Instrument Aesthetics - stand out or blend in?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by hrodbert696, Jul 21, 2018.

  1. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    This is not so much to ask whether looks matter to you in a bass, which we've talked about a lot, but what the goal of the look is for you. When you think about how a bass looks, do you want an instrument to stand out and draw attention, or do you want it to blend in?

    In a sense, this is a visual-aesthetic equivalent to the musical question of the bass' role; do you step up and play "lead bass" and draw attention to the bass line, or do you support the ensemble and avoid that attention?

    It's been on my mind lately because of my latest angle with GAS. I play in a group where I often need a five-string. I have two already. Both are visual standouts. One is "Batgirl," a Yamaha BB415 that sports a big custom decal of... well, you guessed it, Batgirl:

    ...and the other is Looney Toon, a custom bass made by Kansas City Luthier John Toon:
    Neither is exactly a Fender P, they tend to stick out.

    The band in question has talked about going for more corporate function-type gigs. In a bar band or stage show I figure I would play whatever I want and the existing basses are great. But for a more formal function-type of setting would you want something less splashy?
  2. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Depends on the gig of course, unless you’re playing originals. When I want to stand out:

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  3. Mark76


    Dec 1, 2015
    Batgirl... WOO!
  4. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    I would probably put together a “tuxedo” bass for the formal gigs. I wouldn’t necessarily make it innocuous or plain, but I would feel weird whipping out a VERY unusual bass in that setting.
  5. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    It’s hard to go wrong with a sunburst Jazz, I think that’s what a lot of people “expect” to see at a corporate style gig, the Batgirl and Toon basses maybe a little in your face. It shouldn’t matter, but in some situations it does, of course. Any plain black bass is probably fine too, Ive always been a sucker for any “tuxedo” bass, my Jetglo Ric clone a classic case in point.
  6. nasonm


    Jan 28, 2004
    Bangor, ME
    Because I am not a gigging musician, for me it’s all about what inspires me to play. Whether it’s all sparkly or a simple song with color instrument, if it makes me want to pick it up and play then it’s a good thing!
  7. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    You're just looking for an excuse to buy another bass, aren't you?
    It's ok. We understand completely.
  8. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Personally, I prefer traditionally finished instruments. Once in a while, there’s an exotic that does work. There’s always an exception. Musically making all things work usually bumps asthetics.
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  9. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    The stranger looking the better.
  10. scuzzy

    scuzzy Supporting Member

    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    Likely only another bassist in the crowd or perhaps the occasional guitarist will notice your bass, so I say weird it up.
  11. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    comfort and feel come first ... i prefer the look of Wood versus Paint ...

    do i want my bass to 'stand out ' ... i'd rather have my playing style stand out ..!
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  12. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    You have to get really weird for civilians to notice. Neon colors. Flying V. Doubleneck. Solid body U-bass in a rock band.
  13. I don't own any garish basses, so the wildest it gets is a FireGlo 4003. Not exactly "in your face" visually. I do tend to overplay, by some people's standards, so any pyrotechnics are of the aural variety.
  14. tr4252


    May 27, 2013
    On stage I like instruments that are so plain, people can't even see them. I plug a cord into my ear and pretend the sound comes directly from my mind.

  15. Son of Wobble

    Son of Wobble

    Mar 8, 2010
    Bass is immaterial, as the punters will be too busy admiring your Jim Jarmusch-like coif to even notice.
    Good hair for the win :thumbsup:
  16. You obviously don’t have enough basses yet:cool:
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  17. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013

    I want to have a bass that is inappropriate for any occasion.
  18. Vertigo Jones

    Vertigo Jones

    Jun 13, 2013
    Given the current social climate, I’d personally think twice about bringing Batgirl-showing-off-her-butt to a corporate gig -but that’s just me.

    The Looney Toon stands out as different but not “offensively” so. I’d have no problem bring it to such a gig. Now if the gig had say a rockabilly or surf theme, then I’d rock Batgirl.
  19. EtoBb


    Nov 27, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    Tastes are different. I was considering swapping my pickguard for a red tort or gold anodized aluminum, and my friend was concerned I'd be too ostentatious for my corporate gigs.

    I suspect there are some old souls out there who find anything besides natural, sunburst, black, and white to be flashy and stand out.

  20. Hover-Rich

    Hover-Rich Commercial User

    Jan 21, 2018
    Craig, Colorado
    Hover Harness, LLC
    If you like how Batgirl plays and sounds then maybe think about some type of removable, non-"marring" cover to put over the middle of it. It would be easier to cover up than Looney Toon.

    Of course, if a new bass would be in order for many other reasons then there's nothing wrong with that, either.;)
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