The bass guitar – sometimes referred to as the heart of a band, other times (which I’ve probably heard more of) the loser of the band.
But whatever you think of the bass guitar, it is a stalwart veteran featured in almost every band.
Now I didn’t think it would be fair scrutinising other people’s choice of instrument without first asking myself the same question of why I play the bass guitar?
The sole reason I took up the bass was to get in a band. Not going to lie about it, it wasn’t a lifelong dream or anything, but a simple desire to be part of a band. This being a part of my life where I really started to open up to different types of music. Most excitingly where the bands – tattooed, long hair and piercings – rocked out on stage with axes made of wood.
Almost every musician I knew at the time was playing guitar which I absolutely sucked at. And I mean terrible, a bit like Hendrix minus the talent. Here I saw a gap in the market.
So one day, as my friend trawled through guitar websites, it wasn’t like I looked over to his screen and saw a beautiful four stringed piece of mahogany and thought: “that’s the instrument for me!”
It was more of a case of my friend saying “you should play bass” to which I replied “okay!”
Which is where my story begins.
My first bass
After purchasing my first bass, a vibrant, cherry red Yamaha RBX170, I almost instantly formed a band.
But not knowing what you’re doing with an instrument makes the band experience quite difficult. So the self teaching process began.
Why didn’t you take music lessons I hear you shout! Because I was far too arrogant and poor to properly learn the instrument.
I actually believed that the first time I picked it up I would start rocking out to Master Of Puppets. I was deluded to say the least.
But bundling from one basic song to the next was surprisingly easy. First came Seven Nation Army, then Smoke On The Water, then Die, Die, My Darling. I was well on my way to being the next Cliff Burton in no time.
But even in the early days I knew that the bass was the instrument for me. I can’t describe the feeling and other musicians will probably say the same, but for some reason you know that it’s the instrument for you.
I had that feeling the first time I picked up a bass in the store and still feel that way today, three years on.
I was very lucky with this being the case as I had never planned to play the bass and just used it to get into a band, but thinking about it now, I wouldn’t pick any other instrument over it.
Almost instantly a heavy metal band called Toxi-creep hit the scene.
And although we made ourselves official on Myspace, we never actually had a practice or made any songs. So that died a very quick death.
Then there came my next band – Absolute Zero/It’s A Trap/Paddyfield Disaster, we had lots of names which all pretty much sucked balls.
But nevertheless we continued and the line up initially saw me on bass, with my two friends on guitar.
Up to this point I had been playing for about a month and after practise one day we sort of mutually decided that our rhythm guitarist couldn’t keep a rhythm and that I couldn’t play bass to save my life.
So I switched to keys and he switched to bass, I had been playing keys for around four years up to that point anyway. Nevertheless, those band days were some of the best of my life.
There is nothing better than being with such a creative group of people, having a laugh and making music. I still miss it today.
I was to later find that my poor playing was partly due to using a plectrum. After dropping the pick and moving onto finger picking, I was to see that there was hope in my bass career yet!
I thought it would be unfair taking footage of other musicians playing without doing it to myself. Be warned I said I enjoyed playing, not necessarily that I was any good:
This monumental and cataclysmic realisation saw the formation of The Small Things a while later – a Blink 182 cover band. By now I could at least play to a level which was just above the musical talent of Lil Wayne. Playing bass in this band was amazing, even if it was just a mess about.
Covering classic Blink songs and jamming to songs like Livin’ On A Prayer really made me appreciate the bass even more and allowed me to experiment with different sounds without a plectrum holding me back.
I’m currently not in a band and I couldn’t care less. Ironically, my sole reason to play bass was to form a band which never really kicked off. Just playing the bass now is satisfaction enough for me. Saying that, I fancy joining a band soon, I’d say I still have some bands years left in me.
And that pretty much brings me to today, of which I have recently bought a new bass. A beautiful glossy black Ibanez.
That sums up why I play bass.