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How much do positive or negative associations between a bass (or guitar) brand and well known players influence your own choices?


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Basswise I mostly favour Stingrays, or rather the cheaper Sterling versions, partly because two fave players, Louis Johnson and Bernard Edwards, played them. Conversely, I steer away from Rickies as I associate them strongly with prog and metal (e.g. Chris Squire, Geddy Lee, Cliff Burton, Glenn Hughes). Similarly guitar-wise I don't consider Strats and Les Pauls. Partly this is because they're commonplace and also I don't much care for those players strongly associated with them. On the other hand, as I like many country chickin pickin stylists the Tele is a goto. Sure this might seem flaky but there you go.

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I was probably more sensitive to it when I was younger. A few of the albums I loved in my late teens were played on late 80's Ibanez SR800LE and SR1000E so I have a soft spot for those two models in particular. Cliff with his Aria and, before that, Ric, of course, definitely made an impression. I've tried to play as many different basses as I can over the years, though, and find what's right for me. Much as 4003s are cool, I can do without the bastarding right angle of the body digging into my forearm when I play. I've yet to find a Fender I'd want to keep forever, so it doesn't matter how many people play them, I just have no interest. I know what I like and I like what I like, these days, regardless of who played one or not. There's a definite period of late 80's to early 90's where I am drawn to instruments of that era but not because of any group of players, probably more that it was the time when I was really getting into playing bass and guitar. I also didn't have the money to explore the fantastic exotica of the time. Players, though? Nah, past that stage, I think.

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I'd say pretty much zero. My first consideration of a bass is the looks. It could be the best sounding instrument in the world, played and endorsed by the greatest players. But if the looks don't appeal to me I wouldn't even pick it up. 

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Not at all.

 

By the time I had the money to buy any bass or guitar other than the cheapest ones in the shop, I had formed my own tastes that had/have little to do with what my musical heroes play/played.

 

My first electric guitar was one I designed and built myself in woodwork classes at school, and while it had borrowed from existing designs (mostly Explorer and Firebird and were picked because I liked the "futuristic" shapes rather than any player association) the end result was unique in both shape and electrics.

 

My first bass (a second hand Burns Sonic) was simply the cheapest one in the shop when I bought it - although I did try some cheap P and J bass copies at the same time and didn't like them as much.

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No influence at all.

 

When I started out I wanted 2 pickups and active electronics as I thought it would be a plus to have plenty of tonal options. I found from experience that I prefer P basses and passive controls.

 

It so happens that James Jamerson and Duck Dunn (who are among my favourite players) are linked with Precisions but at no point did I think, ooh I must get a P bass so that I can sound like those guys. As a Bowie fan I also appreciate his various bassists’ playing, but between them they have been seen with almost every imaginable bass!

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In the '50s and '60s there was much less exposure to commercial pressures, or even presence. We had no television, no music magazines, just the BBC's Home Service for radio (Listen With Mother, The Archers and the News...). I had no idea whatsoever when I bought my first guitar, no more when I bought my first bass, and still nothing when I bought my first drums. I have no childhood 'heroes', and would not associate any instrument with any player; my firm belief is that it's all in the fingers, not the instrument/amp/Fx or whatever. My 'idols' impressed me by their playing, whatever the rig, if I even knew what stuff they had. I've seen many of 'em, with many different set-ups, and they always sounded like themselves. (Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Spencer Dryden, Christian Vander, Joe Morello, Richard Thompson, Martin Lamble, Frank Zappa... to name just a few...). 

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1 hour ago, Barking Spiders said:

I steer away from Rickies as I associate them strongly with prog and metal (e.g. Chris Squire, Geddy Lee, Cliff Burton, Glenn Hughes).

 

I steer away from Rickies because I've played one :lol:  

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As a newish bedroom player very much so for me.

I have 4 basses only 1 was a that's cheap and looks okay purchase (Harley Benton PB-20 SBK) (2nd bass I bought)

the other 3 were all about favourite bands and players.

Hofner Ignition - Obviously McCartney (my 1st bass and not a good choice for a 1st Bass IMHO) 

Bass centre Betsy - Who else than Guy Pratt

MM Stingray - Rory MacDonald from Runrig.

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I bought my Bruce Thomas Profile because he has always been my favourite bass player. I knew nothing about the Bass Centre, nothing about Bruce's bass.

It was a total fanboy purchase.

Luckily it's awesome.

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The brand and the sound can be pretty much equal. My side is that the guitarists with different brands always talks much about that i play only fretless, but i always win.

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Not much if anything.

I've seen so many bands use instruments that were "wrong" for the genre that I decided long ago that it doesn't matter.

 

Then I decided that the looks of the bass are unimportant or at least no higher than dead last on the list of priorities. Balance / weight / sound etc are all far more important.

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I make up my own mind about what basses to buy and play, based upon their tone, feel and playability...and often affordability!

 

That Mother Theresa played one in her thrash metal band, or Geezer Butler played one in his amateur Bucks Fizz tribute outfit are neither here nor there to me.

 

I have a Geddy Lee Jazz because I love the bass, but am not especialy a Geddy or Rush fanboi (altough I don't dislike them) and don't play prog. I have a transition Precision, and frankly couldn't give a s*** about Sting.  I have a Steinberger and I've never even heard of Talking Heads.

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  1. I bought my Wal Pro back in '86 because I desperately needed a good bass, and I was in the right place at the right time to snap it up. I knew sod all about Wal and didn't know of any of their name players at the time. All I knew was that a.) I could afford it and b.) it was (still is) a fabulous instrument. When I bought it I was in the process of saving up my shekels for a new bass and had my sights set on a very lovely Pangborn Warlord I'd played at the Wapping Bass Centre (RIP); part of my reason for trying it out was that I had seen Mark King playing one and loved its looks. At the time I thought he was god, but I didn't want a Jaydee because I didn't want to look too much of a fanboi :lol: Buying the Wal instead saved me a shedload of cash and has proved to be a good long-term investment!
  2. I bought my Status fiver because I'd always liked Status basses (nothing to do with their Mark King connection) and I wanted a good five string. My Yamaha RBX was nice but the Status kicked its arrse.
  3. I bought my Sire V7 partly because of the Marcus Miller connection, which was what made me notice them in the first place, but mainly because I really fancied an active 5 string Jazz and they represented really stupid value for money. Bought it totally sight-unseen and was not disappointed. I'd very probably have given it a punt even without the MM connection.

So... a couple of very tenuous artist associations in there.

 

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I'd better qualify what i said. I mostly like playing funk and disco bass and particularly like the sounds coming out of the Rays LJ and BE had. After I'd got LJ's Star Licks vid and heard the tone he got out of it I knew that was the right bass for me. I had other brands but slapping never sounded as good on them as it does on the Stingray and its less costly versions

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I avoided Statocasters for the best part of 30 years because I always found them a bit boring and associated them with music I found a bit boring.

 

Finally got one a couple of years ago and was blown away by the playability and the sounds, I'm still not hugely keen on the aesthetics though.

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The only off-putting negative association would be if an artist signature bass was (IMO) so butt ugly it would disqualify itself on looks alone.

 

Fender Stu Hamm Urge 2, Warwick's Adam Clayton Streamer and Reverso, that sort of thing.

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In the early years I was influenced by Chris Squire and slightly later by Tony Levin and his work with King Crimson and then Peter Gabriel. I wanted a Ricky, knowing very little about them. Actually, I wanted the Squire gritty sound and assumed it was the Ricky sound. I couldn't afford one and by the time I got to the point where I could, technology had progressed to the point where most sounds could be approximated by boxes. So when I had the finances and the incentive to get a decent bass, I took a moment before jumping in. I decided on a Sterling Ray34HH. I liked the look, loved the sound that the players who used them (including Mr Levin) were getting and went with the twin humbuckers so that I could get a variety of tones from the bass alone before stepping on any pedals. A partial influence but also some practical choice on my part. 

 

I'm still after the Squire grit sound, though. 😀 I just hope the band plays songs it would be appropriate to use with. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Cato said:

I avoided Statocasters for the best part of 30 years because I always found them a bit boring and associated them with music I found a bit boring.

 

Finally got one a couple of years ago and was blown away by the playability and the sounds, I'm still not hugely keen on the aesthetics though.

 

Like a all solid electric instruments the things that give the Stratocaster its sound are the type and position of the pickups, the switching and control options, combined with the particular style of vibrato mechanism. There are plenty of instruments with this configuration that don't look like Stratocasters.

Edited by BigRedX
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I'm not so much influenced by brand as by aesthetics tbh. I love the look of a Fender headstock so anything that emulates that is OK by me. 

 

Recently, one of my bandmates offered to bring along a headless bass as a back up for me (I was having a bit of technical trouble which turned out to be the rehearsal amp rather than the bass). I had to respectfully decline. I just would not feel right playing a headless. 

 

Respect to anyone who plays a headless (including Rhino of course!), but it would just feel completely wrong for me.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Seashell2 said:

I'm not so much influenced by brand as by aesthetics tbh. I love the look of a Fender headstock so anything that emulates that is OK by me. 

 

Recently, one of my bandmates offered to bring along a headless bass as a back up for me (I was having a bit of technical trouble which turned out to be the rehearsal amp rather than the bass). I had to respectfully decline. I just would not feel right playing a headless. 

 

Respect to anyone who plays a headless (including Rhino of course!), but it would just feel completely wrong for me.

 

 

I think I’ve subliminally bought into the idea of Fender or Fender influenced basses being my go to.

Probably most of the bassist’s I’ve admired since I was a kid, from Jameson onwards, seemed to

favour them and I guess it’s stayed with me. That’s not to say I’m blind to other makes /styles -

I love Danelectro stuff and retro looking basses like Reverend etc. I also like Musicman basses

which are the logical follow up by Leo to his classic designs. 

I had a Hohner B2A for a couple of years and loved the design, but let it go as couldn’t quite 

cope with the way it hung on the strap. Don’t think it was because I liked any Steinberger players,

just enjoyed the radical design compared to a Fender. Wish I’d persevered with it as it sounded great!

 

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3 minutes ago, machinehead said:

For me it’s all about the bass itself and nothing about the artist. As much as I love Paul McCartney’s playing, I never liked the violin bass.😀

Frank.

Pretty much the same for me, just not keen on those at all.

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