Drummers transmit the song’s energy, while guitarists and lead singers claim all of the flashiest moments in every band performance. Bassists, on the other hand, are frequently neglected or underestimated. So, what if bassists aren’t good guitarists?
Here’s what I’ve learned through years of being in bands:
Bassists are not, in any way, failures as guitarists. Many prominent bass players, including Paul McCartney, John Deacon of Queen, and Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath, began their careers on guitars. They shifted to bass because it was necessary in their bands, not because they were bad guitarists.
Various instruments necessitate different talents. Bassists are musicians first and foremost.
Most of the time, a bassist is in the background, but he or she also helps the drummer anchor the sound, sometimes play a faster beat, and link the chords together.
They also support the guitarists and other members of the band.
None of this sounds glamorous, but the difference between a band with a bad bass player and one with a superb bass player is immediately apparent.
Why are bassists so underappreciated?
If bass lines are too quiet on recordings and can’t be clearly heard, or if bass lines are too basic and only follow the fundamental chord progressions and aren’t innovative enough, bass musicians can struggle to gain recognition.
Sometimes, like on Metallica’s later albums, the bass takes a back seat to the guitars and isn’t heard at all.
I’m not sure if there’s any truth to whether bass players get recognition or not, but it’s vital to acknowledge some of the bass superstars that DO get respect.
Rush’s Geddy Lee
Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris
The Who’s John Entwistle
Metallica’s Cliff Burton (until his passing in 1986)
Tool’s Justin Chancellor
Primus ‘Les Claypool
In the world of bass playing, they are regarded as gods. However, the list goes on and on.
In contrast to those who leap along enthusiastically with single notes, innovative bass players gain a lot of attention. Ian Hill of Judas Priest and Cliff William of AC/DC are two instances of good bassists who are a tad pedestrian in their playing.
And the truth is that lead singers and guitarists attract the most attention.
As a public audience, we will never know the internal dynamics, but bass players are treated equally. Simon Gallup of The Cure comes to mind as a prime example.
I recently saw the band’s induction speech for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and band frontman Robert Smith was all love for the bass player. In my recent article, see how Gallup’s contribution gave the band a distinct sound.
To read it on my site, simply click the link.
Many bands, however, feature members actively hopping around the stage for entertainment value, but not bass players. As a result, the bass players aren’t given much attention.
And, for the most part, the general public and the media do not appear to recognize the contributions of musicians who back up lead singers and lead guitarists, which may explain why some bassists are regarded as failures.
Is bass more difficult to learn than guitar?
Because it has fewer strings and only one string is normally played at a time, the bass has a less steep learning curve than the guitar. However, because it is heavier and has strings that are much thicker, it requires more physical strength.
If you’re just starting out with bass, your first note will almost certainly be pounding at the strings with a pick and fretting as ham-handedly as you like.
And you’ll get to these levels faster than you would on a guitar, which requires you to learn chords and exact skills. For obvious reasons, learning to play bass might be more difficult than it appears. This might be true even for a beginner.
For starters, the bass is a physically difficult instrument due to its lengthy neck and heavier strings, which necessitate a greater amount of pressure to fret those strings.
Second, the bass is a larger instrument than guitars, making it a little more difficult on your back. Playing bass necessitates both physical and musical stamina.
Finally, there’s the concept of grooving. One of the most difficult parts of the job is figuring out how to work with the drummer and change the beats.
Why are bass guitars used by so many bands even though they are scarcely heard in practically every song?
Due to the inadequate fidelity of the recording equipment at the time, early rock recordings typically struggled to properly distinguish the bass guitar sections. However, certain subgenres of rock music have tended to favor the guitar over the bass over time.
In the late 1990s, thanks to bands like The White Stripes, a whole new trend of bands without bass players emerged.
But it’s possible that the issue isn’t with the instrument.
Our parents and grandparents listened to music on good home stereos all the time. However, we’re considerably more likely to listen to music from Spotify on our phones these days.
In many cases, the sound is then blue-toothed to a single wireless speaker. Or, even worse, we’re using Air-Pods or earphones to listen to music.
When compared to the large, bulky, tube-based stereos of the past, there’s simply no way to attain genuine audio fidelity that way.
But, in any case, the notion that bass is barely there is incorrect.
On the other hand, if one listens carefully, every song contains some bass. And if you can’t figure it out, you’re probably giving credit to the wrong instrument in the mix.
The bass is very crucial.
It’s not always a question of whether or not you can hear and identify the bass. Instead, it’s more of a question of whether you’d notice a substantial difference if the bass was eliminated from the music.
And the answer is without a doubt, yes. If it wasn’t there, you’d notice it.
Why were the White Stripes without a bassist?
The White Stripes did not have a bass player because they wanted to keep the band to just Jack White and his then-wife Meg White.They were also able to make an acoustically rich sound with just two people by tuning some strings down and using a lot of pedals.
I’ve been listening to Jack White for a few decades now, and the lack of a bassist is immediately apparent. Despite the fact that any competent band should have a bassist, the White Stripes elected not to have one.
According to the supporters, Steven McDonald, the bassist for the band Redd Kross, ironically took two songs from the White Stripes’ album White Blood Cells and added bass guitar to both. Redd Blood Cells was the moniker he gave to the results.
And, to be honest, McDonald’s version sounds a lot better and more filling. You may listen to it on YouTube.
The White Stripes didn’t want a bassist, so they didn’t have one. Furthermore, while having a bassist makes a difference, not all bands with bassists are fantastic.
The fact that Ned’s Atomic Dustbin had two bassists did not make them better or worse.
Having a bass player, I suppose, has its drawbacks. On the one hand, not having a bass player helps guitarists reach new heights, but on the other hand, having a bass player enhances the song.
And, of course, when it comes to music, there’s no debate as to why the White Stripes had or didn’t have a bass player.
Who are the world’s top bassists?
Paul McCartney, John Entwistle, Geddy Lee, Les Claypool, John Paul Jones, Jaco Pastorius, and Chris Squire of Yes are among the best bass players.
However, it’s difficult to give you a comprehensive list of all the finest bass pioneers in order to honor the entire spectrum. It’s much more difficult to narrow it down to just a few.
However, the names of bassists who have had the most visible impact in laying the musical foundation are included in the list below:
Bruce Foxton (The Jam)
Chris Squire (Yes)
Cliff Burton (Metallica)
Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn (Stax Records session bassist)
Geddy Lee (Rush)
Jack Bruce (Cream)
James Jamerson (Motown)
John Entwistle (The Who)
John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)
Les Claypool (Primus)
Paul McCartney (The Beatles)
The preceding list includes both obvious virtuosos and artists who elevated the sense of invention in music with a basic understanding of the instrument’s function.
Many people start with bass since it’s easier to learn, but those people can’t be considered “failed guitarists.”
Many bassists in bands also play guitar, and many of them are very proficient at it. This may be seen in a lot of early rock bands.
Because some bands had numerous guitarists but no bassists, many bassists picked up the instrument out of necessity. The poorest guitarist is sometimes nominated for bass duty, and occasionally he isn’t.
A person who excels at bass playing, on the other hand, cannot be labeled a failed guitarist. Bass players are artists in their own right.