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15 Things Only Bass Players Would Understand

15 Things Only Bass Players Would Understand

Bass players are frequently seen as lower-class citizens in the music world. You struggle to get credit from other types of musicians, non-musicians who don’t understand bass, and people mixing your sound if you play a show. You hear the same jokes constantly, and nobody seems to understand your struggles.

1. You learn to be very patient with people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

Bass is one of the most misunderstood instruments, and as a bass player, you constantly hear things like, “Oh, you use a pick? Don’t you use your fingers on bass?” (you know that both have their place) or “Bass is always just single notes, right?” To be a bass player, you need to learn patience quickly, or else you will constantly be correcting people. This kind of patience comes in handy when you come across frustrating people elsewhere in your life.

2. You don’t let being underappreciated get you down.

The average music listener pays very little attention to bass and what it does for the music they are listening to. That’s fine, though. You know how important you are, and won’t let this lack of attention or appreciation get you down. Even when it takes the form of people who think bass is an “easy” instrument and that you aren’t working as hard as other musicians, you know the truth, and this kind of hate won’t keep you from showing up and doing your part.

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3. You can accept that you don’t always get what you want.

Bass players are routinely put at the bottom of the list in terms of importance, and nowhere is that more obvious than when you play live. You might have a better amp than the guitar player, but will still be asked to use a DI. Or if you are lucky enough to get your amp mic’d, you will still be asked to turn it down so much that almost no volume is actually coming from your amp. In either of these situations, you lose the tone you want out of your amp. This is an unfortunate reality of life as a bass player, but it’s something you learn to simply do your best to fix yet accept in the end.

4. You are very humble.

Bass players don’t only have live issues with their tone, but also being heard at all. If you have ever played shows, you know that a sound person who actually mixes bass into the overall mix well is an absolute blessing. The sonic frequencies that bass creates behave and resonate very differently than guitar does, and many sound people seem to either not understand this or not to put forth the effort that would be necessary for bass to sound like it should. Even if you’re audible in the mix, you are still generally very well-hidden. It seems that they keep bass lower in the mix so that it doesn’t stick out. As a bass player, you understand this, and though it might be frustrating, you just keep doing your thing. Your ego and need to be recognized don’t trump your loyalty to the music. Outside of issues playing live, the mindset of a bass player is generally a humble one. Bass players can absolutely be flashy and impressive, or be the lead instrument, but largely you serve to provide rhythm and structure for other instruments to build on top of.

5. You have really strong muscles and great lifting form.

Bass gear is incredibly heavy for the most part, especially in comparison to similar guitar gear. There is basically no way around developing stellar muscles hauling your stuff around, and it only takes getting a sore back once from lifting your amp with bad form to lift things properly every single time after that.

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6. You have a refined sense of humor.

Bass players are very routinely the butt of jokes. If they were original or creative, you would have no issue with it. You won’t get far as a bass player without learning to laugh at yourself a bit. Unfortunately, a large majority of these jokes revolve around either the Seinfeld theme song (which every bass player knows was actually played on a keyboard, not a bass), or doing their most obnoxious Paul Rudd impression to yell “SLAPPIN’ DA BASS” at you. These are very tired and basic forms of humor, and you have a more sophisticated palate.

7. You make do with what is available to you.

If you walk into almost any music store, you will see that the selection of bass gear, whether it be instruments, amps, pedals, or any bass-specific accessories, is substantially smaller than what is available for guitar. Your local Guitar Center will probably have almost as many Stratocasters available as they have total basses. While you still know exactly what you want, you realize that you sometimes have to make some compromises and work with what is available to you. You will see guitar players swapping out gear for something new before it seems like they even had a chance to really use what they’re getting rid of, but bass players tend to stick with something for longer. You wait until you find something that really fits your needs. This outlook is really valuable in life. Finding ways to get by with what you have leads to being innovative and determined.

8. You can school people with your knowledge, even if they think they know what they’re talking about.

Musicians of all types know what it can feel like to talk about music with a non-musician. It feels like you are speaking another language, even if you are trying to state things as plainly as you possibly can. This is because musicians not only are more familiar with music terminology and theory, but actually listen to music differently. A study by Dr. William Berz, the Area Co-Coordinator of Rutgers University’s Music Education Program, found that experienced music listeners are significantly better at identifying structured events within music. This difference in knowledge level can make it difficult to be on the same wavelength when trying to talk about music. For bass players, this frequently happens even when you are talking to other musicians. Bass players perceive music differently than guitar players do. You notice what’s going on below the surface of songs more than they do. Using this, you can talk about music in ways that will completely go over the heads of people who think they know everything about music.

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9. You are good at budgeting and saving.

As a bass player, you quickly realize that some of your music gear costs significantly more than the guitar equivalent. Pedals designed specifically for bass are almost universally more expensive than the version designed for guitar. Even for an accessory like a hard case, you are likely to spend at least $10 more than for the guitar counterparts. While all of these can be brutal on your wallet, nothing beats the pain of buying bass strings in comparison to guitar strings. Though there are cheaper options for a set of bass strings, you are usually looking at spending at least $25, while guitar strings are much cheaper, with single sets usually costing around $5, and packs of ten sets available for $35. Because of this, it is essential as a bass player to learn to budget and save effectively. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to afford the gear you want.

10. You are very good at supporting others.

One of the primary jobs that you generally have as a bass player is to help lay down the foundation for the music. You work with the drummer to form the rhythm section, which provides a platform for lead instruments and vocals to work on top of. This isn’t the most glamorous job in the band, but without it, songs would have trouble maintaining their structure and dynamics. This kind of role requires you to be committed to supporting other people in their endeavors, possibly at the expense of your own work shining as brightly. There is a common misconception that bass is boring and not as important as the other instruments in a band, but if you took it away, you would quickly see how reliant on bass those other musicians are. It’s hard to have this type of attitude not cross into your life outside of music, as well.

11. You work well with others.

One of the most common expressions among bass players is being “locked in” with the drummer. When you get on the same page as a drummer, it is an incredible feeling. To achieve this, you have to work well with the drummer by becoming attuned to their strengths and weaknesses in order to react to their playing and stay synced up. This skill translates to almost every walk of life. Learning to work with others is maybe the most important lesson you could ever learn, but as a bass player, you already excel at this.

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12. You know when to be quiet and when to speak up.

As a bass player, you need to know when to be subtle or drop out of a song, as well as how to build back up and make your presence more known. Doing this is one of the most effective ways to add dynamics to songs that otherwise lack them. It isn’t necessarily fun to stop playing during sections of a song, but you know that it is making the music better. Your skill with this also translates to the rest of your life. You are very skilled with knowing how to navigate conversations and when to speak up to let your opinion be heard, as well as when to simply listen to others.

13. You look at things with a different perspective.

Bass has a very different role in music than most instruments. You span the gap between the rhythmic and melodic components of the band in a unique way, which leads to you perceiving music differently than other people do. This affects both how you play music (any bass player will tell you how unnatural it sounds when guitar players try to play bass), and how you listen to it. While others focus on the lead instruments or the melody of a song first, you hear what’s going on underneath and how the rest of the music is built on top of it. By having this different perspective on something as universal as music, it shifts the way you look at the world around you. This way of looking at the world gives you valuable and unique insight.

14. You are flexible.

Playing bass requires you to work in a variety of situations that each pose unique challenges and obstacles. Whether you are facing live sound issues or playing with musicians who are not giving you the recognition you deserve, life as a bass player requires you to be flexible and deal with things as they come. While other musicians may get more benefit of the doubt when it comes to these situations, people still think of bass players as lazy, lesser musicians and expect them to just accept what is thrown at them. While you still remain strong in your demand for respect, you know how to adjust yourself to keep moving forward. Having this flexibility makes you strong in times when life throws curveballs at you, as well. While other people won’t know how to adapt, you succeed in spite of hardships.

15. You know how to surprise people.

As a bass player, you are used to being misunderstood, ignored, or totally overlooked by both musicians and general music listeners. This can be incredibly frustrating to you, but it also gives you one of your biggest skills—the ability to surprise people. When people have an assumption that bass is boring, or not very important in music, it gives you the chance to prove them wrong. You don’t need to break out into a crazy solo to do this, either. Things like having awesome bass tone or playing something in an unexpected way can do this, as well. Simplest of all, if you are proud of being a bass player, and aren’t afraid to say that and talk about why the misconceptions about bass players are wrong, you will constantly surprise people, and hopefully start to change their minds.

Featured photo credit: Musician Carrying Bass Guitar in Desert/Image Catalog via flickr.com

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Robert Parmer

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on November 5, 2020

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. A rut can manifest as a productivity vacuum and be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. Is it possible to learn how to get out of a rut?

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, or a student, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on Small Tasks

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks that have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate positive momentum, which I bring forward to my work.

If you have a large long-term goal you can’t wait to get started on, break it down into smaller objectives first. This will help each piece feel manageable and help you feel like you’re moving closer to your goal.

You can learn more about goals vs objectives here.

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2. Take a Break From Your Work Desk

When you want to learn how to get out of a rut, get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the bathroom, walk around the office, or go out and get a snack. According to research, your productivity is best when you work for 50 minutes to an hour and then take a 15-20 minute break[1].

Your mind may be too bogged down and will need some airing. By walking away from your computer, you may create extra space for new ideas that were hiding behind high stress levels.

3. Upgrade Yourself

Take the down time to upgrade your knowledge and skills. Go to a seminar, read up on a subject of interest, or start learning a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college[2]. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a Friend

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while. Relying on a support system is a great way to work on self-care when you’re learning how to get out of a rut.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget About Trying to Be Perfect

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism can lead you to fear failure, which can ultimate hinder you even more if you’re trying to find motivation to work on something new.

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If you allow your perfectionism to fade, soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come, and then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

Learn more about How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up.

6. Paint a Vision to Work Towards

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the ultimate goal or vision you have for your life?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action. You can use the power of visualization or even create a vision board if you like to have something to physically remind you of your goals.

7. Read a Book (or Blog)

The things we read are like food for our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great material.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. You can also stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs and follow writers who inspire and motivate you. Find something that interests you and start reading.

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8. Have a Quick Nap

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep[3].

Try a nap if you want to get out of a rut

    One Harvard study found that “whether they took long naps or short naps, participants showed significant improvement on three of the four tests in the study’s cognitive-assessment battery”[4].

    9. Remember Why You Are Doing This

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall your inspiration, and perhaps even journal about it to make it feel more tangible.

    10. Find Some Competition

    When we are learning how to get out of a rut, there’s nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, and networking conventions can all inspire you to get a move on. However, don’t let this throw you back into your perfectionist tendencies or low self-esteem.

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    11. Go Exercise

    Since you are not making headway at work, you might as well spend the time getting into shape and increasing dopamine levels. Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, or whatever type of exercise helps you start to feel better.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

    If you need ideas for a quick workout, check out the video below:

    12. Take a Few Vacation Days

    If you are stuck in a rut, it’s usually a sign that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange one or two days to take off from work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax, do your favorite activities, and spend time with family members. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest.

    More Tips to Help You Get out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Ashkan Forouzani via unsplash.com

    Reference

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