So I just want to share with you today a quick story that happened to me when I was playing a gig a few years back.
So, we turn up at the gig and I know the other bands that are playing at the gig. There are about four or five different bands playing and it’s just a short set where you play a few songs each. And it’s almost like a show night, or something, I don’t know what you call it, but it’s just like where you just play a couple of songs basically.
So the bands were all booked here and I know most of the other bands and all the band members. And we turn up there and I’m getting a lift in my friend’s car, who’s a guitarists in one of the other bands. And my bass is in the back of the car in the boot or the trunk, depending on where you’re from.
So all of the guitars are in the boot and they’re all stacked up because we needed all the space to just cram as many people into the car seats as possible, and there’s no room for instruments.
So there’s about four or five guitars stacked up in the boot of this car. And mine happens to be at the bottom. So when it comes to getting the bass out of its case, and it wasn’t a hard case. It was in like a bag which is just like a back pack. It was just like a soft material case. There’s some padding but you can kind of feel the bass through it as it would be. It’s not a solid case. And because I had to carry it on my back when I walked to practices and when I went to college and stuff like that.
“I studied music at college and I had to carry my bass every day on my back”
I studied music at college and I had to carry my bass every day on my back. I had to walk into the local town and then catch a bus, and take about a 30 minute bus ride to get to college and back each day. So that took quite a lot of walking and stuff like that. So there was no good having a hard case.
So anyway, when it comes to taking my bass out of the case to like tune it up and start warming up my hands before I go on to play the gig, of course, with the way it was with the other instruments on top, one of my strings had snapped, and it just happens to be the thickest E string. I also play a bit of guitar. I haven’t picked up a guitar in ages but I used to play guitar and so I always say the thick E key string because a normal guitar has a thin E string as well. So it’s kind of like a habit I got into that you might hear every single lesson. I refer to it as the thick E string even though there isn’t a thin E string on the bass guitar.
So anyway, the thick E string has broken and it’s just like in two pieces literally. It’s just gone. So I’m totally stuck. I don’t have a spare set of strings on me, like an idiot. And there’s the first tip for you. Always take a spare set of strings to a gig, or at least have one set between you if you know some of the other bands that are playing.
“the most embarrassing thing ever”
So there I am. I’ve got a nonfunctional bass guitar and I’m due to go onstage in a few minutes, I think one of the first bands on. So I end up having to borrow a bass guitar off of someone else, and it just so happens to be a female bass player who has a bright purple girlie bass guitar with like stickers on it and all this. And I just remember that it was like the most embarrassing thing ever to be playing this.
We were like a rock band, and for me to be standing there with this like purple bass with powder puff girl stickers on it or something like that. It was just hilarious but you just have to get on with it.
And I just wanted to share that story with you. I just thought it was really funny, and see there’s a lesson that you can even take from that story of how to transport your bass properly.
Don’t stack instruments to each other, take a spare set of strings and make good friends with other musicians so you can at least a borrow their instrument if yours packs up. Because that’s another thing, after you play shows and you don’t actually know the other bands and stuff like that, like some people are really competitive and their all like talking shit about the other band and like being like oh, we’re better than them or they’re rubbish, or the other band plays first and they start and you get all defensive, you know, they’re no good, even though they were but you’re just trying to like make yourself feel better or whatever between your band and stuff.
I don’t know if you’ve had experience with that but it happens all the time in real life, doesn’t it. You end up like trying to be competitive, and that’s just how we are sometimes.
But it’s a good idea to not be like nasty to the other bands and stuff that you play with, and to make friends with them and be friendly to them when you first meet them or if you’re in the back stage area and stuff like that, you know, because there always comes a time when you’re going to help each other out and stuff like that. So even if you’re doing something like a Battle of the Bands for example, which is kind of what I was thinking of when I was thinking about a competitive nature like you do a Battle of the Bands.
All the bands are competing and you’re try to one-up each other and trying to win the contest. It still pays to be nice because it really does pay off and it obviously goes further in life, you know. So I just wanted to also kind of cover another idea that I wanted to share with you, and that’s kind of leading off from that story that I just told you about the broken E string and me playing a purple girly bass guitar for a show once.
“Things are always going to get in your way”
The thing you’ve got to realize, and this applies to everything in life but I’m going to obviously apply it to bass because that’s what we’re talking about here. Things are always going to get in your way, ok. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish.
Things in life are just going to sometimes try and stop you. Life’s going to throw up these walls and they’re like hurdles for you to overcome. You’re going to be playing a show and a string breaks. You’re going to be trying to learn scales and there’s a power cut, for example. It will be like I had the light go out earlier and I turned and got a lamp and stuff.
But there might be a power cut. You might have a screaming kid in the next room, the phone might ring, the boss phones you up and asks you to go back to work for a few hours or to cover someone else’s shift.
All these different things are going to get in the way of the time that you’ve scheduled to practice your bass or that are going to interrupt that time that you’ve put aside for it.
And you have to realize that basically life throws up his walls to basically stop the people that don’t want it bad enough, and that’s the way I look at it.
I think that everybody has got these problems and things to overcome or basically these walls and obstacles. And those are put there in life to test us and to make sure that only the people that want it bad enough achieve the things that they want. Because if bass was like easy and we all had 10 hours a day to practice and things like, then you know of course we’d all be amazing, incredible, world’s best bass players. But we’re not. There are other things like work and family and different come up. And you’ve just got to learn to work around those. And that’s why I created my website…
To be continuted…
Thanks for reading Life Lessons for Bass Guitar #1 part 2. Be sure to check back soon for part 3!
- Tom Boyd