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Twanger

How old is too old to play bass?

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Bluewine, where are you playing in the present day pic. Looks very much like the MAC arena at Canon Hill  Park in Birmingham

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1 hour ago, Twanger said:

I'm starting out again after a 15 year hiatus. I kept up six string guitar, in a desultory way, as a bedroom player, but my bass stayed in the cupboard. So I dragged it out recently, bought a new set of strings (remortgaged the house for a new set of strings - I use TI flats) and set up a headphone amp for practice. I'll get a real amp when/if I find someone to play with.

I'm pushing 60. The bass is heavy. My back hurts after an hour or so. I've lost my stretch, and it's coming back slowly, but the muscles in my left hand need strengthening. Should I just give up and take up the ukulele or this there a future for elderly bassists? Any crumbs of comfort out there, of the "I'm 83 and still hauling SVTs and 8x10s around" kind?

never too old. You can get lightweight basses. Don't stop.  

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I'm 49 and just about to start playing. If I thought I'd be giving up by 60 I don't think I'd bother.

Age is just a number and it really depends on what you can manage - plenty of much younger folk wouldn't be able to play any instrument through poor health/mobility/flexibility. I'd have thought that playing 6 strings is a good indication that you can do it. A bit more practice and you'll get there. As I say, I'm a bit younger, but I'm finding the physicality needed is a surprise but with time it'll ease. I may need to change my bass as I do have lower back problems and the T-bird is a bit heavy and awkwardly shaped (nose dive anybody?).

 

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1 hour ago, bassbiscuits said:

There's always the world of short scale basses, like Fender Mustangs etc, which are lighter, shorter scale and still very cool and credible.

There are also lots of light weight amps and speaker cabs around these days, which are ludicrously easy to move compared to the big old gear i started out playing 30 years ago.

I guess that as long as you're enjoying it, then keep at it. Lots of older guys on Basschat who will no doubt have some tips and support to share? 

 

Yes, there is. I have had a couple in the past - including an Epiphone Rivoli - one of the cheap '90s range. It was fun to play, but my current bass has a 35" scale, and I like the sound of that extra inch. I am prepared to suffer for my art.

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18 minutes ago, discreet said:

Pretty much everyone on this bloody board is elderly and should know better! As said above, the main factor in keeping old bass players active is the advent of lightweight amplification that sounds as good as its chunkier predecessors, and to a lesser extent, the availability of much lighter basses.

My current Jazz bass is 7.5lbs and imminent combo will be around 16kg. Why we weigh basses in imperial measures and amps in metric I don't know, but there it is. :D

I'm not elderly though I probably should know better

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21 minutes ago, discreet said:

Pretty much everyone on this bloody board is elderly and should know better! As said above, the main factor in keeping old bass players active is the advent of lightweight amplification that sounds as good as its chunkier predecessors, and to a lesser extent, the availability of much lighter basses.

My current Jazz bass is 7.5lbs and imminent combo will be around 16kg. Why we weigh basses in imperial measures and amps in metric I don't know, but there it is. :D

It's always been a dream of mine to carry a gigsworth of gear on the bus. Looking at the weight of modern amps, it's actually possible nowadays. My current bass is 10lbs. It's a bit of a monster.

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When I was studying trumpet at uni the big band leader was very excited to book Kenny Baker (the bond/ muppets legendary session player not R2D2). He couldn’t have looked more decrepit or over the hill if he had tried. The rest of the trumpet section and I scoffed, thought let’s waste him, but he blew us out of the water all rehearsal and evening, into next week in fact. Lovely about it too. If your heart’s in it, play. 

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As some of you may know - I'm 65 and recently started playing again after a 15 year complete break. So I'd stopped when I was 50 after gigging regularly for over 30 years.

Now I find times have changed from just 15 years ago - especially gear, but I also think the general standard of bass playing has improved considerably. The internet has been a big factor in this.

I'm amazed at how quickly I've reconnected with playing - already back up to a fairly decent level, and pleased to find I haven't lost my ear.

But as for finding a working band? - or even a decent rehearsal band? - drawn a complete blank so far, but I'll keep looking.

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I suppose I’m getting on a bit but still enjoying getting gigs coming in. But due to my advancing decrepitude there are a few compromises.

I don’t travel so far these days, used to do Leeds and back from Oxfordshire quite regularly, Keswick in one day once.

Ive fitted rollers on the DB cover.

My amp and cab are lightweight.

Ive got a high stool I can perch on if I need to.

When I get home the wife stays fast asleep and, more worryingly, so do the dogs.

Otherwise a three hour gig is quite doable.

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6 minutes ago, musicbassman said:

As some of you may know - I'm 65 and recently started playing again after a 15 year complete break. So I'd stopped when I was 50 after gigging regularly for over 30 years.

Now I find times have changed from just 15 years ago - especially gear, but I also think the general standard of bass playing has improved considerably. The internet has been a big factor in this.

I'm amazed at how quickly I've reconnected with playing - already back up to a fairly decent level, and pleased to find I haven't lost my ear.

But as for finding a working band? - or even a decent rehearsal band? - drawn a complete blank so far, but I'll keep looking.

Plus several to the internet being a factor. I also last played seriously 15 years ago and the resources on-line now are fantastic compared to what was around last time I was trying to learn things.

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I am 59, took up bass a couple of years ago. Play in a 70s classic rock / blues covers band, playing the stuff I grew up listening to. Always wanted to be a rock musician and know what being in a band was like. We play pubs and beer festivals. Now I do. Best thing I ever did. Almost 60 and finally I feel cool.

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I'm a youthful stripling of 47 and don't want to ever stop playing bass, though others might want me to. Only problem is that potential audiences and  the number of venues continue to shrink  so by the time I'm 60 the only gigs available will be at Shady Pines Rest Home, seeing as there probably wont be any proper pubs left as staying in will be the new  errm..staying in.

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My eldest student, a beginner is 73.. probably 74 now actually. He loves the instrument and we enjoy learning his favourite songs.

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3 hours ago, Bluewine said:

I'm 64 and been playing and gigging since I was 12 years old.

The whole experience is still a blast for me, 4 hour bar gigs, festivals, fairs, practicing and rehearsals.

I don't think age matters unless your goal is to be a pop star.

What matters is,

Is it realistic for you

Do you have the time

Are you passionate about it.

 

You get out of it what your willing to put into it.

Blue

Pretty much sums it up for me, though I`m 52 not 64, and only been playing since 15. But to me it`s as Blue puts it there, it`s the whole lot that I enjoy, including the 2hr drives home from gigs, lugging gear into hotels late at night, driving in unfamiliar areas to find a café for breakfast, getting a good sound from a provided rig, getting a great sound-check, all of it. Even printing the set-lists and seeing which songs we`re going to be playing.

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I feel very lucky because as I have got older, gear has got smaller and immeasurably lighter. If I still had to lug around my old Trace stack I think I'd be fit for the knackers yard by now, but I have no problems with the new lightweight stuff. I'm 14 years older than the next oldest in my band and 24 years older than the youngest and they all seem to find it more tiring than I do. I want to keep going for as long as I can. The drummer in one of my previous bands now suffers from Parkinsons and he would give anything to have a nother chance. This isn't a rehearsal - it's the real gig.

Edited by Japhet
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Healthwise, if you can do it, then do. 

I'm very near to sixty and still gigging, I still get a kick out of and find it to be a very valuable morale booster. It is exhausting for me and I need a few days to recover but unless my health deteriorates and/or bands don't want me, then I shall continue to kick up a din for as long as possible.

 

I've had to go for progressively lighter rigs and give consideration to the weight and balance of basses. 

 

 

 

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I turned 60 a week ago. I've played over 40 gigs this year, sometimes two in an evening and I'd do more more if I could get them. I'm hoping for a busier year in 2018!

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4 hours ago, yorks5stringer said:

Love your 1969 hair, maybe women would be more interested in you if you let it grow again?

I'm 62 and whilst have plenty of hair, find the steely grey reflects in the stage lighting.....

I wish I had that much hair to grow again.  Lol

Blue

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59 minutes ago, Japhet said:

I feel very lucky because as I have got older, gear has got smaller and immeasurably lighter. If I still had to lug around my old Trace stack I think I'd be fit for the knackers yard by now, but I have no problems with the new lightweight stuff. I'm 14 years older than the next oldest in my band and 24 years older than the youngest and they all seem to find it more tiring than I do. I want to keep going for as long as I can. The drummer in one of my previous bands now suffers from Parkinsons and he would give anything to have a nother chance. This isn't a rehearsal - it's the real gig.

Same for me, lighter gear has been a godsend really. Wish it had come a bit sooner for me, but better late than never.

I'm coming up 60, still touring and (just) making a living from playing bass. Done around 150 gigs this year, all over the UK

and local pub stuff as well. I find the worst time for me is if there are any gaps in my schedule - a week or more off and I 

really feel it on my next gig.  Hands / arms and mainly lower back start letting me know I'm not 25 any more.

Can't see me stopping any time soon though, it's what I do xD

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1 hour ago, Lozz196 said:

Pretty much sums it up for me, though I`m 52 not 64, and only been playing since 15. But to me it`s as Blue puts it there, it`s the whole lot that I enjoy, including the 2hr drives home from gigs, lugging gear into hotels late at night, driving in unfamiliar areas to find a café for breakfast, getting a good sound from a provided rig, getting a great sound-check, all of it. Even printing the set-lists and seeing which songs we`re going to be playing.

100% spot on for me as well

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I'll be 72 next May and play in two bands,a quartet that plays mostly jazz standards and a seven piece swing band that also plays a few Dixieland tunes.I average at least two gigs a month and usually two rehearsals a week in a practice room that is an hour from where I live.I also drive at least an hour to most gigs and that can be interesting in the middle of our Canadian winters.I play mostly my Yamaha SLB 200 EUB(standing up,I can't play sitting because I like to move around too much)but also my Yamaha electric bass and I play tenor banjo on some Dixie tunes while the bottom end is taken care of by a tuba player.Great fun and playing with really good players has improved my skills immensely, especially reading since some of our material is legit arrangements and the parts have to work together and the other members are great readers so I have to keep up.Band members ages are from 32 to me at 72.

I intend to keep playing and learning as long as I can which I hope will be a good while yet.I played my first gig 56 years ago and I have no plans to quit, even after some angioplasty and stent work on my heart in October .I missed one rehearsal but no gigs.

Keep going, it's easier with modern equipment as the OP and many others have pointed out.I still love playing gigs and in the bands I'm in a rehearsal is always a learning experience.

We are so lucky to have music in our lives!

 

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I am another 60 year old who resumed gigging 2 years ago after a long break. I had also been playing at home for a few years - Guitar, Bass and Cigar Box Guitar - after my son decided he wanted to learn to play guitar. As others have said learning resources are  much more readily available now via the internet, and the quality is great, so learning is much accelerated. 

As for the health side of things, I am arthritic and have been for many years. This did concern me when I was asked to audition for a working function band. My solution was (as others have mentioned) to switch my basses entirely to short scale, and my gear to lighweight class D.

Yes it hurts to play a gig - particularly the first couple of numbers, but I still love it. I may not be as fast as I once was but I still have a good feel for timing. Like anything else you have to pace yourself, but only you can decide what is right for you  

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OK, I am shamed. The world is full, it seems, of wrinkly old bassists all enjoying themselves. I'm up for that. I'm still pretty fit - I can still carry a 2x10 up the stairs on my shoulder without breaking a sweat, so I should stop whining. I'll steer clear of the short scales for a while - I really do like a twangy sound. It's in my name.

Thanks, everyone, for your heartwarming replies.

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I was born on D-Day 6th June 1944. First paid gig 1954  Last paid gig in  so far is a festival in July of 2018 but I am hoping to book more. 3 left between now and New Years, starting Saturday.

 

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