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Art thou guitarist's disease infecting us?


dohhhhh6

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Today, I went to a music store (Kirkwood Music Center/Mel Bay) to buy a nice book that would help me out with A) standard notation and B) playing stupid basslines to learn standard notation better. So, I ended up bringing my guitarist friend along for the ride to check out a guitar he's going to buy. After a few quiet minutes of peaceful browsing, Mr X. walked into the store.

 

Mr X. was a very evil boy. He had the worse humartia (character flaw) a bassist could possibly have... he was a showoff. First, he started playing some monster slap riffs that the likes of Les Claypool might play. And as he did this, he found time to turn his head around to us and smile. Minutes passed, and just as I was about to start messing around on a MIJ P Bass, he asked my guitarist friend what key the tune he was playing was in.

 

Needless to say, I was a tad pissed. I was playing with the idea of yelling at him, "Shut up! We know you're good so just stop it!!!" But being the polite person that I am, I said nothing. A small conversation commenced and found out he was in 4 bands, knew the local scene quite well, and had a lot of hate directed towards him from a very good, and kind, bassist who works at GC and has personally helped me out a lot. That basically tells me that there's something wrong with this guy.

 

I've heard plenty of guitarists play "Who has the biggest chops(penis)," but I don't think I've ever had a bassist show those qualities. I'll tell you, I think bassists are some of the most humble musicians. I've (until this time) never met a bassist who hasn't been kind and helpful. With all these great people, why do there have to be ugly ducklings? Do we have ugly ducklings becauseh the guitarist's disease spread to bassists? What's wrong?!?

 

*the guitarist's disease is a blatant term for musicians who showoff. This by no means means that only guitarists have this disease.

In Skynyrd We Trust
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There are more ways to make music than thou hast dreamed of, Horatio. Some bass players are doing it while others are content to play ruts, er, grooves ; }

 

Playing bass is pretty cool because there are so many damn ways to approach it if one has done their homeqwork, and their practice, and their enlarging ofntheir spirit and their imagination. It is possible that at some cycle of a bassist's growth he or she might appear to be a showoff. A year later that person may be a well-deserved local phenom on the way to some cool music.

 

Let the meek inherit the earth while Bootsy's spawn go out to the stars or in to some deep inner space. There is more to life than grubbing in the dirt for retread meat and potatoes, for some. That the instrument of choice is bass may at times be immaterial.

 

<-- ostinatos, vamps, and grooves also appreciated ---<<<<

.
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Welcome back ____________. Good to see you haven't disappeared from the face of the earth.

 

There is a time and place for the pissing contest and then for playing in the ruts. The good bass player knows the difference. It depends on your situation, for the most part. I've been in situations where I would be fired if I went all Vic Wooten all over the joint when all that was needed was Roger Waters. But, I've also been privy to the situations where it was "Show 'em if you got 'em!"

 

It sounds like that guy has an inferiority complex because of his sullied reputation or he has a bitter personality. Without knowing the fellow, I really can't speculate, but I know the type. Fortunately, those types of players generally wash out soon.

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Just to add a bit more info on the guy. At first, I thought he was just some guy who had some really complex basslines downpat (which was a total misjudgement). He obviously knew quite a bit of theory, and even offered, a bit aggresively, however, to show me some "walking bassline patterns" at the mention of Ed Friendlin's Building Walking Basslines books, which I declined knowing that I'd come across material on walking basslines soon enough. He'd been playing a couple years (don't know exact number) and the bands he was in ranged from jazz, to funk, to rock (I'm pretty sure...).

 

It just really got to me that he'd spend a good 10 minutes trying to impress the small audience with slap. I actually told him he might want to consider playing a bit more low-fi before he quickly excused himself with, "But I actually play those basslines!"

 

I like this quote a lot (can't remember who did this one), "Not every band needs a Jaco."

In Skynyrd We Trust
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Originally posted by Da LadY In Tha Pink Dress:

I've heard plenty of guitarists play "Who has the biggest chops(penis)," but I don't think I've ever had a bassist show those qualities. I'll tell you, I think bassists are some of the most humble musicians. I've (until this time) never met a bassist who hasn't been kind and helpful. With all these great people, why do there have to be ugly ducklings? Do we have ugly ducklings becauseh the guitarist's disease spread to bassists? What's wrong?!?

 

*the guitarist's disease is a blatant term for musicians who showoff. This by no means means that only guitarists have this disease.

First, there are lots of humble guitarists out there (in which I include myself). Second, there are assholes out there that have to show off no matter what. If they deem playing bass to be a competition they'll have to best someone else to be happy, even if it's putting a beginner down.

 

Music is a reflection of society, and therefore you'll have people that are really great at what they do and are humble, those that are great and assholes, those that can't play and don't mind telling you so, and those that are ashamed of their lack of skill. I just help those that I can, tolerate those that I can't, and ignore those that want to flaunt their skills. :)

BlueStrat

a.k.a. "El Guapo" ;)

 

...Better fuzz through science...

 

http://geocities.com/teleman28056/index.html

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And then there are the ones who think someone else is showing off when they are just putting the puppy through the paces.

 

And the ones who play bass as a job, a job that might be writing ad copy and not the great American novel. Don't want to confuse oneself about what the job is... might set oneself up for failure ; }

 

And then there is me a few years ago, wondering what the hell to play that wouldn't sound lame. So I just started out slow and composed on the spot, finally getting to some pretty involved stuff without planning it, but definitely feeling the music inside.

 

I try not to notice the wankers, but they are all around me. Some of them are fast unimaginative wankers, and some are slow tired wankers with a sense of self-justification. I try not to pass judgment but my sense of discrimination is sometimes a bear to supress.

.
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Originally posted by  :

And then there are the ones who think someone else is showing off when they are just putting the puppy through the paces.

Indeed.

 

Originally posted by :

I try not to notice the wankers, but they are all around me. Some of them are fast unimaginative wankers, and some are slow tired wankers with a sense of self-justification. I try not to pass judgment but my sense of discrimination is sometimes a bear to supress.

Which is why I try my damndest to stay out of music stores unless I absolutely *have* to go there. It's painful to listen to. I hear ya, brother.

 

It's really good to see you back posting, man. Stick around, things have been good 'round these parts lately.

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Why do you care what the other guy plays in the shop?

 

Unless it's so damn loud that I can't concentrate on what I'm doing, what someone else is doing is up to them. It's not as if we're auditioning or competing for a gig.

 

The first few times I tried instruments in a shop, I did get nervous about what I could play. While in my 40s I'm relatively inexperienced (2 years playing) and don't have flash chops - so what could I do? Rehearse a 'party piece' just to show off in a shop??

 

I realised that this was a stupid direction to take. I'm not auditioning, I'm not on show, I'm supposed to be checking out the instrument.

 

So I play scales - very slowly, checking out each note. Simple major and minor, over one or two octaves. Then simple arpeggios, again slowly and rythmically. Some slow octave jumps. Then run up and down the neck, very slowly, playing every note on every fret. Slow notes back and forth across the strings. Do it again with different tone settings, standing and sitting.

 

If the shop is quiet enough, I'll do it again with the amp turned down. Listening, really listening, all the time to the tone, the consistency and smoothness.

 

Only then will I maybe play a few walking lines up and down to see how smooth and slick the neck feels.

 

Lame? Maybe, but to me it's the best way of really checking how it sounds. And the funny thing is, once I start picking out every note slowly and clearly, checking for dead spots, the sales guys seem to take me a lot more seriously than before.

 

And if anyone else in the shop smirks or sniggers at the lack of fireworks, that's their problem, not mine.

 

Cheers,

 

Graham

www.talkingstrawberries.com - for rocking' blues, raw and fresh!
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Hey, graham, that's always the best way to check out an instrument IMHO. When I got my Yamaha 5 string, I was doing just what you did, until I got a little carried away and started doing some M E S H U G G A H style licks. Hehe, they actually had to tell me to turn it down, which I did. :D I wasn't about to totally lose my cool, ya know. ;)

 

Needless to say, some sexy bass that was just gathering dust in the store got a new home. :love:

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Well no one likes a show off, but its important not to get intimidated by better players. When I was learning to play I loved going into the shop and seeing people play those hot fast licks, it inspired me to go home and practice because if they could do it then so could I, thats how I looked at it.

 

Im never satisfied with my own playing, and when I see someone playing good, it reminds me of how cool it is to be able to play like that.

THE ace of bass
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Honestly, I hate all players who show off just to show off, so I guess I hate myself. This is something I think we all, if we were being honest, would be guilty of in one way or the other, or on one form or the other.

 

Basically, when I'm in the shop, I'm there to try some stuff out, and that's the end of that. If there are other jerks around, trying to get the praise and adoration of those around with fast licks and funk renditions of every poplular bass line from the past 20 years, then that's their problem. I just do my best not to be one of those jerks.

 

Mark

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I recall also that sometimes guys spend a few minutes checking out rigs and instruments, then are there mainly to check out other cats, maybe do a little jamming, find some bandmates or names to add to the contact book. So basically, you might see some different types of showing off, audio resumes, lameness exercises from people who later might end up being shakers and movers, etc.

 

Tolerance is key.

 

Then, there are many ways to check out a bass or rig. How it responds in various registers, dead spots (they all have them in varying degrees but a lot of people never seem to discover them until they have made purchases), feel of neck, balance and ergonomic issues, default "voices", etc. Some slow playing, some fast, various plucking, bumping, slapping and popping and pickup selections for the above, electronics quality and flexibility, sustain - that's a lot of stuff to find out about {not that a different set of strings or pickups can't change a lot of that entirely later on ; } ...

 

Someone may appear to be a wanker, but they may be getting the info they think they need out of their time there. That's just where they are at at the time. Later on someone might think you are a show-off or two-dimensional type, so go easy ; }

 

Yep, some slow NOTES and sustains are part of the regimen too, if you really want to know what an amp, cabinet or bass does. Though some time at home interacting with the rest of one's gear will often tell the real story. And hey - lots of people think they have a real great setup until they go to a gig and their EQ is making jokes, their low B is weak or too fat compared to the E, or their G string sustain dies like a bad actor when ever they get a few frets up the neck. Some don't even notice it THEN ; }

.
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Y'know......it's really not a disease of bassists nor guitarists, but rather something nearly all musicians fall prey to at some point.

There is something in us which calls out for attention and and some reassurance that we are "good", yet when in a place like GC, you will surely find lowest form of this possible. Experience and maturity usually quells this; as we grow out of the need to show off.

 

I usually try to avoid GC an the like, and rarely, if ever, try out basses there. Far too often there oogling around from people who suddenly hear a "real" bassist play, and somehow they expect the show-off chops you encountered, of which I never indulge. Yet, there was a time not too long ago when I was in a GC with a friend, and lo and behold there was another Mr. X (perhaps as cousin?) doing much the same thing. Many customers tried as well as they could to ignore him, but he persistted, and even grew louder and more obnoxious with his "chops fest", and of course there was the small crowd of oogling teenagers pushing him on(and tried tho I might, I could not find a "tune" in what he was doing).

Finally, I could take no more and resorted to a tried and true method of shutting down similarliy obnoxious guitar players; I grabbed a bass (in fact a very cheap bass) and played, rather quietly, the prelude to Bach's Cello Suite #1.

It was just a matter of moments before "my" Mr.X stopped playing, and as soon as he did, so did I, and simply walked away leaving the store nicely quieted (and getting a couple of whispered "thank you"s from the staff).

 

Max

...it's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
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It's always kinda tough to go into a store, grab a bass, plug it in and play. I think it's only natural that you feel people are listening to you. Some are. Some aren't. I think it's natural to want to sound good, too.

 

I'm not the greatest player, but I'm not bad either. I guess when I go to try a bass and/or amp, I tend to play "licks" or "grooves" that will put the gear through it's paces. I want to hear it loud, soft, slapped a little, finger funked a bit, high pitch, low B, whatever.

 

If someone thinks I'm showing off, I guess I can't do anything about it. If someone thinks I suck, same thing. Do what you need to to get a feel for the gear and let people think what they will.

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I have this really strange habit: when I try out a new bass in a shop, I play songs on it that I actually play outside the shop. That way, I know how it will sound when I play actual songs outside the shop. This is, evidently, a very weird habit; I have had shop owners comment favorably on it, however.

 

And the truth is, when you're a grown-up (in attitude, that is!), you're looking for an instrument that will work for you, & you know what you're looking for. All the noisy wankers just make it that much harder, if not impossible, & you've got little choice sometimes but to go to another shop & try your luck again. I think I mentioned a few weeks back a trip I made with my friend to try out Les Pauls--he was there to buy, not to look--we had to leave after about two tries because a salesdude came into the amp with some infant who proceeded to run some gawdawful riffs through a distortion box, trying to determine whether it was really loud & rough enough for him to ply his art. We just had to leave, & my friend did not buy his Les Paul there. But it's not just guitar players. I was at another shop a couple of weeks ago, & this doofus proceeded to try out a drum kit at a volume which, I kid you not, prevented people in every corner of the store from even hearing each other, despite standing close & shouting. Clears a shop pretty quick. Where the hell do these idiots come from, and what the hell is their damage already?

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I dunno about most of you guys, but I feel like I am not playing enough, although I am just laying it down. Basically I am following the guitar for the most part, but i feel like I should be doing more.

 

whatever. If it sounds good, play it.

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hahaha I think i know that guy(just kidding).I live in seattle and we have a store called bass northwest.This store sells nothing but bass gear.check out the website www.bassnw.com Everytime i go in there,there is some guy sitting in fromt the most expensive rig playing some million $ bass lighting off some claypool or jaco riffs.

I once asked a friend of mine that works there what he thought was more painfull a guitar player playing stairway to hevan or a bass player playing slap.My friend thought that was pretty funny.

I can hold my own when it comes to playing famous stanly,jaco,or claypool stuff but i don't go down to the music store and torture the guys that work there with that stuff. I'm sure they here it a million times a day.

I also don't hardly ever use that stuff when playing with others i prefer to play to classic role of the bass and just play some simple in the pocket thing.Leaving the showing off to guitar players or other solo musician's.

i grew up watching TV and i turned out TV
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Originally posted by All Tubes:

www.bassnw.com Everytime i go in there,there is some guy sitting in fromt the most expensive rig playing some million $ bass lighting off some claypool or jaco riffs.

Not too long ago I was at Bass NW looking for a distortion pedal, and there was some kid in there doing something like that. Plugged into the biggest amp he could find, and playing that damned Green Day riff over and over and over. After about 5 minutes he finally stopped and I thought "good, now I can actually listen to these pedals". But no, he then started trying to play Flea's version of "Higher Ground", over and over and over. After another 10 minutes of listening to this kid struggle through a bunch of riffs that were obviously beyond his skill level (at top volume), a clerk mercifully made him stop.

 

At Bass NW they're generally pretty good at spotting the wankers and cutting them off so the paying customers can actually try before they buy. But if I have to hear that damned Green Day riff one more time....

-Matt M
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Sadly, this seems to be an all too common problem among people in general, and I don't know how much playing music has to do with it (although I've seen my fair share of self proclaimed "ubermusicians"). There's always a segment of every group that thinks they're better than everyone else, and have some God given right to show off how fantastic and utterly irresistible they are.

 

These are the same people who strut around in meat markets with their "patented" pick up lines, ride ear shattering motorcycles or cruise around the market in Ottawa on a Sat night with ridiculous add ons (neon lights on the underbody?...give me a break!) on their Honda microcars & hotrods. I like to yell out really loud when they pass by on the street..."It's ok, I've got a small penis too!" The looks I get are priceless!

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Originally posted by P-berger:

Sadly, this seems to be an all too common problem among people in general, and I don't know how much playing music has to do with it (although I've seen my fair share of self proclaimed "ubermusicians"). There's always a segment of every group that thinks they're better than everyone else, and have some God given right to show off how fantastic and utterly irresistible they are.

 

These are the same people who strut around in meat markets with their "patented" pick up lines, ride ear shattering motorcycles or cruise around the market in Ottawa on a Sat night with ridiculous add ons (neon lights on the underbody?...give me a break!) on their Honda microcars & hotrods. I like to yell out really loud when they pass by on the street..."It's ok, I've got a small penis too!" The looks I get are priceless!

I'm actually pretty quiet in a music-store (check tone, neck-action, fret-buzz), but in general, to a degree, I think most musicians have an ego-thing. It just seems to come-out differently in different people...
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That's a good point. I doubt anyone who solos for 10 mins and cops Jaco licks ad nauseum is actually there to buy a bass. The last two I bought were like you said. I played a few quick riffs (more to see the bass's playability than anything else), and spent the rest of the time fiddling with the knobs checking intonation and actually examining. If these attention seekers just want to show off...they should just walk into the store and play "air-bass", since the guitar and music are obviously secondary to showmanship and making love to yourself.
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Shucks! That would've been a great idea! All I remember is that A) he had a peach-fuzz mustache B) he was a short (as in height) junior in high school C) one of his best friends is in 5 Story Fall (or something like that), and D) he wasn't caucasian.

 

Sorry about the vagueness. If I run into him again (it's bound to happen, I go to Mel Bay just about every week these days), I'll ask him for band names.

 

By the way, Scott, do you know a bassist named Curt Shaw (he's a saleman at the local GC)?

In Skynyrd We Trust
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