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How Important is showing up to a gig/session with a *Fender* P?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jmone, Apr 5, 2018.

  1. jmone


    Mar 1, 2010
    I’ll preface by saying - I'm not asking to debate the tone of the bass or how it sounds in a mix. I get it. I get the P-thing. It's not my thing, but I get it.

    I remember when reading one of the weekly debates on here about the Fender P vs 'the field' there seemed to be a clear divide when dissecting the thread between people who play as a hobby and people who play for work (either part or full-time). It seemed like everyone who plays as a hobby or was the one paying the audio engineer could play whatever they wanted and rightfully so if it's your money, but the people who did more session work said it was necessary to have a “Fender Shaped Object” with some people specifically saying they needed a Fender P-Bass.

    I'm feeling more comfortable in my playing as a whole and want to start working on some more projects soon but I really don't want to not get a gig because I didn't have the right tool for the job. I was going to grab a Sadowsky Metro Express this summer when they come out to be my ‘workhorse’ bass and if I put tape over the headstock logo I bet 99% of musicians wouldn’t even take a second look because it’ll look and sound like a Fender but I'm having second thoughts.

    I really don't like to have more gear than I use but I'm wondering how necessary it really is to just show up with Fender P and if so, how little do I have to spend (Squier, MIM, USA) so people will just shut up and let my playing do the talking?
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
  2. MrBassman17


    Dec 30, 2011
    Brewster, NY
    Good question, and I think you answered it for yourself! I sold my Jazz, and parted-out y P-Bass, so when I show up it's either with my Jack Casady or Epiphone EB-3! And the reason is because these two can do everything either of my previous Fenders could and more! The right tool for the job! Swiss Army Knives are real popular - still!
  3. jmone


    Mar 1, 2010
    I totally understand other basses can come close or 'do-it-all' but I've been led to believe that people will argue tooth and nail that it has to be a Fender (or look alike). And if someone is paying you to do something, then it's a pretty bad relationship to argue whether there's a difference or not.

    I guess my question really is - how much does it matter if it says "Fender"? How much does it matter that it's a "P-bass" and not a Jazz?
    Garret Graves and Howlin' Hanson like this.
  4. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    It's only fair if you get to dictate what instruments the other players use.
    So I understand that aesthetics can be important in some settings, like pointy metals guitars just don't look right with a country band, but that's all the sensibility I'd allow. If you can get a good tone from a non-Fender looking instrument, tell the other concerned parties to close their eyes and it won't upset them.
  5. Depends. For many years if you walked into the studio engineers refused to work with anyone who did not have a P Bass, and for many only one made by Fender themselves. Things have changed now and that is not quite the rule, although you will still see it some. Roots music, such as blues and older country still require Fender basses. It just goes with the territory.
    If you are getting ready to take part in any session, practice, or live situation, it is still a good idea to call ahead and see what is required bass wise.
    Still a good practice to have a P Bass with flats....just in case.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
  6. jmone


    Mar 1, 2010
    Do you think those engineers who "refused" to work with non-p basses are adamant on it being a MIA P-Bass or is it sufficient to just stick some flats on a used MIM and bring it to sessions?
  7. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Play what you’re comfortable with. You are the player being auditioning (as well as auditioning the act you’re interested in). Why deny any band your true self?

    Fender basses are terrific but so are many others.
    gebass6, rallen, grrg63 and 4 others like this.
  8. When I was doing the recording thing I never noticed one way or another. It prolly makes a difference to some and others could care less. Some studios years ago even made you use their instruments they were so picky. In Nasville engineers had one track on the board labeled Fender Bass. It is not near that way anymore. I never complained when folks came in to record since I gladly took their money.......They could use whatever, lol.

  9. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    AZ, USA
    Bringing a P results in the smallest probabilty of being rejected, ceteris paribus.
  10. If I was trying to be a do it all session guy, I would have a P in the quiver without a doubt. For everyone else, it depends.
  11. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Been gigging about 45 years.

    Never been asked to bring a specific brand bass.

    I have been asked to bring an upright if I have one—- I didn’t at the time, but still got the gig.
    Wisebass, retslock, smeet and 6 others like this.
  12. bigswifty1


    Dec 8, 2011
    I've told this story before but anyway....

    I auditioned for my current band a bit over four years ago. It's a three piece, they are all old guys, good players, old pros, but to say that they don't keep up with the latest in "boutique" would be an understatement. To give you an idea of what they are like, the guitarist has played every single electric gig since I've been there (well over a hundred a year) with the single same guitar he purchased in 1972.

    Anyway ...

    I turn up to the audition with (very topical to the OP) my Sadowsky Hybrid P/J. The thing was reasonably new to me at the time. I guess I'd owned it a few months, played a handful of gigs with it. I open the case and they peer at the headstock (once they'd found their glasses) and start to mutter "S... A... D... O... W.... " and they trail off, looking at each other mumbling stuff like "Never heard of it", "New fangled", "Looks like a Fender I guess"

    A week later they called me back for another go. This time I was smarter and packed my Mexican R/W Fender. I open the case again. This time it's "Oh yeah cool".

    Anyway, got the gig obviously, and have done hundreds of gigs with them on a variety of Sadowsky, EBMM, Rob Allen and Duesenberg basses. And they've had an education about the state of the bass industry. They've even made progress to the point where for certain gigs they will ask me to bring the Rob Allen or the Duesenberg :)

    But to the OP I merely say this - keep a Fender for auditions. Any will do, just keep a Fender.

  13. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    For the rare session that requires a P just rent one for the date, otherwise play what you want. In 30 years of making records I've never seen firsthand that rigidity in a session though I have heard of it. 1st call studio guy I worked with for a decade only ever showed up with a modulus and literally no one but me ever cared enough to notice. Your reading, chops, and professionalism are what matters. That said, always ask when hired if you need certain equipment.
    rallen, bucephylus, retslock and 3 others like this.
  14. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    You’re not going to lose a job because you have a Sadowsky. But if you care about this kind of thing and all you have is a $2800 active J instead of a couple different things that can get a couple different sounds... it would bug me a little bit if someone had a boutique bass but couldn’t give me a decent passive split tone when needed.
  15. diegom

    diegom Supporting Member

    Artman, Dave Neal, Josdown and 6 others like this.
  16. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    gone to many sessions over the decades ... never had a P long enough to take it to any of them ... P's not my choice .
  17. 12BitSlab

    12BitSlab Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2016
    Liberty Township
    I did a fair amount of session work in the mid to late 70's. Mostly jingles and background for commercials.

    I always showed up with my '75 Jazz w/ round wounds. No one ever complained. Some engineers asked me what I was playing and which strings I used.

    It was my experience that producers and engineers cared more about chops than equipment. Why was that? We were paid VERY well and they cared more about keeping costs down than stuff that didn't matter.
    Mantis Tobaggan and jmone like this.
  18. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    You don't *not* get a gig because you play a Fender. It really is that simple.
  19. Please take this as being light hearted. As someone who has played nothing but Fender, you better have a "P" or "J". As being someone who has played long enough, tone comes from within no matter what make the instrument is. I am a finger player. My history of how I play has dictated the tone I am noted for.
    Don't get hung up on the tools.
    Rock on.
  20. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall-Fender-Bergantino-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand
    Having a good P and J onhand in case they are specifically requested, and they frequently are, is a good idea for any working bass player.

    It absolutely does not have to say "Fender" on the headstock as long as it looks familiar enough, but most importantly it needs to "sound like" a P or J.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
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