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Versatility vs Uniqueness

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Chrisk-K, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    When I had only one bass, versatility was very important. I wanted to get a variety of tones from a single bass. Now that I own 4, I just need one signature tone from each bass. In fact, to achieve maximum uniqueness of each bass I string each bass with a different type of strings.

    I'm curious as to what your take on versatility vs uniqueness is.
  2. PSPookie


    Aug 13, 2006
    Lubbock, TX
    If I like the way it plays and sounds then it stays. If not, it goes. Uniqueness vs. versatility isn't necessarily a factor unless so long as my particular sonic needs are fulfilled.
  3. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    My basses are all versanique.....
  4. Kenova


    May 5, 2010
    Zagreb (Croatia)
    G&L Tribute L2500 !!!
  5. DEbassist


    Jul 7, 2006
    St. Louis
    I have 4 basses myself. A fretless P, a fretted P, a fretted J and a 5 string. Between the 4, I can cover just about any tone you want. Would it be awesome to have all these tones in one bass? Yessir. Possible? Sure. Would I look nearly as rockstar carrying one bass when I could be carrying 4 basses? No sir. lol

    In all seriousness, I would rather have 4 individual basses that each perform their role extremely well than one bass that does all 4 mediocrely. (is that a word?) All the necessary components that would go into making it viable mean just more things that could potentially go wrong.
  6. Mine, too.
  7. For what I play it don't need to be very versatile, but it needs to nail the tone I want. So, I found sort of unique basses that do it (old Yamaha BBs). I tried a Fender P but they're a bit too mellow.
  8. fullrangebass


    May 7, 2005
    I love unique basses, but the basses that I custom order are Uni-Versal ;) (unique and versatile)

    I want GREAT (even if unique) tone to start with, yet I want features that do not inhibit/compromise the tone, but allowing for a range of tones or even expand the tone(s) of the bass in use
  9. I'm a slave to both uniqueness and aesthetic.

    I will buy a cool looking bass on a whim if it can do at least 1 tone REALLY well.

    I even have a sort of swiss-army bass, but i still tend to use the unique ones more often, especially if they field THEE tone i need for that gig.

    Case in point... I'm gasing harder for a Fender Mustang right now more than ANY other bass i've ever wanted. :crying:
  10. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    I like instruments with a lot of personality. The elusive versatile bass more than often feels bland to me.
    What I aim for is basses with a distinctive tone that still can easily be used in many styles.
  11. crispygoat

    crispygoat Guest

    Aug 22, 2006
    London, Ontario
    This is a very interesting topic.

    In the last two years I've constantly been changing basses. I had (and still have) no money for multiple basses and was looking for something versatile and unique at the same time. At one point, I had a 5 string Warwick. The uniqueness of the Warwick's tone was interesting in an original band, but covering some Motown with the Warwick totally killed it; it sounded so out of place. At that point, I didn't have band, so I traded the Warwick.

    It's also the case for amps. IMO, I rather have one good sounding "unique" amp than a Line 6 preamp that does everything "poorly," for the lack of a better word (in the sense that an Ampeg sounds better than the Ampeg in the Line 6).

    The topic makes me think of Stuart Zender / Jamiroquai / Mark Ronson. When Zender was in Jamiroquai, his Warwick sounded in the right place. But then again, I don't think Jamiroquai's latest album, which is awesome by the way, would have sounded as good with a Warwick. I do, however, think that Paul Turner's tone when playing older Jamiroquai songs live fits in. When it comes to Zender playing with Mark Ronson live, I think his Precision fits in, however I think his Warwick sounds out of place.

    With this being said, I think what one really needs are a Jazz and a Precision, and from there move on to more unique sounding bass.

    That's my opinion of course, and no way is it valuable. I sound like an old guy haha ;-)
  12. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    Part of the fun is playing the "wrong" instrument at a gig and making it work. For instance, a Rob Allen fretless is usually typecast in the "upright sound" role for jazz but I've used it on funk gigs and for some rock tunes as well. Most any decent articulate bass can work in most any setting. That said, certain tones tend to fit better in certain songs/genres. Plus you also have "the look" which sometimes can be part of the criteria.

    I'd rather have an instrument I love and use that wherever I can as opposed to what I'm "supposed" to use. For years I played a Zon Lightwave fretless almost all the time no matter what style of music. And it worked very well. These days I've got a bit broader in my choice of what goes out the door for gigs, but I still stay within a few tone profiles that *I* like and think that I can make support the particular ensemble I'm gigging with.

    Many would argue that a Rob Allen Deep 5 is unique but not versatile. I disagree, but that isn't going to be my first choice for a funk or rock thing unless I want to infuse my take on what the bass support should be. The bottom line is that I have my sound and my approach to playing, and I want basses that reflect and enable that. I go for a yin/yang thing, and have Rob Allen and Roscoe instruments. And just for grins I've got a Lull PJ5 passive in case I need to "look" vintage. But I don't own any JJ basses or straight P basses, or anything else for that matter. I like to minimize instruments, and I can get a couple different tones out of each depending on electronics and technique. The rest is up to me...
  13. crispygoat

    crispygoat Guest

    Aug 22, 2006
    London, Ontario
    Interesting point, reminds me of Wooten's idea that there are no wrong notes and while improvising, the fun can come from hitting what is perceived to be a wrong note. Very liberal/modern type of thinking. I guess I'm just getting old :atoz:
  14. Usually I vary between two distinct tones that I like, both available on one bass. However, almost any bass is capable of several different sounds, depending on how you set the controls and how you play it.
  15. Infidelity

    Infidelity Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2010
    Melbourne, FL
    Imagine using a hofner on a hardcore metal gig! Now that's unique! :)
  16. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    What about a Double Bass at a death metal gig?
  17. Martin89


    Nov 8, 2010
    Glendale, AZ
    Unofficial Endorser: Ibanez, D'Addario, Zoom
    I'd rather have 2 p/j basses and 2 unique ones than 4 totally unique basses. That way you have versatility, a versatile backup, and 2 things completely different.

    1-Cheap(er) p/j backup that gets the job done
    2-Nice p/j special
    3-5+ string specialty/fretless

    This is my maximum setup I'd consider and I'm a minimalist. I currently have 2 basses(well really only 1, 1 is on the way).
  18. TapyTap


    Apr 26, 2005
  19. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    I don't really have any "need" for versatility. Not in a cover band..

    If recording, I can just go pick up a different bass, if sounds require.

    If I really want to alter bass sounds mid-song, I can usually do it with a single knob twist or switch flip.
  20. odysseios


    Jan 18, 2007
    Sardinia, Italy
    Not too strange, Bob Daisley already did it with Ozzie:

    and not too unique: Brian Wheat (Tesla - hard rock), Robbie Shakespeare (reggae), Chris Wood (jazz/funk), Dale Davis (Amy Winehouse bassist), Curt Smith (Tears for Fears)...

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