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Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament: DB Player?

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by KellanEmSoftly, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. KellanEmSoftly

    KellanEmSoftly Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    I am about as casual a Pearl Jam fan as one musician from Seattle can probably be; though I do appreciate their institution here, and of course their sweet body of work, it's never been my come-to-Jesus band. Anyway, I recently saw them perform and was made aware of their bass player Jeff Ament's apparent affinity for electric upright.

    What caught me off guard was not that electric upright in a rock setting is at all taboo, but rather that I had studied his form at the show - and during subsequent viewings of the PJ 20 documentary and the supplemental documentary that goes along with their new album, "Lightning Bolt" - and had more or less concluded that he seems to be doing it all wrong; or if "wrong" is a bad word in the context of musicianship and poetic license, then I mean to say, "in the least ergonomical fashion possible." To properly explain a complicated list of different motions he was performing, I would have to say that it appeared as though he were trying to simply play an electric bass vertically...this includes such technique faux-pas as 90 degree perpendicular right hand pizz, plenty of ring finger in his left hand (which also seemed to be playing exclusively in closed-string scale format), an overabundance of left arm position changes that, as far as I could tell, could have stayed in the 0 or 1 position if he'd only just spend some of his millions on PROPER TRAINING! :hyper: My favorite bit being in the "Lightning Bolt" DVD when, heaving his acoustic upright over his head and marching to the beach, he proceeds to play the bass with the top of the headstock just about reaching his nose, which is of course craning downward with the rest of his face, perhaps to try imagining where the frets would be...(sorta reminds me of every horribly fake jazz combo I've ever seen in the background of sitcoms...)

    ...BUT of course I don't mean to turn this into a rant, I just want to see if I was alone in noticing this, or how y'all savvy TBers see it.. I wouldn't guess that most of the OG grungeheads were too keen on double bass kinestheology...I guess the idea is that if he gets a sound out of the thing, it'll do.
  2. KellanEmSoftly

    KellanEmSoftly Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    Here's the beach bit:

  3. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    I believe he is about the sound, as opposed to technique.
    He apparently uses a lot of different instruments including Moog Taurus pedals, octave course basses, fretted and fretless to get what he's after.
    He will probably hurt himself one day, or figure out proper technique will rest in better results.
    Not a Pearl Jam fan, btw.
  4. MR PC

    MR PC

    Dec 1, 2007
    I remember Jeff Ament made the evening news a couple years when he was violently assualted and robbed of some hard drive masters outside of a WA studio...it was captured on a surveillance tape outside the studio. They socked him in the head real hard.

    As far as playing upright bass, yeah, he's pretty much setting a poor example, considering the press he garners.
  5. Again?! This happened to him in Atlanta a couple years ago.
  6. 999Brent

    999Brent Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Interesting post, made me think a little, which is a dangerous thing...these are my thoughts... Just mine, not a blanket statement....

    What a boring place the bass world would be if we all played with 'proper technique'
    I like that it is a go to reference but I also think those who feel comfortable playing in a 'different' position should do so.
    All human bodies are different, it is quite possible Jeff finds this style comfortable, and will not injure himself playing it, I do agree many of us may face problems if we copied though.

    How many top sportsman have a unique style that is not technically correct, it is not that uncommon...
    Just some thoughts..

    Btw I have spent a large amount of time working on my technique and am a better bass player because of it, what I do not know is, was it the amount of time practicing that made me better, or was it improved technique? Obviously it is a combination, but I have no idea of the percentage mix...

    bTW2 I am a big PJ fan and like Jeff's playing, never researched his technique though...

    Thanks for you post, really did get me thinking...
  7. MR PC

    MR PC

    Dec 1, 2007
    You are right, it was GA, not WA.
  8. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    I've dreamt of a jazz supergroup... Jeff on upright bass, Chad Smith on drums and Will Ferrel on jazz flute... Wow...

    ReiPsaeg likes this.
  9. redhed


    Oct 25, 2009
  10. Danomatic72


    Apr 23, 2015
    Whatever. Watch a dozen highly successful players and you will see a dozen different techniques. So what? Have you ever watched Geddy Lee's left hand when he plays? Wrapped around the neck like a guitarist....should we critique his technique as not correct too. Geesh!