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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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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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