Why Did You Start Playing Bass?
Bass is not really an instrument you just pick up and start learning. In fact, fifteen years ago I didn’t have a clue I’ll end up playing bass, but eventually I did, and I’m loving it! I’d guess the guitar and piano are the most popular instruments among beginners starting to play music. When you start to play guitar, you can literally play camp-fire songs within a week or two of practicing. That is really satisfying and if you can also sing – then you’ve got the full “I’m a musician” package that you can showcase.
On the other hand piano, which is in my opinion much more technically complicated instrument to learn how to play, allows us to play simple and recognizable songs within a first month or so. You can play classical music and you can learn beautiful chords + melody arrangements. Also, with piano you get to compensate not being able to sing if that’s your problem. There are tons of beautiful sounding piano arrangements of popular songs on Youtube.
So why would anyone choose to play bass instead? I don’t know, really. I do know how it started for me.
My very first contact with a musical instrument was piano. My dream at the time was to learn how to play Boogie Woogie style, something like this. I did learn how to play some rock n roll on piano and also a few songs by The Beatles, arranged for piano.
Next, I went into the phase of wanting to learn how to play guitar. This was mostly in order to be able to enter a small band we kids from the class were forming. I started playing guitar and took lessons. Even though I wanted to play electric guitar, somehow I found it much cooler to learn flamenco and other styles on the classical guitar that my teacher was showing me. This is the time that I first had started to pick with my fingers (which is pretty much the same movement as when fingerpicking on bass). At this time, I was starting to get fascinated with bass. I had a few opportunities to play it during band rehearsals and I really liked it.
Next thing I know is the summer where I’m starting to get really into the idea of playing bass. At this stage, when I was listening to music – I was isolating and really listening to the bass lines in the songs and starting to admire how cool bass can be. Guitar was not doing it for me anymore, also to be honest I didn’t appreciate the fact that I need to memorize billion notes just to be able to play a simple solo from a song I like.
I got my first bass as a gift and I was hooked. This was the instrument I was really searching for this whole time. It just clicked for me. The lines were groovy, it was like playing drums and a guitar at the same time. As soon as I got the bass, I got the call to join a local band playing Nightwish covers. Man, that was a great opportunity to practice chops and feel what the bass is all about – which I think is playing with other people. Of course, bass is a supporting instrument in a way but it doesn’t have to be. Bass can be cool as you make it. You can have tremendous amount of fun playing the simplest lines ever, and you can also shred a la Billy Sheehan.
So yes, BASS is my instrument. The bass gives the band a soul. It sets up the the groove and rhythm. The band sounds wimpy without a bass. I have started playing bass because it was my ticket to playing live shows – which was one of my main goals and dreams when I was starting out. Bass also gives musicians a special perspective, which I don’t think all musicians have. This is one of the reasons bass players are often good band leaders and music producers. Bass players instinctively learn how to deeply listen to everyone else in the band and glue all the instruments together and make them work.
Standard bass has only 4 strings so some might consider it inferior. I find it challenging! The low and rumble that I can create with this instrument is what always puts a smile on my face. I’m hooked and there’s no going back!
Why did you start playing bass? Share your story in the comments below.