I've never been a guy with a lot of natural rhythm; it's always been something I've struggled with. Unfortunately, both bass players I play with have left their respective bands --one due to, ah, creative differences, and the other has gone back to his home of Australia. So I decided to throw my hand in and attempt to learn to play bass. I figured it would be good for me as a way to improve my rhythm. And for some of the rock and blues songs we've been playing ("Come together", "Day Tripper", "Sunshine of your Love", "Killing Floor", "Early in the Morning") the bass line is pretty much the same as one of the guitar parts. So how hard can it be, right? I mean, it's only got four strings!
So I picked up a couple of used short scale basses and Roland cube amps on Craigslist and GuitarCenter. One bass and amp are kept where I rehearse with my guitar buddy Rob, so I don't have to schlep gear every time we play, and the other set is at home.
- Jay Turser Violin Bass ($150 w/case)
A Hofner "Beatle bass" clone with a 30" scale that I picked up in white as seen in the photo above. I've never seen another Beatle Bass in white, so I'm pretty chuffed about this.
- Ibanez Mikro Bass ($100)
A really short 28" scale bass, also in white
- Roland Cube 20XL Bass ($150)
A solid practice amp, with built-in amp emulation and loud enough you can play with a drummer
- Roland Cube 100 Bass ($200)
This is a discontinued model, loud enough to play a gig, but still only 35 lbs. Lots of built-in effects so you can go from smooth Motown sound to Stranglers growl. At $200 this was a steal.
I decided to go with a short scale bass which would be easier to transition from guitar. It's still a bit of a stretch, but not too bad. That makes it a different sound than the classic rock Fender P-Bass, but I figure with the effects and amp emulation, I can boost the low-end if I really need to. For guitar players interested in picking up bass, a short scale bass makes a pretty easy transition. The Ibanez Mikro is about the same size as a Fender Strat, so it fits nicely in the trunk of my convertible. Alas, the Beatle Bass has to ride in the passenger seat.
I'm not giving up on guitar, but I'm going to see what I can do to learn some proper bass skills. Heaven knows you always seem to have more guitar players than bass players, so I figure it's a good skill to have. It's certainly different from guitar. But it's a cool feeling when you get a groove going with the drummer. And so far, no pressure to do a bass solo.
Any other bass players coming from guitar who want to provide advice? Let me know in the comments below. And if anyone has another short scale bass (Ibanez ARTB100, Eastwood, Gibson EB0 etc) in white they'd like to sell, I'm all ears.