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Question on the bass as a solo instrument

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by AZNBassist, May 22, 2005.

  1. AZNBassist


    Jan 14, 2004
    Hey Mr. Manring,

    You're a great bassist, and overall musician. I love your music and I love your bass playing. How did you start playing bass and bass soloing? What was the reason that made you stop being only a supporting player and start taking solos? And when you played bass solos, were there people who opposed to having the bass solo? Did people tell you to stop noodling and play "real bass"? And if so, how'd you deal with them? In my band, although I've taken some solos, a lot of my friends and my guitarist in the band is being a real prick about having the bassist solo. So I'm just wondering how a great bass soloist like you overcame these problems.
  2. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Thanks for your questions, AZNBassist. It’s true that there is often resistance to bass as a solo instrument, but I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise as new ideas that challenge convention often have a tough time. I’ve always loved the sound of the bass guitar and wanted to hear it played by itself where its subtleties could be appreciated, but when I started playing that was an even more outlandish idea that it is today. I found I had to be pretty patient about finding opportunities to play solo music, but tried to take full advantage of the chances that did arise.

    Actually, I think it’s important to take the resistance we encounter seriously. While it’s tempting to dismiss as anti-creative those who oppose the idea of taking the instrument to new places, I find it’s often those who have the best understanding and appreciation of an art form who resist anyone who challenges the paradigm. I love playing “real bass” too, and have done what I can to learn to be an effective bassist in more conventional roles. That kind of work has been an enriching experience and I like to use what I’ve learned there to try to make myself a better soloist. By listening to what our critics are saying I think we have the opportunity to improve what we do, and if what they’re opposing is pointless noodling, that seems like sound reasoning to me. I hope you’ll always try to make the best music you can regardless of context. In the long run I feel that what listeners connect to is music that moves them and they are willing to suspend preconceptions if they feel there’s an opportunity for real aesthetic fulfillment. Good luck!

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