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What do you think of this statement:

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by RiseOfTheWooten, Apr 19, 2006.

  1. "Hand a cheap generic beginner bass to an accomplished bassist like Victor Wooten, Steve Bailey or Jaco Pastorius (insert name of your favourite bass legend here), and they will make it sound like a well made boutique bass, and not only that, pull off a legendary performance on it".

    *edited to include my post later in the thread:

    For clarification though, when I said 'cheapo beginner bass', I am not referring to a bass that has been rusting for the past 20 years and about to fall apart, with strings that haven't been replaced in years. I was thinking more along the lines of, say, the cheapest Rogue 4 string that had been set up properly (albeit with stock strings, pups etc) by the shop for the kid that bought it.

    And the scenario I had in mind was very much how Bruce Lindfield described it earlier in this thread. I've been to summer schools and/or workshops and/or classes where the accomplished musician has picked up a relatively cheap student's instrument and blown everyone away with a spontaneous performance.

    The best part is seeing the kid's (or young adult, or older) face light up with fresh inspiration in their own playing and their 'cheap' instrument.
  2. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
  3. Rob Lewis

    Rob Lewis

    Feb 23, 2006
    Spot on.
  4. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    A poor workman blames his tools!:)
  5. Toasted


    May 26, 2003
    Leeds, UK
    With a few minor caveats, I agree.
  6. The thing that matters is why does this happen????
  7. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    A lot of your sound comes from how you play the instrument and clearly some people have remarkable talent so you can expect it to sound better than your average punter but to suggest they'd do something amazing on a POS... nah, I'm not sold on that at all. You can't entirely write off the effect wood and electronics (and even tuners which keep the strings in tune ;) ) have on the sound of a bass and a dead spot is a dead spot no matter who plays it. When you think about how much of the talk on these forums is purely based on gear and why good gear is better than cheap gear, you can't just say that a great player can nullify that entire aspect of the instrument. That's crazy. We're talking bass, not magic, not even the greats can overcome the laws of physics. It's a package deal, no one aspect can overcome the others.

    Besides, when you consider also how much the tone is affected by removing the pickguard too :bag:
  8. oversoul

    oversoul fretless by fate

    Feb 16, 2004
    Marcus Miller could play an SX and a gorilla amp, and make it sound great, but I doubt it would sound like THE Marcus sound ;)
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I've actually seen it happen - although I think the use of the word "legendary" is slightly dubious and unhelpful in this context.

    But to take a more concrete example - I got to a Jazz Summerschool each year where there are always a few very good Jazz pros on bass and maybe 15-20 bass students.

    So I have seen the situation where a student is playing a pretty non-descript, "cheapo" bass guitar and not getting that good a sound out of it - tutor picks up the same instrument and gets a wonderful tone that would make you think it was a Sadowsky or similar!!

    Seeing is believing! :)
  10. I've seen it happen too. It can be sickening when it's YOUR bass they're playing!

    My only response to Dr. J is that while we watch a virtuoso play, we likely aren't analyzing his performance to the degree that we are considering the wood and build method important. And IF we were to see a legend on a night where their signature tone wasn't there, we probably wouldn't be blaming it on the instrument but rather the amp/hall/sound tech/humidity etc.
  11. Nope. There is no way anybody can make my first bass, a plywood-bodied P-copy that I still keep for sentimental reasons, sound like "a well made boutique bass". It's not one (far from it), so it can't sound like one.
    Sure, unless it has action that you can walk under and awful intonation and so on. As long as it's playable and decently set up, there's no reason why they couldn't play wonderfully on it.
  12. Ofcourse not even the greatest players in history of bassplaying will make a cheap beginner bass sound like anything else than it does.
    They will play the heck out of it though, and when they do, I will not be bothered, not even for a second, by the cheapness of the bass.

  13. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    my teacher could make the SX i used to own sound as nearly as good as his marcus. its all in his technique, he owns several basses, and i now have the bongo, and he will sound like tass, no matter what he is playing. if its the bongo, he'll sound like tass playing a bongo. if its his belman, he'll sound like tass playing a belman.

    so yes, i agree with the majority of the statement.
  14. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    I don't disagree, but the question posed was whether they'd make it "sound like a well made boutique bass" which I don't believe is humanly possible. I read from the OP that we're talking a real dog here, a genuine pice of crap? They would quite possibly make it sound better, maybe even good, and for sure to do that one can expect to see something extraordinary... but crappy electronics or dead sounding wood will sound bad in any hands, some people can just make it sound better than others :)
  15. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    I think it sounds like the kind of topic that's been beaten to death and trampled by a passing herd of elephants round here already...
  16. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I'd agree with caveats also. Some really poor cheap basses can not be set up correctly.
  17. I agree to some extent... but, arent we confusing SOund quality with technique?

    they can play awesome licks on any bass... granted... but give them a BAAAAAAAAAAD squire with no mods, small warps here and there , and tell them to play a tapping piece... thye'll manage it, but it wont sound anythin like they were playing their own instrument of choice.

    my 2c.
  18. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    The excess of faith you have in some bass players is wonky.
  19. KayCee


    Oct 4, 2004
    Shawnee, KS
    I think the statement is too simplistic.
  20. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Better players sound better. It's that simple. That said, there are very few great players who play what we would consider crappy instruments. They may not all play boutique instruments like Wooten, but most at least play well set up Fenders, Music Man, Ibanezes, etc.

    Skill and practice will always be the greatest difference between players or anything else. I'm sure Dale Earnhart jr. or a Formula One driver would crush me going around a course in a Toyota Corolla, even if I had a mid sized BMW.:cool:

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