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Threatened of being fired (from 2 bands) because I won't take a spare bass...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by addylewis, Feb 11, 2019.


  1. I trust my equipment...I admit there's a small chance it could go wrong, but this is happening after being requested to swap from my Squier because it "looks cheap" and "doesn't sound good" and there's someone there I think the BL wants to impress. (I admit the one I'm using now (MIJ) sounds better, but the Squier sounded fine for what the band does...I'd been using it because it's pretty much "the bass the original bassist used" - would anyone REALLY be able to tell the difference unless they got close up??)

    It's a paying gig, but it involves a train ride and a 20-25 minute walk from the train station at the other end (straight after a 6 hour shift). I'm planning on using a bass I've not played for awhile which recently gave me cramps - and I need to practice my technique on it again before the gig this weekend, so brought it home rather than letting the singer take it after rehearsal tonight. I HAD planned to take another bass and leave it with him but I changed my mind and realised the one I've chosen is "the right one" (flatwounds rather than new-ish rounds).

    This comes not long after being threatened with the sack if I missed the train on NYE because of possibly getting food at the station...same band, same guy. He was in a bad/strange mood tonight, but that's no excuse. ("If you don't I'm never working with you again" ***?! No raised voices and I stayed calm as well...I was defending my decision calmly so - hmm...I guess he didn't like it.) We're in 2 bands together, similar stuff but that reaction's a bit much to take. We've got a few gigs booked, but none near enough that I couldn't call this weekend my final gig if needs be.

    Do I take a spare bass so he gets his own way or do I just annoy him and take the single bass which I'm 99.5% certain won't have issues? Actually, what would you guys do in this situation? (I've contemplated taking the ukulele bass as a backup for ease/weight with the walking I'm probably going to have...)

    (Might I add that I posted recently about the same guy...he's letting me go through the PA this time instead of my having to crank my amp up...progress!! ).

    He's also messaged me since asking if I want to stay in the band or not...I've not answered (yet)...but I've learnt the stuff, play it better than most of the others in the band, and we've finally got a few gigs booked - what's going on here?
     
  2. Staredge

    Staredge

    Aug 7, 2010
    Germantown, MD
    I dunno, man.......I mean, the guitarists in my band usually have a couple of guitars each. Guitarists tend to break strings more often though. Bass players and drummers are usually pretty solid, but stuff breaks. I like to have an extra there just in case for that .5% chance. On the other hand, I think I remember that thread. Sounds like it's time to walk. If he'd have been decent about it and had a conversation, it might be a different story. I'd likely take the uke bass (he was non-specific as to the back up requirements, yes?) for ease of carry and then roll out after. This is supposed to be fun.....if it's causing a lot of stress, it's time to bail.
     
  3. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I'll be frank, it's stubbornness on things like this that really bother me as a band leader. I'm very careful what I ask people to do, and VERY careful about what I insist people do. When they outright ignore me, it's deeply concerning.

    The guy wants to make sure you don't have a problem at a gig, and that it goes smoothly. I have a guy who is stubborn about things like that, and yes, I agree that it might be cause for him to warn you. He is at least telling you where you stand with him, and he is not jumping to straight firing...counsel, warn, suspend, terminate -- he's being transparent and giving you a chance. It might be his personality, or you may have ignored his requests in the past. It sounds like he's had it with you not listening to him when he needs something.

    Also, being on time is a big deal when contracted to start at a certain time. Nothing is more stressful than the downnote almost there and people show up at the last minute. So, I understand why he'd be firm about making sure you were on time for a NYE gig if you were timing it tight. I get how people don't want to use up all their free time waiting for a gig to start, but gigs aren't easy to get, and you want repeat bookings. So, being professional is critical. I ask my guys to be set up and ready to go at least 30 minutes before the down note.

    I have long since learned to carry two basses with me. I get the heaviness problem. So I use a light, Ibanez Micro that is not hard to carry and sounds well enough for a backup. I also bought a two-bass carrying bag. Even if you break a string, you have to take time to change it if you only have one bass. If you have a backup bass you can just pull it out and plug it in.

    Also, I have had basses fail at least twice on gigs. Once, when I decided to leave my backup bass at home, it happened -- Murphy's Law, and I had to do a dance band gig on upright (used in a jazz porton of the evening) as a result -- the one time it fails is when I leave the backup bass at home. Another time, the strap button came out so I had to sit down the whole night until I figured out I could stuff some wood shavings in the hole and screw it back in.

    I would take the guy seriously and NOT annoy the guy. I have stopped working with several people because they simply won't do what is necessary to make sure all our bases are covered. (no pun intended). I also had a mentor once, and he told me he takes it as a sign of disrespect when he's in a position of "authority" (for lack of a better word in this case), and people ignore his well-thought-out requests.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
    acfshenk, bozric, jazzbo58 and 73 others like this.
  4. Ostie

    Ostie

    Aug 1, 2018
    Lansing, MI
    Get a fiver. If a string breaks you still have 4. Or put a sticker over the Squier decal. Or tell him to f*** off.
     
  5. I've never had a bass die on me. Is it really so common that you have to carry a spare at all times?
     
  6. Get a double gig bag with backpack style straps, and take the Squier as the backup.

    Never gig without backup. Never. What can happen, will happen. To back up the amp, bring a direct box if it’s not feasible to take a second rig. Head and cabs make that easier.
     
  7. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia living la vida loca Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    On bass guitar gigs, I've almost always carried at least two, fretless and fretted. I've played a couple church gigs where it was just a couple numbers, so just took one. But when you consider batteries dying, strings breaking, wiring shaking loose... it's a lot easier just to grab the backup and plug it in than to change a battery or string, much less solder a loose wire.

    Of course, this sounds like more of a personality conflict that no number of basses will solve, quite honestly. :unsure:

    I'm considering making custom stickers for my SUB and my Tribby. I friggin love both of those basses, even over my two Fenders lately. I've never gigged with either of them, and was wondering if I should feel self-concious about their low-end branding. I mean, at the end of the day, nah. But that huge SUB on the headstock is some seriously crappy branding, IMO. :thumbsup: I mean, it's not SUB quality, man! The thing sounds hot and plays smooth!
     
  8. Well, it's that .5% failure rate the OP admits to that has always prompted me to have two instruments at a gig whenever reasonable and possible. Over the decades as a guitarist and bassist, I've had my instruments fail a few times. Each time, it was literally a couple of seconds delay while I switched instruments. Each time, if I had needed more time, it would have caused a problem with the audience, talent buyer, and band leader. Simple truth is, not every gig gives you time to repair an instrument, even a simple fix like a broken string, if it's the only one you brought.

    For whatever reason, your band leader is taking the situation seriously and you're making him nervous. If he insists on you having two instruments, not only does he have my understanding, but you'll need to re-evaluate your commitment and the importance of these bands and make a decision. I don't think any of us can do that for you, and I suspect the BL won't back down. It sounds like he not only wants to apply an ounce of prevention, but is concerned with image/aesthetics as well. His sand box, his rules. I don't think either one of you is being unreasonable, it's just a matter of whether you can get on board with his expectations or not.

    One compromise, especially with your considerable travel needs, would be if you leave a second bass with BL or a band mate and they haul it to the show with the rest of the equipment. I think you have a legitimate case and valid reason to make that request and expect a little help.
     
  9. Nev375

    Nev375

    Nov 2, 2010
    Missouri
    If he's paying you why aren't you doing what he wants?

    The band is not about you, your 20 minute walk nor your hand cramps. It's about your responsibility to play bass in a manner that is agreeable with the BL. So get a taxi, get a compact or ultralight bass that sounds good to the BL and doesn't give you cramps and do what you signed on to do.

    Never create problems for your boss. He has enough. Help solve the problems he has.
     
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  10. craigie

    craigie

    Nov 11, 2015
    calgary
    What I sense is lacking here is direct open communication. If he had phrased it in an explanatory manner it wouldn’t seem like a power trip. If you had explained that carrying two basses on the train and walking is hard to manage then perhaps he’d understand. For the record: what the heck is with making you walk from the train station? Unless everyone is walking that’s drawing a very clear line. Sounds like you two have developed an antagonistic relationship.
     
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  11. Gunga Din

    Gunga Din

    Jun 22, 2018
    You should always have a spare, mate. One night I didn't and my very expensive Status Series II packed up on me. Now, imagine, if you will, how the rest of that gig went without bass?

    Get a spare. Maybe you can leave it with the rest of the band gear if you're travelling via train?
     
  12. Depends on whether you want the money and act like a professional. If not, lead your own band.
     
  13. saabfender

    saabfender SUSPENDED

    Jan 10, 2018
    Indianapolis
    Me either. Never broken a string but so what if I did? I'd play around it and until I can pull one out of my bag. I wonder about the condition and serviceability of the spare tire in the car of the "always bring an extra bass" guys. I'll bet I'm not wrong.

    I think bringing a "backup bass" is silly, anal retentive and speaks to a level of general fearfulness without which I choose to live. I was thinking that very thought as I left the house to play Saturday night.

    Back to the OP. This is nothing about a spare bass, what bass or what strings. He's trying to lord over you and boss you around. It's that plain and I'm thousands of miles away. I set very firm boundaries with the guitarists when I join a band, even if they are the BL. I'm a fully capable, competent, professional and responsible musician in my own rite. I'm not a third chair guitarist. If they need someone to be superior to and order around, they'll need someone else.
     
  14. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Is the singer the band leader?

    Why did he want to take your bass tonight?
     
    MilesRamstein likes this.
  15. Optofonik

    Optofonik

    Jul 17, 2015
    Los Angeles
    It’s not your band. You’re getting paid to do a job. Follow what the job requirements are as laid out by your boss.
     
  16. saabfender

    saabfender SUSPENDED

    Jan 10, 2018
    Indianapolis
    Too bad his boss is a dick. Fun song for the occasion.

     
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  17. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    We don't know the history. We don't know how many other requests the BL has made that have been ignored. It could also be widespread through the band, and he's putting his foot down. I had one group of pickup musicians at a gig a while ago, and for some reason, two of teh four guys were "off" -- refusing simple requests all night. Things like refusing to go into the system when they normally would do it without question.

    If that had've continued I would have put my foot down like this BL did. Fortunately, it stopped. If it's the first time someone has refused a reasonable request, then I wouldn't be issuing a warning. So, the fact that this BL has offered a cold, rational warning tells me there is history here we're not fully aware of.

    The fact that he messaged you asking if you want to stay in the band or not also tells me he's at the end of his rope, for some reason. If you want to stay, I'd agree to his requests and show a good attitude about it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  18. The big question for me is, why are you expected to walk so far from the station? And presumably back to the station later. Even carrying one bass that far seems excessive. If the others are driving, why can't someone pick you up? And if you're all going by train, then they'll need a taxi for the heavy gear in any case.

    If you decide to quit, then it's tempting to say 'he must have a contingency plan if he's considering sacking me, and there's no gigs for a while anyway', but I think you would do yourself a big favour by giving a reasonable period of notice. Otherwise you can easily end up looking like the villain.

    And I certainly wouldn't deliberately antagonise him, even if he is being a plonker.
     
  19. Optofonik

    Optofonik

    Jul 17, 2015
    Los Angeles
    If one’s boss is a “dick” then one decides to quit, or, stfu and do what one is being paid to do. That’s how the real adult world of professional life works. That’s how the entire entertainment business works.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  20. QweziRider

    QweziRider Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Northern Nevada, U.S.
    I'm the kind of person who would gladly make the decision easy for him. I don't have the patience to deal with someone like that. Especially when you're talking about carrying two basses on a 20 minute walk? The heck with that. One bass, some VERY basic tools and a set of strings should do the trick.
     

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