I hate switching basses...who's with me?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JimmyM, Aug 1, 2021.

  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Nobody likes showing off my basses more than me. They're not super special or anything, but I used to be in love with the idea of switching basses just to show off the collection a little, plus it's cool to have different basses for different sounds and tunings. I've tried to enjoy it, especially since I spent a good many years doubling on upright on most of my gigs. Sounded like a good idea at the time.

    Here's why I ended up hating it...

    ---It either slows the show down or it leaves you hanging and looking like amateur night because you're not ready when they start the next song. And many bandleaders don't care if you're switching and they'll count the song off anyway. So I just want to play one bass that can do it all.

    ---It's easy to switch basses that all have similar sound and output, but switching between a Stingray with new rounds and a Hofner with old flats is going to take some EQ to keep levels consistent and tones not so different that it throws the mix into a meltdown. And the more different basses, the more EQ's you need. Some folks will use programmable EQ's or pres and that's what I did most of the time, but it can take some effort to get it right. And I just don't want to spend time screwing with it. Once saw Heart's sound tech have to rebuild the bass mix from scratch for every other song because Steve Fossen switched every other song and never used the same bass twice.

    ---Two basses are manageable, but any more than that gets on my nerves during setups and teardowns. Have I done it? Sure I have! How do you think I know???

    Anyway, thx for listening to me yak while I try to get over health problems. Been a while I had this much free time since going corporate. And feel free to comment either pro or con.
  2. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    Seattle, WA
    I don't have the basses to do that, but if I did....I wouldn't.

    I think it'd only work well in a live situation where you had some type of amp modeling system that supported presets so that you could switch everything with a single press and know that you're sending the same levels to FOH without any issue. I'd also want them all plugged in to some type of splitter so I wouldn't have to switch cables or anything.

    And honestly...due to gain staging at the house board and the band mix, most of the minutiae would be lost anyway unless the bass is the lead instrument in the ensemble and the bassist is the star. (At least to me, it seems that - after a certain amount of gain staging - all basses start sounding pretty similar and a lot of the nuances are lost. The differences are a lot more noticeable at low volumes and lower gain, in my opinion.)

    So yeah, I wouldn't do it. But I understand why people would. And obviously, this comment doesn't apply for drastic differences like a fretted vs fretless bass, of four strings vs seven strings, or anything like that.
    lomo, SteveC, jdh3000 and 4 others like this.
  3. twinjet

    twinjet Powered by GE90s; fueled with coffee. Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Hey Jimmy, hope you're hanging in there.

    To the question, I found myself taking too much time switching basses in a gig. I used to do batches of songs with one bass, then switch, but that got tiresome. Even though I really only took an extra 30 seconds to switch, I felt like all eyes were on me and that I was doing a disservice to everyone by switching in the middle of a set. Decided to just take a single bass per gig and have had no problems.
  4. taliesin


    Nov 12, 2007
    Toronto, ON
    Most gigs I do these days need a couple of basses - either one tuned to Eb for some songs in my cover band or I use my EUB for some stuff with the singer/songwriter I play with.

    I have a Bassbone pre with 2 inputs and it takes 10 seconds to change.

    More than 2 basses at a gig would just confuse me
    Bartrinsic, bignc, woodyng2 and 3 others like this.
  5. salmon256


    Jul 10, 2021
    I wish I had a lot of basses to do that! Only time I could see myself doing that is simply for different tunings to save very quick time or if the basses I own are super odd, unique and maybe I want to get my moneys worth for it to show off.
    JimmyM likes this.
  6. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    I find switching between two can be fun and worthwhile IF the show benefits tangibly from the variety, and if there is sufficient pause between songs. (Some groups, definitely - others definitely not.)
    I might swap in the ABG for mellow acoustic songs. Or use the heavy, growly Warwick for modern stuff and the hollowbody for old-school (and to give my shoulder a rest...) And of course doubling on upright has its place.
    Never more than two - not until I get my own tech. :bassist:
  7. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    Dam. Hope you’ve got some good comfort food and solid climate control en la casa.

    The only time I did multiple basses was when I was stereo/bi-amping for half the set and the band was so amateurish that if someone were to pull some GG Allin antics it only would’ve made us look more professional.

    Good times.

    I can’t fathom doing multiple basses on a paid gig.
  8. I wouldn't mind the "luxury" of being able to switch basses mid-show sometimes, but I also have to get my ass around (mostly) on public transit when gigging, so bringing more than one bass just isn't realistic if my amp is also in tow.

    Even the cover/top 40 gigs I'm doing right now can be fully played down properly on a single J (or P) bass, and they're the ones with the most ground to cover tonally. So I just bring whichever bass is gonna be most "appropriate" for the show in question, and leave it at that.

    Hope the health issues get a move on for ya, Jimmy!
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Dude, I am so going to steal that and make it my sig line. Don't worry, I'll credit you :D but that's the funniest line I've seen on here in a good while!

    And thanks!
  10. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    …and I don’t even have to pay rent?!


    [googled “sweet! Gif”… holay carp. Somes o those are creeeepey!]
    JimmyM likes this.
  11. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    Yeah, it's a pain. There's a lot of switching for the current show I'm working on...upright, 5 string fretted & fretless.

    Broadway arrangers like to maximize their tonal options (and producers of shows like to pay as few musicians as possible to achieve a satisfactory sounding score). This can lead to almost constant bass juggling for three hours.

    Sometimes I'm switching for only one or two notes on a certain bass. And, some of the changes are fast and in the dark. I've got to be careful I don't wrench my back or an elbow lifting basses in and out of stands quickly.

    Speaking of health issues, hope you get over yours soon, Jimmy.
  12. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    I bring two basses everywhere. I sit and debate with myself which one's coming out of the bag. I pull one out, and never touch the other one. Unless I'm just not feeling it for whatever reason, then I switch. I bring two because I always want a backup. But, a P and a J are both great for everything, so either one I happen to plug in that time does a great job. The other is just in the case, just in case.
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    That right there is what led me back to Fenders and FSO's despite wanting to bust out after years of my Fender being my only good bass...having to cover so much tonal ground in a show where my (considerably more expensive) active neck-thrus sounded great on some things and not others. And not only did Fenders/FSO's sound great on everything, they sounded way better to me.
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  14. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    They just feel right. Less control, less tone options, regularity, they just feel right. Pretty much always.
  15. red_rhino

    red_rhino Currently on Double Secret Probation Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2001
    Over Macho Grandé
    I bring 30 basses to every gig. My personal roadie knows our set list like the back of his hand and waits in the shadows with the bass I'm going to use on the next song, all tuned up and ready to go. The handoff takes 3 seconds, while my other roadie tweaks the amp controls to the pre-determined settings for that bass. Easy peezy, no stress, and it all goes like clockwork, every time.

    At least, that's how it was supposed to work when I was planning out our stadium world tour. But until that happens, I'm gonna stick to bringing only one bass cuz I don't want to agonize over "what's the best bass for Mustang Sally?". ;)
  16. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Bootlegger guitars : S.I.T. Strings Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Florida USA
    That’s how I started playing five strings regularly

    I used to switch to the five for the few songs in the set that required it.
    That got old real fast.
    I just started playing the five string the whole gig, mistakes and all, until there weren’t any more mistakes. Took a few weeks but it happened
  17. P Cheen

    P Cheen Alembics and parametric mid knobs scare me.

    Apr 4, 2015
    Southern Oregon
    When I was a gigging musician while in uni, I only brought one instrument. At the most we’ve only used 2 different tunings, the most extreme was probably going from standard to drop C.

    Now having moved to a country across the Pacific, band-less and of course gig-less, I have not been tempted to own more than 2 basses at a time. I have OCD (the clinical kind, not the personality quirk) and I’ve always played favorites. I always want to pick up one bass for months at a time.

    I can’t imagine having to swap out instruments mid-set! Sounds fun though.
  18. TrevorG

    TrevorG Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    Don't think I've ever done a gig or show where I had time to change basses. Guess I always hoped the one bass could do it all.
    JimmyM likes this.
  19. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I lucked out. I was able to dodge needing a 5 for the most part for years. Got two now and had one for decades, and after giving it a few good years, I went back to 4's. Once in a great while I'd get a gig that called for it, but I just never felt the love and could do what I needed on my 4's.
  20. Jazzkuma


    Sep 12, 2008
    Used to have a radial bassbone for doubling gigs. Electric bass on one channel and upright on the other. O ly downside is that the pedal and power supply are pretty heavy.

    two electric basses? Nah, ill pass. At least for my situation more often than not I can cover anything with one bass without anyone complaining about why I didnt switch to the other bass. And if I can make my day just a tad easier then I will.
    JimmyM likes this.