Some instruments get all the love. Who doesn’t want to be like the charismatic singer, or the mysterious lead guitarist? Even the drummers get respect after everyone gets the drum jokes out of the way. Piano has its place as well. But aren’t we forgetting something?
Yes we are! We’ve forgotten the noble bass guitar!
Unfortunately, the bass guitar can sometimes be hard for young musicians to get into, especially as a primary instrument. Because bass is often ignored by the mainstream music media, great bass players get overshadowed by their six-string playing band mates. Beyond that, there is more early gratification from playing piano or guitar. The best part of playing bass guitar is playing it with other musicians (this is true of most instruments, but especially of bass). But the bass is actually badass, as this article will no doubt prove!
Bass guitar is essential to rock, blues, metal, and just about any other instrumentally based music. It fills out the low end of a song with more than just a booming kick drum. It gives a song extra punch. Sometimes, the bass guitar can be used to set the rhythm with the drums, or it can be used in conjunction with the guitar or piano to make the melody of a song more complex. It can even be used as the centerpiece of a song, or as the driving force behind a bands entire sound. Here are a few examples of how excellent the bass guitar can be!
Billy Sheehan may the best musician you’ve never heard of (if you have heard him, you’ll probably agree with me). This guy is one of the most exciting players I’ve ever heard, he plays the bass with insane speed, enough so that he has matched Steve Vai on stage (see Eric Clapton’s 2004 Crossroads Festival). This is one of the coolest guitar solos I’ve heard, step aside Van Halen.
Steve Harris is arguably the most well known and talented metal bassist of all time. He is the the man behind the mighty Iron Maiden, one of the most globally respected metal bands in the world. His bass style which involves rapid triplets (three notes played together in quick sequence) and acrobatic bass fills, is the driving force behind Iron Maiden’s signature “galloping sound”. Beyond being an extremely talented and innovative bassist, Harris is also one of Maiden’s primary songwriters and composers.
Rush’s virtuoso bassist is probably the most well known of the the players in this article, and that’s not surprising when you consider the fact that his career has been going strong for over 40 years. His bass playing is so dynamic that it is often at the forefront of Rush’s best and most well known songs. Part of what makes his bass playing so impressive is his ability to sing while he plays. He has also proven himself to be a very skilled keyboardist as well.
If these awesome musicians don’t make you reevaluate your opinion of the bass guitar, I don’t know what will. Put down the six string for a little while, pick up a bass and see what you’ve been missing out on!