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"It is a poor musician who blames his instrument."

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by dougjwray, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    I heard a caller to a sports radio talk show say that last night. He was talking about the N.Y. Jets who have been anonymously criticizing their own backup quarterback, Tim Tebow.
    I think it applies equally to bass players who spend too much time pondering which bass to buy and/or how to "upgrade" it, and too little time practicing on whatever axe they've got.
  2. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    I'm playing a brand new Rickenbacker 4003 with stacked Hartkes. If you saw the setup on stage you would say to yourself, man this guy has a nice rig, he's got to be good. The truth is I only practice about twice a month and it shows. But when I actually go onstage people tell me we sound great. I know we don't but I also know the people have been drinking and that helps us...
  3. ACNick

    ACNick Guest

    Oct 23, 2012
    South Florida
    I had the same gem of wisdom shared with me a while back, but it was worded differently; "It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools. It is not the tools we use which make us good, it is how we use them."

    And I always kept that in mind, to provide some sort of balance against my G.A.S.
  4. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    But with bad tools the job is a lot harder.
  5. F-Clef-Jef


    Nov 13, 2006
    Neenah, WI
    I like to play a slightly sketchy/cheap/broken bass, that way if I have a bad night I can blame the bass..:D
  6. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    It's easy to get caught up in the GAS cycle on this forum. Generally, you will sound like yourself on whatever bass you decide to play. Yes, a "better" instrument can help, inspire, whatever, but we do need to be careful about putting more emphasis on gear than practicing and knowing how to get the most out of what you have.

    I tend to dwell more on what bass I'm playing than people I play with. The know I'll show up with appropriate gear and play appropriate bass lines.

    I have a perfectly good jazz bass, but I still lust after - and will own again - a Roscoe 5 string.
  7. A truly crappy quarterback may never improve, which may severely limit the teams potential- however, a crappy bass can often make very little difference to the listener if the player is decent. IMO :)
  8. Beersurgeon


    Jul 16, 2010
  9. pocketgroove


    Jun 28, 2010
    That's why I just play the same bass all the time; my parts P that I've put so much time and money and love into. I see other basses all the time that I want, but I know that I'd still probably end up playing my main bass all the time and neglecting any others.
  10. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    So... after further reflection:

    A poor musician blames his instrument. And doesn't practice enough.

    A good musician buys a hideously expensive and fussy boutique bass and DOESN'T blame it. And doesn't practice enough, because his bass does most of the work.

  11. another similar saying...."it's the indian not the arrow"

    I agree it's the player, but for me a bass that's easy to play is definitely condusive to me playing it more. While I'm sure jaco could make it sing, a bass with a large neck and esp mile high action just isn't that much fun. Give me a jazz neck and low action and practice doesn't even feel like practice.
  12. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    Or perhaps even impossible.
  13. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I heard it as "It's a poor craftsman that blames his tools." I've used it as part of my sig for a while now.
  14. It may be a good craftsman never blames his tools, but a good craftsman always has good tools.

    ...although I will agree that a good player can make a bad instrument sound better than a bad player.
  15. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    As I said in my earlier post, I was gassing for a Ric 4003 and after I finally got the wife to sign off I bought it and played it at two practices... guess what.. I like my used Fender Jazz better.
  16. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    Not in all cases. Stranded in rural IL once with bad fuel pump, farm boys came by, and after pleasantries were exchanged, they pulled the windshield washer pump out and gerry rigged it to get the van to the next town. This was before the internet, cell phones, and NBC stopped broadcasting after Johnny Carson.
  17. Ummmm that is pretty epic
  18. a lot of time spent pondering about your instrument is necessary i think. when i was playing fenders, there were occasions where i did not "blame" my bass- but my bass was actually to blame! (output jack cutting out on occasion, that sort of stuff.)

    knowing about your instrument is absolutely essential to being a competent musician.

    that said- a proper instrument will only do so much. it is the musician who needs to spend the time learning music as a priority, while being aware that a quality instrument really is important. too little or too much of either is a bad thing.
  19. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Naturally, I was trying to be tongue-in-cheek with this post, but yeah-- you've just given the rational, wise overview. Some people seem to think that if they find "The Perfect Bass for Me", all effort on their part will be unnecessary. At the same time, I've had many basses which have sounded great in different ways, but which I've needed to gradually build up my chops for... and I have... with very worthwhile results.
    Of course, faulty jacks are another matter.
  20. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    Now we are getting far away from the original post, but great improvisation does not always equal great craftsmanship.