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When am I a 'good' bass player?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by mr_flood, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. mr_flood


    Mar 18, 2013
    After having not played in 12 years, I picked up the bass again last month when our church's bass player quit. Back when I was an active player I was self-taught with only 4 years under my belt playing originals in a rock band. I played bass 'cause it sounded cool and I liked being on stage rocking out, wasn't really interested in being a 'good' bass player even though many people, even other bass players, said I was good, I knew they didn't know what the hell they were talking about.

    Now I'm much older and find myself in a different place. When I picked up the bass again last month I discovered a passion for it that I never had before and find myself practicing every day out of the desire to be better, something I've never done before.

    Anyways, I have the goal of becoming a good, solid bass player. So at what point can someone call themselves that? Is there even an objective way of determining it or will it forever be a purely objective call?
  2. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    It depends on how you define "good".
  3. zfunkman


    Dec 18, 2012
    Many years ago I had a few lessons with Jeff Berlin and I asked how long it took him to "get good." He kind of laughed . . . then told me that he was still working on it. He explained that music was so vast that there was always someting to work on and reach for.
  4. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    I consider myself good when I can get up and play a show or whatever and play well. If it sounds and feels good I consider that I'm doing "good".

    But I'm not good at sight reading, or improv solos. Pretty decent technically etc.

    So in some contexts I'm good or good enough. Some people think I'm really good. But in other contexts I'd suck big time.
  5. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    People call you when you are.
  6. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Only if you know people that call people. :D
  7. Fixed it for you.

    There probably are some basic, objective criteria, IMO: Can you hit the one reliably? Can you lock into a groove with your drummer? Can you cleanly walk a 12-bar blues in the key the leader calls? Above all, do you have fun with the people you play with?

    Or maybe it's all subjective. Or maybe it boils down to: If you don't suck hard, you're good. Beyond that, it's just added goodness.
  8. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    When am I a 'good' bass player?


    When you eat your veggies, don't swear in front of kids and obey traffic laws.

    organworthyplayer337 likes this.
  9. icecycle66


    Feb 4, 2009
    When you can play what you want how you want to play it.
    organworthyplayer337 likes this.
  10. When Marcus Miller or Billy Sheehan call you for pointers and/or advice then you'll know you're a really good bass player. I'm not there yet. :)

    Or when you can play with a band you really enjoy at venues that pay enough to cover your costs and buy some new gear once in awhile, then I suppose you're "good enough".
  11. IncX


    Jul 23, 2007
    it really depends ... motorhead would definitely call Lemmy a good bass player, but there are a lot of bass players who say he is terrible.

    i guess you are good when you find yourself in a musical situation where you are most appreciated and most happy.
  12. +1

    It's not really for you to call yourself good. That's for others to decide. Since the appreciation of music is subjective, there is never going to be an objective standard to define "good" for yourself. You can of course develop your own subjective standards, if that floats your boat.

    I feel like you're thinking about this the wrong way. Bass playing is a journey, not a destination. There truly is always something to work on, to get better at.
  13. Arial Bender

    Arial Bender

    Oct 28, 2012
    Largo Fla.
    When you don't have to ask.
  14. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    when you make the song better instead of just making a killer bass line. note: these aren't always mutually exclusive, but they can be very different.
  15. hampulator


    Feb 10, 2012
    That is a hard one to answer. I'm never content..never "feel good",but I think that's a good thing in of itself,'cause it keeps me practicing.In a very generally speaking manner; I'd at least...try to be fairly well rounded,know your scales and modes( at least somewhat),know some different techniques,(finger style,pick,slap,double thumb,muted James Jamerson style),get some 16th note lines down,some galloping triplettes for rock,some basic slap styles.
    That's just my suggestion,but if you feel your only ever going to play just one genre/style. I dunno? Try and Practice it at least an hour a day if ya can, go over a little bit of scale and modes,try and make up a bass line or two on your own,go on you tube and check out MarlowDk,He'll keep you busy for the rest of your life. Check out some others also. Maybe learn a new bass line/riff every day?
    Ok,well...I gotta go practice 'cause I never feel good enough! lol ~Peace~
  16. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    I have gotten accepted to every band or gig I have tried out for, learn stuff quickly and can sub for various bands with a couple of days notice, so I would call myself "acceptable", but I don't think I am "good".

    I have several super pro touring musician friends in my neighborhood that are GOOD - but they spend their entire lives doing it. I know I don't have the time or skill to do this, but I sure like playing and people seem to like my playing, so that is good enough, or at least as good as I am going to get.
  17. mr_flood


    Mar 18, 2013
    Wow, awesome responses and I think I found the one that I'm going to go with for now:

    When you can play what you want how you want to play it.

    Thanks eyecycle.
  18. Beersurgeon


    Jul 16, 2010
    In my current band, I'm told that I'm our best musician. Every time I hear this, I say, "I need to practice my bass more." It's an amazing compliment but I feel I can always play better!
  19. As far as I'm concerned, "being good" is a process and a journey, not a destination. Just when you think you've "arrived", that's when you would be going downhill, or becoming stale and stagnant at best.

    If people can tell me I'm good, then so be it, I would appreciate the compliment, but I will not let it distract me from my goal of "being better".
  20. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    IMO you don't ever get to say you're good. That being said, you'll know you're good when a drummer tells you so.

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