1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

What Makes A Bassist "A GREAT BASSIST"?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by verbass, Aug 26, 2004.

  1. verbass


    Apr 26, 2004
    dayville ct
    I know I'm opening the biggest can of worms doing this, but is technique, tone , and fame the only criteria ,or do musicallity, sense of time and taste temper our views?

    I've been at this music thing for almost 30(yes 30 ) years and all I ever hear ,or read, is how one dimensional we seem to be when we state our admiration for our favorite players. We focus on how one guy did this or how this guy did that.

    I'm interested in understanding more about how we can expand our knowledge of this consuming passion called bass playing and this subject would seem to be a good start.

    so let the opinions fly

    here's mine
    A great bassist should move the instruments overall vision forward into new territory or take an older approach to another level. I.E.: Tony Franklin taking what Jaco started and adding an approachable rock sensibility to Jaco's incredible style

    Until Later

    If the future is now????
    What was yesterday????????????? :bassist:
  2. FunkMachine


    Jul 13, 2004
    I dont think you have to revolutionize the way the instrument is played to be a great bassist.

    Cool hair helps though
  3. True, true...

    Taste in knowing what and when to play within the context of a song. Unless you're that insecure about what people think of your abilities, if the song calls for playing the root note, do it. That's why I love McCartney. To be able to come up with wonderful, melodic lines like Penny Lane or Silly Love Songs and then to just play nothing but open root notes on Jet.
  4. A great bass player will always come up with an appropriate bass part for whatever tune is being played in any style of music thrown at him. He is a technically competent player who can inject his own musical personality into the music without drawing too much attention to the bass. Also, gear (within reason) is not a factor in a great bass player sounding great.

    Nathan East comes to mind. I wish I could have thought of some of the parts I have heard him play.
  5. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    I could probably make you a grocerry list of bassists I like and why I like them. For some its holding down the groove, for some its as much when they choose not to play as when they do, for some its amazing chops and being able to put them into a head bobbing song, for some its simply that their lines seem to fit so perfectly into the songs they play.

    I think Stephan Lessard is a good example of when he doesnt play being his strong suit. His lines arent terribly complicated at all, but when he plays, his notes feels like the perfect time to me.

    I guess it boils down too, to go from decent or good to great, means always knowing how much or how little to put in and where in any situation.
  6. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    Even though technically Ryan Martinie isn't that great of a player. His writing and the way he plays those songs have never been seen before. I like him because he's new and refreshing.
    So a great bassist usually is someone who can write super cool riffs. Victor Wooten isn't known for playing super fast. But he can write soloes or riffs that play super fast and sound good at it.
    Cliff Burton wrote kickass riff too.
  7. Actually this is the main reason I quite like Fieldy, I just don't think he's a great bassist. So it works the other way round as well.
  8. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    said once said a thousand times....

    there is and never will be a "GREATEST" it isn't a competition.

    Sure there are Favorites... but what sounds great in my ears might just suck in someone elses.

    Great to me would be any (and every) cat doing what his heart and head digs... be it Cookie Monster / Pig Squeel Metal to Leisure Suit Musak Jazz.


    verbass: Tony Franklin made me ditch my frets.. sure I'd heard Jaco and Pino before him and dug the fretless... but I bought the first Firm cassette soon after it's release. I must have wore out the track "Midnight Moonlight" in the first week. Tony had such a killer vibe on that tune!
  9. josh_m


    May 5, 2004
    Davie, Fl
    To me, what makes a bassist great is how well they sit. Jaco is a good example, he is a great bassist on his solo stuff and on the songs with Weather Report, but I imagine putting him in another kind of setting the bass just might not sit comfortable. Technical ability and chops mean nothing if it doesn't sound good with what everyone else is playing.

  10. While Jaco's solo stuff was revolutionary, that's not what made him a great bassist. The thing that I like about Jaco is his regular groove type playing. He had such amazing stamina, time, and feel. Everything he played sounded assertive. I think of him as a funk/R&B bass player who was also great at jazz, rock, pop, or any style he wanted to play. One of my bass teachers once told me that if you have good time and feel, you can play any type of music. Jaco's crazy solo Bach and Charlie Parker interpretations, and his use of harmonics were just an extension of his "real" bass playing abilities.
  11. I think you pretty much nailed it.
  12. BassGod


    Jan 21, 2004
    +1, good post. :)

    Graeme :bassist:

  13. Um.....He isn't? He's certaintly is one of the fastest bassists I've ever seen. I thought he was in fact mostly known fo playing super fast.
  14. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    the only Jaco I listen to is him playing in a pop band for Joni Mitchell. He fits pop much better to me.
  15. verbass


    Apr 26, 2004
    dayville ct
    Originally posted by james hart

    verbass: Tony Franklin made me ditch my frets.. sure I'd heard Jaco and Pino before him and dug the fretless... but I bought the first Firm cassette soon after it's release. I must have wore out the track "Midnight Moonlight" in the first week. Tony had such a killer vibe on that tune![/QUOTE]

    It did the same thing to me too I must have worn out 3lp's and 2 cassettes trying to learn it all and then another cassette to get tired of hearing his playing it hasn't happened yet but I keep trying. That is a great example of a great bass recording and a great bassist.

    I think we all agree that the criteria for greatness is as varied as the "greats" themselves and the next great player could be a baby some where watching his daddy practice to play in some bar in Texas , And getting the bug for music like all of us.

    Until Later

    !I tried to think one time and I gave myself a migraine so I never tried to think again!
  16. tightness, locking in, groove and melody, Flash comes only after one has done those things first.
  17. Thee


    Feb 11, 2004
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    Directly related to how low slung the person plays their bass, and how many badass GIT poses they can do.
  18. Black sweatbands define the player. left handed ones are better :meh:
  19. haha LoL +1..

    except i wear red/white on the right hand!
    oh well.. maybe ill get good enough to switch over to the left! :D
  20. AlembicPlayer

    AlembicPlayer Im not wearing shorts

    Aug 15, 2004
    Pacific Northwet, USA

    I agree...he's the fastest player I have ever seen.

    I've seen him with his solo band ..and he out played the instrument...that is to say, he found the limitation of the bass. It could NOT respond fast enough to his technique.

    Victor is one of the best electric bass players alive, in our time.