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Lowest Common Denominator Bass for Performance?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rickreyn, Dec 18, 2001.

  1. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I saw a top notch gospel bassist in a Fred Hammond concert video playing the heck out of a Cirrus 5 just like mine. I kept staring at it and staring at it and telling myself. Na, it's got to be a MTD. You can't get all that sound out of a Cirrus can you? Besides it's a Peavey! Who plays a Peavey at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas? Then there's a close up, and sure enough, it's a Cirrus. I was shocked. But why? You see production basses in use all the time on the tube. Not to mention that awful looking P Bass that Sting hitches up. My question is this. When factoring all the things you want out of a bass, including absolute musts for performance (staying in tune, absence of hum, for example), do you need a high quality bass to perform or record with, or can you use a bargain bass right off the rack?
  2. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Uh oh, here comes another "Overpriced bass"!!!

    Though for myself if I could only choose one factor, it would be that the bass sound good naturally. The reasoning...even if a bass is really playable ie fast neck, good string spacing, etc, if it sounds bad, the music will suffer. If it plays bad, the music will not suffer as much. I guess I would say that playability is more for me and the sound is more for the audience.

    Despite this, I would never buy a bass based purely on the fact that it sounded good. Buying a bass becomes a conglomerate of a wide range of different factors. Luckily with qualit basses it sometimes boils down to which one you like better.

  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Well, only a few gazillion records and gigs have been done with plain vanilla Fender P and J basses since 1951 so that sorta answers your question. :)

    I'm surprised you thought it odd that someone else would play a Cirrus. Why did YOU buy one?:confused:
  4. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I haven't heard anyone talk about them without some kind of qualifier.
  5. trainyourhuman


    Apr 12, 2000
    This is another issue of simple personal preference. John Myung and his signature Yamaha come to mind. Why would you switch from tobias to Tung to Yamaha? Who knows but John.
  6. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    dude. peavey basses rock.. for the most part. most people play on factory type basses.. you see a lot of fenders, musicman basses, ibanez, gibson, peavey, etc... so many people play on factory basses... more people do than don't and they sound good
  7. In his 1997 BP interview, Myung said he wanted a big company to back him for peace of mind. Tung stopped making basses between 1994 and 1997, IIRC; if I were a touring pro and my luthier decided to pack it in after building less than 100 instruments, I'd be kinda bummed too.

    Of course, he could have just gone back to Tobias, but Nashville-era Tobiases aren't all that keen. Also, it seems pretty apparent that Gibson doesn't give out signature instruments to anyone under the age of 40.
  8. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    to me,performance is so much more than sound.You can always alter the sound.You can change it by strings,amp,pedals etc...
  9. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    Let me rephrase the question, because I am wanting comments on what I perceive to be true. I see the pros up there with the production basses and I think, it's got to modified or custom. When I got my Cirrus, I couldn't keep the thing in tune, and it turns out it was inferior tuning pegs and a worn graphite nut. I upgraded in both areas and now its fine. Then there's the problem of humming and noise. What sound or recording engineer can stand for that. So I think you've got to get a quality instrument to meet all those needs. I've been there. So that's my thrust. To answer my own question, I think you've got to have a minimum of a straight neck, solid tuning pegs, responsive quiet pickups, and variable electronics in a bass that will see performance and recording time. Regarding the Cirrus sighting, I was surprised, pleased and proud. I'd feel the same way if I saw a Carvin up there. You just don't see them in action that much.
  10. Stage and studio basses are completely different animals. I think a certain amount of noise is tolerable in a stage bass as long as it has the tonal character you're looking for; conversely, a studio bass can have a vanilla-but-useful tone on its own, but as long as it's noise-free, any engineer would love it.

    For extended-range basses, the low B would definitely be more of a factor in the studio than onstage. Unless the bass and the B are so crappy that no definable notes can be heard below an F#, any old low B will be adequate for live usage. I would never take a bass with a crappy B into the studio, though.

    The cost of the bass would also figure into the equation. I would never bring a $4000 bass on the road unless I had a bunch of backups and/or I was playing in front of extremely polite crowds at well-secured venues.

    I think these are some of the reasons why many pros use more expensive instruments to record than what they take on the road. How many guys do you see taking pre-CBS Fenders or $8000 Foderas to gigs?
  11. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    rick - Having been around some of those "production basses in use all the time on the tube" don't be misled;

    - what may look like an innocent, factory, Fender is, in reality, exotic as all get out once you peek underneath the pickup covers and pickguard. Many have been modded to the gills, especially the neck contour and fret job.

    - sometimes the one you see was THE ONE that was selected from among 20 others of the same model that were rejected. They are "freaks" in that they came out flawless unlike the vast majority of the rest of the production run.
  12. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I saw Sting in concert the other night on TV. He had one of those original Fender P Basses. I would hope that it was modified. However, his style doesn't require much under the hood. I would agree with the cherry picking of basses. And if I tend to modify my bass to shore up its weaknesses, more assuredly, the top pros do.
  13. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia In Memoriam

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    Hey, Rick- i saw that show- he was slammin' on that Cirrus. You see ALL kinds of basses in Vegas! Notice Freddy Hammond was playing that quilted Ken Smith?
    ive always known Peavey makes good basses- i used to love the Sarzo bass- the poor man's Tobias!
  14. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    But I do go with you on the Cirrus. I didn't know I had picked one up about a month ago and I did a double take when I saw it was a Peavey.

    I thought Hutch Hutchinson always got great sound from his Fenders as he effortlessly played them. Then I found out his "Precision" was a Stars Guitar with a Modulus graphite neck and EMG's, and two of his Jazz basses I was seeing were actually copies made by Geoff Gould......."hmmm, wonder why the Fenders I tried weren't like his?" :rolleyes:

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