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What do bands look for in a bassist?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by AMUNC, Aug 15, 2012.

  1. AMUNC


    Jan 22, 2012
    Raleigh, NC
    So I'm known in my area for being a fairly competent bassist, upright or electric in the high school level, and play often with some of the older established folks as well. I received a call from a very successful acoustic duet in the area asking to check me out to join them. I am MUCH more competent on upright, but still better than most younger players on electric given my knowledge of theory and history in other groups.

    It's not definite that they want me, but I'd really like to impress them and secure the long term job, but I'm not sure what would really appeal to a non-jazz type of group. It's an original band, but think everything from Mumford and Sons to soft paramore to sublime every once in a while. What do you guys think I should do to let them know I'm right for them?

  2. Matt R.

    Matt R.

    Jul 18, 2007
    Huntsville AL
    Well, you said you're the most competent guy in your area, so...:confused:
  3. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Demonstrate tasteful command of the material & the rhythmic style(s) behind the material.
    Demonstrate the ability to quickly pick up new material.
    Demonstrate that you are friendly and easy to get along with.
    Have stage look appropriate for the music (or at least not blatantly inappropriate).

    That will get you into any band.
  4. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    The ability to double on electric and upright should be pretty enticing in and of itself. Assuming you're as good as you say you are.
  5. bassfart


    May 5, 2008
    Never "over" play, respect the music and the players, show up early.
  6. AMUNC


    Jan 22, 2012
    Raleigh, NC
    Thanks for the input, much faster than DB side! I've played in bands before, but only ones I've started, or official auditions behind a black curtain. Never joining an established one
  7. Texan

    Texan 667 Neighbor of the Beast.

    Aug 15, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Around here, a pulse...many of the bands in my area are not very good, but thats why I left Houston years ago, there has never been a good music scene. There are a some good bands, but the bassists are not very good. They sound like frustrated guitarists. There are a handful of good bassists around town and they all seem to have good footing in Motown, Jazz and Blues. IMO is you can master those, you can always get the gig. However the hardest thing to learn is to play to the song. you have to know when less is more, very Jedi type stuff ;).
  8. Find out what it is that they want, and give them that.

    Seriously, they may want a guy who knows every Jimmy Buffet song, or a guy who owns a lot of band gear, or a guy who can sing harmonies, or a guy with a weird haircut, or a guy...

    It doesn't matter what we think you need, it matters what they want.
  9. taphappy

    taphappy doot de doo

    Sep 28, 2007
    Tempe, Arizona
    I'm called as often specifically TO over play as much as otherwise. Similarly, I've got a friend that was told to underplay and sit on his butt -- then got kicked out months later for being boring. And I got hired specifically for what I do! And the friend goes o_O

    If you're a sideman, and it's a paycheck - that's one thing. If you are part of an original project, well. Figure it out yourself. What they want comes into play. What YOU want comes into play.

    Playing to the gig will make you a great sideman. Finding your own voice, as wacky as it is, will make great original music.
  10. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    They called You, so chances are they already know what you have to offer.

    I gotta ask...... how did you become known as the most competent bassist in the area without knowing what to do to fit into a group?

    It sounds to me that although you may be competent...... you ain't very confident.
  11. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I won't consider a guy who can't play bass in the first place, so the number one thing I look for is someone who won't waste my time.

    - Show up to rehearsal prepared with the material already learned.
    - Answer e-mails and phone calls promptly
    - Keep your commitments for gigs, rehearsals, and other band activities
    - Be able to give an answer to whether you can rehearse, or make a gig in a timely manner.
    - Get along with other band members and know your role in the song, and in the band.
    - Help out with things other than just playing bass, such as promotion or setting up the PA.
    - Bring as much of your own stuff as you can, without having to borrow from the band. That includes stuff like mic stands, charts, music stands, cables, etc.
    - Have your own reliable transportation.

    In short, being able to do your job without requiring a babysitter.
  12. AdamR

    AdamR Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2007
    Bethel CT
    around here they look for someone with a bass and an amp. thats about it.
  13. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    1. Be a good mind reader.
    2. Don't offer input or opinions unless asked and when asked say only what they want to hear.
    3. Bathe.

    Coincidentally, this is what women want too. So theoretically, good ladies-men should make for successful bassists.
  14. elshunko


    Jun 25, 2010
    Haha. Perfect!
  15. elshunko


    Jun 25, 2010
    Obviously there is the skill set that is needed. Beyond that I look for people who I enjoy playing with and keep their word. Showing up late, missing a gig isn't cool. Just have a professional attitude.
  16. 66Atlas


    May 19, 2012
    I never overthink it. As people have said just be on time and professional. Beyond that, bring your own style to it and if it's a fit then great, if they are looking for something else and you try to conform you'll end up not loving it.
  17. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    This made me pause and think because I do borrow a mic, mic stand, and cable from the PA trailer, and occasionally an instrument mic if we mic the bass cab...

    However, and I think about this sometimes, to bring and use my own mic cable (which I do own) would just cause extra hassle trying to keep them separated. Everyone uses the common cables and they all get wound up and put away in the same tubs. All the mic stands are common and get stored in the same bag. We all pull from a big mic case full of vocal and instrument mics. I own mics, stands, and all kinds of cables, but it's so much easier at load-out for everyone to pitch all that stuff where they already know it goes instead of asking "is this yours" all the time. I lost a mic cable once because the singer didn't know it was mine and just rolled it up with the others (yes our singer rolls cables and packs speakers).

    If the band were set up differently and everyone was expected to bring all their own stuff I would. But that's one point I think has to be taken case by case.

    All your other points were spot-on. :D
  18. jonas_24112


    Jul 11, 2011
    Never overplay. I have a buddy who is frontman and BL for a fairly popular local cover band. I do some sub work for him from time to time. One of his favorite catch phrases for bassists is "theres no money above the 5th fret"!

    It's not literal of course, but he does not like to hire "lead" bass players.
  19. davidjackson


    Sep 10, 2011

    I also make a point of helping the other guys unload and set their gear up before I set mine up. At the end I don't put my stuff away until I have helped carry their gear back out to their cars. That kind of stuff goes a long way. Most bands are looking for a real team player (in my experience) and this is a really easy way to demonstrate that you understand that.
  20. Mo'Phat

    Mo'Phat Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2003
    San Diego, CA, USA
    1. Check your ego at the door.
    2. Be good.

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