Archive for August, 2012

The Low End

We often give out about the fact we are a materialistic society however, what we own or have owned can define moments in our life and help us recall memories and a time that no longer belongs to us. The first time I ever played bass guitar was on an acoustic guitar, which had no name i.e. manufacturer and had the worst action ever. It was an absolute bollocks to play and the tuning pegs were really hard to turn. I can truly say that I had absolute zero love for the instrument but it was the first one I ever played a bass line on whilst accompanying a guitar (the song was Jump in the Fire by Metallica). My first actual bass was an Arbiter and it was Sunburst and really heavy and of course it was missing a tuning peg, so I couldn’t put an e-string on it, a major impediment for any Bass player as the E is the lowest string on the conventional 4 string. No matter, it was still an actual bass guitar. I can’t remember playing it that much but I do remember buying the wrong sized tuning peg and making it fit, but it was too large and it made the bass look ugly. 

I would have been stuck with it for a long time, as I couldn’t afford another , but the dad of a friend of mine wanted it and I swapped that Arbiter for an Encore bass. This one had a jet black body and a wood coloured neck, it was also a small bass which suited me fine as I was only a beginner. I loved that bass, as in truth it was the one that I learned to play on. I remember sitting out in my kitchen learning Thin Lizzy albums on it, trying to master Metallica riffs and endlessly playing Love Cats. That was the bass I played in my first punk band, you know those bands that you join and you think: ‘God, I am so lucky that my first band is the best band ever and that it will be the only band I will ever be in.’ Well we never made it, but it was a great band and I have realised that more importantly it was a good laugh. 

During my time in that band there was ‘the one that got away’ and it was an Aria Pro II. It belonged to our singer (he also played bass) and I would play this Aria during my first couple of gigs and on our one and only demo.It was a lovely bass, it had stickers all over the body and had a maple neck. It was a joy to play but for some reason I never owned it! What can I say I was an idiot. Anyway, there came a time when I had to let the Encore go and I bought a Yamaha, it was black (a trend developing I see) and very light and for the next few years it was my bass of choice.  In the end though it wasn’t enough I always wanted another: enter Fender.

Look, I am going to say this, I love Fender basses they look cool and they sound great and the neck is exquisite and they are what I think of when I think of bass. So, my next purchase was a Japenese Fender with a black body and a white scratch plate. Of all the basses I have ever owned I still miss this one. This was the one that made me feel like a real player. I bought it in 1994 and still had it ten years later. This was the bass that carried me through leaving school, losing friends, losing lovers and the death of my mother. In the dark nights this was the instrument I played to sooth the ache and I know this probably sounds funny to those that don’t play but it was like a dear old friend. I added an acoustic bass in 1998, Hohner by the way, but that never really felt like mine, don’t ask me why that is but it just doesn’t. 

Anyway, I let the Fender (precision for those that care) go as part of a trade in for a Fender Jazz coloured, surprisingly enough,black with a white scratch board. It cost me a bit as it is a US model but I love playing it, it responds to me! It is my main bass these days (although I do have a five string Cort and a Westone fretless both of which are black the latter is really heavy and the former very light) and was the one I recorded an EP with the last band I was in, you know the band I was going to make it with this time around.  

I suppose what I am trying to say is this:  the basses I have had since I started playing back in 1992 have, in a very real way, been like friends to me. Not all our material belongings are transient. They tell a story, my story, no matter how small that may be. I wonder where the basses I have let go are now? I hope that somebody is playing them and that they are not lying in a corner somewhere and I also pray that they have brought somebody the joy they brought to me.