Learning bass, with an eye toward having (even) more fun
By Jon Liebman
Week of December 16, 2019
When you pick up the bass, how often do you find yourself playing the same thing all the time? When you get together with your band, or with friends to play some music, do you pretty much play the same songs all the time?
These questions come to mind from the interview we published this week, with ace bassist Dave LaRue. With a list of credits including The Dixie Dregs, Steve Morse Band, Flying Colors, John Petrucci, Vinnie Moore, Joe Satriani, and so many more, Dave has played a lot of music in his career. What’s more, whether with his own band or with others, Dave is constantly striving to keep things varied and interesting. “That’s the kind of musician I am,” he says. “I get bored easily, so I like to do a lot of different things.”
Dave brings up a good point. How many times have you been at an impromptu jam session and found yourself saying, “If I hear one more blues shuffle, I’m going to scream!” either to yourself or out loud?
Not that there’s anything wrong with a blues shuffle. But what’s next, a funk groove? Then maybe… The Chicken? All great stuff, but there’s so much more stuff you could be playing.
With a resume as extensive as Dave’s I always knew he brought a lot to the party. I had no idea just how varied his musical interests were. Dave is especially appreciative of the variety he finds in the Steve Morse Band, for one. “I love playing with that band,” he says, “because we’ll do a hard rockin’ thing, and the next thing you know we’ll be playing a bluegrass thing, and then we’ll do a Baroque duet, and we’ll do some ‘proggy’ odd-meter thing.”
Don’t get me wrong. There are certain grooves and songs you’ll be expected to play, including blues shuffles, funk grooves, or whatever music is inherent to your particular environment, so be sure you learn them. But it’s always good to try new stuff too.
Next time you pick up the bass, either by yourself or with the band, try playing something you’ve never, or seldom, played before. You’ll find it fun, challenging, eye-opening… anything but boring!
Have a thought on the subject? Leave a comment below. I’d love to know what you think. In the meantime, check out my interview with Dave here.