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So how long have you been playing bass, and why did you start?

I think I started playing bass around when I was around 16 or so, a couple of years after I had started to learn how to play guitar, which makes the time I have played bass about 27 years by now, most of that time having had bass as my main instrument of choice, although having continued to play guitar on the sideline all along.

It all started one day at band rehearsal where I by pure incident picked up the bass players bass and started playing, fell in love with the sound and feel of playing it, right there on the spot, and soon after answered an add by a drummer and a guitarist/vocalist seeking a bass player for their original band.

After an audition session I got accepted as their new bass player, and even got a lot of praise for my capabilities on bass from the drummer, who happened to be a, for his age at that point, really skilled musician that knew how to sight read music, and who beside drums, played both piano and guitar on the sideline (that drummer and guitarist/vocalist being the same two people, though in a new different original band, that I much later since recorded a 2 track Single and a 4 track EP with, which were released on a small independent record label that some of our mutual friends owned, before I eventually decided to leave that band, much to my later regret, though I did get to contribute to a few of the compositions of their later full length album, even if not recording anything for it).

The first few months with that first original band I didn't even own my own bass yet, but had to borrow one.

Though soon after I decided to put my primary focus on playing bass over playing guitar.

For some reason playing bass just came much more natural to me than playing guitar, like the instrument just felt exactly right in my hands, and as if I must have been thinking much more like a bass player than a guitarist all along, like apparently I just had a natural understanding for how the instrument worked and talent for coming up with and playing just the right bass parts for songs relatively effortlessly, that I for some reason just didn't possess on even just remotely the same level and same degree on guitar (even if eventually I have gotten quite good on guitar too, but ironically mainly from the experience I have acquired playing bass).

 

Edited by Baloney Balderdash
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I started with piano at the age of 5. I think I tried to learn it for 13 years with no success. I found guitar when I was 15 or 16, but my school mate listened to me and said: "You are so big and ugly, you should play bass."

True as it was, I bought a black 1974 4001 from Rose Morris, £400. I was 17. Then went to another music school, and even learned something. I still play in few bands after all these years. I cannot quit playing.

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I started guitar aged about 11 and played guitar live from age 17 until about age 29 (I think?) when the bass player suddenly packed it in and the singer asked me to play bass for a few gigs until we could get a new bass player.

After two gigs on bass I told the singer to get a new guitar player because I wanted to stay on bass.  I've never played guitar on stage since then.  I pick up an acoustic guitar at a party now and then and at a sing-song but that's it.

Frank.

Edited by machinehead
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I started playing bass at 12, mainly because my older brother decided to learn guitar and I wasn’t going to let him get one over on me.

Everything came at the right time - we’d started listening to some proper music and taping the charts, some older family friends had made a band and it all seemed very exciting.

I got a short scale Satellite bass and a five-watt practice amp, which i swapped for a Westone and a better amp a year later.

Now been playing since 1986. Started on acoustic guitar a year or two later and now play that as much as my bass. 

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I started to play double bass as an instrument in school music lessons. I was 13. They had one crappy instrument and I was the only one from my lot who volunteered. I played for the last two years of high school in the school orchestra doing the usual arco classical stuff (badly!!). My passion was to sneak in early and stay late in order to try pizzicato style (badly).

At home I had a Columbus Jazz and an old Fenton Weil (?) guitar amp. The cab was a diy 2x12. Well, the journey went on - as they say. That was over 50 years ago. Hey ho!

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I started my musical career playing the recorder at the age of six. By the time I'd nailed "Little Donkey" I knew I'd pretty much peaked and had to quit to give up and coming musicians a shot. It  took me another 10 years to recover from the dizzying heights of recorder success before I picked up my fist bass. Purely because my mates were in a band and they didn't have a bass player, so I thought I'd give it a bash. That lasted maybe 12 months and one whole gig. I then once again took a hiatus from the showbiz lifestyle. I started playing again about a year ago. So all in all about thirty years, or two depending on how you count. 

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I started playing bass when I was 14 years old.  I was already playing trumpet and piano to a fairly high level.  I was also playing rhythm guitar in a school band, but our singer was so bad at playing the bass, that I decided to have a go.

We did a gig, and I absolutely loved it!  I still love playing the bass as much now as then and I have been playing professionally for over 25 years.  

There is so much still to learn, but for me, that learning is striving for a higher level of musicianship, rather than particularly nailing technical elements of playing.

I love the subtleties of bass, but equally how you can really change the harmony or vibe of a song with a small change.

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I started on drums when I was 8 because my Dad was an ex-pro drummer and I therefore assumed it would be easy. Surprise surprise the logic of an 8yr old me was highly flawed and it didn't last. At 15 2 friends and I were getting into a crop of new bands and decided we wanted to be in a band of our own. We all saved up for our instruments over the course of a few months. As we saved, my best mate and I used to chop & change as to who would be the bass player (the bassist was generally regarded as the cool one at that point in time). I think being tall and slim meant the bass suited me better and fast forward 32yrs it is still my main instrument of choice. Over the years I have learnt guitar to a reasonable standard and can play mandolin and a few other stringed instruments. Bass seems the most natural and effortless for me and it's usually where I get gigs.

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I've been playing for 35 years. I'm a failed guitarist (found playing those weedy little strings very problematic) so a mate of mine who wanted to form a band said - "why don't you learn bass? It's only got 4 strings and must be easier than guitar?" (sound familiar?). I bought my first bass (a "Craftsman" Precision) a week after Live Aid in 1985 and a couple of months later had a Carlsbro Cobra 90w bass combo to go with it. 

About 15 basses and a few rigs later, I've settled on stuff I'm more than happy with. Still think it's the coolest instrument in the band, and found that it "wasn't easier than guitar".... I've also worked with loads of great people, and am still friends with most of them even now after all this time.

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I was (and still am) a pretty awful electric guitar player, although I can manage half decent fingerpicking  on an acoustic (which to my mind ought to be harder...)

At Uni in Aber a mate had a red sunburst precision that I used to plonk away on when I was at his place.

After I left uni he lent it to me for a month or so (thinking back, probably because I was a bit miserable after my three-year student relationship broke up). He made the condition that I only played it one-finger-per-fret 🙂

Didn't take me long to appreciate it was a much better fit for me than guitar.

I got a Hohner jazz, and when I moved down to South Wales I was pretty crap but eventually tried an audition and failed miserably when it turned out all the songs I had tried to learn were just a 'guide to the sort of things...'

Tried out for a covers band and somehow did OK, and then got about ten years under my belt with them followed by two original bands.

About 23 years only doing the odd bit.

Getting back into it seriously now, for about two years, definitely a much better player than I was before, but my guitar is even worse.

So that's about 36 years.

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Cool stories here. It's interesting to see how varied experiences are.

I started playing guitar when I was 13. I was playing in metal bands by my late teens/early twenties and got pretty good. Played off-and-on over the years then decided to start getting back into writing stuff a couple of years ago.

I've gotten more serious with my writing and started laying down some woefully inadequate bass tracks, thinking I would just find someone to record them properly for me. In the meantime I kept trying to improve them myself and discovered I was having a great time.

Now I'm practising scales, honing technique, and enjoying things I never enjoyed on guitar. And my bass tracks are improving bit by bit!

So probably I would say I've been seriously playing for one or two months. Just using my wife's bass she never ended up using herself until I can get my own.

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I picked up the bass after the trio I was with got into jazz. I realized quickly that my basically folk guitar skills were not going to make it in this new world.  Got a bass, learned a few basic moves (blues!)  then took lessons for a year and got better: scales, modes, key centers, and just learning on the fly. It helps immensely that my trio mates are great musicians. I've since studied jazz guitar but still consider bass my first instrument.

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Oooh, about 2 years & six months. 

I had been off work with 'flu and it hammered me for a week or so then another week woozy and surfacing afterwards. During which time I must have wandered disorientedly about eBay because the next week I started getting odd "Recommended for you" emails from them. The oddest one was " Non working 5 string bass in Worthing, Sussex", which was so funny at the time I shared it will friends at work. 

One friend said, "well I have an unused bass, I'll bring it in and you can have a noodle if you're actually interested", and rocked up the next day with an Aria Sinsonido silent travel bass. So I messed about with this for a couple of days,  then asked the best bassist at church to show me some basics. He taught me a simple riff and said "Yep, you can do this, I'll teach you". So I bought a used bass online and have never looked back.

Sadly Kev died a couple of months after I bought my bass but I will forever be grateful for his initial enthusiasm and encouragement. I'm still too slow round the fretboard and my timing is a bit ropey, but I can follow the chart through a worship song, play more interesting lines than I used to, and am making progress. And enjoying myself even though I'm not in any band at present. 

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I picked up a guitar at about 13 or 14 to impress girls. Unfortunately all my mates were actually decent musicians so I ended up looking crappy by comparison (it’s fair, I was). A friend suggested I play bass but I had no idea about it and the strings felt too floppy after the guitar. Anyway I wanted to be front of stage soloing. I lived in a small village with no access to music teachers and my parents couldn’t afford the sax I wanted instead. I never put the time in on the guitar and just strummed until I was about 20 and then I just let playing music go for years. Thirty years later my wife decides to take up drums. I spent about a week mulling over my lack of commitment as a teenager. I still had my acoustic and I got it out and strummed but something didn’t feel right. I went to a music shop and picked up a bass. How could I have been so arrogant and stupid all those years ago! It felt like mine from the second I picked it up. Everything fell into place - the music I like is all driven by grooves. All this time I could have been playing, making friends and having fun! 
 

I’ve been playing just about everyday for 4 years now.

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