Sunday, May 12, 2013

In Defense of Cheap, Crappy Basses

Thought I'd take another break from the series of worthwhile bassists you managed to sleep through... so wake up!!!

If you're like me- you're poor. Poor like this: I haven't changed the strings in 6 months on my Hamer Velocity four string that depreciated to the tune of $299 the moment I purchased it. Now it's worth exactly 49$ bucks and it is almost pointless to sell it on E-Bay, save for begging my good friends at Guitar Center to give me $100 on trade. Did I mention it is translucent red and I'll throw in a gig bag?

Like so many bassists and music aficionados, I have purchased, bartered, traded and sold off no less than 30 or 40 basses. I've had basses that I literally owned for such a short period I don't remember them! Fernandes? Yup! Ibanez? Yup! Tobias? Yup! Some bass that had 8 strings (forget the name)and was stolen at a gig? Fuck yea!! So, why not sell all of my current basses (I own 6!) and seek out the holy grail- the bass that breathes life into me, the instrument that has playability that is impossible to believe and finally; a bass that you literally want to take to bed with you. Sure, that sounds uncomfortable, but don't tell me you haven't thought it at least a few times?! And honestly, I've slept with much worse...

I had an enormous thrill when visiting Sam Ash Music in Time Square last summer. There was a unmistakable face there "helping out" that day and I knew immediately by the recognizable Ray-Ban shades he was wearing and distinct hair style that I was standing before Larry Hartke! What an awesome moment, to be there with a bass amplification icon!!  I asked to see the low cost Japanese Gary Willis fretless. He pointed at the wood colored, American made $4000 version and said "play that one!". I grumbled about the cost and he laughed it off "Hey, man its cool, doesn't matter to me!". Well, little did Mr. Hartke know, but he was in the presence of a cheap ass bass guitar hoarder, probably not the first time; but I obliged realizing that this bass that was worth more than all the basses I personally owned! While sitting there attempting to keep my intonation in the realm of "suck-free"; I drooled from a distance at the beautiful Sadowsky's literally cluttering the half wall (and the 1st time I had seen a Sadowsky!)- seeing price tags that started with 4,5, and 6's, followed by three zeros- I knew I was in a strange and distant land. Yet as I feigned interest in the Willis fretless, I imagined what an ultimate tease it would be to play a Sadowsky Metro (and with black hardware? Forget it!!).

I realized I should enjoy the moment of just being around all these lush and glorious instruments. There simply wasn't $600 in the bank to even afford the Japan version of the Willis/Ibanez bass- so I left. My view changed in that moment, if only on an appreciation level; and maybe a holy grail didn't exist or maybe I need to love my beat to hell Fender Jazz (with enough paint chips you'd think it had freckles). I've seen some of the best musicians with junk drum sets, guitars built with Warmouth parts and bassists' like Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden; playing Mexican made P-basses with 6 month old strings?!! It's merely a vessel, don't caught up in it. I miss my Peavey Dynabass and even my first Squier Jazz and its uneven frets and boiled strings (you've tried it!!). Own what you have and don't fret what you own;) And don't sweat it if you aren't cranking a Hartke bass cab- Larry is cool with it either way...

1 comment:

  1. Amen... A man named Mike from a shop named Mike's Music gave me the best advice once when he said (in a justifiably annoyed tone), "Just be happy with what you have." Easier said than done, but I think I'm (probably) finally there.