Finding a bassist. Why is it so difficult?

hubberjub

Member
Messages
4,598
I've been in an original country band for the past three years. We gig all over the Northeast, really enjoy doing it, and have been reasonably successful. We have the hardest time finding reliable bassists. It would be easier to replace me (pedal steel) in this area. Our current bassist is one of the most difficult people to deal with that I've ever met. He was hired as an upright player and he did so for the first few gigs. Then he tells us that his upright is broken and he needs to play electric until he can afford to get a new pickup (two months and still waiting). He shows up with a six string Ibanez bass for a traditional (not modern) country gig and proceeds to utilize the full range of the instrument. After a few gigs we convince him to use a bass that belongs to the guitarist, a very nice 1978 Fender Precision. Now we can at least get him to stop dropping low B's in the middle of a set. The next problem is his amp which is a 20 year old Hartke head with a 1x18" Yamaha PA cabinet. He thinks this antiquated thing sounds fantastic when it's just a big nasty mess. We have a very nice modern Ampeg rig that he could use but he refuses to even try it out. If we play anywhere that provides backline he refuses and brings in his behemoth system and proceeds to piss off the soundguy. We would fire him, but there is not another bassist in the region that's available. Believe me. It's been two years since we've had a steady bassist. Forgive my long-winded rant. I guess my point is, if you're a guitar teacher, by profession, try to convert a few of your students to bassists. It will make the world a better place.
 

Flyin' Brian

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,251
Because too many people think that playing bass is easy and they apply that thinking to their bass playing.
 

mikefair

Silver Supporting Member
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1,447
Because great bass players are as rare a hen's teeth. It's the hardest job in the band. Great guitar players are everywhere. Bass players can't stop. They have to hold the song up. They have to be able to play all over the beat. They have to know when to hold a note out and when to cut it off and they need to make that decisions hundreds of time in a single song. You can't have a great band without a great bass player. Don't believe me? Try playing bass.
 

georgestrings

Senior Member
Messages
1,506
Define "reasonably successful", please??? IME, if you're making really good money, and playing out frequently - there's always a good musician available, regardless of the slot you're trying to fill...


- georgestrings
 

Bieling3

Senior Member
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2,986
For every decent frontman there are two drummers. For every two drummers there are 4 bass players. For every 4 bass players there are 40 guitar players. Approximately. On average.
 

georgestrings

Senior Member
Messages
1,506
Because great bass players are as rare a hen's teeth. It's the hardest job in the band. Great guitar players are everywhere. Bass players can't stop. They have to hold the song up. They have to be able to play all over the beat. They have to know when to hold a note out and when to cut it off and they need to make that decisions hundreds of time in a single song. You can't have a great band without a great bass player. Don't believe me? Try playing bass.
While it's true that great guitarists aren't uncommon, I don't agree with the notion that playing bass is the hardest job in the band - and this is coming from a longtime working bassist... I was an active gigging guitarist for 15 years before picking up bass, and will admit that I'm a far better bassist than I ever was as a guitarist - the increase of success after the switch clearly bears this out... I will say it's harder to sing and play bass than it is to sing and play guitar - and that a good bassist that can also sing stays as busy as they want to be...

IME, it's impossible to build a great band without both a great bassist AND a great drummer - they're the foundation that holds everything together... Singers typically intonate off the bass, and the bass moves the dance floor, too...


- georgestrings
 

TMcB

Member
Messages
525
Being a bass player is a difficult and sometimes thankless job. Sometimes your job is to alternate the root and fifth on quarter notes for hours on end because that's what's best for the situation and you don't get to show off your mad skills.

The problem is that being a good bass player has everything to do with taste and restraint, but people recognise being able to play all over the neck as being a good bass player, so noodly flamboyance gets positively reinforced for some people. Combining taste, restraint, but being able to play all over the neck when needed is a rare thing and makes for a great bassist but you won't pick it straight away; the guy that's dropping B's everywhere will get your attention first.
 

georgestrings

Senior Member
Messages
1,506
Being a bass player is a difficult and sometimes thankless job. Sometimes your job is to alternate the root and fifth on quarter notes for hours on end because that's what's best for the situation and you don't get to show off your mad skills.

The problem is that being a good bass player has everything to do with taste and restraint, but people recognise being able to play all over the neck as being a good bass player, so noodly flamboyance gets positively reinforced for some people. Combining taste, restraint, but being able to play all over the neck when needed is a rare thing and makes for a great bassist but you won't pick it straight away; the guy that's dropping B's everywhere will get your attention first.

Yeah, it gets boring sometimes - that's when I check out the chicks: wireless is a must, hahaha!!! Also agreed that great bass playing is sometimes more about the notes that you don't play...


- georgestrings
 
Messages
1,806
I'm sorry your bassist doesn't get it. Being part of the glue, and wanting to be, is essential to any rhythm section and ensemble. Clearly it's all about him and not the music nor the band. Are there colleges nearby that have music programs? Binghamton? Perhaps do some recruiting there.
 

Peteyvee

Premium Platinum Member
Messages
56,049
How many country and western bass players does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
What do an accordion and an investigation have in common? In answer to the OPs questions, you just have to read no further than Brian's or Bieling's post...
 

hubberjub

Member
Messages
4,598
Define "reasonably successful", please??? IME, if you're making really good money, and playing out frequently - there's always a good musician available, regardless of the slot you're trying to fill...


- georgestrings
By reasonably successful, I don't mean famous. We play 2-4 times per week and make at least $100 per person. No, we'll never get rich, but IMO, that's worth our time. I will never claim that bassists have an easy job.
 

Nebakanezer

Member
Messages
3,688
Around my neck of the woods, most of the guys that you see playing bass started out on guitar. They became good guitarists and during their musical journey, saw a void that needed to be filled. So they picked up the bass and are also good at holding down the low end and focusing on locking in with a drummer. I picked it up to return the favor to my friend that put down his guitar because we asked him to play bass in our band. I played bass for years because everybody was a bass player short for getting there band/jam off the ground. The running joke in the country band I'm in is that our best guitarist is on bass.
 

ksandvik

Member
Messages
6,328
Me thinks one reason many good bass players quit is that they play behind a bunch of average guitar players and realize they could do a better job themselves.
 

hubberjub

Member
Messages
4,598
Me thinks one reason many good bass players quit is that they play behind a bunch of average guitar players and realize they could do a better job themselves.

Probably true. I switched to pedal steel because I knew I wouldn't have much competition.
 






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