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P with flats your only bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SteveC, Oct 17, 2020.


  1. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Eastern North Dakota
    Just curious. I sometimes think I'd like to do that, but then the band plays a tune like "Uptown Funk" and I need a 5 string with rounds?

    Everyone says all you need is a P (with flats?) but sometimes that just doesn't work, right? I watch Sean Hurley talk about dumping his 5 string Lakland for a 4 string P. That's all he plays now.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. I exclusively play four string anyway so I would be totally fine with a P with flats as my only bass. It’s fun to buy more basses but yes, I could do it.
     
  3. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    In my opinion, it is possible to play any song on a standard-tuned 4-string bass. You won't sound like an exact carbon-copy of the record, and that's okay. Looking at YouTube I can see, there are indeed players who have the skill to play "Uptown Funk" on a 4-string.

    (Disclaimer that I come from a jazz/improv background, where the ability to reinterpret a tune is highly regarded.)

    All that said, SO GLAD that I have more than 1 bass. Only having one, would be torture for me. :)
     
  4. ugly_bassplayer

    ugly_bassplayer Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    Québec
    It's easy to forget that ot everyone can afford multiple instruments.

    If you only have one, play the living crap out of it regardless of what it is.

    Create, express yourself and have fun.
     
  5. You need the right tool for the job.

    Sometimes, that isn't a 4 string bass with flats.
     
    Ian Lewis, MOFuB, Sixx 006 and 14 others like this.
  6. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    I have other basses, but it's certainly the only one that's seen use since I picked it up.

    My previous main bass was a StingRay5 with flats though, so what do I know...
     
    JoeDaddio, noeinstein, osonu and 2 others like this.
  7. Luckydog

    Luckydog

    Dec 25, 1999
    I think a P with flats is fabulous in a recording environment, largely bc the mixing can make it poke out sufficiently, and the engineer can drop the levels of other instruments and eq everything to “play nice”. Think old Stax and most any 45 rpm record.

    It is also great to play on stage, but I have much less success in a live environment being heard and EQing is less successful for me. Also, if you get in a volume war on stage playing a P with flats, I think you will very quickly get the stink eye from your bandmates, and the sound guy may just throw his hands up and take you completely out if the FOH mix. In a disciplined stage environment, you are more likely to be successful, but in my experience, volume-disciplined stage mates with awareness of and respect for other instruments’ frequency needs are like unicorns.

    So, for me, I love love LOVE a P with flats...it is THE sound of bass for me...but at nearly every single gig, I am reminded why I have to bring a bass with rounds. It isn't that a P with flats can’t work in my band, it is the simple fact that there are just too many things that have to be done (some by me to be sure, but mostly by others) to make it work acceptably live.

    Sean Hurley and others of his ilk have the power to command a professional level of discipline that will allow them to do their thing with P and flats, and it sounds gorgeous.
     
    Petethebassman, raal, MOFuB and 9 others like this.
  8. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    It all depends what you play and how you play it. Supposedly you need a 5 to play modern country. I did that for 6 years on a 4. Between the E string de-tuner and careful transposing parts, no one ever complained.
     
    Jay2U, Barry Vestal and TN WOODMAN like this.
  9. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    Not all flats sound the same either.
     
  10. JLubinsky-Mast

    JLubinsky-Mast Supporting Member

    May 18, 2007
    Vancouver BC
    For obvious reasons, I haven't had one of these wedding style gigs in a while, but, I play uptown funk with an OC-2, and usually use an AVRI - 63 p bass, with Fender flats, and a D-tuner
     
    Eric66, Mili, imabuddha and 3 others like this.
  11. Not to discount your experience, but I have played P with flats in live environments for years with zero problems like you describe. Cuts just fine, no volume wars...in fact the mid character of the P makes it cut without trying to impinge on the high frequencies being used by guitars and cymbals. For the past few years I have been using a Mesa D800 and the together the P slots into the mix nicely playing soul, rock, etc.
     
    Doug4321, thabassmon, Eric66 and 12 others like this.
  12. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Just want to clarify that Nobody says all you need is a P with flats. That's not a thing. It's something people say on TB. Like tort or Jaco stuff or carrots. Your drummer doesn't need only a snare, your guitarist doesn't need only a Tele without overdrive.
    I think if you are a highly in-demand session player with a signature sound you should do whatever you must to maintain that sound, your Sean Hurley example. I think if you're in a band that plays multiple styles, especially poppy upbeat styles, having a singular restrictive tone might not be a good career move.
     
  13. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    Almost. P with rounds.
     
  14. bmusic

    bmusic

    Oct 22, 2017
    Los Angeles
    I’m bass rich right now, but yeah, eventually (before I die, not wanting to saddle my family with a huge sales task) I’ll be down to one, and that one will be a P with flats.

    Sometimes I think the sooner I get there, the better.

    (The releasing of basses, not the death.)
     
  15. CallMeAl

    CallMeAl

    Dec 2, 2016
    Ithaca Ny
    Same here. I think I’ve had em on nearly a year now. That’s the same as flats, right? :bag:
     
  16. Jefenator

    Jefenator

    Aug 22, 2008
    Oregon
    I love a good passive one-pickup bass with flats; it's what I use more often than not. Not quite ready to confine myself to that, though.
    Even for a slow old fart like me in the middle of a pandemic, there has been sufficient justification for keeping an active 2-pickup 5-string with rounds handy. (The pop cover band actually did two weddings last month!)
    Career & client considerations aside, I just like them sometimes.
    YMMV
     
  17. scuzzy

    scuzzy

    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    If I could only have one bass, it would be a 35" scale 5 string with a 3 band active eq, with a passive switch with passive tone control. Likely J/MM pickup.

    I prefer 4 strings, but when I need that low B...... Nothing else will do.
     
  18. alack

    alack

    Nov 20, 2000
    Florida
    My answer would be yes depending on the P bass in question. I have a 75 that has just become too heavy to gig with. Of course the bass didn’t change but rather my willingness to hold it up for 3 hours. I have a beautiful 74 that’s too nice for the bars. So I bought a nice light Squier and slapped some Chromes on it. I could play it on every gig from here on. If I didn’t have the Squier I’d probably gig one of my Jazz basses.
     
    wraub and lowdownthump like this.
  19. Luckydog

    Luckydog

    Dec 25, 1999
    yes I agree. I think I’ve tried most flats, including the ones that are now extinct that ppl wish would return to the living world. I’ve spent several hundreds on flats alone, and still have nearly all of them, coiled up in zip lock bags. I still play flats...just rarely in a live mix...and always with thought about the other players, the venue, and the specific brand/model of flats. I’ve done a significant amount of recording of the mixes and, as a result, I can now almost always tell if flats will work for me in a particular circumstance.
     
  20. garp

    garp

    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    I subscribe to the "P with flats for your only P bass" theory. I own just one Fender Precision, and it has worn flats from Day One, and it's only because I bought it for a specific mission (covering Motown stuff). I'm fortunate enough to have a (non-Fender) P/J with rounds, and for me, that satisfies the other end of the spectrum.
     
    MOFuB, Obrad Lacarac, mouthmw and 4 others like this.

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