Reader Spotlight: Pete Sams

Pete SamsMeet bassist Pete Sams, a full-time working bassist who was very busy in 2011 (he played 225+ shows), including many with a live karaoke band.

Pete is our player in the spotlight for the week of January 17, 2012.


I’m the bassist and bandleader for Rock-bot, a live band karaoke group (500+ songs, words on the screen, etc.), an R&B band called Emerald City Throwdown (ECT), and own a small live sound company.

I’ve been playing for 22 years, played a lot of jazz and classical in college, but moving through to blues, rock and Top 40 has been invaluable to being able to play in a live karaoke band. Having the sound company and working with similar cover bands really gives myself an edge in the industry.


Puyallup, Washington, USA

Day gig:

Music is my day job!

Years experience:

22 years

Bands & Gigs:

Rock-bot and ECT. I’m not a so much a sideman as I am a bandleader.

As a bandleader, very few people will call you for a gig (“oh, he’s always busy”). To be a successful musician you need to look at the industry as a whole and seek work for yourself. Musicians rarely get gigs, so pestering them isn’t the best option to stay busy.

Bandleaders get work. And they generate work for others. More often than not, people call me for work versus me calling for a gig. In 2011, I’d say between Rock-bot, ECT and the sound company we did 225+ events.


Pretty basic: Gigging basses are primarily an un-named 6-string (bought second hand on eBay – there are no markings whatsoever) and a Tobias Toby Pro 6.
Amps and accessories: GK Backline 600, Eden 210XLT, ATW2129 inst. wireless, and an older Yamaha tuner.

Effects are rarely used. Every once in a while I’ll use a DOD Octobass and a DOD Bass Chorus pedal.

I also play a 5-string Christopher Upright (low B), a Dean 4-string acoustic bass guitar, a Douglas 6-string fretless, and a couple of 1- and 2-string basses I built (I built many of my earlier basses). Mostly those stay at home with the guitars and ukes.

Why I play the bass:

A music teacher in high school needed bass players for the orchestra, so he rounded up a half dozen or so interested kids. Only me and one other student stuck with it.

Playing bass was a natural fit for some reason, even though I play guitar and used to play drums and trumpet… bass was much much more suited for me. I’m glad I tried other instruments and the experience was great, but for me bass (acoustic and electric) is where home is.

My bass superpower/claim to fame

Bass superpower? I don’t know that there are any. I’m really good at remembering songs. I’m proud of the groups I’ve been fortunate enough to lead and be a part of overall.

My influences

Early on I was heavily into Charles Mingus, anything with Paul Chambers, early John Coltrane quartet stuff, Anthony Jackson, John Patitucci (for his amazing soloing – I’m also a 6 string player) and some of Jaco Pastorius’ work.

Reading a few books and re-listening really changes some of what music I’ve heard as well. All music has a backstory, nothing is created in a vacuum and learning about that history really brings relevance to the music we play.

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