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From a conversation in a pizzeria on LI...


Rick Hoffman

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"Bass players are the least talented guy in the band."

 

Words from another musician. A guy I just met while gettin a bite with Chris our new guitar player. I wasn't paying too much attention to the convo while I was eatin my chicken but I definately heard that and almost choked on my food. I turned around and the guy was laughing saying goodbye to Chris while walkin out the door. (I really wasn't in the conversation at all, actually) :(

 

I don't take it personal(ok yes I do) but he does have a great point if we're talking about garage bands or players who may be friends that start out together. Even John Kerry was stuck on bass for being an untalented dolt.

 

Now take the complete opposite of that. How many bass players out there, according to you, are more talented than the people they are playing with. This can be guys in bands or guys who sit in on sessions or jams, from any genre of music. :freak:

 

The point of this thread is to prove that statement so wrongfully lame and maybe turn me on to some new chops to gnaw on... :D

"The world will still be turning when you've gone." - Black Sabbath

 

Band site: www.finespunmusic.com

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If its s good band, I think everyone plays a part that adds to the music. So its not about finger olympics, but how well people fulfill their roll for that song and what is trying to be accomplished. I do what I can to stay out of competition in music. I dont think it belongs.

To kind of answer your question, bass isnt typically a solo instrument and is often mixed farther back in the mix so most people will perceive it as lesser no matter what is going on with the music.

Jonathan

 

 

 

 

 

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Bass guitar is lost in the sauce in some forms of music, but its' role in modeern music can't be overlooked -- the first notes of "My Girl", for ex. That guy was a wanker.
I just want to play the blues - in F! Jaco Pastorius
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Paul McCartney was definitely not the least talented in the bands he was in.

 

Sting proved he was a major talent that propelled The Police.

 

Can you even imagine Rush without Geddy Lee? I can't. In that trio everyone is probably equally talented.

 

Now, these may all be guys that are also lead singers, and that has something to do with it. They are also major songwriters. These aren't guys that wait around for the guitarist to clue them in on the chord progressions; they're the guys writing them.

 

You don't have to sing lead to be a talented bassist, however. I'd laugh long and hard if anyone even suggested that Stanley Clarke was the weakest player in Return to Forever.

 

Obviously there are many standout bassists. Jaco. Wooten. Claypool. Sheehan. Hamm. Entwistle. Bruce. And the list goes on. Guys with real chops.

 

Anyone that thinks Townshend was more talented than the Ox is delirious.

 

Part of the problem is that, yes, sometimes a group of guitarists get together and somebody has to take up the bass. Like Sir Paul's first band. He certainly didn't get the job because he was the least talented, though.

 

The other part of the problem is the traditional role of the bass. An especially rough time was the classic rock era. Every classic rock song had a guitar solo, but the bass solo was almost never heard of. Ergo, the bassist sucks because he can't solo. :rolleyes:

 

That was actually the high point of going to see a band in concert for me. Most groups would take the time to spot light each member. A lot of people groan when they hear "drum solo" or "bass solo", but those are really telling moments, when you get to listen to these guys front and center for once. That stuff never made it to radio or albums.

 

Another interesting thing is that those guitarists that claim bassists are the least talented are usually also the first to exclude bassists that are obviously more talented then they are. You know, the rock guitarists that tell you when you audition they don't play "jazz". Here "jazz" simply means playing anything that might draw attention towards the bassist (and away from the guitarists).

 

But you don't have to be a "show off" if you're talented. Lots have attested to players that do their job, play the role, and then in between songs totally blow your mind.

 

Look at JPJ's credits sometime (on his website). They're endless! They're not all for playing bass, though. He's quite gifted as an arranger and producer, IMO. And he's awesome on keys, mandolin, even guitar. Talent.

 

I used to think that lead guitar was too difficult to pick up, that it would detract from my bass playing. Now that I'm looking into it, I can't believe how much of that is smoke and mirrors. Seriously. Yeah, there are guys out there with major chops on guitar, too, but your average guitarist isn't doing anything more "talented" then the bass player backing him up. Really.

 

And if they start talking about chords? Puh-lease! It's a million times easier to sing while playing rhythm guitar than while playing bass. There's nothing intrinsically difficult about playing chords that requires a more talented individual.

 

True, as a bassist you can get by with reading a chord chart and just sticking to the roots. It doesn't matter if it's E, Em, Emaj7, Esus4, etc.: they can all be played simply as an E note on bass. And the bassist is rarely called on to improvise a melodic lead, or melody (outside of jazz). And sometimes the physics of dealing with those fat strings of ours does make it difficult to keep up on the faster passages. So?

 

Talent isn't defined by how quickly you can bore an audience with your crappy EVH impersonation. As a musician, talent is how well you can create music, and as such, how you can move your audience. Even if that means thumping out quarter note roots so everybody can shake their booties.

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Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

Paul McCartney was definitely not the least talented in the bands he was in.

 

Sting proved he was a major talent that propelled The Police.

 

True, McCartney will probably go down as one of the,if not the, greatest pop song writers in history, but his bass 'playing' is about as simple as it gets. Sting....great performer and writer....bass player....so so. Face it, bass is the easiest and fastest instrument to become functional on. To what degree you go beyond that varies with the individual. I don't really care though, since when it comes down to the basics, what makes up 2/3rds of 95% of any performing trio you will see?..........bass and drums. The guitarist can stop playing, the keyboard can stop playing, the sax can stop playing........nobody will really notice, but just stop the bass or the drums in the middle of a song and see what happens. If least talented equates to most important, I'll take it.
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I'm definately the least talented guy in our band - maybe. Certainly the least skilled, but I can work on that.

Anyone that thinks Townshend was more talented than the Ox is delirious.
I must be mad too. Entwistle was probably a better bass player than Townshend is a git player, but Townshend is still a seriously good musician in the areas of songwriting, composing, performance, musical concepts etc. One of the greats imho.

Epi EB-3

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kerk, good points, but I was going for overall talent, not just who has the better technique/chops.

 

slowfinger, you caught me at my own game. Here I was comparing chops and not overall talent. You're right, Townsend had plenty of talent in his own right.

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Let's not squabble amongst ourselves.

 

McCartney not a good bassist? Learn the bassline for Something or Taxman or Come Together.

 

Sting not a good bassist? Just the bassline for Walking on the Moon puts him in my gallery of greats. Quick, write a six note bassline (actually only using 4 notes: C C D...F E C) that instantly tells everyone what song is being played. Or how about Spirits in the Material World? Or lots of other songs from the Police days.

 

Yes, we all know that Townshend is an incredible writer. Now try to imagine Tommy, My Generation, The Magic Bus, etc. without Entwistle.

 

But we shouldn't be having this conversation here. We should go back to the pizza parlor and bring along Lemmy, Sting, Mike Watt, Les Claypool, JPJ, Larry Graham (quick, name one other player in Graham Central Station).

 

Let's have a rumble!

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Reasoning with an imbecile won't make him smarter any more than honking your horn makes other people better drivers, Rick.

 

I don't even get irritated by the comments like that from dilroys anymore -- that's sort of like getting mad at my dog for digging in the yard. They can't help it -- they just don't know any better.

"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"
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HAHA pizza parlor rumble...if such a thing ever did happen I think the low end would clean house...but anyway:

 

Yea the dude that said this is a guitar player/singer, he was talking about his band with Chris. It went over as if he was trying to make a joke, but I wasn't too amused.

 

But yes it's true only an imbecile would make a statement like that, I know when I'm on stage or in the studio I'm the main force. And it's a great feeling!

"The world will still be turning when you've gone." - Black Sabbath

 

Band site: www.finespunmusic.com

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

(quick, name one other player in Graham Central Station).

Drummer Gregg Errico! I love that guy.

 

Claiming that bass players are always the least talented guy in the band is really a retarded argument that only a mentally retarded retardatard would make.

 

And saying who is the best musician in a band is also fraught with difficulties - Townsend was the best songwriter, but the Ox was a far better instrumentalist (even according to Townsend himself). It all depends on how you are defining 'musician.'

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

But we shouldn't be having this conversation here. We should go back to the pizza parlor and bring along Lemmy, Sting, Mike Watt, Les Claypool, JPJ, Larry Graham (quick, name one other player in Graham Central Station).

 

Let's have a rumble!

It could never happen. That much awesomeness could not be contained in one building. The pizza parlor would be instantly destroyed. It would collapse on itself. Resonating with a frequecy so low, It would collapse buildings and liquify all in a 10 mile radius.

:D

 

I am with jeremy c.

 

Responding to idiotic comments such as the one mentioned only dignifies them with importance.

 

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Man I could sure go for a slice of pizza right now.

 

I agree with kerk that bass is easier to start with. I took it up because my then band already had two "guitarists" and within two weeks of my purchase we were rehearsing again, with me on bass.

 

That said, everything that follows afterwards seems to only get harder and more complicated :D As soon as you start moving away from plucking / picking straight eights, there's a whole world of theory and technique that - with all due respect - most guitarists will never even glance at.

 

And yeah, when I stop playing the entire band does tend to fall apart :cool:

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

[QB]...sometimes the physics of dealing with those fat strings of ours does make it difficult to keep up on the faster passages.

That fact alone makes me stand in awe of musicians like James Jamerson, Bob Babbitt (the other Motown great; check the solo on Dennis Coffey's "Scorpio"), George Duvivier, Ron Carter, Anthony Jackson, Chuck Rainey, etc. Their fleet fingers, however, were/are only part of the equation.

 

The ignorance of trying to make one musician less than another! In a group setting, everyone has to work to make the music stand out. The best musicians are team players, and they don't take away from another to make themselves look/sound good. The best players know how to follow and know how to lead.

I just want to play the blues - in F! Jaco Pastorius
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You must always consider the source. An opinion on bassists from some hack carries ZERO weight with me. Let's stop catering to the lowest common denominator (unless we are taking their money) and continue to elevate the art form.

 

However, I must confess, I've been having thoughts lately along the line of "why do so many fools play guitar?" They have become the bane of my existence.

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Objective conversation about any art form tends to be futile.

 

The status quo is that much of the general public think that anyone can play the drums and the bass is just an easier guitar for those that find proper guitar too difficult.

 

When a musician makes such comments one has to question whether they deserve the moniker 'musician'? Would 'guitar holder' or 'mic stand' be more appropriate?

 

Alex

 

P.S. I used to think Ringo was a rubbish drummer - how embarassingly wrong I was, despite 99% of the population agreeing with me at the time.

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Originally posted by Rick Hoffman:

But yes it's true only an imbecile would make a statement like that, I know when I'm on stage or in the studio I'm the main force. And it's a great feeling!

That's the spirit, Rick. Just remember -- without us, the thing ain't got no booty.
"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"
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Originally posted by C. Alexander Claber:

P.S. I used to think Ringo was a rubbish drummer - how embarassingly wrong I was, despite 99% of the population agreeing with me at the time.

Well, how about his songwriting skills? His solo career after The Beatles?

 

And yet to claim that Ringo was the "least talented" Beatle isn't quite fair either, is it? Where would the other three be without him? He was the last to join, and therefore completed the quartet.

 

Would the Fab Four have been better off with someone like Buddy Rich? :freak:

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

 

McCartney not a good bassist? Learn the bassline for Something or Taxman or Come Together.

 

Sting not a good bassist? Just the bassline for Walking on the Moon puts him in my gallery of greats.

 

Not trying to be argumentative Jeremy, I guess we all have different opinions, but I

thought maybe I missed something, so I gave 'walking on the moon' and 'spirits in the material world' another listen. The beatles tunes will always be in my head. (Saw them in 64 at Joe lewis arena in Detroit...that's another story though). I agree that McCartney and Sting are both 'adequate' bass players. I heard nothing in the two Police songs that couldn't be duplicated and memorized with a break down and a few repetitions. Maybe I'm better than I thought, but I don't think so. Intermediate I guess. I have played for pay in a jazz/blues quartet and carried most of the lead vocals, but I just consider myself 'adaquate'. I'm just an ex 'Guitar George' (by Mark Knopfler's definition) that stumbled onto the bass. I haven't listened to alot of bassist, so maybe some others can chime in as to who the 'greats' are, but again, I couldn't consider McCartney and Sting, as far as players, to fall in that catagory.

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Originally posted by kerk:

I agree that McCartney and Sting are both 'adequate' bass players. I heard nothing in the two Police songs that couldn't be duplicated and memorized with a break down and a few repetitions. Maybe I'm better than I thought, but I don't think so. Intermediate I guess. I have played for pay in a jazz/blues quartet and carried most of the lead vocals, but I just consider myself 'adaquate'. I'm just an ex 'Guitar George' (by Mark Knopfler's definition) that stumbled onto the bass. I haven't listened to alot of bassist, so maybe some others can chime in as to who the 'greats' are, but again, I couldn't consider McCartney and Sting, as far as players, to fall in that catagory.

Kerk, I used to think like you, and to be honest it's an easy mistake to make - but just because it's easy for a beginner bassist to copy a riff doesn't mean that the bassist that created that riff was not a great player, nor that the riff is not great in itself.

 

Saying that is like saying that because a song is easy to sing it wasn't created by a great songwriter and isn't a great song.

 

On the surface bass is generally not a very technical instrument - it's much more about taste, tone, groove, feel, melody, harmony, rhythm, creativity, etc than it is about chops - in fact 99% of great basslines require hardly any chops in the simplest sense.

 

The chops that we bass players have to work on are the sort of chops that, to be perfectly honest, less experienced musicians and listeners are not even aware of existing. These are things like the precise control of dynamics and timing, which raise the playing of a simple riff from lame karaoke-alike to awesome grooving.

 

Alex

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A great bass player is not someone who plays something that is so hard that you have to be an advanced player to play it.

 

 

A great bass player plays a bass part that is so integral to the song that you can't imagine the song without it.

 

One reason why people like to put put down bass players is they hear something like the bass line to something like The Midnight Hour and they say, "the bass part is easy...my grandmother could play that."

 

The question is, would she have played that bass part at the original recording session? Or would she have had to hear Duck Dunn play it first?

 

Of course Walking on the Moon is an easy bass part. Anyone can play it.

 

But there aren't a whole lot of people who can make up a bass part like that.

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And on that subject, when I'm writing songs I'm always far more pleased when I come up with a great simple bassline that's easy to play yet distinctive and easy to remember than when I come up with a complicated one. In fact, the more twiddly they get, the more I worry about them being rubbish!

 

And on the subject of two great bass players, Sting and McCartney, both were also songwriters and singers - try playing some of Sting's apparently simple basslines whilst singing his lead vocal. Easy? Nope!

 

Alex

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Come on Alex. Everyone knows you have to shred to be talented.

 

http://img79.imageshack.us/img79/8382/awesomesf6.jpg

 

:)

Tenstrum

 

"Paranoid? Probably. But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face."

Harry Dresden, Storm Front

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And kerk, I don't think anyone is denying Townsend's song writing genius, but you may want to watch this.

http://www.johnentwistle.com/MPEG/OxTale.mpg

Pay special attention to what Townsend has to say about Entwistle.

Tenstrum

 

"Paranoid? Probably. But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face."

Harry Dresden, Storm Front

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"The chops that we bass players have to work on are the sort of chops that, to be perfectly honest, less experienced musicians and listeners are not even aware of existing. These are things like the precise control of dynamics and timing, which raise the playing of a simple riff from lame karaoke-alike to awesome grooving." - C. Alexander Claber

 

This is what draws me to bass after playing guitar so many years (and still love).

 

Perfect example: Yesterday I was playing in church on some Contemporary Christian tune that, like most of them, ain't exactly avant garde. Any guitar player could play the roots and get by with no one noticing. As it was I was sufficiently bored to start thinking about what I might do differently, and hit upon playing one section on the upbeats instead of the downbeats. Changed the whole thing and got it moving; the band responded and the congregation did, too. Not every guitar player could do that, and I take some credit.

 

"Finger Olympics" - I like that!

 

 

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Thanks guys, I guess I just never realized how special us bassist's are. But from all the responses, I see that to be a bass great is to write a simple, effective bass line and sing to it (as long as it becomes a hit). Don't take yourselves so seriously. If McCartney and Sting are 'great' players.....let me say that again..'players', as I stated earlier (excluding writing and singing), then there are thousands of 'great players' out there. I guess my standards were too high. Is there another level above 'great', or is that the highest plain?

Yes, the bass is important. Yes, the created bass line has much to do with the success of a piece. That has nothing to do with my original comment.

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