Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I'm a guitar player.  I started playing in 1964.  It is a significant part of my self-identity.  It is my avocation, my therapy, and my primary artistic expression.  There have been times in my life when my guitar playing represented a significant portion of our income.  I've played in lots of different bands in multiple styles from funk to pop to singer/songwriter to even a little jazz. 

For about two years, I've been playing bass in the church band.  In spite of the fact that a bass guitar is tuned like the four lowest strings of a guitar one octave lower (which makes it very easy for  guitar player to find all of the right notes on a bass) playing guitar does not a bass player make.  Lots of guitar players think that qualifies them as a bass player but in the end, they sound like a guitar player playing at the bass rather than a bass player.   The bass line requires a different musical vocabulary and needs to be conceptualized in a completely different way than a guitar part.

I knew that going in and worked very hard to actually learn to be a bass player rather than just playing at bass.  I think I've done a pretty good job at that.  Playing bass is fun.  The fact that we have a couple of great drummers to play with makes it even more fun.  And having a good bottom end is really important for the church band.  There are negatives though.  I miss playing guitar.  Playing bass has impacted my guitar technique in a negative way.  And because I have limited time to spend on playing anything, putting time on the bass takes away time from guitar.

About two months ago that led me to place an ad on Craigslist for a bass player for the church band.  That would allow me to move back to guitar.  It is a volunteer position so we've had trouble finding someone.  In the meantime I came across the 10 Commandments for Bass Players.

  1. Thou shalt not *%$* up the groove.  *%$* up the notes if thou must but not the groove
  2. Thou shalt not lust after the guitar player's part.  He keepeth the fun.  Thou keepest the groove.
  3. Be thou not swayed by a drummer with crappy time, for thou art the keeper of the beat.
  4. Be thou not led into temptation before the gig.  After is cool.
  5. Thou pushest thy luck with 5 strings. 6 is a mortal sin, for thou hast no business in the upper register.
  6. Thou shalt not thump with thy thumb nor honk with a pick when thy fingers are the way of truth.
  7. Thou shalt not fear whole notes for they can be the way and the light.
  8. Thou shalt leave the fancy #$@% to thy bandmates so they might wrestle with their own bad taste.
  9.  Thou shalt change they strings once a decade whether they need it or not.
  10. Thou shalt tune thy bass before each and every gig even though it was in tune when last thou  put it away.
A couple don't really apply unless for example the temptation referred to in #4 are the cookies next to the coffee pot.   1, 2, 3, 7, & 8 did remind me of how important the bass part really is... and how much fun I have playing bass.  So, I'm not looking as hard for a bass player.  Who knows maybe I am a guitar player and  a bass player...

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