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Guitar Show Hell...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Mike Flynn, May 11, 2004.

  1. I wasn't going to post this but having had a couple of days to let my ears and brain clam down a bit I just thought it might be worth mentioning some thoughts I had during and after the recent London Guitar Show at the Wembley arena.

    Basically it was a real eye opener to the state of electric bass - as is percieved and practiced by Joe Public and some of the UK's better bassists. I was amazed and slightly dissapointed that many guys still feel that learning Mark King solos - note for note - then perfecting them and repeating them for years is still the thing to do. That, and of course all your Jaco stuff - but mainly his brilliant take on Bach's Chromatic Fabtasy - now i am as guilty as the next man of learning the latter piece - and to be fair there are guys out there who play it a lot better than I - but I couldn't believe that "snppy-snappy whack-whack" bass playing a la 1987 was still so damn hip...that, and the ultra-bright tone that suites that playing best.

    I am not against this kind of retro-active learning as obviously Jaco, and to some extent Mark King, have shaped our musical, or more precisely, bass-landscape indelibly - but to see some many people NOT developing their own style - was a bit depressing.

    I admit that I am a Wooten devotee to the last and also admit that I have slapped excessively at music shows (I did a bit at this one) but my overall impression was that people are placing too much emphasis on technique and not enough on learning music. I met Steve Lawson for a few minutes at the end of the day and his exact words were - over the din of another slap wank-fest - "This is horrible". I guess it's like eating a doughnut, one is fine, but what if that was your only source of food? You'd soon start feeling sick at just the site of a doughnut - unless you're Homer Simpson!

    I guess all I'm trying to say here is by all means cop all the licks and solos and 'standard' bass pieces you can; learn as much technique and theory, harmony etc - but learn how to be yourself, play like you play and learn to live with yourself, otherwise you could end up living a lie.

  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I would tend to feel sorry for somebody who is so desparate to show off their chops, that they have to do it at a guitar show! ;)

    I think what you are observing is a kind of desparate insecurity - where people are worried they are going to be found wanting, so have to play something that they imagine makes them look good - while of course having the opposite effect!!

    I've said the same thing about encountering this phenomenon in bass shops - like they're trying to impress me ??!! :meh:
  3. Not defending music show wankery (Norm Stockton wrote a whole tune specifically about this kind of thing), but I must say it can be really intimidating trying basses out at music shops. My "mad skillz" are not very honed compared to some, and I dread to think what the store folks are thinking as I cautiously try out some fine looking bass. Probably something along the lines of "Now sir, here we have a fine Squire bass that would just suit your style of playing." or "Put the bass down and back away!". ;) Now if only I knew how to play some wikked Jaco riffs, or some Mark King slap then I'd be sorted!! :cool: :D
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    But that's what I mean - why should you worry what anybody thinks - the best way to test a bass, is to play long sustained notes all over the neck, very slowly so you can hear how each note sustains and to listen for buzzes and other kinds of imperfections, etc.

    Anybody playing fast slap (for example) is not listening to the sound of the bass and is clearly showing off and trying to impress! OK shops are indulgent - but basically that kind of person is showing every sign of not being serious about buying a bass and deserves to be thrown out!! ;)

    Besides - do you really think a Ferrari dealer cares about the driving skills of potential customers .....NO !!!

    It's more about whether they can afford to pay!!

    Any salesman is really thinking about how they can part you from your money - not about how good a bass player you are!!

    My favourite salesperson is not the one who is a wicked(!) bass player (or thinks they are) - but the one who gets you a coffee and explains how they can do you a finance deal that will enable you to buy that bass - like interest-free credit!! :)
  5. I agree, but it's sometimes hard to remember that at the time!
    I certainly hope she's thinking about the customer's driving skills if they're about to go for a test-drive!
    Yes, we know about that person! ;) Your Lakland doing alright? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink...
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Nah!! They won't care as long as you have a valid driving licence - whether you have the required finances will be far more important and uppermost in their minds!!

    Do you really think they will let you even sit in the car, if you don't look as if you could pay - whereas, you could be the most promising Kart driver of your generation - but no money, no Ferrari!! ;)
  7. You've tried it then Bruce, have you? Ferarris? :D
  8. My point was really about styalistic ruts - I wasn't so much commenting on how best to try out a bass or amp for that matter, in fact on the point of playing fast not being a good means to hear the qualities of an instrument or amp I would argue that if high definition sound for speed playing is what you need then fair enough. I would also say that attacking the notes/strings in all manner of ways will reveal all the qualities of the instrument - if that means slapping and tapping notes as well as finger picking, or even playing with a pick - then so be it. Playing fast also requires a high degree of skill - taste doesn't always come into the equation - but when it does the results can be amazing.

    MKS I would defiitely say that being intimidated in music shops is annoying - but I would say that I've had my Warwick Thumb for 13 years now and when I first got it I thought - "S***, I'm not good enough for this guitar..." That was a long time ago but I think buying a really expensive instrument is not necessarily compensation for not being such a great player (Freudian analysis of Ferraris also 'points' in this direction) as long as the tools you have don't let you down or aren't holding you back then there's no excuses!
  9. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    i think the 'zillion Mark King-alikes syndrome' is depressing but understandable... it's a lot easier to track your development as a musician through visible advances in your technical facility, but a lot harder to track how well your ear is developing...

    it's also due to the fact that bass guitar generally works best as an ensemble instrument, so if you spend all your time practicing on your own, you may end up getting good at things that sound great on their own, but don't necessarily work in the context of a rhythm section.. the net result: bass players who can solo, tap and slap all over the fingerboard but who can't play in the pocket, make an average guitarist sound great or tame an unruly drummer :)

    i'm not beating on technical ability here... certain pieces of music require fantastic technique to play them correctly, but fantastic technique alone doesn't guarantee fantastic music :)
  10. spot on dude - especially about the ensemble bit - I think basslines are the very essence of the 'bass' and they require alot of work period - it's what i miss playing most when I'm practicing - nothing beats playing with a good drummer.
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Shhh...I was just trying to bolster MKS's ego, so he wouldn't feel so intimidated next time - you've spoiled it now!! ;)

    But honestly, fast slap stuff doesn't impress me - half the time anyway, you can tell those people would never be able to play that stuff accurately and in time - and they would have even less chance of fitting it into an actual song!!

    I always remember an article in Bass Player where this top producer said about hiring session musicians : " I don't pay bass players to play fast - I pay them to read fast!!" ;)
  12. Ain't that the truth - the old guitarist joke goes something similar -

    Q How do you shut a guitarist up?

    A Put some music in front of him

    And yeah fast 'slapping' is kind of dull - grooving, whatever you do is the hardest part of all - and all the other normal stuff that goes in a rply like this - i.e. listening theory etc etc
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Nah - they wouldn't do interest-free credit!! ;)
  14. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    It is an international thing. I have seen it everywhere from LA to Dublin. It is mostly youthful exuberance and/or insecurity.

    I think we all go through our phase of chop-itis, but it does get tiresome.... because it sounds like a friggin' typewriter factory!

    It's more akin to having a contest to see who can say the alphabet fastest! Is there any art or poetic sense in that?

    But, whatever. If someone wants to wank, I have no problem, unless of course, the amp is on "11." :p
  15. I might be the last person to say this to you Dave but "Taco Taco - barrito barrito" is one of my fave songs from last year! The new series of South Park started last night on Sky and it rocks - when I finally get round to paying some dosh towards this place I'll make sure I have a fat arsed Cartman on mine -0 the episode last night was the Queer Eye for The Straight Guy piss take that was just brilliant...
  16. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles

    I would rather hear someone play "Taco Taco" than 64th notes at warp 9!

    That SP JLo episode was one of the most weird/retarded/surreal things I have ever seen on TV. And I loved it!

    IIRC, Are you guys one season behind? If so, they have set the bar pretty high this time. The episode with Cartman entering the Special Olympics nearly ended me through laughter!
  17. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    I've been to the Philly guitar show a couple of times, and marveled at this phenomenon. I've seen it in many music stores as well. But at least it doesn't really hurt anyone else too much, unlike doing it at a jam or open mike. I caved in to a guy's girlfriend late one night, and ley him play my boutiquey fretless for a few "tunes". DoOd goes off on a brutal wankfest, totally ignoring the 4 other people on stage. I finally picked up a guitar and did the full feedback routine, to no avail. There happened to be a sax player there (very rare in these parts), making his first appearance. I'm sure he'll never come back, although I had a long talk with him afterwards. I had to do a little refinishing on the bass too, but I can live with that.

    I'm not really anti-tap, -slap, or even -wank, but the point about personal musical expression and stylistic growth really hits home. I recently started playing EURB. I am amazed at the response this is creating at gigs. I can't really play any of my longtime showoff riffs on the upright yet, and that is proving to be a very good thing. Less is often more, no?
  18. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I had a horrible dream last night I was working at Guitar Center again, and was surrounded by such wankery. *shudders*

    We call it music store chops. Everybody has a standard lick that they play everytime they pick up a new instrument to try. Most of it involves an Ozzy, Blink 182, or Metallica riff. You learn to hate Metallica pretty fast working in a music store.

    Rule of thumb in music stores here in America: the worse you play, the louder you play. I've never quite figured out why that is, but it's true.
  19. I wait with bated breath for that episode dude, sounds brilliant, the whoole "I'm gayer than you thing last night was pretty special in itself - and yeah warp 9 stuff - see Bill Dickens under that one in the dictionary, there's fast and just too damn fast..."Taco flavoured kisses baby!"
  20. Gia


    Feb 28, 2001
    all these talkbassers at the wembly guitar show, and not one said hello to me :(