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How To Not Be a Dumb Bassist

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by brandonjshaw, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. brandonjshaw


    Jan 28, 2014
    Hey guys,

    My name is Brandon Shaw, I'm a bassist in the LA area. I've been playing and teaching professionally for about 10 years.

    I just wrote an article titled, "How To Not Be a Dumb Bassist" and thought I would pass it a long to my fellow bassists.

    Let me know what you think!


  2. Great article.. I wouldn't say it applies to all genre's but most especially classic rock stuff.
  3. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    Why do make you the point that "bassists play the root on down beat" or "bassists only play one note at a time". Not the way it is all the time.
  4. greggster59


    Oct 31, 2006
    New Jersey
    Great advice and it confirms my analogy that a bassist is to a band what Larry Fine is to The Three Stooges (the glue).:bassist:
  5. DannyBob


    Aug 28, 2013
    It was all right if aimed at a complete beginner, but for everyone else, some of it just didn't apply
  6. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    I play and have played chords on bass all the time. I also believe it's important that everyone be the glue in a band regardless of genre. It's not just the drummer's job to keep the rhythm. It's everyone's job. That can only happen when everyone listens to the other members of the band.
    Also, Playing on the downbeat isn't always my job either. It can be everyone, or just some people. Your article has some great points, but could lead a bass player to think that they aren't allowed to play interesting things.
  7. Dradder


    Feb 7, 2013
    Reno, Nevada
    I enjoyed the article and got a lot out of it. But then, I'm a very beginning bassist.
  8. esa372

    esa372 Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'll just say that it's a good thing that Jamerson, McCartney, Entwistle, Pastoruis, Graham, Jones, Squire, Lee, Sheehan, Manring, Sting, Wooten, Clarke, Bruce, Miller, et al, were never given the advice in that "article".

  9. I just wanted to say thanks for posting this. Five minutes and I actually picked up quite a few things that I need to improve.
  10. Eric_71

    Eric_71 Supporting Member

    Jul 22, 2011
    Thanks for posting. I liked to see all of that kind of synthesized in one article. I realize some will want to misinterpret your intent and claim you are anti-creativity in bass, but I appreciated the article.
  11. brandonjshaw


    Jan 28, 2014
    Thanks guys for the feedback. I did gear it more toward the beginning bassist.

    Most of the "just play the downbeat" stuff comes from my interaction with students of mine or other gigging bassists that don't understand the bassist's role. The bass shouldn't be played like a guitar. Obviously there's times when stepping out and playing some tasty busy stuff works great, but it bugs me when a bass player can't seem to keep it simple.

    And yes, there's exceptions to all of it. The bass players that esa372 mentioned are exceptions and legendary bass players. I'm a huge fan of all of them, and sometimes the music calls for a busy, complicated bass line. But more often than not, if you're being the "bass player" (rather than a soloist like Wooten), keeping it simple is the right thing to do.

    Thanks again for the comments guys!
  12. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    If the band you’re in thinks you are a “dumb bass player” then you would probably be much happier in ANOTHER BAND.

    I’m not trying to attack you or be rude, by in my humble opinion I think you should have titled your article, How to be an Unremarkable Formulaic Bass Player.

    "...it bugs me when a bass player can't seem to keep it simple."

    Well, I guess maybe I am just one of those Dumb Bass players you are talking about.
  13. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    this is pretty much true in all mainstream music.

    Play jazz, play metal ( well some technical yes ), play prog etc those thing get thrown out the window
  14. LakeEffect


    Feb 21, 2013
    Straight up. What a crock...
  15. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    I like it! Good fun format and solid info.
  16. callofcthulhu


    Oct 16, 2012
    Yeah, sorry, your article is garbage.

    You've successfully discouraged me from reading the rest of the series of articles since I can only assume they similarly instruct every other musician to be a cookie cutter robot with no imagination who can easily be replaced by a loop in ProTools.

    Thank you for perpetuating a limited worldview that ultimately drains the cultural expression of music of any lasting value it is capable of having.
  17. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    Nah. You gotta know the rules before you can break 'em, and every single one of those guys you named spent their career learning to do the things in that article as the foundation to their playing.

    That they can hold down the bottom and also kill you with groove and flash is what makes them world-class players.

    Great article; I would show it to any bass student.
  18. Yeah, nice attempt. I'm sure your heart's in the right place. But it's a very insulting title.

    You've got some basic information there, but all in all you sound like a teenager with little to no experience writing about the meaning of life.

    I've been at this music thing for close to 30 years, and I wouldn't attempt to write out the 10 commandments of bass playing...

    Keep at it. Eventually you'll get there.
  19. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    the title is :
    "how not to be a dumb bassist"

    otherwise yeah you're right
  20. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I have a rather crusty bit of emery cloth in my desk especially for my calluses.....

    Roots are bread and butter, but inversions are a big deal too.