Do you have the look?

I was recently made fun of from a dear friend, his ammo for the ribbing was over a quote he had read from a magazine. A local band was making their way to L.A., to make it, and needed a bass player. The quote was, “Anybody can learn to play the bass, but who is going to have the look?”(I added the question mark.)

The eternal question

The eternal question

I am not offended. It is a laughable statement and in no way reflects the new bass player or his talents. Unfortunately it is this mentality that has the bass overgeneralized as “simple”, and I am not happy about that.

There have been great electric bass players that break the mold of the root and fifth bass line in pop music, and to most a lifetime of practice could not touch: Leeland Sklar, Verdine White, Joe Osborn, James Jamerson, Pino Palladino, Carol Kaye, and Tony Levin. There are so many more!

Sure, it is easy to pick up a four string bass and fill out the low end, but that is not were it stops! I encourage all my students that the bass is not a passive instrument–be melodic, active, and create exciting and personal bass lines! Put some thought and technique into what you are playing. Don’t forget YOU are creating!

Popular music isn’t the only place this bass playing plagues, but in Christian and praise music where it is almost more innocuous. I have heard the same bass lines over and over and it is no wonder why every kid runs to the drums and guitars. Players are just filling a frequency range, not taking a creative roll. This results in no one becoming inspired.

So, if you have the look, more power to you. I challenge you to do more.