I took my 6-string to have the nut adjusted recently and I was talking to the guitar tech about adjusting the action to make the bass more playable around the middle to high register. He looked at me and said, “Be honest, how often to you play up there?”
“All the time” I said, “I’m a solo player, I play using effects and a looper so I very often play melodically.”
“Oh, right, fair enough” he nodded.
Just for a fleeting moment there, I found myself typecast as a bassist to whom anything above the seventh fret is a ‘no-fly-zone’; an area not for the faint-hearted, where only ‘live and let die’ shredders fear to tread!
But seriously, it set me thinking about innovation on the bass and how we are perceived as players.
Ask a mountaineer why wants he or she wants to climb a mountain and they may tell you, “Because it’s there.” What would a trip up a mountain take? Well… concept, encouragement, preparation, training, dedication, the right gear and a boatload of courage! Sound familiar? It should! If we are to progress on our instrument then we need all of those things.
I believe playing bass is truly something of beauty and as such deserves attention to detail. Just like the climber who looks at the mountain from a distance and thinks, “hmmm… I wonder”, the bass is such a tactile instrument of tremendous depth and expression. Great bass innovators have always pushed the boundaries of their instrument and technique, in turn inspiring others to go even further.
However you play, whether you’re all about foundation or whether you are a melodic player, you owe it to your craft to be an innovator. Dedicate yourself and play your bass with a passion, because it’s there.