 14, 2013
    As I have gotten older, I have found it is best to ignore most people.
  8. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    There is a huge difference between playing and instrument and playing it well. People who are educated about music realize that bass is no easier than any other instrument. I know plenty of great guitar players who struggle with bass.
  9. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Don't let ignorant people dictate your style and make you play like you have something to prove

    Sometimes a bassline is easy sometimes not. What is important is if the bass enhances the feel of the song. Not if the bassist played his nut off on it.
  10. Sir Squier

    Sir Squier

    Apr 29, 2005
    I'm not trying to criticise everyone who does play in that style. I'm more interested to know if anyone feels pressured by musical culture.
  11. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    I relate to how you feel, it's irritating to have someone under mind what you have put thousands of hours of practice and study into. I have dozens of double-thumping/tapping/fretboard-shredding licks that I can pull out if someone challenges my ability(or if I just want to show off), but when I'm actually performing music nothing is more important than communicating musically with my bandmates and making the song/piece sound as good as possible. Having your playing defined by a role such as a "shredder" or a "slapper" or a "pocket bassist" will do nothing but limit you and the music you make.
  12. Jefff


    Aug 14, 2013
    No, I don't. And every time some one has tried to show me how "easy" it was... it turned out to be a bit harder than they thought.

    I don't just play the bass. I play music.
  13. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    To be brutally honest, you sound a bit insecure. You don't need to prove yourself to anyone but you. Most of the people in the audience won't recognize your epic chops anyways. What they will recognize is whether the song sounds good to them or not. Sometimes that requires playing simply, and sometimes you need to kick it up a notch. Play for the music.
  14. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    I don't really recognise the musical culture you allude to. I tend to find people value the song sounding good. Which as often as not means cutting out the chaff.

    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius to move in the opposite direction, as someone said. The people who value complexity are probably the people I would be least likely to consider knowledgeable about music.
  15. augdog

    augdog Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    Quakertown PA
    I don't know, I find jazz more intellectually stimulating and a way to use what I've learned about my instrument. Other times I just want to have fun and enjoy the whole scene. It may be a simple classic rock line, but its still a good time. I don't feel the need to prove anything.
  16. this^
    I personally don't have this problem because I don't discuss music except with musicians (inevitably more experienced than me). I'm usually pleased to see how much they respect a good bassist, and they don't think them a dime a dozen.
  17. MarTONEbass


    Jun 19, 2009
    Norton, MA
    This. Most people who have the attitude that bass is easy usually have no clue about music.
  18. WashburnAB95


    Nov 18, 2013
    I play acoustic guitar and bass. Guitar is a lot more complicated than bass. You can spend a life time learning all the details. However when it comes times to making music, I find it WAY easier to make music on guitar. Mostly becusae it is a poloyharmonic instrument. Almost anything with harmony sounds good.

    Yes I believe the bass is simpler. However the simplicity of the bass makes it so very challenging. In most circumstances you only get one note at a time and it has to be very well placed. For me I find these limitations make it much more difficult to be musical. Yea while somebody can show you all the notes and proper techneque and be playing in a very short while, you will spend a lifetime learning how to be musical on the bass.
  19. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    I've always told people, when they've asked that sort of thing, that it's easier to be a bad bass player than a bad guitar player (fewer strings, one note at a time, etc) but as hard or harder to be a really good one. They usually get it.
  20. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    What's sad is when bassists perpetuate the myth that "anyone can play bass competently"; whether by openly telling people how much easier bass is, by complacently remaining the worst musicians in their bands, or by otherwise demonstrating that bassists do not have to reach as high a bar as other musicians.