Studio Bassist requirements

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Michael Henson, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. Hello all! First of all, I know that I've seen threads discussing what I'm going to ask about but for some reason have been unable to find them...So I apologize in advance.

    A dream I've always had is to be able to play professionally in both a studio and live performance setting. Right now I'm playing consistently at my church and for our youth services and the occasional fill in spot but nothing has been paid up to this point.

    I'm wanting to get to the point that I am a marketable bassist and can be confident that I can land a paid studio gig when the opportunity presents itself. What are the key components of a successful studio musician? I know some of you on here are successful in this arena so I'm very interested in any tips, advice, etc. that you care to offer.

    Thanks in advance! :D
  2. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    1. Learn to read music.
    2. Groove well.
    3. Check your ego at the door, and go out of your way to be polite and work well with others.

    I spent a few days with Chuck Rainey, who is about as successful a session bassist as is. Obviously, he has the first 2 bases (and all the basses :D ) covered. I was surprised at how much time he spent talking about the third point. A lot of success builds on success, and on people enjoying working with you and wanting to work with you again.
  3. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Get a copy of Keith Rosier's book about studio bassist, "Studio Bass Masters" He interviews a bunch of studio bassists (including Leland Sklar, Nathan East. Hutch Hutchison, Dave Pomeroy, etc) as well as a producer (Pete Anderson, notable as the producer for Dwight Yokam, Roy Orbison, etc.) and an engineer whose name I've forgotten.

    All of them say pretty much the same things, like kesslari says.

    Learn to read
    Learn to groove
    Learn to make music when you read
    Have a great sound
    Be flexible and open to other folks' ideas
    Be likeable (more people get hired because they're cool to be around than because they're monster players).

  4. Hmmm....well I am a pretty cool guy....and likeable too...

    I can groove.
    I'm flexible...
    Dunno about the sound part...I like it...

    So I really need to learn to read...Any suggestions on materials? I found a suggestion in another thread about "Essential Sightreading for Electric Bass." Any others?
  5. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    The best advice I've gotten on reading (and I went a way too long time before deciding to work on my reading) is to read every day. 8 bars a day every day is better than a big push and then nothing.
  6. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Inactive Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    READ. And read WELL.

    Be professional. Treat your music like a profession - not just a hobby or a job, but a *profession*. I can't stress this enough, since so many musicians are freakin' FLAKES. And I know there are guys who will say "Whoa, dude! Chill! Music is about love and good vibes! Profession - 'shaw! It's about the music, man...." - - THOSE guys are what give musicians a bad name. You can love you job AND be professional - - You do that, and you WILL get work. Oh yeah - and it helps to have chops!

    Good luck!
  7. i learned to read music by taking the standing in the shadows of motown book and with a key i made, transcribing it note for note into bass tab. by the time i was half way through, i didnt need to tab it anymore! a pleasant and unexpected surprise.
  8. Rudreax


    Jun 14, 2008
    New York, NY
    Learn to read well (you can just look up stuff online and find stuff to read), and learn to play many different kinds of music confidently. You don't need to know every different style there is, but you should be able to seriously play anything someone asks you to play.
  9. Asher S

    Asher S

    Jan 31, 2008
    Check this out:

  10. Thanks for the excellent advice fellas. That video is a neat look into what producers and other musicians are looking for, thanks Asher.

    Looks like I need to get to work on reading...Should be interesting. One last question, what about theory? I have a basic understanding of theory, the Nashville number system, etc. But I'm no expert. Is this something that is used a lot in a studio setting? And by used a lot I mean, technical requests regarding which mode to play over a particular portion of the song, etc.

  11. Hoover

    Hoover Inactive

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    If anyone already mentioned "Always Show Up On Time" I apologize for the repost.
  12. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Punctuality. Good one. Another aspect to appearing professional in pretty much any line of work.
  13. Happynoj


    Dec 5, 2006
    I like turtles.
    When you guys talk about 'reading', do you mean being able to read dots on a page, or being given a chord sequence and throwing a walking line over the top?
  14. Rudreax


    Jun 14, 2008
    New York, NY
    Knowing how to do both would be ideal.
  15. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    "Reading" means reading the fly specks. Faking off of chord charts or Nashville Numbers is where your theory studies come into play, but that's not reading.

  16. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    You might want to check out the links in my sig. below for some info that may help you along the way to your goal.

    Good luck.
  17. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    nobody has mentioned networking and contacts.

    I'm not a pro studio player, but in my day job is a pro graphic artist, for about the first 10 years of my career I rarely got work without it being through somebody I know.

    I imagine the same applies, even more perhaps, in the small pond of pro studio gigs.

    start making friends with producers and players.
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