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Rick Hoffman

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Originally posted by kerk:

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.

If it's that simple why didn't you write it yourself?

 

 

www.ethertonswitch.com

 

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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.

 

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.

:D I just imagined Rush without Geddy Lee and liked it.

 

 

www.ethertonswitch.com

 

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kerk,

What matters is not about the playing it's about the musicianship. Some musicians have developed a talent for sreating, improvising and realising great basslines - Joe Zawinul, Sting, James Jamerson, Paul McCartney etc.

It's not about the chops! The skill amd musicianship comes partly in the allegedly 'small' details - how long dopes the note last? When does it end in relation to the snare drum? How do the placement of rests contribute to the feel of the line? How does a change from a two bar to a one bar patern affect the momentum of a tune? Is the player on, ahead of or behind the beat? How is the player using dynamics?

The compostion/construction of basslines os integral to almost every bassplayer's craft. We have to improvise, adapt our lines, create something in the moment. Only a great musician could create a bassline as memorable as Walking on the Moon. Ask someone like Gil Evans about it? Why do you think Miles Davis valued having Michael Henderson so much, his lines are 'technically' easy to play.

It can take more musicianship to play a root five country bassline with a great feel and momentum than it can to play 'Flight of the Bumblebee' on bass.

It just depends on how it's done.

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I just imagined Rush without Geddy Lee and liked it.
I just imagined Rush without Rush... and liked it.

 

But seriously, folks...

Anyone who actually thinks bassists are the least talented members of bands is either a non musician (who just doesn't know anything about music) or musician who wants to find a P-bass lodged in their rectum.

 

It's like saying, "The least important part of a house is the foundation." Putz.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Originally posted by kerk:

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.

Hey kerk, I used to have pretty much the same opinion before I started hanging out here about a year or so ago. In my mind, the only great bass players were the ones that could out play me. I mean, if I could cop someone's lines in 30 seconds or less, they "obviously" were mediocre players, right? In those cases I could always come up with a "better" bass line than the recording, too.

 

There used to be a mantra around here, not just the LD but all the MP forums: "music is not a competition". It's a much healthier way to view music than letting my ego run the show. Obviously the pizzeria punk never heard about it. Is the goal to be able to play 2-octave scales faster than anyone else in the world? Or is it to make music?

 

The thing with Jamerson, Graham, and McCartney is that they need to be viewed in the proper historical perspective. These guys invented ways of playing that didn't exist before they came along. They didn't just cop what everyone else around them was doing. It's seriously hard to be innovative like that. McCartney's lines could be viewed as "nothing special" by today's standards, but he's one of the guys that set the standards! [The Beatles were before my time and I used to think Sir Paul wasn't anything special as a bassist, too.]

 

My examples tried to highlight that musical talent does not necessarily equal monster chops. There's more to music than being able to play something on bass that no other person alive can dup. Singing, songwriting, arranging, producing, etc., all of these take musical talent as well.

 

However, if you just want a shredfest, there are guys with monster chops. Jaco and Stanley. Wooten. The Bx3 guys: Jeff Berlin, Stu Hamm, and Billy Sheehan. Les Claypool. Lots of guys I don't know. The "Finger Olympians".

 

And yet somewhere out there is a quote by Sheehan along the lines that 99% of the time the bassist should just be sitting back, laying low, and grooving. Imagine if every song ever written had a bass line that was entirely fast tap? Or fast, loud, overbearing slap? (Try that on your next audition and see how it goes. :rolleyes::D )

 

It's like that TV commercial. We're not the guys playing the screaming lead guitar solo, we make it sound better. We may not sing the words, but we make them sound better. We don't play the awesome drum fill, we make it sound better (usually by getting out of the way).

 

A talented bass player knows how to make a good song better. And that's rarely done with monster chops.

 

Personally, yes, I like to add some chops to whatever I'm playing. I'm used to a rock trio setting where I have more space to work with. But Sundays at church my role is different (traditional folk group), so I do play back to avoid overplaying and ruining the songs. (And incurring the wrath of the congregation as well. :o )

 

I'm also a firm believer that all bassists should be able to play an extended solo, not just a 1-2 measure fill. Just because we rarely get the melody doesn't mean we shouldn't be capable of playing it. This is often viewed as "talent"; it's just learning another role. Other musicians play the melodic role all the time; there's nothing special about it. (They may never play the bass role, though.) For 99.99% of bass playing it will never come up (unless you study jazz at college).

 

You can go the way of solo bass -- Michael Manring, Steve Lawson, Mike Dimin, Max Valentino, et al -- in which you have more freedom to use as much monster chops as you want. But even these guys don't just play a shredfest. Why? Because who would want to listen to it? The goal is to make music.

 

Would you rather read a story written by an author who's goal was to show off his incredible vocabulary by cramming in as many impressive words as he could? Or a story by an author concerned with plot, character development, etc.; things that make a good story?

 

So yeah, chops are a good thing to have. It's hard to define talent in terms of chops, though, because a good bass player is often filling the role of bass in an ensemble, where chops are not the most important thing to have.

 

But really, kerk, you can define "talent" and "great bass player" how ever you see fit. Everyone is free to his or her own opinion. I think everyone here can respect a difference in opinion. (Well, except maybe when someone says bassists have the least talent, but it wasn't you who said that.)

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In the world of musical instruments, bass is indeed one of the easiest to become technically competent at in the shortest amount of time. You don't have to know about much more than simple triadic harmony to play functional or even melodic basslines.

 

Even Scott Thunes (bassist for Frank Zappa from '82-'88) has gone so far to say "If you're the bass player in a rock band, you are--by definition--a moron." He's not exactly wrong. Buy yourself a book of rock bass tab and learn some rock songs and you'll find yourself gigging within a week if you have halfway decent rhythm, whether or not you know what chords you're playing. He's been quick to point out that his strengths as a musician have nothing to do with anything technical he actually does on the bass.

 

But as we all know, music is not just about what you're technically doing on the instrument (unless your musical tastes consist solely of Dream Theater & Yngwie Malmsteen), it's about the music.

 

Something as simple and perfect as "Walking on the Moon" is sheer genius. It's easy to play, sure, but it's not about how easy it is to play, is it? If it was, then nobody would find the bassline to "Low Rider" so catchy, would they?

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The thing with Jamerson, Graham, and McCartney is that they need to be viewed in the proper historical perspective. These guys invented ways of playing that didn't exist before they came along. They didn't just cop what everyone else around them was doing. It's seriously hard to be innovative like that. McCartney's lines could be viewed as "nothing special" by today's standards, but he's one of the guys that set the standards! [The Beatles were before my time and I used to think Sir Paul wasn't anything special as a bassist, too.]
When one puts this stuff into perspective, one should also be mindful that visionaries like Scott LaFaro, Charles Mingus, Paul Chambers, Ray Brown, etc had already paved the way by showing people that the bass could play a powerful role...but McCartney, Jamerson, Dunn, etc, showed that the same concept could be applied to pop music.
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Originally posted by BenLoy:

The thing with Jamerson, Graham, and McCartney is that they need to be viewed in the proper historical perspective. These guys invented ways of playing that didn't exist before they came along. They didn't just cop what everyone else around them was doing. It's seriously hard to be innovative like that. McCartney's lines could be viewed as "nothing special" by today's standards, but he's one of the guys that set the standards! [The Beatles were before my time and I used to think Sir Paul wasn't anything special as a bassist, too.]
When one puts this stuff into perspective, one should also be mindful that visionaries like Scott LaFaro, Charles Mingus, Paul Chambers, Ray Brown, etc had already paved the way by showing people that the bass could play a powerful role...but McCartney, Jamerson, Dunn, etc, showed that the same concept could be applied to pop music.
A twilight zone moment: I was just reading an old album cover - Steely Dan's "Countdown to Ecstasy" and the credits list Ray Brown as playing bass on "Razor Boy".

 

 

www.ethertonswitch.com

 

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Tangent warning

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Originally posted by way2fat:

an old album cover - Steely Dan's "Countdown to Ecstasy" and the credits list Ray Brown as playing bass on "Razor Boy".

When you mention 'Ray Brown' I thought you meant this one: http://www.whiteroom.com.au/howlspace/en/brownray/brownray.htm

The Aussie Ray Brown was quite a local star for a while. The above link mentions 'Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs', a band so loud they once killed the goldfish in a tank at the beer barn he was playing in at the time. A great Aussie larrikin band imho

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Originally posted by Rick Hoffman:

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

Well I guess at least he didn't say Bass Players are talentless. Someones got to have less talent than the others. Although I've heard everyone else in my band, including my guitarist trying to play some 'simple' bass lines. I think I know who is the most talented Bass player in my band.

Feel the groove internally within your own creativity. - fingertalkin

 

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Originally posted by BenLoy:

Even Scott Thunes (bassist for Frank Zappa from '82-'88) has gone so far to say "If you're the bass player in a rock band, you are--by definition--a moron."

Whoa, easy there -- let's not generalize.

 

If you read the rest of that interview, it became pretty clear Thunes IS a moron. So what he was essentially doing was defining everyone else who plays bass by who he is.

 

Just because he's one doesn't mean you and I are.

"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"
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Alot of people seem to be of that opinion. But that just tells me they never actually sat down and payed attention to the bassist. What about Stomu Takeishi the bassist for Topaz? That guy is one of the best musicians I've ever heard. What about "Cochao?" Would this guy even know who these people are? Trevor Dunn, etc etc. The only thing that guy probably even notices when performing is himself. ANd he probably isn't even that good to begin with. At times, my band DEMANDS I play something tricky. We only have one guitarist, so I'm half the strings in my band. THat puts more demand on me as a bassist, or atleast with what my Guitarist and I or trying to accomplish with are music. Maybe the guy should buy a Ruins record, where there is only two members in the band, the drummer and the bassist. How about Moonchild, the Zorn piece. An insturment is only as complicated as you allow it to be. Let us not forget that even a guitarist is at his best, when he soulfully wails a single note. The same can be said of every musician on any insturment. Some times all the piece requires a single note.

 

I get so annoyed with people who think that its your technique that makes you a good musician. That crap is nothing more than Acrobatics and is on par with a guy who can run really fast or a guy who can lift more than another. You can see that it in every art form. Take film for instance. All this flashy CG and speacial effects, but the film is just so lacking in anything deep.

 

Musicians with that kind of attitude bore me. I'm so tired of all these hack musicians who are all style and no substance or depth. And what is an attitude like that going to do to your music? "Oh Trevor Dunn, I dont care what you do or about your opinions. Play what ever." If that was the members of Mr. Bungle's view point, do you think there music would even as half as good as it was? Where would Mike Patton be with out Trevor. I doubt Fantomas would even be around without him. Oh who needs Bill Laswell when you could just use the guy from Blink 182! All bassist are "fundamentally" the same anyway.

 

Tell him the Great Dictator say's go home and listen to your Cold Play records. Meanwhile I'm going to focus on the finer details of the music itself.

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