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One Bass Only: A short treatise

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bigcardinal, Apr 21, 2011.

  1. I feel that I should only need to own one bass. A series of introspective thoughts have lead me to this conclusion.

    Simple economics is the most obvious reason: I can't seem to justify having multiple instruments that (for all intents and purposes) do the same thing, especially since I am a family man and feel that the money could/should be used elsewhere first.

    I like the idea of only having one. An escape from the "Tyranny of Choice" that we all experience on a daily basis in almost every physical level of our lives. There is only one to chose. Less time fumbling around with different instruments and tones, and more time playing.

    Furthermore, the idea of only one seems to coincide with other aesthetic and philosophical concepts that I value and TRY to live by: simplicity, humility, lack of redundency/duplication and excess.

    But, perhaps most simply put, it is a slightly forced attempt to make it more about the music and less about the gear.

    I don't mean to sound preachy or condescending in any way. Whether you have 1 bass or 100, that is your choice and you should not need to feel bad or defensive in any way. This note is mostly just a self-affirmation and a starter for discussion.

    Any one else feel roughly the same way?
  2. Legattabass


    Oct 21, 2010
    I was at this same point a month ago. I sold my MIM P, my Epi Tbird, and a spare amp. I bought an Ibby GSR200, and I've modded it a bit and it will be finished tonight. I figure it has a comfy, chunky neck, a P/J configuration, and a pre-amp. That's enough variety for someone of my skill level.

    (This philosophical change, however, has not stopped me from assembling a Squier P from spair parts lying around, but I may sell that soon in the spirit of minimalism)

    I still have bad GAS attacks though. I just hope this spartan personal policy will reduce their recurrence.
  3. MonkeyBass


    Mar 22, 2009
    Denver, CO
    I used to think that. I own 6 basses, all of them have their own "voice" and feel. I do a lot of recording and sometimes I need a P-Bass-with-passive-pickups sound, and sometimes I need a deeper Bartolinis-in-a-35"-scale-super-tite-B-string sound, Sometimes I need a fretless bass.

    If you're happy with one bass, then that's awesome! I sort of envy you for that.
  4. I'm happy to have one bass. I specifically bought a fairly versatile bass that could cover a good amount of tonal ground (Godin Shifter 4). Like you, I'm about simplifying out of necessity and a desire to unclutter.
  5. snyderz

    snyderz Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    I'm down from 10 or 12 basses to 3 or 4. That's about as far down as I can go.
  6. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Jaco only needed one bass. :bassist:
  7. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Banned

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF
    Pretty silly but CSB.
  8. I get GAS attacks too, trust me! I'll see something new I like, do a bunch of research, look into pricing, and then ultimately decide that I should stop looking at it because I don't need it.

    Funny thing is, right now I'm as minimalist as they come: I currently have NO basses! LOL. I sold my MIM P because I needed the money, but I still have my Traynor amp (don't look for logic here...I guess I just knew that eventually I would be getting a new bass). So, part of this note was self-instructive in the sense that I want to get ONE bass that will be fulfilling and adequate. I'm not a great player, nor do I have much money, so that shouldn't be a problem ;)
  9. What's your budget for a new/used bass. Once that's established, people can chime in with suggestions.
  10. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    Different basses inspire me to play different things or to play differently overall.

    That's the best excuse I have, and reasoning enough for me.
  11. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    I agree with every one of your points. I've been thinking about boiling things down to one bass, but unfortunately, I have three that I can't seem to part with! And a fourth on the way. Sigh.
  12. dmrogers

    dmrogers Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    Eastman, GA
    At one time, I had four great basses. One in particular wasn't being played. Hadn't been played for years, I was keeping it because it was a great playing, beautiful bass.

    My father loved it, so much so that he offered to buy it. I sold it to him at a great price and he plays it all the time. I really didn't need that bass.

    That leaves me with three, two jazz basses that I play regularly and take to all my gigs, and a pristine early '70's Precision that I couldn't sell that gets played at home.

    That's about as low as I can go, but I get your point.
  13. Aussie Player

    Aussie Player

    Apr 20, 2011
    When I started learning 40 years ago, there were only 3 basses on the market, Gibsons, Fenders and MIJ Crap with what we called "Ear Stuffing" pickups (as opposed to Hum Bucking). They were disgustingly made cheap rip offs for the other two.

    It was rare to own more than 1 bass. I began playing and EB3 (a real one) and one night I had my Labella plastic flat wound G string unwravel on me. It frightened me to death so I bought another EB3 for a spare which I never again needed, nor have I ever had a string unwravel since.

    When I moved to the states, I began playing in a pro 3 piece classic rock act that was quite vibrant/energetic in its sound. I went back to 2 basses on stage as it would be unprofessional to stop a set to restring.

    Having said all that, I own 3 now, which is the most I have ever owned at once. I could never go on stage now without 2 basses even though I did it for decades averall.
  14. I'm going to go short scale for sure (due to problems with arthritis, tendinitis from years of kayaking and for ease of switching to/from my acoustic guitar). Plus I like passive basses, don't have much use for active pu's or electronics.

    The one I'm really looking at now is that soon-to-be-released Squier Jaguar SS....and the price is definitely right! Other contenders have been the Epi Allen Woody and of course the Fender Mustang, but I feel that is pretty overpriced for what you get.
  15. That's like buying an XBox (AMP) and only buying one game (Bass) because all games do the same thing.. I like variety in both regards.
  16. I certainly understand the feeling of needing a spare for live gigs, especially if it was a "Mission Critical" gig. It would be awful and embarrassing as all-get-out to have your one and only instrument pooch out on you during a gig. It happened to me once with a tube amp...

    If if ever got back into serious gigging, especially for money, I would be sure to have a backup, even a cheapo, just as an insurance policy. A $100 backup, even if it NEVER left the case, could provide years of peace-of-mind.
  17. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    Been there; done that --for many years, with no worries. Then I realized how fortunate I was over so many gigs and so much playing to have never needed to resort to a backup. I was plain lucky. Now I have three: one to leave at home and two to pack up for the gig. Seems prudent.

    Moreover, because of the knowledge of instruments I have gained, I have less money invested in the current three than I had in ANY one of the single basses I used to rely on, and they're all superb. The economy argument doesn't wash with me.

    While I'm all for the statement about efficiency and utility that is made by owning and using only one bass (worked for Jamerson, it'll work for me, dammit), I also know that it is a certainty that someday the single-bass rule will rear up and take your head off.

    I now hedge my bets. My reputation as a prepared player is very valuable currency.
  18. I use 3 basses, but 2 of them are almost identical. reason being, that I gig at least every weekend if not a few times through the week and don't want to have an issue with a string or electronics during work. If you are an active working player, you need more than one in my opinion, even if you only play the same one all the time and have one for a back-up or emergency use.
  19. HeadyVan Halen

    HeadyVan Halen

    Jun 11, 2010
    Was a devout '1 bass man' for 10 years.
    My main ***** got stolen from my car. Bought another one, and got my ***** back, but kept my mistress. She hardly ever gets played, but if your playing out, you almost really need 2. Just in case.
  20. I can follow that reasoning. Of course, I haven't found the one bass I want, so I think I'll just keep trying until I do.