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Style over Substance...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Andrew_S., May 8, 2002.

  1. Andrew_S.


    Jul 24, 2001
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Hey all,
    I am a self described bass doubler. That is, I play both BG and URB equally. My dilema is this...

    when I sub in for bands (and in my own three piece), it seems that they ALWAYS want me to use the URB regardless of whether the music calls for it or not. I'm guessing because most people think the URB just looks "cool". The problem arises when the bass lines are obviously written for BG and I really have a hard time "hearing" it on URB (I personally, think it should be played on BG).
    How do you tell these people that, no, this should be played on BG because, well, it's just not an URB song.

    Do any of you have this problem? To me, it's a regular occurance. I mean, I'm NOT going to bring the URB to a Classic Rock gig (though, belive it or not, I get asked to).
  2. I've never been asked to bring the URB to a rock-oriented gig, but I refused to bring it to wedding band gigs just to cover "Misty" and "In The Mood" because the leader thought it would "look cool." Way too much hassle.

    Musically, I was raised to believe that what counts is how you play, not how you look. What I've come to understand and begrudgingly accept that this outlook is not universal (witness B. Spears, etc.). For some bands, style IS substance and it would be considered perfectly acceptable to bring the inappropriate axe simply because it adds to the visual appeal.

    If you feel strongly about the upright not really making it for the gig (and are in a financial position to do so), I would hold out and say electric or nothing.
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Two thoughts:

    1) If you're a professional, you do what the gig calls for (i.e., what the guy that busted his ass to get the gig wants.)

    2) A 'real' bass player can not only make it work, but make it great. No matter the instrumentation.
  4. Andrew_S.


    Jul 24, 2001
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Yes, but I think that a 'real' bass player can also determine the best rig for the material...
  5. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas
    That's not the point. If you didn't book the gig, it's up to the guy who did to decide what he wants.

    For example, I prefer playing with no amp, using a mic into the PA if necessary. If the leader doesn't say anything, that is what I bring. I've had situations where I do this and am told that you really should play through an amp instead, because they aren't used to a bassist not using a pickup. If they aren't comfortable, I volunteer to use my Schertler into the PA and tell them that it is made to play full range, not with a bass amp.At the end of the night, they have always been satisfied.

    The situation is different if they ask me ahead of time to bring an amp. I do it without protesting, because it is THEIR gig. Sometimes if we are both there early, I show them how good the alternative can sound for the room, but I never argue with their decision. That is part of being professional and working with them, no matter how wrong their ideas may be.

    As for the upright in BG situations, I was in the same boat as you when a "blues" band asked me to fill in one night last year. I had loaned my slab to a girl who had left town for a funeral, so I told them all I had was an upright, and I thought their volume would be too loud. They called back and asked me to do the gig anyway. When I showed up, it turned out that their tunes were more classic rock than blues, but we adjusted to each other, and at the end of the night they loved it, asking me to join permanently. (I declined, not really as much fun as jazz for me). Sometimes, an upright can fit in places where you don't think it will. Who would have thought that Punk rock kids would play upright, but apparently many sucessful bands have one.

  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    It depends. I know what ANDROIDS is talking about, because there is one particular bandleader in town who thinks that you should be able to play DB in really, REALLY loud situations where it really doesn't belong. At first when I found myself in this situation, I would end up killing myself trying to play hard/loud enough to come through, but it was a losing proposition. Then one night on what was supposed to be a "jazz gig", we got into a rock tune with super loud drums, and I just kept playing at the same level I had been for the jazz stuff, since I also had only my DB amp and didn't want to destroy either my amp or my fingers over this gig. The effect was that of "finger syncing", and the bandleader later asked me if there was anything I could do to get more volume. I said, "sure...I could bring an electric next time". He got the point then, and has retained it ever since.

    Lately, I've been doubling with my original group because of the character of some of the music and the nature of the situation (volumewise). Even though I've recently invested a lot of money into putting together a nice powerful doubling rig, you sometimes reach a point where the DB becomes useless unless you have a P.A. handy. When we start to reach that point (or tune, whatever), I reach for the Plank.

    In general, when you get hired for a gig as a side man, you should do what you're asked to the best of your ability on that gig. If there was a problem with something you were asked to do, the time to discuss it is either after the gig, or when you are called to do the same thing again. Also, if you are in a position to do so, there's nothing wrong with quoting a higher price for gigs on which you are required to double, considering the extra work you have to do to schlep all of that gear and have it ready. Only one bandleader I work with here in town has had a problem with this, and it doesn't break my heart not to work with him anymore.

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