Reader Spotlight: Steve Burke

Steve Burke

Meet Steve Burke, who grew up around lots of musical instruments, taking him on the path from drums to guitar to bass. It was in high school when he started focusing more on bass, which eventually took him to Berklee.

Steve is this week’s No Treble reader in the spotlight. Here’s his story…


Through middle school and high school, I played bass and drums in rock bands, blues bands, and punk bands. I got into jazz and funk in high school and started taking the bass more seriously. I went to Berklee College of Music for a year and then got burnt out on music. I then went to school to study philosophy, art, and writing.

I discovered bass again a couple years later after hearing Michael Jackson on a drive home from my job. I listened to his music for 6 months straight and it changed my life. Soon I started playing with good musicians in the Salem, MA music scene. Having left music for a while, it was easier to focus on what I loved about music instead of feeling weighed down by the pressure to be good. I liked the community, the musicians, and the lifestyle. I decided to take it seriously again and figure out how to make a living playing music.

A few years later I moved to Brooklyn, NY.



Day gig:

Bass/guitar teacher and gigging bass player.

Years experience:

17 years

Bands & Gigs:

I lead a band called the Steve Burke Syndicate. We play rock, Motown, blues, and jazz music with an emphasis on open communication and improvisation.

I freelance and sub with singer-songwriters, latin jazz bands, hip-hop bands, reggae groups, and wedding bands.


  • 2015 Tony Franklin P Bass with a fretted jazz neck
  • Aguilar Tone Hammer 500 and SL112
  • Boss OC2
  • MXR Carbon Copy

Why I play the bass:

My father always had instruments lying around so it was easy for me to get into music. Before I found the bass I played drums and then switched to guitar. I was a lefty playing righty instruments, and I struggled to play with a pick. When I was 10 I saw a Led Zeppelin concert on TV and noticed John Paul Jones playing with his fingers. That seemed like more fun to me than struggling with the pick. I found my dad’s old bass buried in a closet and started playing it. I liked the way it felt.

My bass superpower/claim to fame:

I can play roots and fifths for hours without getting sick of it.

My influences:

John Paul Jones, Sonny Rollins, Steve Swallow, Bill Evans, Michael Jackson, Chuck Rainey, Jaco Pastorius

More on the web:

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