Reader Spotlight: Freddy Hernandez

Freddy HernandezMeet bassist Freddy Hernandez, who took up the double bass at age 12. Freddy is the son of former Oingo Boingo drummer Johnny “Vatos” Hernandez.

Freddy has an interesting gigging life, performing in an orchestra, his father’s “Johnny Vatos Boingo Dance Party”, on various TV commercials and other bands as well. We love Freddy’s attitude towards music, well described in his answer to our “superpower/claim to fame” question.

Freddy is our player in the spotlight for March 20, 2012.


Born into a musical family, James Frederick Hernandez, “Freddy”, grew up around the instrument of his father, Johnny “Vatos” Hernandez – the drums. By the age of 12, he began studies on the double bass. As his classical studies with such renown double bass teachers as Frances Senger and Dennis Trembly progressed, he picked up the bass guitar and guitar as serious instruments.

While still in high school, Freddy would often go from playing with the Colburn Chamber Orchestra at The Colburn School in Downtown Los Angeles to playing with the Opus One Big Band in Compton, CA.

A multi-stylist, Freddy currently plays acoustic bass, 4- and 5-string electric bass as well as guitar with several local bands.

The bulk of his work includes performing with the YMF Debut Orchestra and the Johnny Vatos Boingo Dance Party. Freddy is also breaking into the local Hollywood studio “TV commercial” scene (Priceline, CarMax etc.)

Freddy is currently studying under Oscar Meza (Los Angeles Philharmonic) at Cal State University Northridge.


Los Angeles, CA, USA

Day gig:

I am a full time student at the moment, so no day job as of yet.

Years experience:

10 years

Bands & Gigs:

Outside of school, I play with the YMF Debut Orchestra. It’s a great orchestra with lots of the best players from UCLA, USC, Colburn Conservatory and other surrounding colleges, as well as a few high school players. We just got back from a two week, eight concert tour of China and had our gala concert at the Dorothy Chandler with John Williams and Michael Tilson Thomas.

I don’t just play classical though. I also play with the Johnny Vatos Boingo Dance Party which features members from Oingo Boingo and other really great studio players. It’s pretty much the best band playing Boingo music right now.


  • Vigier – Arpege 5 String (2010)
  • Fender – MIM Precision Bass w/EMG PJ pickups (1994)
  • Fender – Precision Bass Fretless w/EMG PJ pickups (1976)
  • Carvin – Custom 5 String (mid 90s)
  • Farnell – EXB4 Bass (2005)
  • Farnell – EXB5 Bass 5 String (2005)
  • Unknown – German Upright (1920s)
  • Emmanuel Wilfer – French Bow

Why I play the bass:

When I was in the fifth grade, the only stringed instrument we could play in school was the violin. So I did that for a year, and when I got to middle school, my teacher suggested I try out the bass because I was tall enough to play it at the time.

The rest is history.

My bass superpower/claim to fame

I don’t really have anything that I would consider a claim to fame or ‘superpower’. I just play music for the music.

If I latch onto one thing as something that makes me different, it doesn’t say much because there’s always going to be ten guys better than you at whatever you think your best at.

I’ll admit, I’m more versatile than a lot of players, being able to play classical/jazz/rock/pop/funk/etc… but that’s not very special nowadays.

I just play a groove, keep it musically honest and in the end, hopefully create some magic that will inspire those who will listen.

My influences

Edgar Meyer, Renaud Garcia-Fons, Božo Paradžik, Boguslaw Furtok, Oscar Meza, John Avila, Richard Bona, Victor Wooten, Ray Brown, Bela Fleck, Jaco Pastorius, Carol Kaye, James Jamerson, Tommy Tedesco, Mike Valerio, Bear McCreary, Gary Pratt, Gary Karr, Serge Koussivitzky, Stevie Wonder, Buddy Rich, Gil & Rani Sharone, Muse, System Of A Down, Oingo Boingo, Frank Zappa, John McLaughlin & The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler, Johannes Brahms, Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, J.S. Bach, and all the wonderful musicians I have been so blessed to have played with.

More on the web:

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