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What makes a good bass player ?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by benlauziere, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. I was wondering what makes a bass player better than another one ? Technique ? Cauz I know a lot of bass player that I find good but they aren't really good with technics. Is it just subjective ?
  2. joegrant413


    Dec 6, 2009
    My two cents: You love it. And will gladly hear / play / study one groove for a long time to really feel it and express it well.
  3. Varcolac


    Mar 31, 2012
    London, UK
    What makes a good artist? What makes a good writer?

    It's art. Of course it's subjective. Confidence and professionalism, mixed with humility and a facility with many contexts, are what makes a musician "good" for me. If you play like you mean it, show up on time, don't have a huge ego and can play through a song from a different genre as a warm-up, you're good enough for me.
  4. I work with a music director who was active in the Broadway scene for quite a few years, and he said that people who look for bass players want you to be able to play and read music, etc. of course, but he also said something that caught me a little off guard: they'll take a guy who may not play quite as well versus someone who has all the technique in the world if player #1 is easier to work with. Positive attitude apparently counts for a lot.

  5. tdoody


    Sep 5, 2008
    groove. joe grant is right on
  6. PipeRain

    PipeRain Operator Of Pointy Basses

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dunno if this helps or not, but many years ago some friends of mine had a band that lost its bass player. They asked me to get a bass, learn the material and fill in. The agreement was that if I could get up to speed and they hadn't found a better player I would get the gig. I did so and struggled mightily for the requisite two months. They were very helpful, understanding and grateful. Ultimately they found a phenomenal bass player and I did not get the gig, but it was still a very positive experience. Unfortunately speedcore punk was just too much for me to get a handle on in 60 days.

    Shortly after that another band needed a bass player and asked me to try out. I told them of the experience I had had a couple months before and said that if they would be willing to work with me, so long as I would be willing to work harder than them to get up to snuff. This was an "Adult alternative" project, IOW the music was too adult for the alternative crowd and too alternative for the adult crowd so everyone hated us. It wound up being a good match, my tastes and preferences brought some heft to the music and I even contributed a few songs that wound up being well received by both our fans.

    I suppose the end of all this is that a positive attitude trumps just about everything else so long as a person has some solid rudimentary skills. I was in a Guitar Center the other day and noticed that all the "Musician wanted" postings were for bass players. Apparently we are in high demand and as long as we are easy to work with and have a good work ethic, I think that would go a long long way.
  7. NOVAX


    Feb 7, 2009
    What you don't play is paramount-the space between.
  8. Joe Murray

    Joe Murray Supporting Member

    May 14, 2008
    Fairfax, VA
    Cool sunglasses. That's it.
  9. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Ability to schlep gear.
  10. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    A good sense of time is important.

    Most important is the ability to listen, and use that ability to anticipate.
  11. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    A hat.
  12. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    The ability to:

    1 Make the music feel good
    2 Make the rest of the band sound good
    3 Make a soloist play his/her best

    It's not really about technique on bass for me. It's more an issue of 'where' and 'when'.
  13. Huge94


    Nov 22, 2009
    What makes a good person? Listening, communicating, caring and being respectful of things and people. Same goes for a bassist IMO.
  14. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Ears, time, restraint, interpersonal skills, attitude, flexibility (not necessarily in that order).
  15. soulman969


    Oct 6, 2011
    I believe what makes a good bassist is the same thing that makes any other player in a band great as well. They know how to listen and improvise their line to fit into what the other instruments and the vocalist is doing.

    Even playing covers how many of us play the line that was originally recorded note for note with exactly the same feel? It doesn't happen that way because no one else in the band is playing exactly the same way as the recording either. We all adapt our own versions and the best bassists are those who can adapt well to the style of music and the arrangement band they're playing with uses.

    I think it's that as well as having a great "feel" for the instrument itself. Some guys make great drummers because they have a feel for rhythm and timing. Great guitarists have a intuitive feel for solos and phrasing. A great bassist needs to combine both of those skills and if he's truly great he may well be the best intuitive musician in the band.

    I think it takes far better intuitive skills than technical skills to be a great bassist.
  16. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    1. Good timing
    2. Clean playing (no ringing strings, clean articulation, even tone)
    3. Creativity
    4. Versatility in multiple styles
    5. Seasoned improvisational skills

    I think that pretty much does it. 1 and 2 will take you far.
  17. Braddock


    Aug 13, 2010
    East Kentucky
    I'm not what alot of people would call a "traditional bass player", it has been at least 3 or 4 years since I have even played in an ensemble with a drummer or guitarist.

    But my goals as of now is whenever the pianist (I am recording with) puts sheet music in front of me on my stand that no matter how difficult it is, I never back down or be intimidated and can play the part well in a matter of minutes. Even if it is 16th note runs that take me from the 1st fret on the E string to the 20th on the G string or constant repeating 5-let 16ths in some ?/16 time signature. :eek:

    Hopefully I get there one of these days.
  18. Matt R.

    Matt R.

    Jul 18, 2007
    Huntsville AL
  19. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
  20. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    Right hand