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When Someone Asks to "try" Your Bass

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Boplicity, Sep 20, 2000.

  1. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    This is something that happened to me many, many times when I was gigging in another country, also when I was in music school. Someone would come up to me, a complete stranger, and ask to try my bass. I never knew what to say, so I let them. Then they would procede to play some "impressive" slap and pop licks and run some really fast scales or whatnot and make me feel like a jerk. I resented it so much after a while that I started to say, "Well, I have to leave now. Some other time." Besides, it was always somebody who wanted to show off big chops. Only once did someone try my bass, then offer to pay me big bucks for it, because he loved it so much.

    It even happened after concerts, when complete strangers would approach me and ask to play my bass, though no one approached the guitarists or drummer to play their instruments. Again I resented it. First, maybe I'm selfish, but I didn't (and still don't) want strangers handling my bass. Second, I would never dream of asking another bass player to let me "try" his bass even if I played like Vic Wooten or Stu Hamm.

    What is your opinion about this? Is proper protocol to allow people to "try out" your equipment simply because they asked or what do you do and if you refuse, how do you do it politely?

    Jason Oldsted
  2. geo?


    Mar 29, 2000
    Back when I used to play parties this happened with some frequency. Hasn't happened too much lately. My reaction (slightly altered due to the level of intoxication present in the person asking) was always "No". If someone needed clarification I would just inform them that no one touches my basses -- not my girlfriend, not my band mates...no one. This may seem rather extreme, but that's just my philosophy. The bass is an extension of myself, I don't let random people touch my...uh...you get the point. ;) So, no one plays my basses 'cept me.

    Plus the fact, would you ask to drive their car? Why should you let them play your bass?

    Just my thoughts,
  3. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    I agree with geo....

    Just...say....NO. :)
  4. Well, I also agree with Geo? I got burned once after letting someone try my Stingray - I later found a deep scratch which wasn't there before. I suppose when someone asks you "well why not?", you could always say "well, would you let me try your woman?" - risky, but I suppose they might just say "yes..." which might be even more risky...

    - Wil

  5. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    If a complete stranger comes up and asks to play your bass, chances are he/she is simply: A. out to impress someone who's watching in the background, or B. a jerk who can't find a band to play with (because he's such a jerk).
    A truly considerate and professional player would take the time to introduce himself, and get to know you before approaching your instrument. I would take the polite, but adamant, approach, and beg off letting someone feed their frail ego at your expense.
  6. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    this happens to me all the time, mainly due to the nature of my basses. i don't mind. then again, there aren't too many people who are going to pick my basses up and do anything on them that i couldn't. simple fact - most people haven't ever played 7 or 8 string basses before, so 99% of the people who want to try my basses out aren't as good on them as i am. and that last 1% is cool, to me, since i might learn something.

    a lot of this is also that i am happy where i am as a player - that doesn't mean that i can do anything i want to on the basses, but i am on the path i want to be on, and i can visualize what i want from myself as a player, and where i want to grow. if someone were to pick up one of my basses and wail on it, i wouldn't feel threatened because i am pretty secure in what i am doing and in the knowledge that i know where i want to go as a player.

    that's just me, though, maybe i'm too arrogant :D
  7. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    It doesn't happen to me at all, but at our last gig, a young guy (maybe 18) came up and we were just talking about his church gig, and what kind of basses I was playing (I had the Pedulla fretless and Lakland 55-94 there). He was a pleasant, courteous guy, and was very interested in the basses, so I offered to let him play the Pedulla. He put it on, played it, and got a big kick out of it. No scratches, no leavin' me blowin' in the weeds, just a few licks. It was cool. No, I'm not gay, so shut up.
  8. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
  9. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Funny you should mention that. That's how I discourage people from asking me to "try" my gear. When they ask the first time, I politely say, "Sorry, no one plays my bass but me." If they ask again, I say, "OK, give me your car keys...you damage my bass, I damage your car." They go away thinking I'm a jerk, but I think they're the jerk for asking again after I politely say no.

    Also (Jason), I don't care if someone is better than me. I usually assume that another player is better than me (at least until I hear them play). That's just one motivation for practicing and trying to improve all of the time. If I were to let someone "try" my bass after a set or gig and I thought they were a better player than me...I would just think - I hope he's in a band, and remain confident because I'm the bass player with the paying gig.
  10. I won't turn my bass over to someone that I haven't at least talked to to sorta "scope out". But if after talking to someone I get the impression they're on the up-and-up, I'll let them check one of them out. If I get the impression that they're not trustworthy, I don't say yes, and if they just barge up and ask without at least being polite and talking to me for a bit, they get blown off. If they're obviously drunk, well....I attempt to politely steer them elsewhere, failing that, I usually tell them GO AWAY.

    As far as being intimidated by someone checking out my basses:

    1) Like JT, I'm pretty confident in my abilities...not that I'm great, just I'm good. There are a lot of guys out there that can play circles around me, so what....music isn't athletics, it's not a competetion, so that doesn't bother me. If they're better than I am, I'll most likely learn something, and at the least be inspired to go work on my playing.

    2) I've sat in a room many times and traded licks with Dave LaRue. NO ONE can intimidate me after that!!! :D (And yes, he absolutely blew me away...)

    I'm usually happy to let serious players check out my basses. In person I tend to be a "salesman" for the guys that made my basses (The Guitar Factory, Orlando, FL), kinda like JT is here about Conklin :). I've actually sold a few basses for them over the years by letting guys check my babies out.
  11. Whenever we're jamming some A**hole comes over and asks to play my bass. Whether it's just a jerk from an adjacent practice unit or someones's cousin or something it still pisses me off. The nerve! <p>
    I tell them they can play it if they wash their hands with antibacterial soap because I don't want dirt in my strings ruining my tone. It's a really good excuse because there is no bathroom with soap for 3 blocks from the building and most of these losers are hoofing it! <p>
    Sometimes I'll offer to let someone play it if they kiss my a** and tell me I sounded awesome from outside the room. As soon as they start to play Primus I cut it off, though. Why does everyone play Primus? It reminds me of "Wayne's World" -- "Stairway, denied!"
  12. jfsjbb


    Aug 29, 2000
    I've been playing in a jazz band for 17 years. We know each other really well, and we trust in each others caution handling instruments. But no one uf us touches a fellow players instrument without explicit permission.

    Situation is slightly different when we play sessions. All the players come with their own instruments, but i have no problem with another player using my bass if i know him or have seen him treating his own bass first. Especially when there's a double bass on stage already, it makes no sense to get a second one out of the car. Most of this problem has been discussed in the "How do you deal with sit-in's?"-thread, though.

    When I trust another player enough to let him sit in for me, i trust him enough to play my gear.

    What I hate are so called "players" who want to check out other players' intruments only to demo their chops. If you visit a music equipment fair and walk by the basses, you know what i mean. You see rows of people with basses in their hands and headphones on, and all you get to hear is klack-e-de-klack-klack-de-klack-bang-bang in a never ending kakophony of "chops". That's ok at a music fair, but not after a gig with people still in the house.

    If someone walks up to me with a good reason why (s)he wants to touch my bass, like "I have the very same bass at home and would like to try your's for a moment, just to compare the setup, with your permission?" that seems to be ok for me.

    But: My instruments are made to make music, not to demonstrate chops.

    btw: Yes :D, of course i have a problem when someone else is better than me. That shows me how far i still have to go.

    :( :( :(

  13. Acacia


    Apr 26, 2000
    Austin, TX
    since I haven't gigged as a bass player, I have not experienced it yet. i have had drummers ask though, I always said "No, we're in a club, dig?"

    Recently though I was at a bar where a band was playing (mostly oldies style stuff) and the bassist had an older Fender Jazz Special, a model of bass that I had never seen before. We were discussing my inexperience as a bass player and I was telling him about the Fender that I just bought. He said, "Pick it up and check it out if you want to, I need to check sound anyway." SO I played a few licks I knew and gave it back. Then I offered him some money for it. :D
  14. gmstudio99


    Mar 11, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    I used to be extremely anal about my instruments: wiped them off after every use, polished them regularly, and NO ONE touched them...until my son was born...Alex is now 10 months old and he loves them...the moments are heavily supervised, but I let him poke and prod and pluck and bang and drool and bite and explore them all he wants...my attitude literally changed overnight...

    I mean, they're just big hunks of wood...there are other things vastly more important.

  15. jfsjbb


    Aug 29, 2000
    My daughter is 15 months old now, and she loves messing around with my instruments. This means i have set up my amp settings from crap everytime she turned the knobs. Once, however, she found a really weird setting that I liked :D:D. Unfortunately I forgot to write it down :(.

    As a "protection" for my instruments i dug out an old marching drum in the loft and took it to my music room. She loves that drum even more than my basses, as it makes more bang than the unplugged axes.

    further recommending: little hearos

    "I believe the children are or future ..."
  16. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I got my youngest son off the bass thing by getting him a drum kit, the quick results got him hooked. I get to play as well he he. My other son wanted to play the guitar so I let him. After his fingers wouldn’t work he went back to the N64.

    On the touch my bass I break your face front, I have mixed feelings. I don’t like people playing my basses after a gig , it’s not the place. I pack my stuff away pronto anyway so I have a good excuse. I will talk about gear or playing after a gig. This tends to stop the show off. If people express a desire to learn or trade knowledge I will invite them round my house for lessons or a jam. And I’m not gay either.

    It may be going off at a tangent but I have done some multiple band type gigs where the bass player turns up without a bass expecting to use yours. It does not happen as much since I got an unmarked fretless :)
  17. Player


    Dec 27, 1999
    USA Cincinnati, OH
    I have no problem letting other players play my basses, although I don't ever recall a total stranger ever asking. It has always been someone that I've at least seen play before, except when I was in a house band and we had a jam night (sundays). Then I always brought a 'P' type 4 string (that I rarely played anymore) in case someone didn't have a bass. I don't recall anyone (that I didn't know) wanting to play my 5.
    My thought on CS's situation; If they're suppose to be part of a band, they should have instruments. No bass= not a bass player. Jam nights and sit-ins are a diiferent story (you have to expect to supply some equipment).
  18. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    Other guys in the band, no problem. But total strangers I will say no to. Like someone else mentioned earlier---let me take your car for a spin or ride your Harley around the block a few times. Ain't gonna happen, is it? Didn't think so.:)
  19. GM -

    EXACTLY!!! They're just tools, not works of art, certainly not as valuable as a child (I don't have one of those, but still...) :). I like to call my basses "the hammers", I just drive nails with 'em. That's not to say I don't take care of them, I most certainly do, but I don't "baby" them (even though I will refer to them as my "babies" at times). Most people are amazed at the collection of dings, chips, and dents in my basses. I could care less about them, they play and sound great still, that cosmetic stuff is of no concern.

    That said, if I were sharing a bill with another band and the bassist showed up sans instrument, unless there'd be a catastrophe (I did loan a bass to a guy that had just gotten ripped off once.....), "a lack of planning on your part is NOT an emergency on mine...".
  20. No one ever asks ol' lefty boy here if they can play MY basses!

    Actually, when people have asked, I said, "Sure! Go right ahead!"

    They put the bass on and then it's, "Oh, nevermind."


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