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Opinion Question about Appearance

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by stingray56funk, Apr 18, 2005.

  1. stingray56funk

    stingray56funk Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2005
    I am torn many times between Tone and Look. When I have live gigs they are primarily "rock" or Soul-Funk but most of my "solo-playing" is fusion or funk/jazz. I love all the solo bassists and dig their tone. My main bass is an EB Musicman Stingray 5 but I am heavily desiring a Ken Smith CR5M. HOw many of you buy your basses to match your gigs? I mean more specifically will you only take a Fender or Ernie Ball to a rock gig or would you be willing to take a Ken Smith or a Fodera to a rock gig if the tone was better for it? I am a college student and have been playing bass for 11 years and the gigs I mainly get are of the rock/christian rock genre but I love the tone of "Higher-End Boutique Style" basses. I have limited funds so owning a herd of basses is out of the question. I can't buy a Musicman, Sadowsky, Ken Smith, and Fender to cover all my gigs. I NEED SOME OPINIONS ON LOOKS AND DOES IT MATTER? Thanks guys!
  2. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Personally, I dont care what kind of bass is being played if it sounds good. I saw a kinda pop band this weekend and the bass player had a Roscoe 6 string he was playing and it sounded awesome. I was actually happier seeing something nice up there than a stock Fender, but then again, that sound has its place too hehe.
  3. cetera


    Apr 29, 2004
    Surrey, England
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses & Cort Basses
    I guess to some extent it depends on your basses of choice.

    Amongst my arsenal of basses I find that between my numerous Spectors, Fender Geddy Lee Jazz and MusicMan Stingray SUB I can cover all major tones and styles with cool looking basses...! :bassist:
  4. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Personally, I've never cared what the bass looks like .... if it does the job I use it. But, I don't play in "show" bands where appearance may be a big factor. Most of my gigs are either jazz/funk fusion or Contemporary Christian, and in both cases only the playing matters. And while I may lust after a lot of different basses just because they are beautiful (oh, those Jerzy Drozd's) I always end up with something very fender-esque looking (except for my most recent FBB 6) :cool:
  5. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    There are times when I've gigged with an "exotic" and wished that maybe I'd brought something a little more traditional/inexpensive, but it depends on the kinds of stuff you play, the places you play it, and the kind of impression you want to give. For most of the 25+ years I've been playing, I've only owned one bass or two at the most, so I've played lots of rock/pop/folk/gospel gigs with a Wal or an MTD or an Elrick or a Curbow or whatever.

    In recent years I'm doing more country and blues, though, and something just doesn't feel quite right about playing blues on my Norstrand! At least one local guy likes to show up at the local blues jams with his 7-string Conklin, I always felt a little more confortable there with fairly traditional style instrument (though the Nordie and Curbow have both made it out a few times...). Fortunately, these days I can afford to keep a few basses around.

    Bottom line--play what you like, especially since you're not doing anything that's really traditional.

  6. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I don't believe I've ever been concerned with the looks of my bass. Some would say that's obvious since I now play a Bongo, but I've always dug the looks of it.

    I think, if anything, it shows a lot of character to NOT use the typical gig for the job. I was impressed not too long ago by this guy who had some piece of crap bass he was carrying around without any bag. I thought fer sure he was some inexperienced kid - and when his band started playing he floored me. Didn't matter what the bass looked like, whether it was good or right for the job - he was gonna make it sing, and he did.

    I think the attitude behind what we put into what we're doing is a 1000X more important than the bass we choose or the clothes we wear. Presence and attitude come from the inside. I've seen lots of guys get all dressed up, have the right gear, jump aroun like crazy - and have nothing going for them. I've seen other guys, like the one above who simply "had it" because they knew they did. Those are the people that glow when they hit a stage.

    I'd suggest playing whatever bass you want to play and being DAMN proud of it becasue you know it's the right bass for you.
  7. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    I playyed in a Christian Proggressive rock band for over 10 years. And I owned a variety of High end basses, Pedulla MVP 6, Tobias Killer B5, Kubicki Factor, Alembic Distallate and I never got any "dirty looks" because I didn't have a Jazz style bass. In fact I kind a stayed away from them in the 80's. But as I've gotten older I have fallen in love again with the basic Fender vibe, the "pretty" basses just don't move me tone wise as much, many can sound sterile too me. I cured my GAS with a Sadowsky Metro, I guess it's just what you like. If I can offer a suggestion though, it's buy used, you'll be surprised how many basses you go through as you keep looking for "the one" and the resale on most high end stuff sucks, the exceptions seem to be Fodera and Sadowsky and to some extent Smith. But unless you have money to burn, you'll lose your shirt if you ever go to sell that high end bass you bought used. If you buy used right, you can usually sell for what you have in to it. there are plenty of good high end basses on the net from reputible dealers.
  8. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
  9. As it was said earlier... you are the biggest influence on how you come across on stage musicaly or otherwise. For me I have an order of importance that I look at with any instrument:

    1st How do I like the tone?
    2nd Does it play well and feel nice?
    3rd How does it look?

    To me the tone is most important. Between the way a bass sounds and feels when I'm playing it, I get more inspiration from this than anything. If it sounds like crap and the action is too high, I don't like playing the bass and my performance goes way down. But if I like the sounds I'm getting and I don't have to fight the bass to get it to do my bidding...I always find myself smiling! :D
  10. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Good rules. On stage, I want my bass to represent me more than the style of music I'm playing. Of course, with limited funds that's difficult. But the way a bass looks is important to me. Not as important as playability and sound, but it's up there.
  11. Looks count, in my opinion.
  12. sdguyman


    Jan 31, 2003
    San Diego
    I would go with what sounds good to you. I have to say everytime I use my SR5 I always get complements about what a cool bass it is, but I have to be honest, I perfer the tone of my L2500 or my Fender Deluxe Jazz V over the SR5 and tend to play those basses more.
  13. Yeah. I find myself in that same situation. My Stambaugh has a thuya burl top and macassar ebony board. I play mostly rock/metal when gigging. Think Rage Against the Machines "Evil Empire". That bass does not match the music exactly but it matches me. When I placed the order I asked Chris to help me get the sounds I am looking for. I do a lot of studio stuff at home and like jazz, blues, funk, rock and even some other stuff. I told him I wanted tone first and asthetics second and he gave me some wood combos to choose from. I think I got the best of both worlds for just over $2000 which is a lot for me... but it's worth it.
  14. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España
    Sure they do, thats why high end basses look spensive to denote the status of the player.
    But IMHO looks are a matter of marketing rather than a matter of music.
    Jaco played a beaten up jazz, you think ppl cared? IMO you must look inpolute in a jazz band, but do i care about jacos bass looking? no i dont.
  15. lemme ask you a question, if you were blindfolded listening to a bassplayer do his thing, and you REALLY liked the sound he was getting, would you really give a crap about what his bass looked like? man, use an EUB at a DeathMetal gig if It sounds right to you and your band...

    Both Basses I own arent anything all that special in looks, but I intensely love their sound... its all about that anyway isnt it?
    if you CAN have the best of both worlds, go for it, but if you are as most of us that havent really got the means for a high end custom, then you should shop with your ear and not the eyes. IMHO.
  16. christle

    christle Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2002
    Winnipeg, MB
    That is the best piece of advise I have seen on this board :cool:
  17. bovinehost

    bovinehost Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Ernie Ball Music Man/Sterling By Music Man
    I play what makes me happy. If some traditionalist blues band leader doesn't like the appearance of my chosen instrument, then I don't want to play with him anyway.
  18. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004
    I own 15 basses of various makes, from the traditional (Fender, Gibson) to the boutique (Alembic, Pedulla). My view is that yes, looks matter, to the player at least. I have three Alembics, and none of them have the "omegas" many are so enamored with. To me, it looks like somebody took a bite out of a sandwich, but didn't finish the whole thing! However, there are those Alembic owners out there who love the Omega shape, stingers, points on the end, etc. To each his own.

    Comfort and tone is what it boils down to. You can own the most expensive Fodera, F Bass, Elrick, Alembic, Benevente, etc., with the most beautiful woods, gold plated hardware, LEDs, etc., and it can still feel and sound like crap. This being said, it's been my experience that one can generally count on most higher end basses looking, feeling, and sounding good. There are exceptions, of course, but I think that pretty much holds true.

    Most of what I own I bought because:

    a. I always wanted one.
    b. I can afford one now that I'm older.
    c. I'm replacing instruments that I had and sold and wished I hadn't.
    d. At some point over the 28+ years I've been playing, I picked one up and liked it so much that I wanted to buy one. In accordance with b. above, I can and did.

    My Alembics, Pedulla, and Ovation are new (within two years old). My Gibsons, Fenders (with one exception), Rickenbacker, Musicman, Godin, and Peavey are not.

    I've played all sorts of things with these instruments. The only ones I'd be picky about taking to a gig are the Ovation and Godin (both acoustic-electric) and the Rickenbacker (a very distinctive sound not suited, IMHO, for all musical styles). Everything else I feel I could take to just about any gig and be successful in achieving the tone I want, looks be damned.

    On the Alembic site, there is a "club" where discuss many things, among them the "discrimination" bass players sometimes get when they don't show up for a gig or session with an "industry standard" type bass. Lots of reasons for this, but perhaps the most significant is that the Fender-type tone is what a lot of engineers are used to. It's easy for them to mix in the kind of sound they want, whereas with an Alembic, Fodera, etc. it isn't due to the electronics, etc. My view is that any bass player worth his salt should be able to take most basses and make them sound good; an engineer should be able to do the same thing. Ditto for other musicians (within limits - there's not much you can do when the action on your Strat is three inches above the frets!).

    Bottom line: yes, looks matter, but mostly to the player. What should matter to others is the tone for the gig at hand. Would I show up for a jazz gig with my Rickenbacker? Probably not. But if I did, I'd make damn sure I could get the sound that the gig required. If you can get the desired/required tone for the gig at hand, but others can't get over the looks ... well, you shouldn't be playing with them in the first place, IMHO. I don't tell others what they should be playing. They shouldn't tell me either.

    My two cents.
  19. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España
    is Bass playing (or any other music related profesion, especify if so) your main job?

    Read your profile, nice basses, nice vintage collection too.
  20. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Sound and feel are of the utmost importance. Anything else is secondary.