Is there or can there be a Virtuoso bass player?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by CaribooBass, May 4, 2021.

  1. CaribooBass


    Nov 30, 2017
    For a long time I have battled with that “V” word and to what it really means. I have asked a lot of people their opinion including those that I feel are Virtuosos and as you may of all ready figured out they where all different.
    So I am asking the Bass people here who have more experience than I do the same question.
    What to you is a Virtuoso musician and can that be a bass player?
    Before an acquaintance of mine died years ago he said that is easy to answer; a Virtuoso is a story teller with his instrument. He may not be the most technical player but he knows how to change how you feel.
    Thanks Clayton
    P.S The Red Heeler you see in my postings name is Yosef. He turned 4 yesterday. Still my little buddy who likes to sleep in my bass case when I practise.

  2. Lujon


    May 29, 2020
    Richard Bona!
    Last edited: May 5, 2021
  3. mini-milli


    Aug 6, 2020
    I'd say a virtuoso is someone that pushes the envelope of what can be done with the instrument. My bass player example would be Victor Wooten.

  4. thabassmon


    Sep 26, 2013
    New Zealand
    To me a virtuoso is a person with exceptional facility and the musicality to enhance the overall outcome of the performance.

    Meaning they are able to manipulate pitch, dynamics, rhythms, phrasing, tone and feel enhancing the music in a way that raises the quality of the musical output.

    Chops by themselves is not enough to me, there needs to be more. Great chops do make a player a great technician however.
  5. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    While I don't quite "worship at the altar" as some here do, I think Jaco would be the very definition of "virtuoso bass player". There are, of course, many others.
  6. ClusterFlux

    ClusterFlux Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    I have no idea why you would "battle" with a term that is quite well defined -- "one who excels in the technique of an art" and "a person who has great skill at some endeavor," or why bass would possibly be excluded.

    Virtuosity is about technical skill, and has nothing to do with "story telling." A great deal of music has nothing whatsoever to do with narration. Plenty of technically weak musicians and songwriters are strong narrators.
  7. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    By definition, a virtuoso IS the most technical player, with no mention of storytelling. And from that, a bassist can absolutely be a virtuoso. Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten, Michael Manring, Jonas Hellborg, Charles Berthoud, et al. all come to mind. And there have been players in history (Dragonetti, Bottesini, Koussevitzky, Karr) that are all virtuosos, so it's not a new term to us.

    A better question (and discussion) would be: can a bassist be a storyteller? And that's not as easy to figure out.
  8. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I don't think there is an objective measurement. To me, virtuoso means the player whose skills simply are far above what could be described as an advanced player - they are in a league of their own. Babe Ruth and Enos Slaughter are both Hall of Fame outfielders - Ruth was a virtuoso. IMHO.
    PockySteve likes this.
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    No disrespect, but O disagree with your departed friend. There are plenty of amazing story tellers on their instruments who will never be considered a virtuoso. Some people are both.

    To me being a virtuoso is all about the technical aspect of your playing. Have you "mastered" the physical aspect of playing your instrument? If so, you are a virtuoso. You may not be able to conjure any emotions from your audience. But, if you can physically handle any musoc thrown your way, you're a virtuoso in my book.
  10. fretno

    fretno Supporting Member

    May 10, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Sooo many we could go all day !
    Yonni, Jeff Scott and PockySteve like this.
  11. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx! Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2006
    North AMERICA, USA
    James Jamerson was the world's very first electric bass virtuoso.
  12. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Victor Wooten is the quintessential virtuoso bass player.

    Also Mike Manring.
  13. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone

    Feb 23, 2011
  14. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I can kind of see both sides of this in a way. To me, a true virtuoso isn't just a technical master of the instrument, but one who has transcended technique to "say something" musically. To "make it cry and sing", so to speak.
  15. Hummergeist

    Hummergeist Commercial User

    Jul 21, 2020
    Ableton Live tutorials and product reviews for Computer Music magazine.
    My idea of a virtuoso is somebody with amazing technical skills, including reading, who can be called into different situations to deliver what is needed, no matter how challenging. On guitar, somebody like Steve Vai comes to mind, a hired gun who can be flamboyant but also supremely technical. Who would that be on bass? Jeff Berlin, Anthony Jackson, Pastorius...many others probably...
    gebass6, g-dude, Lee Moses and 4 others like this.
  16. Savage_Dreams


    Jan 8, 2007
    i can not comprehend at all how you could think a bassist could not be a virtuoso.

    Learn to pronounce

    1. a person highly skilled in music or another artistic pursuit.
    so i guess that means you follow the cliche that bassists are failed guitarists or chose bass just because its thought of as easy? ridiculous
    Lee Moses, Ryno1330, Mili and 3 others like this.
  17. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    To me a virtuoso is one with technical skills who can use those skills to evoke emotion.
    FRoss6788 and pbass2 like this.
  18. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    To me a virtuoso is someone who simply practiced way to much.
    DJ Bebop, Dr Zee, Maynjo and 4 others like this.
  19. squarepeg


    Dec 21, 2010
    Or someone who has practiced enough.
    DJ Bebop, PsyDocHill, Dr Zee and 10 others like this.
  20. baileyboy


    Aug 12, 2010
    To me, a virtuoso is someone I can't listen to for more than a minute.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jun 21, 2021

Share This Page