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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 15, 2019

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

Shocked? Well, I was too.

The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

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Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

Your metabolism is like your bank account.

To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

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What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

That’s exactly how your body reasons:

More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

Foods That Increase Metabolism

Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

  • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
    When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
  • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
  • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
  • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

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  1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
  2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
  3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

Sugars and Carbs

Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial and packaged corn
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • All sorts of candies and lookalike
  • Packaged fruit juices and purees
  • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
  • Bread and flour-based products
  • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
  • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
  • Potatoes and potato starch products
  • Oatmeals and other grains
Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
  • All berries except strawberries
  • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White rice
  • All green vegetables

Fats

Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
  • Lard
  • Gmo oils
  • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
  • Nuts
  • Meat fat
  • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
  • Seeds
Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
  • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (organic)
  • Egg yolks (free-range)
  • Bone marrow

The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

Proteins

Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

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Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
  • Cheap whey proteins
  • Soy proteins
  • GMO meat
  • GMO eggs
  • Packaged meat
Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
  • Farmed fish
Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
  • Free-range meat
  • Free-range eggs
  • Wild meat and fish
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

Other Foods and Supplements

Cold water

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

MCT Oils or Powders

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

Caffeine

Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

Green Tea

Green tea

is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

Bottom Line

In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

Reference

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