Steve's been an online music writer for seven years and has personal experience organizing his equipment for gigs.
Every stereo ever made has an option to adjust the bass. There's no guitar knob. You won't find a way to make the drums louder. The singer's output is set and out of your control. But the bass...you can turn up the bass. Nobody turns it down.
It takes a special kind of person to be a bass player. Oh sure...lots of people can play some stuff on the bass, but that doesn't necessarily make them a bassist. There are certain unique qualities one must possess to be the keeper of the bottom end.
Below are the Top 10 reasons that bass players rule - and whether you play bass or not, by the end of the article you will be in complete agreement. You'll want to tell your friends and family and to share this insight all over the internet!
Let's get thumpin'!
10. Four strings
Guitar players are a dime a dozen...and they need six strings with an annoying B-string that just throws everything off. They also need to hold a plectrum between their fingers all night to play their instrument.
Bass players just need their God-given digits to make some music...and only need four strings to do it. Heck, they can even drive a solid groove with only two strings! Just check out this cat below laying it down on a stick!
9. They are the melody and rhythm
Ok, let's be honest. It's actually pretty easy to play bass. You only have to play one note at a time, you can just stand in the back and chill, and if you make a mistake, you just call it a "passing tone."
But the insider trick to know is that if you play in-time and play the right notes most of the time, you are keeping the song moving melodically and rhythmically. You, my friend, are the most important part of the song.
8. They are responsible for keeping everything together
Have you ever heard electric guitar and full-on acoustic drums being played together with no bass? It's awful! Those two need someone to be the referee. That's where the bass comes in.
The bass player is the perfect mediator in the band. He (or she) keeps the other players in line and holds everything in place. Without the bass player, everything would fall apart and be a big mess.
7. They can always get work
I've heard many musicians say that one of the hardest things to do is to find a good bass player.
So if you're a good bass player, you'll get work.
Just post an ad on Craig's List and you'll have an audition within a few days.
You don't even need to be great. You just need to play the right notes in time. (See Reason #9)
6. They can deal with the drummer
They all know but are perhaps afraid to say it...drummers can be a handful.
Bass players have known this since the very first time they jammed with one.
But I'm gonna tell you a little known secret. As long as you promise not to repeat it to anyone.
The bassist is steering the drummer.
Bass players instinctively know how to manipulate the drummer into doing what they want them to do - and the drummer has no idea that it's happening.
It's nothing personal. The bassist just wants the music to be right.
So if the tempo is too fast, the bass player is going to slow the drummer down without saying a word.
If their kick pattern is wrong, the bassist will just play the correct one until the drummer subconsciously joins up.
If the groove is solid, there is no issue.
It's why they work so well together as the rhythm section. It's the perfect relationship.
5. Bass players look cool
All bass players know that they hold a seriously powerful weapon in their hands...and they know how to use it. It's actually physically impossible to play bass even just fairly well and not look cool.
4. Can practice without disturbing anybody
Electric bass guitar, when played acoustically, is probably the quietest instrument that exists. A bass player can plug in headphones through a Bass Pod™ and mixer and sound like he's playing in a stadium in his ears, but to the people around him, pretty much nothing is happening.
Can you think of a quieter instrument? I doubt it...but go ahead and try. I'll wait.
Right. Bass is it.
Low frequency combined with no amplification equals a player that is getting better in stealth mode. That kinda rules.
3. Bassists are laid back
There is a quiet confidence that is indicative of every great bass player, even when they're rocking out. The bass player is the kind of person that you know you can talk to without any feathers getting ruffled.
While the singer is running back and forth on stage like a confused puppy, the guitar player is totally digging himself, and the drummer is just banging shit, the bass player is chilling like a Zen master, knowing that the music is nothing without him.
2. They don't really care what anyone thinks
Bass players know what they're doing and they don't really need your input.
They're pretty much like cats. They will observe, but not be affected by anything you do...and just go about their business.
Your point-of-view is pretty much irrelevant to the bassist...and if they want to do anything from dress in full makeup, to go on stage naked, they'll do it with no concern about anyone else's opinion.
1. Everyone likes the bass player
They don't get the most girls. They don't get asked to sign autographs often. They usually stand in the back of the stage and require no praise. But everyone knows how essential they are in the big picture.
A bass player will always be a great friend. A bass player is patient. A bass player loves what he does, and knows that the most important job is to ensure that people feel something. That they dance. That they lose themselves in the groove.
Bass players are people that you can talk to, drink with, hang with, or build a lifelong relationship. They'll always be there for you no matter what the circumstances. And they'll always be an essential part of the magic of music.
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Anonymous on June 08, 2019:
This article is an astonishing piece of work. Most, if not all of the points listed here are relevant, persuasive, and straight up relatable. The bass player in a band is no doubt the glue that holds any band together. If you're writing a song and working on a bass line, make it interesting, not only for the song but to thank all the hard-working bassists out there. Just don't write a line like AC-DC :). Thanks for making such a great article!
Qm on April 29, 2019:
I think that you are a good writer
Dillon on February 27, 2018:
why are all band players against each other??? especially guitarists and drummers. that's why i'll become a solo artist, maybe with one other person or a writer
Bass Dep on February 09, 2017:
Bass playing is in my DNA. Simple as that.
Ellie on August 01, 2016:
This was great. But not all bassists are men I'm female and play bass in a metal band. But throughout this bassists were referred to as "he" .
Sean on April 13, 2016:
Quiet presence ...unsung hero...musical glue...keeping the pulse....blah blah blah. Heard it. Heard it. Heard it. For a modest bunch , bassists really love to go on and on about how, well , modest they are. And I speak as a bass player. Enough of the "we are the quiet , reliable ones" stuff already. It's becoming embarrassing. Two words -Gene F***in Simmonds . Sorry , that's three words....kinda. And , OK , he's not very good. But you get the point.
Kenny H. on September 11, 2015:
The bassist is the backbone of any band be it rock, jazz, or blues. some idiot mentioned the doors well guess what on there last album they used a bassist mmm I wonder why. Have you ever heard Riders On the Storm. I love playing bass.
Mir on September 02, 2015:
I have tried the bass and its tricks. The bass looks easy to play but it is actually not.
J.D. on June 28, 2015:
Great article with humorous insights. I LOVE the instrument, along with keys (for me, keys are the better songwriting tool).
But, to be honest, I'm a 5er....but ONLY because the necks are wider, and thus more comfortable. Thanks again!
Floyd on June 28, 2015:
I'll admit, they are indeed a requirement.
But some of these sound.. not quite right.
10. I know that, as a guitarist, the B string doesn't screw with you. If you think that its an annoying string, then fine, don't ever play a 5 or 6 or more string bass. That's what you're saying right there, that those types of bass guitars are just 'annoying' and I know people who would argue otherwise. Those guitars open up more options, and limiting yourself musically because a string annoys you makes you look and sound bad.
6. Anyone can deal with a drummer if they are serious enough about perfecting the bands sound. In my band, everyone deals with every part. If something sounds off to one of us, we usually stop and figure it out with each other. I've actually stopped a rehearsal once because one of my ex drummers was not doing something properly and no one else was stepping up to say anything - and as I said before, I'm a guitarist, not a bassist.
That said, the bassist isn't also the only one that steers the tempo. It depends on the song, but really, how the song starts. The rhythm section is not just bassist and drummer. There's a third person you're missing from that combination: the Rhythm Guitar.
4. Can I think of a quieter instrument? Anything that can use head phones. Which includes the electric guitar. I actually only rehearse at home with headphones, and never have an issue with other people. I can play crazy, loud as f*ck solo's all the way into the wee hours of the morning without waking a soul in the house because of this. That's pretty quiet if you ask me, and its obviously not limited to just the bass player.
3. I knew a band that only had guitar, vocals and drums and it sounded awesome. There are also two man bands that only use guitars and their vocals.
The bass player isn't a 100% necessary part as you would otherwise be stating, definitely necessary if you are trying to make a standard band however.
That's my only gripe with this. Fun read other then those slightly one-sided points.
Pete Laufman on June 27, 2015:
Apparently bass players do not know of drummers secret powered monitors w volume knobs or the volume knob on the trigger brain. Lol.
Robert on January 29, 2015:
Lol'd at all of the comments, clearly you have never heard good JAZZ BASS PLAYERS, specially at Jazz Trios , Upright and Electric Bass, doing more than "one or two chords", Jazz bass goes beyond of what you would probably think, never heard of Jaco Pastorius? Jeff Berlin? Hadrien Feraud? maybe Ray Brown, Scott LaFaro, Charles Mingus, John Patitucci, Richard Bona, and so on, bass virtuosos who clearly do not need a guitar player.
Mike edema on January 20, 2015:
Can't forget Steve Harris of maiden
Jason on December 22, 2014:
Mark Hoppus. Enough said.
Deana Noirmot on December 20, 2014:
Bass players, quietly rule the band.
jim on September 12, 2014:
So true .As a multi instrumentalist I relish playing the bassist and being the bedrock of the band. Establishing a foundation from which the whole band can soar.
guy on August 19, 2014:
As a multi instrumentalist, but primarily a bassist(played for 35yrs now) most any instrument is easy when played simply, as bass often is in basic rock, yet it can also be exquisite in its expression and flow. Hardly a plodding voice, bass hits you in ways guitar could only dream of....don't believe me? Search "what you will, that's what i call it" watch the whole thing, then check out the clips there......that is what bass can do!!
StevenCee on July 31, 2014:
Well, I could sit here and punch a lot of holes in most of the ten reasons, but not really any point. It is silly, silly to say any one instrument "rules" as if without it, there can be no muisc, really?
And bass players aren't arrogant, like guitar players.... yet this entire piece is a chest-thumping, "we rule", "everyone has to have us", "without us life sucks", etc.... oh yeah, that's not arrogant ....
I've played many gigs with no bass player, and we made great music. To think you can't play music without someone playing basic time, and one or two notes a chord, are you serious?
Don't get me wrong, I love great bass players, and a great one, or even a solid one, with a good musical head, is a pleasure to work with. And I'm not going to say my instrument rules, or any one instrument does, cause that's school playground kind of talk....
Rob on July 31, 2014:
Rock n roll is all about the rhythm section and the vocals. No bass...no groove.
lupine from Southern California (USA) on June 29, 2014:
Great hub, good writing flow, liked #3. Entertaining and humorous.
Hezekiah from Japan on June 26, 2014:
Excellent hub. The bass is often the backbone and structure of music. It's a shame it hard to practice bass solo without other instruments. Also not enough people can appreciate a good bass solo.
Billy Turnock from Manchester England on June 22, 2014:
brilliant article.....you don't mention that bass players can hit you on the head with their bass if you are an idiot, without causing any damage whatsoever to their guitars due to their ton-weight builtmanship.
fred on May 27, 2014:
White Stripes , the Black Keys, Sleater Kinney , the Kills all suffer for their lack of bass parts. Weak, wimpy, lame.
Jonnyneutron on May 26, 2014:
there are some interesting and valid points however, bass being "simple" as it applies to many songs can be true. However, it cab be extremely ruthless and much more difficult to play than a guitar at any time...check out some fusion tunes and some of the greatest fusion artists. Guitar can be really simple to play or very difficult. What a lot of people don't understand is to play bass guitar deftly with good timing and great articulation on an instrument that is not very forgiving and it's very large and clunky compared to a guitar is forgotten here...
epigramman on March 02, 2014:
I love this music hub presentation - it's fabulous, funny and oh so true.
Bill Wyman held his bass guitar up high and he would point into the audience with it and pick out what girl he wanted, lol. Will share madly and gladly with the FB crowd on my timeline - and I always liked Donald Duck Dunn because he really got into his bass playing and smoked a pipe and Charles Mingus used his big upright bass as a weapon when walking home late at night in NYC. Canada 1:02am
And I love the Darth Vader plug - I mean what else could he play? lol - and yes Steve you rule in your writing too and knowledge of the genre
Funom Theophilus Makama from Europe on February 23, 2014:
I really, really love your expressive work. This is such a cool hub. Thanks a lot for making my day
Richard de Mey from Scottsdale, Arizona on February 18, 2014:
coming from personal experience bass can be the easiest instrument to play in a band if you're just hitting basic beats on your strings. its not hard at all and anyone can do it with a little bit of practice but the real test for any bass player is how well can you play solo.... i give credit to les claypool, cliff burton and flea... you watch them do some solo acts they know how to go beyond basic bass playing and take it to the next level
Jerry on February 17, 2014:
Easy to play but hard to master.........never a truer word was spoken.......even so, if your timing is good, it's very satisfying to put the bottom line simply on to good music.....from a long time bassist who never 'made it' but had a lot of fun trying.............
Craig Liddell on February 16, 2014:
Constantly amazed in our own recordings how my bass playing fills not just the bottom end but also the middle. There is no song without bass.
leoban-gray from Central Illinois on February 16, 2014:
If someone is creating a great bass player list, I would recommend the late Cliff Burton, and Emma Anzai. I am a huge fan of melodic bass runs, and any song that showcases the bass guitar!
luis medina on February 16, 2014:
Jeroen Venus on February 15, 2014:
Frankie on February 15, 2014:
Bass players who are cool: Paul McCartney, Geezer Butler Gene Simmons, Jason Newsted, John Paul Jones, D'Arcy Wretzky, Tom Hamilton, Robert Trujillo, Garry Gary Beers, Darryl Jones, Robert DeLeo, Ben Sheppard, Duff McKagen and Nikki Sixx
R.I.P. John Entwistle, James Jamerson and Cliff Burton
leoban-gray from Central Illinois on February 14, 2014:
I agree with Pete Braun, I play bass, and I have had to deal with some arrogant guitarists.
Pete Braun on February 14, 2014:
As a bass player myself, I can agree with 100% certainty on everything this article says. Also, bassists are neither as dumb as drummers nor as cocky as guitarists.
Paul Fisher from United Kingdom on February 13, 2014:
Cool hub and valid points! It's easy to play but hard to master.
Richard de Mey from Scottsdale, Arizona on February 13, 2014:
i've played bass in a band before and yes it is ever so true.. bass is the glue to the music.. gotta love those musicians who took it a step further like les claypool and flea...
Raymond Philippe from The Netherlands on February 12, 2014:
you got to love the bass player. after reading this hub you have no reason not to.
John Fox from Richmond, VA on February 11, 2014:
Bass players are amazing. Even as a guitar player I am a huge fan of many bass players. Billy Sheehan, David Ellefson, Cliff Burton, Geezer Butler, Paul Mcartney, and Bjorn (Yngwie Malmsteen's original bass player). Bass is very important to keep it together! Great hub voted up and following now!
MaestroECMcCloud from Lexington, South Carolina on February 11, 2014:
Nice hub. You made some very keen observations about bass players. Bass players are often the unsung heroes of bands. They usually stand back unobtrusively and quietly just hold down the groove with the drums.
A remarkable bassline, whether played by a bass guitar, an acoustic bass ,synth bass or some other type of device can make or break a song. Imagine Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" or "Smooth Criminal" without that bass line.
I play bass in addition to several other instruments, my main instrument being the guitar, but I love playing the bass because most of the time it forces me to play simply , unlike guitar where you have chords to worry about and other technical things to consider.
Very insightful and well written hub. Keep up the good work.