Gut Rumbles

May 14, 2006

bass guitar

I just took a couple of pictures of the beautiful Washburn bass guitar that I own, but they came out shitty and blurred, so I ain't gonna post them.

I once owned a piece of shit digital camera, and every picture I took with that thing turned out GREAT. So, I decided to shop UP in the world and I bought a mega-pixel, highly-sophisticated, top-of-the-line camera that cost a WHOLE lot of money, and I've never taken a good picture with it yet.

I think I went out of my comfort zone. If it's more complicated than "point and shoot," it's too deep for me. I've had MANY people tell me what a wonderful camera I have, but I can't take pictures worth a shit with it. To ME, that's like having a big dick that you can't fuck with. What good is it?

But I'm digressing, because I wanted to blog about playing bass guitar.

I've read what this guy has to say about playing bass guitar, and I respect his opinion while I call him full of shit for saying that he could play and sing at the same time. When I started playing bass in a rock & roll band, I learned that I could either play bass or sing, but I COULD NOT do both at the same time. My fingers got too busy on the fretboard for me to think about singing. Or if I sang, I couldn't pay attention to the bass licks.

Maybe Kim du Toit could. Others can. Paul McCartney is a GREAT bass-player. Just watch that leftist (left-hander) play and sing. I can't do what HE does. He amazes me, even though I think he's idiotic in the head. But I recognize good musicianship when I see it.

You wanna play some bass that'll make you wanna DANCE? Try "Give Me Three Steps" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Got dam!!! I always liked to stand near the drummer when I played bass, because the bass is a bottom-end percussion instrument, much like the drums. You can feel it in your feet, and it's downright primative in the way it grabs you by the balls.

But the longer I played bass, the more I knew that I would NEVER be really good at it. I liked doing it, but I didn't have the fingers or the concentration to master that instrument. I can still lay down a good bottom when I record for myself, but I know my limitations. I'm better on the banjo that I'll EVER be on a bass guitar.

And I pretty much suck on the banjo, if you KNOW the banjo. I'm good at fooling people who don't know much about music.

That fact doesn't keep me from trying. And I STILL love to play a bass guitar.


Get you a Fuji S5100, set it on automatic (forget all the BS settings) and shoot. If it's far away, use a tri-pod with the 10X optical zoom. The result will amaze you. Not expensive and simple to use.

Posted by: scrapiron on May 14, 2006 10:03 PM

I too have found that it seems like you can get the best pictures with the cheapest camera. My $20 "web cam" camera beat out my $1200 Nikon every time.

Just give me an old Polaroid SX70 and I'll be happy! ( they still make film for those? Hmmm...)

Posted by: DogsDontPurr on May 14, 2006 10:10 PM

The most impressive bassist I have ever seen live was Geddy Lee of Rush.

Bass, foot pedal synth, lead vocals then throw the bass around his back to hit the keyboards hard...

Posted by: rightisright on May 14, 2006 10:40 PM

It's difficult to disagree with you about Paulie Mac, so I won't. But no one, in my estimation, played bass like the Ox. He had the great advantage of having Keith moon on drums, which Moonie played like an instrument leaving Entwhistle to lay down that rock-ribbed rhythm. Damn that was good band!

Posted by: BlogDog on May 15, 2006 01:29 AM

"I'm good at fooling people who don't know much about music.....That fact doesn't keep me from trying".

You're good at fooling people who don't know much about politics and foreign policy too, but that doesn't stop you from spouting off a bunch of bullshit to all your simple-minded followers either.

Posted by: Ringo on May 15, 2006 01:58 AM

way to go, rob.

great post.

kudos(i hate that word) for showing respect to leon wilkeson.

and yes, john entwistle is the paradigm of a great musician playing music on a bass guitar, instead of just parroting the bass drum patterns.

plus he prolly wasn't a commie pinko either. :)

all hail earl scruggs, one of the few musicians to invent a style that most of us follow to this day.

Posted by: richard on May 15, 2006 08:57 AM

I've got to agree with scrapiron's suggestion. I've got the forerunner, the S5000, and the "set it and forget it" aspect is great. Just,, for dog's sake, get a tripod. Or, like me, a mono-pod and make your own two legs the other part of the "tri." But, then again, once you're past 50 and they take away your Jack, your butts and your coffee, things get a wee bit shaky...

Posted by: wil on May 15, 2006 08:57 AM

I can play drums or guitar and sing harmony, but, for some internal wiring reason, like you, I can't play bass and sing at the same time.

As for standing near the drummer, I agree. In the best bands, the drummer and bass player and drummer are joined at the hip.

Posted by: Jim -PRS on May 15, 2006 11:29 AM

What amazes me is how many bass players sing high harmony. Brian Wilson, Glen Campbell (he toured with the Beachboys when Brian was "in his room"), Michael Anthony, Tim Bogert, and may others.
I agree McCartney is amazing. So was Jack Bruce singing lead and playing great bass for Cream.

Posted by: Denny on May 15, 2006 12:59 PM

[kicks Gizzip in hte nads]

Actually, I found it easy to play bass and sing because of a couple of things:

1. I have perfect pitch, so I don't have to concentrate on singing -- it comes out just like I want it to. I don't need to "press my ear" to hear what I'm singing, and I don't even need monitor speakers. Whether lead vocals or harmony, makes no difference.

In that respect, my voice is (okay, was) my primary instrument, rather than the bass.

2. Once I have a bass pattern down, I can play it without thinking -- standard 12-bar being the easiest, Steely Dan and Wishbone Ash patterns the most difficult.

All that said, I was never more than competent, at best. My bass sounded terrific -- a Rick 4001 through a Roland RB-120 was an unbeatable combination. Even the bassist from Blood Sweat & Tears thought it sounded better than his, when he came round to listen to us play after one of their concerts (we finished at 3am in that club).

But although it sounded terrific, I was never that good, unfortunately. I managed to fool a lot of the people a lot of the time, however, because even though I could busk as well as anyone, I rehearsed my ass off -- the whole band did -- because we were professionals, even though we weren't playing professionally a lot of the time.

Fun fact: for the last six years we were together, we did the wedding / prom / company party thing. One company CEO admitted to me that after five years of repeat bookings, he knew the guys in the band better than he knew some of his own staff.

Posted by: Kim du Toit on May 15, 2006 01:09 PM

Great post... and damn, I miss playing bass in front of an audience. Of course, to do it again I'd need a couple of years of practice.

(And no, I never could sing and play bass at the same time. But if you knew me, you'd know that doesn't really mean much.)

Posted by: Steve G. on May 15, 2006 02:00 PM

ha, way cool to hear from kim in the comments.

i've played the same fender jazz bass model electric bass guitar since 1978.

i've bought other ones over the years, for reasons of utility and whim. they are all gone away to people who would actually use them.

when you have something that works, sounds good and stays in tune, keep with it, says i.

there's a picture of my bass on my profile on my blogsnot page(well, the neck and part of the body anyway).

entwistle, jack bruce, mccartney....the triumvirate of cutting edge musicianship for white people rock and roll in the 60's.

and again, play one for leon, won't you?

Posted by: richard on May 15, 2006 04:09 PM

My husband has been playing bass now 30 years...AND he can sing while he does it ;)

Posted by: Shawna on May 15, 2006 08:40 PM

can't dance, though.

Posted by: Shawna on May 15, 2006 08:41 PM

Nor can I.

Posted by: Kim du Toit on May 17, 2006 11:47 AM
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