Lessons vs. buying more gear - Adam Nitti

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Bruce Lindfield, Aug 21, 2001.

  1. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I was reading through some of Adam Nitti's articles on the web and found the following quote which is related to the question "why you need lessons" :

    Feeling the need to spend money on music equipment, rather than lessons. "I just can't afford a private instructor right now, much less a music school." If some players invested as much time, effort, and zeal playing and practicing their basses as they did buying gear, there would be many more outstanding players.

    This seemed to be very apposite to many things I have read in the BG side of TalkBass over the years and seemed to ring true.

    What do others think?
  2. Samie


    Dec 13, 2000
    Madrid, Spain
    I think starting out with good gear will help you advance in music. Save and get a good bass and good amplification. It will make a lot of difference, because you can concentrate on your techique and skills and not worry about neck, pickup, and sound problems.

    You can go overboard however.
  3. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    Bruce, what you say is very true. I cannot speak for anyone else, but myself. I sum it up with one word - laziness. When I buy new gear, I get to satisfy my G.A.S., and I get instant gratification. With lessons, it's not only about money spent, but also the commitment of time, effort, practice, travel, tests, homework etc. I can use many excuses, including the fact that I work full-time and thus cannot afford the extra time to take lessons, or the fact that I am studying for an extra degree. Or I could excuse my laziness by saying that I am not a pro so why should I. However, the fact is, if I wanted to take lessons, I would make the time. I believe strongly that if I took lessons I would be a much much better player, but I haven't. Because I am lazy.

    There - how honest was that. :) One day, when I decide to get to the next level of bass playing, I will take lessons.
  4. I sorta agree. I think that improving your skills, musically as well as technicaly are extremely important, but knowing what a ****ty sounding bass sounds like whenever you play makes ya realize your gear shouldn't suck.
    Don't worry about haivng it sound great, but gear is an issue when what you have offends the ears.
  5. Ehehehe...sounds kinda familiar. I mean...between getting my Ibanez SR 405 & my new Spector NS 2000/4, I've taken about...5 or 6 lessons, maybe? And it's been almost a year since I got my Ibanez.

    Of course, just as with Bass Guitar, I can blame it on too much school work etc...but then when I get home what do I do? Sit in front of the computer for a couple hours, play some bass, eat dinner, play s'more computer, maybe s'more bass, cram for homework, rush a shower, bursh my teeth half-assed, sleep, wake up, go to school, come home, repeat. So yeah, I guess I'm just lazy. :(

    BUT, whenI graduate from high school & get into college, I'm hoping to take music for a semester or so, and actually learn some theory. :) Until then, though...school work HAS to come first, and I'll probably have to put off playing bass for a little while to pull my grades up so I can get into a good college with a good music department. :D
    And also, with my new Spector, I haven't had much GAS. Well...ok, so the Roscoe Beck 5 string, Stu Hamm Urge II, Alembic Series I and several other basses in Tom Lee's look very tempting...but the only thing I think I'll be going there for will be strings.
    And maybe an amp, they have this one Trace Elliot one (not too sure what model. :oops:) with a nice 15" speaker, 150 watts...costs HK$5500 (about US$ 710, and there's no sales tax here.) that's looking tempting. But then...I'm only here in HK for another year etc...I'm still debating with myself whether or not I should get it. :p
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well sheepy is starting along the lines of the typical post I read around here!! ;)

    Seriously - how many posts have you read about gear and how many about lessons? If they were an even split I think it would be very encouraging, but my guess is that it's at least a hundred to one, maybe even a thousand gear posts to every one that mentions lessons. :eek:

    Gear without technique and musical input is just "furniture", "white elephants" or as Adam Nitti puts it in the same article :

    "Unless our basses were just purchased to function as a dust collectors, I think we can all agree that we wouldn't mind being better players than we are now. Inspiration yields the desire to improve. Bass lessons, regardless of the medium in which they are taught, obviously provide a way to become more proficient with our craft"

    "Bass Guitar" mentions "instant gratification" and this to me sums up the feeling I get from reading TB most of the time.

    This is the one thing that to me is anathema to creating music, which requires time, effort, concentration, dedication etc. and I get this feeling that we are getting to a point where the gratification thing is going to end up replacing music production and that we have a generation who mostly would rather sample existing stuff than make the effort to lean how to create music from scratch - which should concern those who really want to play music live - but that's another topic really!
  7. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I agree with you, Bruce.
    Over the years, I've seen too many guys make the music happen with 'substandard' gear(bassists, drummers, & guitarists). FME, it's always the keyboardists & their GAS for the latest & greatest synth...these poor guys were buying a new axe every year(or so it seemed).

    I do agree one needs something that's playable & can do the job. From the little I've read in the gear forums, it seems most already have good gear...yet they're still on a quest for something better.
    In my past, I remember getting excited whenever I bought something new; the inspiration lasted a short while...maybe I "played more" 'cause the stuff was new. Really, though, "playing more" doesn't always equate to playing "better". If ya ain't practicing the right stuff...I dunno. Anyway, that was my problem.

    BTW, in a total reversal, I'm thinking about re-doing my '64 P-bass(ie, re-installing the original pickup & removing the Duncan P & Jazz pickup) & getting back to the basics...
  8. theJello


    Apr 12, 2000
    It seems alot of people around here think its the number of basses you own that is important.
    Who really needs more than one or two good instruments?
    Look at the number of posts under basses and amps compared to the number posts under technique and general instruction. That pretty much says it all where the masses reside.
  9. ive been taking lessons for about 8 months. and my teacher came right out a said. "if you want to advance in the theory aspect, i think you should take a coarse at a community college, i could teach you theory but then we wouldnt cover any bass stuff" at first i was taken back by his comments, why would i spend money with you then? but i dont know, maybe he's right. 1/2 hour a week wont cover much theory either. should i hit the books on my own time and take lessons for technique, ideas etc... i dont hang with other players so its like im paying him to help me along or something. it also keeps me moving forward i guess, might be too easy to not practice if he wasnt going to be listening to what ive learned every week. what do you think?
  10. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I have observed an attitude with many that lessons are not essential. I will not argue the fact that some people can excel as musicians without ever taking a lesson, but I think many have adopted that attitude that they don't need them.

    It is frustrating that there is a greater obsession with consumerism than artistic expression. I think this is reflective upon our society though. This is a consumer society, (western culture at large), and we are obsessed with getting more stuff. Brighter, bigger, shinier, nicer stuff. It's about accumulating more and more stuff. A more diverse group of gear has attributed to this, as has better marketing, but there does need to be a greater emphasis on developing the individual.

    I go back to a point I've mentioned several times here. Check out the Jazz at Massey Hall CD. Bird plays a cheap, plastic alto that was bought last minute from a local music store, but he makes it sing the way only Bird can. A true musician can play anything.
  11. purple_haze


    Jun 29, 2001
    London Town
    No more Naomi Klein for you!

    And I seriously agree with this. I've been playing the same crappy bass and amp since I first walked into that fabled music store and marvelled at all the purdy basses. I've bought ONE new piece of gear: a cable.

    I've had group lessons, however, at the local community college every Monday since I touched a bass without fail. While I'm not going to kid myself, because some new gear would be fantastic, I think the money was definately well-spent.
  12. Don't make this arguement. For starters, the reason behind Bird's plastic horn was that the cat was such a pathetic junky that any horn that landed in his hands landed in the pawn shop the second he needed the bread. It's true that talented muscians can make the worst instruments sound good, but if that's all they needed no one would be playing fine, expensive axes. Fine instruments sound better and are easier to play, you can't argue against that.

    Most of the great jazz bassists played fine, very expensive basses. The bass sections of professional orchestras consist of fine, expensive basses. Why? Not because it's some status thing that they earned, but because they sound better and are a hell of a lot easier to play. And the same holds true for bass guitars.

    If better instruments sound better and are easier to play, then why shouldn't students learn on them. Wouldn't they have an easier time? I think that 99% of the cats out there are just into buying sh*t because it offers immediate gratification, whereas spending the same bread on lessons is a lot of work and doesn't instantly gratify anything except the teacher's wallet. I agree that if cats spent half the time really practicing something that they spend thinking about what they're going to buy next, they might actually have something to show for their money. But don't start to argue that a cheap piece of crap should be good enough for students.
  13. There are too many lesson givers that impose certain techniques on and say everything else is wrong (eg 2 finger)
  14. I started out with a cheap bass but with a decent amp. it meant that the sound of the actual bass wasnt too good but at least the sound quality was good this is what most of the bass players I know did and they seemed to have done well. They took lessons but they did it in a group so it worked oput cheaper admittidly this was difficult for them when they were progressing at different rates but now they no longer need lessons and have become tutors them selves.:cool:
  15. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Yes, that's true, but that point was irrelevant of the point I was making. If I were discussing sobriety amongst musicians, or responsibility in hadling musical instruments, then that might be different, but I was just talking about the music itself.

    And this was my only point.

    I certainly cannot, and I sincerely hope that my post did not discount the craftsmanship of finer instruments. Finer instruments can produce better musicians as well because they are often easier to play, or rather, more responsive to the musician, and can better express the subtleties the musician is trying to convey.

    I could have alternatively made the point about Wynton Marsalis' horn. Isn't it worth some $10,000 or more?! Made of 24K gold, or something of that nature? Nobody would question Wynton's technical abilities. Again though, this wasn't my point.

    They would have an easier time. They should learn on them. I whole-heartedly agree.

    This was entirely my point. I firmly believe that much of the gear acquisition we see is from people who do not need it. That was more the point I was discussing. As I stated above, high quality gear is definitely advantageous to a musician, but I think, by and large, we're not seeing people who have horrible equipment that want something finer, we're seeing people with equipment that is more than adequate, that just want more more more out of some greater desire for personal fulfillment. I won't lie, there is a lot of equipment that I would like, but I have so much more to learn on my instrument, that my time, money, and efforts, can better be utilized toward advancing with what I have, and what I have is good.

    In fact, my first bass had a great feel, and good response, but it's electronics, pickups, and durability was at question. Obtaining the new bass really helped me advance as I had an instrument that would now greater speak what I was hearing in my head. Now, would a bass 10 times the price and value of my current one make me even better? I actually doubt it. Possibly, if I play for many more years, then possibly I might "outgrow it."

    I still believe that most people are acquiring gear just to have it, not because it's needed.

    I wasn't. I was making the argument that a talented individual could produce from any instrument, not that a cheap piece of crap should be good enough. I apologize if I did not express that clearly.
  16. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon Supporting Member

    May 10, 2000
    Lake Forest, CA
    my zon makes a great shoe tree.

    even holds my python boots!

  17. FalsehoodBass


    Jul 22, 2001
    Denver, CO
    I'd be thrilled if I could find a Bass Instructor in the Santa Barbara area... but I can't.
  18. Yep... I've been playing on a 250 buck bass for the last 5 months... I ain't got money to throw around, if I did I'd make sure that I'd get one. ;)

    The first thing I will buy when I gather enough cash is a new amp, cause mine just isn't working, my bass has good response, great feel, may not be perfection quality, but it lets me play it.

    I guess once I start getting great I'll play a great instrument.

    Until then, these hands are not worthy of something grand.
  19. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    That's such a terrible, terrible excuse! That's a HUGE area. There's no way in hell that aren't absolutely any. If you look, you'll find them.

    What I believe basically boils down to what Dave K said. I believe we've had this thread/argument before, actually.
  20. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon Supporting Member

    May 10, 2000
    Lake Forest, CA
    finding teachers may be yield better results through watching live bands.

    find a player you like and think you could learn from and ask him for lessons during their break.

    most players would be honored.