What do we really need to reach our goals?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dr. Cheese, Jul 29, 2020.

  1. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis

    I had been practicing tonight, and then I put on an old favorite album of mine, Michael Henderson’s In the Nighttime (1978.) I was playing along with the fretless song, Indiscreetly I’m Yours, and I then I played along with the title song. The a song called Whisper in My Ear came on. Henderson was in serious Jamerson mode. I realized I had never even attempted this song, and was too much for to get just playing along. With a song like this, I often listen and then play from memory. I will then play along with the record, corrected what I got wrong from memory. For some reason, the thought hit me that by the end of the summer of 1978, I had a bass as good as what Henderson probably used to record, a Rickenbacker 4000. Henderson actually used a Rickenbacker 4001 on You are My Starship, his big hit that he had with a Norman Connors. I guess thinking about Verdine White, who is the same age as Henderson made me think about how much of the music I love was played on pretty basic instruments. Come to think of it, the biggest improvement in sound I ever had was going from a pretty terrible Korean no name bass to my Rickenbacker. I am not going down the rabbit hole of renouncing GAS, but it is striking how little in terms of gear is needed for good music. In fact, buying no bass ever helped me learn a song. The only thing that ever do that was a lesson of some sort, either formal, informal, or through a book or video.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
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  2. dmt


    Apr 19, 2003
    Orbiting Sol
    They all have the same notes...

    I think all you need is a bass of the right basic design (i.e., fretless for a fretless part, upright for an upright part, fretted bass guitar for most other parts, 5 string if needed, etc.), that doesn’t have mechanical problems (or who’s mechanical problems can be sufficiently masked/alleviated long enough and well enough to get a good take and/or play a show) and that you can play well.

    You might have physical limitations that create certain requirements (ex. a weight limitation or how far the reach is out to the nut). There certainly might be budget limitations that you need to stay within.

    That’s need.

    Beyond that, you want an instrument you connect with, that feels good in your hand, that has an inspiring tone and that looks good.

    You might also want or need a certain instrument to meet others’ expectations, such as a P bass to make a certain producer happy, or a Hofner violin bass (or similar copy) for a mop top era Beatles tribute band, etc. Or a bass to fulfill a goal from your youth or to satisfy a desire you got from cruising bass forums, lol.

    But, as far as I see it, all you need is a basic Fender or similar (for example, your old Ric), or whatever you have on hand really, for general bass work
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  3. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I agree. The thing that really undervalued so long was seriously studying music formally or informally.
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  4. Time.
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  5. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Nothing is possible without time for sure.
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  6. dmt


    Apr 19, 2003
    Orbiting Sol
    Another good one is when you go to a show with a buddy that you talk gear with and some kid gets up on stage and just kills it on some cheap equipment that neither of you would have ever even considered buying - and even the tone is good. And you and and your buddy look at each other and say, “Sounds pretty good, eh?" :roflmao:

    Don’t ask me how I know that situation :D

    Oh well, play on :bassist:

    Go get those lessons you want (if that’s what you want to do). You’re not out of time yet!
  7. I can’t remember where I came across this particular gem of a musical proverb, but, here it goes: “It is better to play a million dollar riff on a $50 guitar, than to play a $50 riff on a million dollar guitar.”

    A while back, I had a collection of guitar player interviews, originally published in the 70s through to the 90s. What struck me was that, over time, there is a gradual shift from mostly discussing influences, technique development and practice routines, to a bigger emphasis on gear.

    Not to bash gear. Speaking for myself, it is so easy to get caught up in consumerism, keeping up with the Jones, G.A.S., cork sniffing or whatever you want to call it. While I think that good gear is important, it is secondary to good musicianship.

    Thanks to the OP to introducing this cool thread!
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  8. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    You are, of course, perfectly correct.

    I will say, though, that once past a certain level, most of us are under no illusion that buying new gear will make us better. But as we progress, we find out more about what works for us and what doesn’t, and what we like the sound of and what we don’t. I’ve bought and sold a lot of gear over the years trying to find what suits me best. And of course we get distracted by shiny things. :)

    For me, there is also another angle. I came to the bass late in life, and the gear also plays a part in how I present on stage and off. It needs to be just professional enough to show I’m serious about what I do. There’s been a lot of talk here on TB about players sounding great on cheap basses, and that what level instrument you play doesn’t matter. That is true up to a point, but if you’re going to play a cheap instrument you need to be good, or you come off as an amateur - and I’m not sure I am all that great just yet. So I upgraded from my beginner instrument as soon as I could. Having started late, there is also a practical limit to how good I can get, so anything too fancy looks silly and pretentious. The audience won’t know or care, of course, but at the moment it’s actually fairly important that I look reasonably professional to other people in the industry, and gear certainly plays a part in that respect.
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  9. LadyLoveStingRay5

    LadyLoveStingRay5 Supporting Member

    Jul 17, 2004
    For myself , I need 3basses. A 4 and 5 string Jazz , and a Pbass. I come full circle and returned to all Fender type instruments . They feel right and get me the sounds that I am after.

    I purchased the Elite Jazz V and Squier CV60’s Pbass used and saved quite a bit of money. The Geddy Lee USA was a new factory 2nd with blemishes I can’t find and saved a couple hundred bucks . I was able to get US made fenders for under $1400 and a very nice CIC Fender for under $300.

    With so many options , it does take time and going through different basses to figure out what works for you. Basses are not one size fits all. String spacing, fretboard woods, Neck profiles, body woods, weight, Scale length, pickup placement, stings all make a big difference for me.
    I don’t need another bass or to spend more money on a bass to achieve my goals. Just more practice time.

    Once we find what works for us , just stick with it and bond with those instruments . That’s what the players that I admire the most seemed to do.
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  10. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Do your best to not measure your playing against others. It undervalues what magic you do hold.

    I was listening to a podcast with a professional-grade bass player in a well known 'players' band. He mentioned that early on in 'music school' he realized that he would never have the speed and precision of some players so he worked hard to hone his groove and build his chops in a way that focused on a style that worked with what he did best.

    When I see players doing stuff that is amazing...I think 'that's really cool and amazing and I'm glad he's (or she's) doing it, because I can't figure that out much less do it. That never stopped me from continually working to improve my playing, and expand my strengths and it shouldn't stop anyone from trying it all and maybe incorporating what you do learn along the way to your own playing.

    Be kind to yourself. On stage when you're playing, off stage when your working of playing, and when you're listening to music.
  11. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    I think one of the biggest things is being able to visualize the fretboard. After ~32 years of playing bass I was basically forced into drive Semi’s for ten years. During that time I was learning songs on the road while envisioning my basses fretboard. Then I would play the songs when I got home for 34 hour reset. Most times I got them right 1st shot.
    When I don’t have my bass, I’m still running through my ~3000 Song list that I rotate through.
    Every time I listen to my list without playing along, I hear little things I had missed before.
  12. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Being kind to myself is not something that always comes easily for me, and I wish it did.
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  13. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I need to try that.
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  14. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    *it's a learned action. Recognize when you're not and correct. You need to build the habit.
  15. Gustopher


    Jul 30, 2018
    Check out this vid of Joe Satriani playing Surfing With The Alien on a fans cheap little Ibanez and amp... still sounds like a million bucks!

    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
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  16. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    What do we need to reach our goals? Depends on the goal. Any goal worth having requires hard work, tenacity and patience to achieve.
  17. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Not only was the bass gear simple, but the STUDIO gear was too. The Muscle Shoals documentary is one of my favorite movies of all time. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when one of the techs who worked in the studio talked about microphones used for (arguably) some of the most amazing recordings in history.

    I can't quote him directly. Bit basically he said there was a "bin" of microphones over in tue corner. There weren't "vocal mics" and "instrument mics". There were "just mics". If one crapped out, he walked over to "the bin" and grabbed a mic. If he said "check one" in the mic and it worked, that's the mic that was used.

    You ever been into a modern studio? Holy crap! The mocs alone can set you back THOUSANDS of dollars. And there's a special kind for vocals, a special kind for amps, a special kind for drums, a special kind for piano, etc.

    Short version: I'm with you. We have a tendency to WAY overthink things these days.
  18. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I think we need to love ourselves and be confident in our choices. I remember that John McVie played an Alembic with Fleetwood Mac for years. I used think why does he needs such a fancy bass for pretty basic Pop? Looking back, I have to say why not? He liked the bass, besides being able to pay for it, what else matters?
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
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  19. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Just do it should be more than an advertising campaign.:)
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  20. TheDirtyLowDown


    Mar 8, 2014
    Time, Work, and .... Realistic Goals.

    Regarding your point about better instruments/GAS/etc, I think it's a double-edged sword: you want an instrument that is good enough so that it's not limiting what you can learn to do. Hopefully it is even better than that: it's good enough that it encourages and inspires you to play at your best. But beyond that, unless your goal is to build a collection of instruments (that's not a bad thing, but it's not the same as developing musicianship), I don't think it matters much.

    Again, IMHO, realism is important. I love the line from Chariots of Fire where coach Sam Mussabini tells Harold Abrahams, “you can't put in what God's left out.” ... That may be so, but I'm sure gonna try! :)