double bass work vs. bass guitar work

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by davebray, Oct 30, 2004.

  1. davebray


    Oct 28, 2004
    For the past 20 years, I've been playing weekends with two other guys (two guitars, one bass, and a drum machine). We perform at an assortment of places: clubs, festivals, private parties, even flea markets. Genres include rock, country and standard jazz.

    The work has been good, but the business end sucks. I, for the most part, have booked the jobs and communicated with clients. Most rock and country musicians I've known over the years are less motivated, are fairly unreliable, have lousy equipment or no equipment at all, and have addictions.

    In addition, I am a 52 yrs. old male and suffer with tinnitus (ringing ears) in both ears, and I would like to turn down the volume.

    So, I've decided to make a switch. I purchased a double bass and after some practice, I want to build a standard jazz band. Two decades ago, I played a double bass in symphonic orchestras, stage plays, and small classical groups. Some experience with jazz combos, I gained within those years, but not as much as I'd have liked. I sold that bass when the work with this variety trio took over.

    Not being one who likes to read charts, I prefer to improvise. I purchased a few books to bone up on scales and chords. By the way, I am also a vocalist, and I wonder just how many double bassists sing? Is there such a breed? Is it possible?

    Any input in regard to making this change would be welcome.
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Singing, sure. And it's a guaranteed way to get more work. On the national scene are Jim Ferguson, Jay Leonhart and Kristin Korb, but I'm sure there are others.

    If all you're really concerned about is volume, can't you just turn down? If you're concerned about the reliability of the players and since you are the one booking the gigs and hiring them, can't you just hire more reliable players who can turn down?

    It's certainly just my opinion, but the only reason I can see for playing upright is because THAT'S the sound you hear in your head. Not because it looks "more authentic" or because you think you can get more work or because the bandleader wants you to. I do happen to think that the sound of the upright contributes to the forward harmonic propulsion of a tune in a way the electric bass never can. But since you're doing the hiring, that doesn't really matter. There are countless low volume jazz groups that use electric bass in this great land of ours. You could be one too.

    But if you want to play upright, you go girl. But, depending on the musicians in your area, it may NOT solve you're volume concerns or reliability issues. And it may open a whole new can of worms in areas of transport, feedback, physical approach etc.

    For me it comes down to: the only reason I lug the big bastard around and go through hell to get a sound out of it is because nothing else on the planet sounds like my bass.