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What makes a great Blues bass player.?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by IamGroot, Jan 29, 2020.

  1. What qualities does a great Blues bass player have, in your opinion?

    Question prompted by looking at a book on Eric Clapton's performance and recording work since 1985.
    BluesQueen84 and instrumentalist like this.
  2. Tom Bomb

    Tom Bomb Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2014
    Aptitude and performance :)
    bobba66, zon6c-f and Dabndug like this.
  3. Ability and willingness to lay back in the pocket and swing. Locking in like a pit bull. Lack of desire to overplay.
    Mr_Moo, cchorney, pdeon99 and 41 others like this.
  4. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Hard to comment when I don't consider myself in that category. But that never stopped me before!

    I think of people who have been great, and I think they have a deep interest in the blues, dedication to playing it, and a great feel for the music and the groove. I also think they play less rather than more; I think of my idol, The Duck.
  5. Lagado


    Jan 6, 2020
    An intuitive sense of:

    Time and where to put it within the beat.
    When to support and when to stretch out.
    A good pair of ears.

    And touch, tone and taste. Which is always how I've considered Pino's playing.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2020
  6. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Be conversant in the vocabulary of the blues; all the little licks, runs, turnarounds, walking tricks, and so forth. Know your history, and know that’s it’s far more than straight 3 chord 12 bar and Chicago or Texas shuffle. Know that a II chord or VI could pop up in the progression, understand bridge formats, check out the wide variations like Ray Charles’ gospel style ballads, blues that splits the difference with jazz like jump music, prison work songs, Leadbelly and Josh White’s folk, Jugband, New Orleans, Memphis, etc. Investigate the evolution of the genre from the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, city and country style. Just because you play in a modern band context, don’t overlook a recording from 1931 of just a guy and his guitar, because you may find “oh, that’s where that riff came from”. Listen to what the tuba players were doing a hundred years ago. Know Willie Dixon. It’s all DNA.

    Frankly, Clapton’s performance and recording work since 1965, and before ‘85, is more pertinent.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2020
  7. Re; Claptons work 1965-1985 . Yes, that work may be more pertinent, but the author chose to cover post 85 work.
    Hazeyhaze and Tom Bomb like this.
  8. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    A good blues bassist knows all three relevant chords.
  9. Tazziedevil


    Apr 2, 2019
    The ability to reach an almost zen-like state playing the same 3-4 chords for stretches of 10+ minutes while the guitar and keys get all the applause
  10. Old Blastard

    Old Blastard

    Aug 18, 2013
    Two words....Carl Radle
  11. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I was the house bass player for an open mic blues night every week for almost a decade. It was the best training I ever got.

    The be a great blues bass player you have to.....
    1) ....be aware of everything going on around you.

    2).... be willing to bridge the gap between the melodic instruments and the drums, even when they are on two different pages.

    3).... be willing to mostly lay back and let others shine.

    4) ....be willing to accept very little in the way of accolades for juggling several responsibilities at once.

    We tend to apply a little self importance to ourselves in every genre. We act as though we are the end all be all in every song and in every genre. But in blues, bass really is the lynchpin that keeps everything balanced. It's harder than it looks to do it right. And it's a fun challenge. I wish I could get my band to add more blues to our set.
    Mr_Moo, cchorney, Gary Poe and 33 others like this.
  12. Great post, and my thoughts exactly, regarding EC.

    Nathan East (Clapton's guy) is one of the best in the biz, but I'm not sure even he would consider himself a blues player. He is a top notch hired gun, which involves so much more than just his playing.

    For me, when I decided to delve into the blues, I dove into the playing of two guys, who happened to back two of the best in the "modern era" in my opinion.

    Keith Ferguson, backing Jimmy Vaughn in The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Tommy Shannon backing Jimmy's brother Stevie Ray.

    They epitomize the qualities in this quote here:
  13. Lagado


    Jan 6, 2020
    Having the life experiences to draw upon.
  14. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    A hat.
  15. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I don't think the question is genre-specific.
  16. Sharknose79

    Sharknose79 UNPAID greenboy/fEARful endorser Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2011
    South Cackalacky
    I have nothing to disclose at this time.
    I don't have anything to be blue about....
    SactoBass likes this.
  17. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i think the previous posts cover the OP's question, but in a word: feel. if it ain't got that feel...it ain't the real deal!
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
  18. Pocket.
    bassbully, Ghook, dramatwist and 5 others like this.
  19. nilorius


    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    Clapton is a symbol of blues, but yet there are no best or wourth blues players and singers.
    brother21 likes this.

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