Is there a natural playing gap?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Michael Jewels, Oct 23, 2001.

  1. I've noticed that when a lot of the over 40 TB members, tell the tale of their involvement with our beloved instrument, that there is a "gap," a period of time beginning somewhere in their 20s when, for one reason or another, they abandon playing. It sometimes is because of frustration, not playing as well as you think you should for the amount of time invested, or simply because of life; ie, getting married, high pressure job, etc.

    Has this happened to you? I have a theory that this "bass gap" has happened to quite a few, if not the majority of us. What's your story? You don't have to be over 40 to respond, I just picked that as the "re-entry" age. I think many of us older members will have similar stories, and the younger ones can learn where not to stumble as we did.

    My tale: I started playing at about 14, with no formal training, and played in 3 garage bands that went absolutely nowhere due to infighting about what type of music to play. The only reason I put up with this nonsense was to get expeience playing.
    At about 25 or so, I got serious with a girl I was going with and my playing slowly ebbed, but never stopped. I stayed at this coma level until about 2 years ago, and have gone berzerk ever since. I'm not in a band now, but jam with whoever I can in my neighborhood, and practice almost every day.
    What I'd like to do is start a Zydeco band. Who knows if this will happen, but, just picking up one of my basses is such a pleasure, I can't imagine ever stopping again. I'll be 45 in less than two months.

    Your turn.
    Mike J.
  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Over 40(sigh)& responding-

    Started in '72(sorta), blew my wad/chance by '82...took a job in Florida & stopped playing for a few months(no time at all...)
    I do remember thinking, "Well, I guess I don't play anymore".
    Came back home, joined a different Top-40 band...fell apart(bad management), began a different & new career(more schooling + full-time work)'til present.
    Girls, on ocassion, have tried derailment...whatever,
    I WILL keep playing! ;)
    That said-
    The real problem I have NOW(& I noticed an attitude shift when I hit 4-0)is finding musicians that wanna try different stuff(write & perform 'originals' & maybe doin' covers in a "different way").
    I'm over Top-40 clubs, I'm not into '70s Rock/guitar bands, I'm NOT GONNA PLAY C&W full-time(ie, weekends), etc. I'm not into 'kiddie' bands("kiddie" as in mentality, NOT age or lack thereof!).

    The 'corporate' band I'm in now has really decent people + some happenin''s a gig that's pretty sporadic, though(5-6 times from May-Oct).
    mainly, it's for a good cause...March Of Dimes & St. Jude's get some cake from the leader's cds/T-shirts/etc.

    Good luck in your Zydeco quest...!
  3. Turock


    Apr 30, 2000
    I'll soon be 46. Started in my teens and have never stopped. I can't see that ever happening, unless it becomes physically impossible for me to play.
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I've stopped gigging because of either time constraints or an unwillingness to deal with "musicians" but I've never stopped playing. I can't.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I've had a big gap firstly between playing bass and then music all together.

    I was playing in bands late 70s early 80s onwards and even got a record deal with EMI but got very frustrated with the music business and the fact that as a bass player you could easily be ignored and your part dropped in favour of say a "programmed" synth line - so you could contribute a lot to a band and then get nothing out of it when it came to the point where they took off.

    My first solution was to write songs and put a band together myself where all the material was written by me and a female singer using a lot of programmed stuff - we did quite well and got good reviews in magazines but eventually she got married and I was left with half the equation.

    I sort of gave up music and got promoted a couple of times at a conventional job and ended up commuting between Brighton and London 4 hours a day - which left me no time for anything else and most of the 90s went by in a flash.

    But having the situation where office space is very expensive in central London and technology improving, I am now able to work from home a lot and have more time for music - I also detect a shift in work, where people want more of a balance between doing things for the company and doing things for you. So my thing is music and I can now afford to do just what I want, so music has become fun once more and not just a frustration. I also discovered that you're never too old to play Jazz - which is handy as I think I'm going to be pretty ancient by the time I reach the standard I want to be at playing Jazz!! ;)
  6. chipmolter

    chipmolter Guest

    Aug 27, 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    I started playing at 13, self-taught. Just practiced and learned on my own for 2 years, then I started jamming with friends from school. I started a band when I got to college and played rigorously for 2 1/2 years.

    Then the guitar player met a girl, shortly after got married, had a kid, and moved to PA to work in a factory. The drummer/second guitar player met a girl and had a kid also.

    After that, I had a hard time meeting up with other people who shared my musical interests. I met my wife and graduated, moved to New Jersey with her, and started working in Manhattan.

    I tried to get into home recording, but I can't do alot of musical work on my own. On top of that, there aren't a lot of musicians working at insurance company, so the work pool was pretty dead.

    My wife and I moved back to Maryland last year and it turns out my college bandmates are back in town too! We brought in my brother-in-law on drums and have been playing for 1 year now. Hopefully, by next summer we'll have a set list and be ready to start gigging.
  7. Steve S

    Steve S

    Jul 26, 2000
    I started at 16, joined a band and played for several years. Went to college, found a job, found a wife and had children. Still jammed every now and then but nothing serious and no gigs. When my youngest child turned 16, I found that I didn't need to take him to football. basketball and baseball practice anymore and found myself with a bunch of free time. Decided to get back into music, took some lessons, joined several bands and play all the time now.
  8. XavierG

    XavierG In Memoriam

    I must have been 16 when I started playing bass. I played thru high school and then some. I got married at 23 but continued to play here and there. I put down my bass at about 29 - 30 (when we had our 1st child). We've had 3 more since and I only just picked up the bass again about 3 years ago (at 41).
  9. and another sigh...

    I started playing at 15, played in a number of garage bands and started doing local gigs a couple of years later. About ten years after I started playing life kinda got in the way and I put the bass down for about 19 years.

    Last May the last kid moved out of the house. Now that I have some free time and my evenings aren't completely taken up by adolescent catastrophes (is <b>everything</b> a crisis when you're a teenager?) I wanted to immerse myself in a non-computer related hobby. I'm a professional geek and wanted something different. My middle-aged geek friends call it a midlife crisis ;)

    So - I picked the bass back up, this time with two more strings than when I put it down.

    I've learned that my head is as good as it ever was but it took a couple months for my hands to get back into shape, and I'm not sure I have the physical dexterity now that I had when I was 25, but now I can play stuff I couldn't imagine when I was a kid. My fingers might be a little slower but my bass work is more competent, more creative and fits the song a lot better than when I was a kid trying to impress folks with effects and speed (not that there's anything wrong with effects <b>or</b> speed).

    I've played with a couple of bands in the last few months and am still looking for a niche - what I really want to be when I grow up is 1/3 of a power blues trio - you know, Clapton / SRV / Johnny Winter kind of stuff, something with enough solo time that I can exercise all six strings on my spiffy new electric bass and where the g*itarist is content to play in the background for a couple of minutes in a set. If I can get that I'll happily stay in the groove the rest of the time ;)

    Well, maybe not a trio - I guess we could let a second g*itarist or keyboard play with us if they behaved themselves ;)

    Next on the list? Maybe a '50s - early '60s rock band would be pretty cool as well - anything but top 40 or classic rock covers. I'd rather play at home alone or jam with a couple of friends.


  10. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I've been playing more or less regularly since I was twelve, but I'm more of a bedroom bassist, so the commitment isn't exactly difficult to maintain. As I get older, I'll start to look how ridiculous I look with a bass guitar and switch to upright full time. :)
  11. Hmmm...
    Well, I'm not over 40, nor am I even 40 yet (far from it, actually. Don't you all feel so old now? :D:p) but I've found that every summer I tend to take a break from my playing, even if I bring my bass along with me to my grandmother's place.

    I think part of it is because I don't know any other musicians in the area so I can't really go out & jam with anyone.

    Then when I get back to Hong Kong, I'm usually still a little out of it until around this time of year or a little earlier, when the school fair is up & the band's gotta get some songs ready to play at the fair. :D
  12. The 2 big reasons I didn't quit but put it on the back burner in my 30's were;

    - the nature of the name label, rock, recording business had/has grown more predatory on the company side and more mercenary on the artist side, over time, in general, IME. Call it "disenchantment"

    - I had a college degree I hadn't used during my 20's. Wanted to see if the grass was greener on the corporate side. I didn't develop as a bassist one iota during this period - just jammed with friends and with the stereo.

    With a fair amount of money invested from my touring days, (thank you Tommy, our manager)!!!, I was able to take the financial hit of getting back to bass full time. It would be good for me to take a cue from a former guitarist I was with - he started studying with a good teacher at the age of 49.

    One thing I know for sure - years don't translate into musical or technical ability, (my case). It's what you do with those years.
  13. XavierG

    XavierG In Memoriam

    Interestingly enough, I was pleasantly surprised to find that, after many years of not playing bass, I had tremendous dexterity and speed (much more so than I did in the past). I attribute that to the fact that although I put the bass down for many years, I continued to play classical guitar throughout. I'm certainly glad I did so, because it's contributed greatly to my bass playing.
  14. Im only 28, but I experienced a "bass gap" as well.

    Started playing when I was 13ish. Set up a band with some school chums, did some talent-show type things, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

    Then I hit 18 and finished highschool. The band went it separate ways to jobs, marriages, different universities, etc.

    I kind of fell away from playing anything at all after I got married and had kids.

    Then, about 4 years ago, I took a 3 month contract on the east coast in a small town. The first people I talked to the night I got there were the bassist and guitarist on stage at the pub I went to for dinner.

    We talked about music and I explained I was a badly out of practice bass player.

    They did their first set, which was enjoyable, then the bass player walks up to me with his bass, hands it to me and walks out the door. I finished the other two sets and that got me back into playing.

  15. well... as some of you know, i don't play bass, but drums [so what am i doing here? looking for a bassist, of course!:p ]

    i actually took up the drums very late in life - 30 years of age, in fact. prior to that, i gave my life and soul to the advertising world. i thought for sure i'd be a shining star in the ad world. now, 13 years and 8 job layoffs later, i see that ain't gonna happen, nor do i want it to. advertising is a thankless profession designed for people who don't give a rat's ass about the next person.

    but that's another story.

    the deal is, prior to advertising, i danced ballet and jazz for 22 years. i was really good, but not good enough for the corps de ballet. at 26, i hung up my dancing shoes. but i was bored and always loved music, so i took up guitar, though didn't do as good as i liked. at 30, at the urging of my boyfriend [who happened to be my old guitar teacher -ha, ha!], i took up drums. i guess i had natural ability or whatever, coz i got pretty decent pretty quickly. i still have a long way to go, but i can hold my own.

    the "full-circle" part to my long-winded story is that playing drums made me realize i needed to get back to something that was a part of me for so long, which was the dance. see, drums are just another extension of dance, a conduit to expressing what's in your body. so just yesterday, in fact, i signed up for open classes at the alvin ailey dance academy here in new york. [for those who don't know, the alvin ailey dance troupe was and is a ground-breaking dance corps reknown for its modern ballets, afro-cuban dance and modern dance techniques. they ****ing rule]. i was super-fortunate to get in with a school with such a stellar reputation.

    now that i have both drums and dance in my life, i feel complete, and i know that as long as i can walk and breathe, i will continue to do both for the rest of my life.

    and then i won't have to buy myself a sportscar to satisfy my mid-life crisis when i do hit 40.


    good post!
  16. I also found that after not playing regularly for a good dozen years, when I started again it was as though my brain had been in a freezer.(next to the Sara Lee cupcakes:D ) What I mean is that, aside from being a little rusty I had forgotten NOTHING. And the cherry on top of this was that all the music theory I studied finally made sense, as far as coming out of my fingers. And they say you can never go back! Pishaw!

    Mike J.

  17. Ed, I not far from Kennedy. Actually, if you're in Park Slope, I'm just a few miles down Atlantic Ave. from you. Let me know when you get settled in.

    Mike J.
  18. Michael, you just about pegged me perfectly with your first post.

    I started in music in Jr. High School on the tuba and quickly made a name for myself as pretty fair horn guy. Got started on BG as a senior in HS in the Jazz band and began playing at the semi-pro level when I went to college. A band here, a band there, some successes and even more failures. Finally I wound up at 23 and the pressures of money, not being able to play what I wanted, and comparing myself unmercilessly to better musicians sent me into a nervous breakdown. I had just been fired from my latest band situation (for a very tight chopmeister) and I came home, got in the shower and burst into tears over the whole situation. I really thought that I was going to make this some sort of career and it was devastating to come to the realization that I wasn't. I cried for 2 hours in that shower and came out of it with absolutely no desire to play whatsoever. I sold all my equipment (Fender, Sunn, etc.) and quit cold turkey. I didn't even have the desire to pick up an instrument for better than 15 years and even then it wasn't a serious desire. Then, after getting out of racing for good 2 years ago, felt that I needed to fill my time and mind with something else. A little research showed me that things had changed for the better. I found better instructional materials, especially using the computer as a main teaching tool and I decided to get back into playing. Now at 42 (43 next month) I do it for the shear enjoyment. I've found that I have a voice to be heard on this instrument unlike any time before. I am technically better than I was and have a better ear and better dexterity than when I was younger. Go figure. I recently played with a band doing original work but the situation was strained even when I was really into the music so that's gone but I didn't have nearly the catastrophic let-down from leaving that I had when I was younger. Yep, there's lots to say for being this old and I'm gonna say it!
  19. Not enough <40 stories here, so here's mine! :D

    I started playing late(ish), around 20 with the electric guitar, self-taught. The problem was that I didn't have any friends or decent contacts at the time to jam with - also I think I felt my skill at the time wasn't up to putting an ad up in the local store.

    So I started looking into jamming by myself - with drums machines and the like. Problem was the electronic scene (equipment-wise) was way too expensive at the time, so the gear I could afford sucked, and didn't really inspire me to push my playing further.

    Somewhere along the way a friend bought a drumkit, I found a used bass @ a pawn shop and we jammed for a bit...there were even a couple of live party gigs but nothing serious ever happened. I'm not too sure, but I think I got drawn to the bass at this point for the simple fact that 4 strings were easier to play with energy! (my punk-ier days)

    Player friends lost their drive, or moved overseas, etc, so I kinda ditched stringed instruments completely for around 5 or so years - I could finally afford (and find) the analog synths and drum machines i'd always wanted - and went down that track (something I still work with alot).

    Then, around 2 years ago, a mutual friend put me onto my current band that was looking for a bass player. So, in 2 one-hour sessions playing to a demo CD, I learnt the product and managed to fly through the audition a week later!
    It was at this point that I decided to take on the bass with some degree of seriousness - and in the 2 years of playing "properly", i've learnt more than in all the prior years combined.

    Stop again? I doubt it very's become so ingrained into me that it would be too difficult! :)
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    It does seem from the replies that a lot of people do have this "natural" gap - either for career or family - except Ed - that must be why he always seem to know all the answers when it come to music! ;)

    I have met a few Jazz pros over the last few years and I am always amazed at their dedication to music and how they have put it first throughout their lives. I remember a Randy Brecker interview where he explained how music gave him purpose in his life.

    I would really have liked to have dedicated my life to music, but there have always been these other considerations getting in the way - like mostly having to make a living! :D

    [PS. I think the stories are going to be from over 40s because this is the time you get a perspective on your life in terms of the big picture - if you've spent all (or most of) your life so far, being taught in school, then you really have no idea about making your way in the world and doing what you want, rather than what your parents and teachers tell you to! ;) ]