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A history of me and the Bass Guitar (Part 4)


Article posted on Tuesday, 3rd, January, 2012 at 1:45 pm


Not knowing about different musical concepts (such as ‘space’) really bugged me. Here I was, this fairly experienced bass player, having supported some big bands and recorded at high profile studios, and yet I didn’t know basic things about music.

Our drummer was the only qualified musician, and I often acted as the interpreter between him and the guitarist whenever something musical and technical needed to be discussed. I could understand what he said, but like I said, I only knew music through the way I’d learned it, and that was my own way. With lots of flaws, and missing out important stuff that wasn’t cool and didn’t reward me with kudos from my band mates.

After some pretty dire gigs and the stress of trying to get my final year of uni sorted, I quit the band, and devoted more time to my lady (I would argue that time was originally stolen from us by the band in the first place). The bass fell towards the sidelines as I studied, graduated and got a job, and I must say I didn’t like it. I was used to spending one to two hours a night on my own playing music – it’s so relaxing, and clears your mind, and if you want to you can focus it whilst playing, and sort out in your head things that you don’t otherwise have time to think about (depending on how well you know the songs you’re playing). I always found if I let my mind wander whilst playing, I could still play well, if not better, and a little more in the groove of the song.

Anyway, a few years went by and I finally moved in with my lady, we now had much more time together, and we also didn’t have to spend each night travelling to and from each other’s houses – was there time for music again?

Since I’d lost my ritual of practise, I didn’t get back into playing bass straight away – I’d pick it up and have a strum, but since I wasn’t in a band, I had no one to prod me to learn anything new, and I found myself just playing the same old stuff I could play years ago. I had no sense of accomplishment or progression, so decided to look at slap bass.

Learning slap bass isn’t easy, and learning it on a 5 string bass is harder, so I decided to go back to my Squier. I obsessed with getting the right gauge strings and ended up getting some ridiculously light ones, since I thought it would be easier to slap – I had no idea about saddle height, truss rod adjustment and neck profiles. I also got some flatwound strings for my 5 string Ibanez (not an easy birthday present to find!) in a brief moment of madness.

Looking into slap bass and all the bassists that were playing it, it seemed like it was all about the Fender Jazz bass. I developed an obsession with them and considered either doing up my Squier; spray paint, black pearl scratchplate, pickup covers, pearl inlays and the likes (which would mean it would still be a Squier underneath all the glitz), or getting a Mexican Fender Jazz bass from eBay. Months went by and I slowly saved up enough for a second hand one, but they always seemed to go for more than I’d expect, or were a little too battered for my tastes. I ended up deciding to get the black 70s Jazz bass and putting pickup covers on it myself to make it a little more ‘me’ – whatever that is…

I’d saved up nearly enough and the next Christmas, I got some money that put me over the top – I could finally afford it!

WRONG!

The new year of 2011 saw Fender put their prices up ridiculously, so the Mexican 70′s Jazz bass I had my eye on before Christmas went from the £530 mark up to at least £625 in shops everywhere on the 1st of January (or thereabouts). I was livid. I decided I wouldn’t buy a new Fender – I just couldn’t give them money for doing that to me! It was time I looked elsewhere…

Our drummer was the only qualified musician, and I often acted as the interpreter between him and the guitarist whenever something musical and technical needed to be discussed. I could understand what he said, but like I said, I only knew music through the way I’d learned it, and that was my own way. With lots of flaws, and missing out important stuff that wasn’t cool and didn’t reward me with kudos from my band mates. After some pretty dire gigs and the stress of trying to get my final year of uni sorted, I quit the band, and devoted more time to my lady (I would argue that time was originally stolen from us by the band in the first place). The bass fell towards the sidelines as I studied, graduated and got a job, and I must say I didn’t like it. I was used to spending one to two hours a night on my own playing music – it’s so relaxing, and clears your mind, and if you want to you can focus it whilst playing, and sort out in your head things that you don’t otherwise have time to think about (depending on how well you know the songs you’re playing). I always found if I let my mind wander whilst playing, I could still play well, if not better, and a little more in the groove of the song. Anyway, a few years went by and I finally moved in with my lady, we now had much more time together, and we also didn’t have to spend each night travelling to and from each other’s houses – was there time for music again? Since I’d lost my ritual of practise, I didn’t get back into playing bass straight away – I’d pick it up and have a strum, but since I wasn’t in a band, I had no one to prod me to learn anything new, and I found myself just playing the same old stuff I could play years ago. I had no sense of accomplishment or progression, so decided to look at slap bass. Learning slap bass isn’t easy, and learning it on a 5 string bass is harder, so I decided to go back to my Squier. I obsessed with getting the right gauge strings and ended up getting some ridiculously light ones, since I thought it would be easier to slap – I had no idea about saddle height, truss rod adjustment and neck profiles. I also got some flatwound strings for my 5 string Ibanez (not an easy birthday present to find!) in a brief moment of madness. Looking into slap bass and all the bassists that were playing it, it seemed like it was all about the Fender Jazz bass. I developed an obsession with them and considered either doing up my Squier; spray paint, black pearl scratchplate, pickup covers, pearl inlays and the likes (which would mean it would still be a Squier underneath all the glitz), or getting a Mexican Fender Jazz bass from eBay. Months went by and I slowly saved up enough for a second hand one, but they always seemed to go for more than I’d expect, or were a little too battered for my tastes. I ended up deciding to get the black 70s Jazz bass and putting pickup covers on it myself to make it a little more ‘me’ – whatever that is… I’d saved up nearly enough and the next Christmas, I got some money that put me over the top – I could finally afford it! WRONG! The new year of 2011 saw Fender put their prices up ridiculously, so the Mexican 70′s Jazz bass I had my eye on before Christmas went from the £530 mark up to at least £625 in shops everywhere on the 1st of January (or thereabouts). I was livid. I decided I wouldn’t buy a new Fender – I just couldn’t give them money for doing that to me! It was time I looked elsewhere…



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