Reader Spotlight: Austin Underhill

Austin UnderhillMeet Austin Underhill, a twelve-year vet of the low end who has one of the best lines we’ve heard when describing what he does for a living: “a freelance bassist both day and night”.

Austin is our player in the spotlight for the week of March 6, 2012.


Home grown in Napa, California, Austin has been playing bass since he was twelve. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance from the Musicians Institute.

Austin performs and records a diverse range of music including rock, pop, jazz, R&B, funk, Latin and country. He also works as a music copyist for clients along with consulting and improving artist’s music.

Some artists Austin has worked with include LA music award nominee Brandon James, Dustin Robinson, Xy Unlimited, Nyla Hammond, Johanna Gard, Hassan Shamaizadeh and Justice. Austin is currently working with many of these artists, listed along with JM West’s artists on its independent label.


Los Angeles, California, USA

Day gig:

I work as a freelance bassist both day and night, however when I’m not playing bass, I work as a music copyist for clients. I also from time to time proof-read scores and help musicians out with arranging and scoring music.

Years experience:

I’ve been playing bass for twelve years.

Bands & Gigs:

I have been both freelancing gigs and playing in bands consistently.

The freelance work of course varies week to week, but has provided a lot of great opportunities to network and branch out in many different styles.

The more consistent/permanent positions in bands varies as well, with some bands desiring more frequent gigs and recordings than others. All put together, having everything local in Los Angeles at the moment has fortunately made it able to keep a flexible yet busy schedule for myself.


Playing such diverse genres has led to owning an equally diverse selection and basses and gear, so I can use to dial in the necessary tone for just about any genre.

My current gear:

  • Fender Precision
  • Fender Jazz (Marcus Miller Signature)
  • Lakland Skyline series Darryl Jones Signature w/mods
  • Yamaha TRB 1006 6-string
  • Fender Mustang
  • Fender ’51 reissue
  • Upright (unknown specs)
  • Aguilar DB 359
  • Genz Benz Shuttle Max 12.0
  • Aguilar 1×12 cab
  • Accu Groove El Whappo
  • Aguilar Tone Hammer

And an alto saxophone, an accordion, and an egg shaker can also be included as apart my collection!

Why I play the bass:

Deciding to play the bass was actually an accident! My friend wanted to start a band with me when I was in middle school. He told me I should be the bassist since he already played guitar. At the time, I played saxophone and didn’t really know anything about stringed instruments, but I agreed to get a bass.

For some reason, I thought his electric guitar was a bass and was very surprised when I went to a store to purchase one. I got home and immediately called him asking what I had just bought and why it wasn’t like his. After he explained to me the difference between a bass and an electric guitar I was very disappointed and upset.

However, a good year after playing the instrument I fell in love with it and found a great ability in picking up and learning music quicker than I could on my saxophone. Since then I have been very thankful for the misunderstanding and still joke to this day: the more successful I am, I know who to thank… However if I fail, I know who to blame!

My bass superpower/claim to fame

Other than having a diverse grasp of music I would have to say there is something else that has been very important about myself and my success so far. Whether it is to be considered a bass superpower or not, I must say that being always early/on time, polite, easy to communicate with and virtually no ego has put me ahead than most who have an equal or better ability at playing bass.

I was taught nearly at the beginning of playing bass by my first teacher to stay humble and leave your ego out of music. And I must say that I cannot thank him more for the advice! Other than that, a strong work ethic, love for music, and being professional as if this were any other job has worked out well.

My influences

My influences are really a mixture of bassists and many other musicians.

Some of my great influences who are bassists include: Nathan East, Scott Lafaro, Dee Murray, Oteil Burbridge, Ron Carter, Slam Stewart, Ray Brown, Edgar Meyer, Anthony Jackson and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen.

Some of my influences who come from a variety of instruments include: Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Brian Blade, Stevie Wonder, Brad Mehldau, David Lowery, Lettuce, Stanley Turrentine and Hiromi Uehara.

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Share your thoughts

  1. fellow Napan saying hullo and gratz on the write up. Rock On Austin!

  2. Way to go Austin!