Reader Spotlight: Omer Al-Katib
Meet Omer Al-Katib (aka Omer Plays Bass), a bassist with 41 years of experience and an impressive collection. As you’ll see in his “superhero” response, he’s a pro’s pro.
Omer is this week’s No Treble reader in the spotlight (you could be next). Here’s his story…
I’ve been a bass player since the age of 12 and, over the years, have played professionally as well as just on weekends in many successful bands in my hometown – continuing right up through last weekend with hopefully more to come. I love everything about the bass – the instrument, the low-end tone, the gear, the tech, collecting basses, reading about basses, talking to other bass players, but most of all, I love locking in with a great drummer – having played with quite a few of them – and settling into a deep pocket for the rest of the band to just play off of. During Covid, when the gigging kind of stopped, I started doing bass cover play-along videos on a YouTube channel called “Omer Plays Bass . . .“ doing some of my favorite songs and connecting my love of amateur musicology, writing, and playing bass. In fact, my video for Toto’s “Africa,” commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the release of Toto IV, a very special and important album for me as a bass player, was featured on No Treble in April 2022. OPB has been rewarding to allow for really learning songs I love as close as I can get them and connect with viewers of my videos. And really, let’s be honest, who among us doesn’t love watching some guy play bass on the Internet?
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Why I play the bass:
I chose to play bass rather than be the typically “failed guitar player relegated to bass” story. I first became aware of the bass after listening to” Rosanna” on Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 with my tiny white transistor radio earpiece in the back of the family station wagon driving home Sunday evening from weekends at the lake in the spring and summer of 1982 and just not being able to understand what I heard – that bubbly sound after the singing in the chorus – what is that??? I was instantly transfixed by it and convinced my parents to let me buy a Yamaha BB300 (that is still in my collection). It took me a lot of years to learn that part, but from starting to play at 12, practicing and getting better, listening to more and more great players, learning the parts as best as I could, and connecting the dots of influence and styles, it has been a lifelong passion that I don’t ever see ending. I just love playing bass.
I have a lot of gear and a lot of basses – some might say I have a problem, but I love basses, so I don’t see a problem. My main basses are three Dingwall basses – a Super PJ (setup BEAD), a Combustion 5 String, and a custom Sheldon Dingwall-built bass that was my main bass for decades, started in 1988 (before the multiscale basses). Also in my collection:
- Yamaha BB300
- Schecter Stargazer
- Squier Classic Vibe ‘60s Jazz
- Squier Classic Vibe Precision
- Gretsch Electromatic 5440
- Univox “4001”
- Godin A4 Fretless
- ESP/LTD 8-String
- Warmoth/Squier 4/6 Doubleneck
- Squier Bronco
- Schoenbach Upright
I have used IEM’s for gigging for some time, using Plunge Audio IEMs with a pedal board centered around an MXR M81 preamp/DI and complemented by an MXR Studio Compressor, Ampeg Scrambler, Boss OC-2 (‘80s vintage), Boss CEB-3 Chorus, Boss SYB-3 Synth pedal. For larger stages, for amplification, I add an Ampeg SVT-IIP preamp, Crown Amcron Microtech 1200 power amp, and two built 4×10” cabs with Eminence 10’s from an old Ampeg 8×10” cab. For medium-sized gigs, I use an Ampeg PF-350 and SVT210AV cab gets added to the pedalboard. For recording, I usually end up using the Ampeg SVT-IIP.
John Paul Jones, David Hungate, Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve (Streetheart/Loverboy), Chris Squire, Geddy Lee, Mike Porcaro.
My bass superpower/claim to fame:
As Ron Carter said, “If you are not thirty minutes early for the gig, you are 20 minutes late”. My approach to the bass is not to be a flashy bass player, but I will come prepared, know my parts, be practiced and ready to rehearse or play the show in the pocket with good tone and good gear, and it will be a fun time – and I’ll be there early. My family got me a t-shirt that sums it up as “I play bass, and I know things,” and those that know me and have played with me would probably agree.
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