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innovation vs tradition?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by xush, Sep 17, 2002.

  1. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    So, with all these threads sparking interest/insults concerning some of the 'non-comformist' designs out there, I just wondered what sort of opinions are held by TB'ers...

    You've got your Spalts, Ritters, Atlansias, Basslabs, etc. ad infinitum; many manufacturers/makers are utilizing unusual components/design features and let's say 'singular aesthetics...’

    I’m not talking about ‘Wishnevskian’ experiments, I’m thinking more along the lines of well-designed/engineered alternatives used in the production of the instrument.

    Where do you weigh in on the subject?

    How far is too far?
    How much is too much?
    How different is too different?

    Or are there no limits?
    Why do you feel this way? Any background experiences that led to this?


    for example: is a graphite necked Zon/Ritter/Modulus/whoever as far as you'll go; are the aesthetics of a Pagelli/Spalt not kosher with you? Why???
  2. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    Very intelligent thread topic-
    IMO there should be no limits insofar as there is room for both.

    No amount of innovation can ever replace the inherent tonal qualities of the benchmanrk basses,
    read P & J basses. That's where everything began.

    By the same token, without stretching and trying new concepts and ideas, even if they fail, where would we be? Miles Davis I believe pointed out the same logic insofar as music is concerned- You have to take a chance to grow.
    Optical pickups, graphite composites, etc along with awesome pre-CBS Fenders! Good to have choices!:cool:
  3. It's be said before but worth repeating, that bassists are much more happy exploring the outer limits of what we might do with a pick-up, 4 to ? strings, a neck and a body than would guitarists or perhaps any other instrumentalists. I think it may be because we are closer to the music and see the bass as just a means of production. If it has no headstock - so be it, if it has no EQ, OK. If it's powered, passive, or even off-the-wall (Ashbory comes to mind) well does it really matter if the music hits the spot?

    Bassists like artistic design that borders on art - but it has to perform. Art without function has never been tolerated by Bassists.

    Show a bassist a superbly functional instrument AND artistic design and they will pay whatever to be part of that instrument's deep influence on an expectant audience.
  4. very insightful - this is exactly how i feel. i love innovative designs, but it seems like in same cases, the designer is just thinking "hm, how can i be different" and does wacky, unnecessary stuff in order to be "unique." i think that's BS.

    my idea of perfect fusion between innovation and tradition -
  5. Bass players are much more accepting of innovation than guitarists. Sure, many go for pre-CBS style Fenders, but they will have and use something weird and wonderful as well.

    I think the reason for this is that, to be quite honest, wonderful as passive Fenders are, getting a useable sound on stage was pretty difficult until well into the 70s. Bass players were all looking for something to make themselves heard!

    How many bass players go for vintage amps (other than SVTs)? How many bass players would gig with a Fender bassman, a Dual Showman or an Ampeg B15 these days? Or a Vox?

    <blockquote>How far is too far?
    How much is too much?
    How different is too different? </blockquote>

    For me the limit is purpose, or the lack of it. Development happens to meet a need. You see something you can't get or can't do, so you design something to get it for you.

    "Too far" is when design changes just happen for the hell of it, without any real meaning. And that kind of "innovation" is the type that doesn't stick.
  6. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    nice input so-far. Thanks folks.
    It's edumacational, don't you know...

    keep it coming!
  7. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    if it ain't a fender..forget it.


  8. For a view from the folks that build for a living and as a very serious hobby try this discussion from the MIMF:


    (You'll have to paste this into your address bar)

    It is going to be important to keep this discussion limited to basses. It seems that bass builders and their clients are far more likely to see eye to eye when it comes to innovation. This isn't true of the guitar world so lumping the bass in with guitars won't be very helpful.

    DHC - I laughed out loud seeing your pic and reading your description of a good fusion between innovation and tradition. IMO, the only result gained from building basses the Reverend way IS just to be different. I see no real innovation. Even the materials used are 60 years old - they've just been put into a different use. I gauge the Reverend this way: If I were to take all the parts off and replace them on a conventional wood body, would I have an innovative instrument? IMO No, I would have a bass that is nearly identical to any other. Is there something so unique to the Reverend body that it makes it unmistakable in any way but looks? IMO again No, it's the look of the Reverend that make it a commercial success. Obviously it has to play well (and they do, I know!) but there isn't any real "innovation" in the use of the odd material if it doesn't do anything different or better than a traditional material. Even the construction method is a tried and true chambered design that has been around for nearly as long as the electric guitar itself. No, for me, innovation has to break new ground doing the primary job the tool is designed to do and, in this case, it's make music - not looking "cool".

    And I'm not picking a fight here. This is just another view of a commonly referred to aspect of the Reverend product.

    When you read the MIMF thread, you'll see more of my opinion of innovation vs tradition. As if it matters.
  9. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I don't see why there would be any limits at all. That's not to say that one man's "innovation" isn't another man's ipecac.
  10. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    I call 'em one at a time. ;)
  11. hambone - that's cool if you've played reverends and don't hear any benefits to the construction. personally, i think the body construction and material makes the bass sound incredible, yet able to be produced at low cost (and a really light instrument, to boot). that's all the innovation i need.

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