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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 January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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