Trip Wamsley has been pushing the convention of bass playing for years by experimenting with extended range basses, piccolo tuning, and out-of-this world technique. He’s one of those guys who can seemingly play anything with ease.
Besides his phenomenal playing, his style is creativity knows no bounds. His creativity is found in his supportive bass lines as well as his solo bass compositions, which he often performs in intimate house concert settings.
We caught up with Trip to get his views on style, his gear, and his philosophy.
What makes you new school?
Style can only be fully and nebulously (paradox!) described by the observer. I can only perceive quirks and there are many. I haven’t been playing long enough, nor do I know enough, or have EXPERIENCED enough to talk about my style. That privilege must be earned, and after 30 years of playing, I still feel that I’ve not earned it. That would make me new school EVERY day. I’m always learning something.
How did you discover your style?
I recently got really serious about playing piccolo bass with a pick through a guitar amp because detractors said I should be playing guitar. I aim to please, you know? :o) I’m starting to get gigs subbing for actual guitar players using my piccolo bass. How cool is that?
What led me to solo bass was the obvious fact that it IS a guitar and doing chords and all that guitar player stuff was obvious. Right from the outset. I don’t know why I saw it like that, but I did. Who knows?
Share some of your videos with us.
There are scads of them. From Pedal demos to concert performances. It all showcases what I’m about, I suppose. Do a search and have a good time!
What kind of gear do you use?
For amps I’m a big fan of old school technology. I don’t like over-powerful amps. I like things to strain and break up a bit. That said, I’m a big fan of the Glockenklang Bass Art Classic, and when I don’t use that I use an old Yamaha P2200 power amp and my laptop and firewire interface running Ableton and some plugins for FX and EQ. So I get new and old school there. I use Glockenklang cabs too. I have Two 212 cabs and a 115. They sound great. I also have THD Flexi 50 guitar amp and a no-name guitar cab for overdrive. I use that on rock gigs. One side is clean with the THD for dirt. Sounds great. The set ups have great and musical EQ. I’m not a fan of tons of knobs. All of the classic and coveted studio EQs are two, three, or four bands and are amazingly voiced. Glock EQ or channel strip emulator plugs are way more effective for me to get the sound I want.
For basses I have:
Two Alembic Orion fretlesses with Europa electronics. One is coco bolo topped and the other is walnut. They both have different pickup configurations and work great.
One Alembic Rogue 8 string. It’s big and green and makes people happy or mad when they go on forums to chat about how much they dig it or gripe about how it causes them some sort of mental anguish. The latter of which provides me with much amusement. I shouldn’t have to worry about someone’s psyche when they’re bunged about how many strings a “bass” should have. Some are so violent that it makes we wonder how they handle an actual problem. To wit: What does it say about society in that we get angry with people on the internet forums that we will probably never even meet and if we did, we would probably actually BE friends? Funny. Yet not funny at all.
Alembic Epic strung piccolo.
No name parts J bass
FrankenFender P bass
Vigier Arpege 5 string
Barker Vertical Bass
Aria SB 1000 in Red
All my basses get DR strings. Always. Love those puppies!
What kind of gigs do you get with your new school style?
House concerts and coffee shops and some rock clubs. The usual haunts.
Any traditional playing gigs?
I work almost every weekend. I play Zydeco and rock and ambient drum and bass too! It’s always great to be working!
Do you have albums where we can hear your new school style?
Yes! Bandcamp. They are all there. Please go and give it all a listen and a buy!
What’s next for you?
Making a cup of coffee. That’s ALWAYS next!
Then I’m doing an all solo bass with no loops record soon. That’s next. Also, working on my picking.
What else do you want to share?
Getting back to style, I’ll tell you this: I did look and do look at what everyone else is doing and I try to NOT do that. Forces me to look at other things in other ways. When hired for a gig, I do my best to make myself an asset and not an ass. I also compose music that uses no bass guitar. The music is me. Always. I’m interested in being Trip Wamsley. He’s the creature I inhabit. I try to stand on the shoulders of giants, not to hide behind them and taunt the others on the musical playground.
Love and learn from the past; don’t live in it.