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What's changed in 20 years?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lowfreqgeek, Nov 15, 2018.

  1. A friend recently gave me a Bass Player Magazine from April 2000. As I was browsing through it, I was struck by a few things.


    A. I remember having this particular issue. I had a big collection back then, going back to the early-ish '90's.
    B. Most of the basses advertised are still available today, in much the same configuration. Lakland, Lull, Sadowsky, G&L, Ibanez, ZON, PRS, Warwick, Roscoe, Smith, F Bass, Spector, MTD, Pedulla... Sure, they've all introduced new models, but the core features and "personality" of each brand was there. Interestingly, no Fodera ads back then, but I remember them being more elusive to us Westerners at that time. MusicMan is all over, but not really in advertisements, per se. There were notably 3 brands that have fallen by the wayside; Jack Read, Carvin (old-time Carvin), and Hartke - back when they were marketing their Vacarro aluminum-neck basses.
    C. The Lightwave system was still new and different and being somewhat heavily marketed - both independently, and with ZON. That's more or less gone these days, though Wilcox does still make the Lightwave Saber. It never really took off.
    D. There were a lot more EUB companies producing at the time: Azola, Kydd, Zeta, and Clevinger, and a few more.

    Things seem remarkably stagnant since 2000 (and before) in terms of high-end instruments. There have been many incremental improvements, but the high-end is still the high-end, and most of what was available then is still available now. I think what's really changed since then in the availability of well-made, high quality low-end instruments. Bass technology hasn't really advanced all that much, though there was no Nordstrand, Aguilar, or Delano pickups at that point, nor where there many aftermarket preamps. Certainly not like today. You pretty much had Bartolini, EMG, and Seymour Duncan. But magnetic pickups are nothing new, so that hasn't really changed.

    There is a HUGE jump in the amplification side of things, but this is the Basses forum, so I'm sticking to basses.

    Anyway, I just found it pretty interesting. The last time I saw this issue of BP was probably around 2003 or so, when I "loaned" my whole collection to a "friend" (more of an acquaintance, really), which I never got back. It was kinda fun to look through again.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018
  2. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    fanned frets leaps immediately to mind cos I just posted a shot of Lee Sklar on my fb page playing a fanned Dingwall, but low prices, high quality, and option accessibility with Asian-made guitars may be the biggest statement being made today. glad I survived to enjoy the kid in a candy shop factors we see now.
  3. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    The biggest change I've seen in 20 years is smoking is no longer permitted in venues. I love that.
  4. drummer5359

    drummer5359 Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Pittsburgh PA USA
    Now I'm not just a drummer.
    Pbassmanca, Gaolee, basscapes and 2 others like this.
  5. fretno


    May 10, 2009
    Los Angeles
    A lot more chick bass players. Thank you God. Id say the last 20 years has shined a spotlight on many smaller builders from around the globe we didn’t know about back then.
    Arnel M., nixdad, fyrwyr and 12 others like this.
  6. RNG1


    Mar 1, 2015
    This is actually frame worthy, even if you had no idea who it is it’s like art.
    Mr_Moo, nixdad, Wolford and 20 others like this.
  7. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    +1 on the improvement in low end quality. I am consistently amazed by the quality of basses in the sub $500 range. From what I’ve seen, the improvements in tone and playability get vanishingly incremental above $500. You have to spend a whole lot more to get a significant upgrade beyond that. When I first started playing (1978) the market was divided into high end (Fender, Gibson, Rickenbacker) .....and everything else. Ibanez always made decent mid level basses, and still do, but the real low end was junk. Other than modern preamps, it’s all still 1950’s and 60’s era technology being cranked out on CNC machines. The market doesn’t show much support for true innovators like Steinberger, so companies stick with the safe, familiar options, endlessly repeated with minor variations. I still look at Bass Player magazine when I’m killing time in Barnes & Noble, but I rarely buy it. The amp technology is mind boggling. Wish they had class D amps and neodymium speakers back in my day!
  8. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    I've noticed it takes longer to get out of bed, in the morning...
  9. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    At first glance, I thought Gandolf had taken up the bass....
  10. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I completely agree about stagnation. The bass market, especially in what is widely available, is stuck or even regressing. The designs are getting retro, the number of brands in stores is minimal, and multi scale is the only "advance."
    In amps, tubes are back in a big way, while regular SS amps have been devoured by the class D designs.
    The "super cab" designs are still trying to get traction, but I'd say the use of 12" speakers for bass is the biggest change in the last 20 years. Back then the idea would have been heresy. Those were for guitar.

    There are many things that feel like they have been stuck in a rut over the last 20 years. Music, clothing, decore. It feels like since the turn of the century, it has been one disaster after the other, and that has sucked all of the oxygen out of the room. We are in a constant state of emergency, so culture can't grow or change. Maybe it's just me.
  11. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I think your last paragraph nails it, honestly. We have spent the last couple decades telling each other how horrible life is when this is BY FAR the best time to be alive ever.

    That bleeds over into every aspect of life. I just posted a thread in Off Topic about cars being dull and boring, especially with respect to color. I have just finished a 50 mile drive. I might have seen 40 cars all told that weren't black, grey, silver or white. I saw HUNDREDS that were those boring colors. As we speak I'm sitting in a parking lot and just counted the 38 cars I can see. One maroon Ford Escape. One green 18 wheeler just drove by. All other cars are white, grey/silver or black.

    The bass world coffee table look is wearing thin with me. Enough spalt already! Wood makes dots. Woohoo! (Sarcasm)

    I, myself, have fallen into the trap. I've been itching for a different kind of bass lately. Thinking about a lime green NG5, maybe.

    People like to knock the 80s as cheesy. But things weren't boring and we had fun. :D

    We need some more if this in our lives. :bassist:
    BergerHead, Joonbug, Mr_Moo and 34 others like this.
  12. RichardW


    Feb 25, 2016
    near Philly
    20 years ago I had never picked up a bass guitar in my life. Now I'm in a gigging band.
    GregC, nixdad, BluesOnBass and 6 others like this.
  13. mrb327


    Mar 6, 2013
    Nobody Knows
    Unfortunately too much truth there. And without getting political, we can read between the lines

    I also think the age of the gear purchasers has shifted, so the gear choices followed
  14. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Jack who?!
  15. I've changed my underwear - a few times at least ;)

    So, I still consider myself a bit of a noob - as there was a 10 year gap when I didn't pick a bass up :(

    Pro: The internet, I can get more or less anything I want delivered to my door and if it's not in my home country there's paypal.

    Con: I have to deal with UPS and this puts me in a rage without fail, every damned time.

    Con: There's a distinct lack of real shops I can visit :( In the "good old days"Tm I could actually go and try out a bass, pick it up, feel the weight, feel if it was right for me. I live in the UK, ~50 miles from London and I have the option of Dawsons, who I've had dreadful customer service from and the staff always look at me like I'm a thief :(
    When I was in my late teens/early 20s there were 3 local music stores that were helpful and welcoming.
    gebass6, Qlanq, murphy and 1 other person like this.
  16. SpazzTheBassist


    Jun 20, 2006
    The biggest difference Ive discovered happened in the past 15-years.....Back in the 80s (and I'd probably say late 70s too, but I didnt start playing until '81), bass players (in general) were going brighter and more string harmonic structure (roundwounds, actives, multiple-pickups -- many folks with P-basses were modding them and adding Js to the bridge for better articulation which started the whole P/J- thing to begin with)....With the advent of 80s over-production, one can argue that the bass guitar was progressing and evolving.....In the past 10-15 years, that has changed -- bass players are now 'devolving' -- many are going to straight single pickup P-basses, or passive basses in general, with flats and tapes, getting more fundamental tone -- more akin to 60s and early 70s or Motown fundamental.
    Amp/cabinet color is now important to many players in the studio and even with house direct, mic-ing cabinets instead of using DI to the house Pre- or before cabs (With the exception of rock groups, using D.I. and not mic-ing cabs to house or board was pretty much standard universally accepted practice, which is why its strange to me)
    To me, an old 50-ish guy, its very strange and reminds me of the blues guitar phenomenon of the 90s when guitarists were all going 'retro'.
    There are reasons why I think this has happened:

    1. A lot of younger players grew up listening to music with a lot of sub-bass in the mix...not just rap either: a lot of rock and metal has 808-ish sub bass as spectrum reinforcement in the production....this is pure analog fundamental tic-tac'd with a bass guitar or synth bass on top of it

    2. The 5 to 6-night-per-week wide variety Top-40 band job disappeared a long time ago so the subsequent generations never experienced that......The new movement for cover bands is tribute groups, so folks are honing into a handful of things associated with that instead of the broad spectrum.....I read posts on here all the time from folks who specialize in Motown, classic 60s, classic early 70s, sludge rock, swamp rock ...the point being is, a lot of players are indirectly becoming 'specialists' in genres, even if they are capable of a broad spectrum

    3. A LOT of new songs hitting the charts have gone retro looking for campy-end-of-the-spectrum 60s and early 70s feel and production....Retro has become a 'thing' for music production in the past ten years

    YMMV and all that retro jazz
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018
  17. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    It's the "Beyoncé Effect" :D
  18. mellowgerman

    mellowgerman Supporting Member

    Jan 23, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    Yup, fanned frets immediately popped into my head. Also, the modern single-cut craze and the re-emergence of Guild electrics (though from Korea).
    gebass6 and Charlzm like this.
  19. two fingers:

    I remember B.C. Rich had many body styles, the Warlock, the Mockingbird, etc. etc.

    The one in your photo - was that the Bich??
    Monterey Bay-ss and diegom like this.
  20. SpazzTheBassist


    Jun 20, 2006
    :D I agree and have been trying to do just that


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