It’ll give you one less thing to worry about
By Jon Liebman
September 23, 2022
You’re learning bass. You’re happy when you tackle something new. You’re making strides. You’re making progress. Good for you!
But how do you feel after you’ve been standing up and playing for, 40 minutes? An hour? Two hours?
You may already be dealing with physical issues that make playing bass more challenging. As we get older, a lot of us encounter things like arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel issues, and the like.
Or maybe we just get tired from standing for long periods of time, supporting the weight of the bass on our shoulder.
Well, here’s an idea that might make playing the bass a little easier.
It sounds pretty obvious, but have you dared to try it on a gig?
One bass player’s advice
I had a wonderful conversation with Dr. Angela Smith the other day, published as this week’s FBPO interview. Angela, who’s both a member of the Bottom Line Club at forbassplayersonly.com and an owner of my Power Grooving digital course, is incredibly passionate about her music, including of course, playing bass.
She also happens to be an actual rocket scientist. For real! You can learn more about that when you watch the interview.
When I asked Dr. Angela what advice she had for someone who wants to learn bass, particularly someone older than 50, she said, without batting an eye, “Sit down.”
“Now you didn’t expect that,” she says. “Most bass players, at the back of the band, seem to stand up, whether they’re playing the (bass) guitar or the upright. That’s great. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.”
Before we go any further, what’s your initial reaction to what Angela says? If you’re concerned that sitting down won’t give you the right “look” as part of the band, read on…
Consider your surroundings
First off, I assume you’re not playing in an arena full of 30,000 screaming fans. It’s more likely you’re playing in a wedding band, a cover band, or just getting together with your friends.
So take a chance, and sit down! If a regular chair detracts from the vibe you’re going for, try sitting on a stool.
“As we get older, and it applies to me too,” Angela says, “I can’t stand for playing a bass for more than an hour now, so I use a nice bass stool, sit down on that, and it’s much more comfortable.”
Taking care of business is what’s important
Sound good? Sitting down can also give you one less thing to worry about while you concentrate on playing the bass. You’ve already got a lot to think about, like locking in with the drummer, laying down the groove, making the music feel good, you know, things bass players do.
“And that makes it so much easier then, for me,” Angela continues, “to really focus on what I’m trying to do with the instrument, rather than worrying about holding it and all that sort of thing.”
Would anyone really object if you were to sit down? As long as you’re taking care of business, it really shouldn’t matter.
Angela finds it helpful in playing not just electric, but upright bass too. “Sitting down helps keep it a lot more stable,” she says, “makes it much easier to really focus on getting the notes when you want them in the right place, and so on.”
“So that’s my advice,” she says. “Sit down.”
Your turn. What are your thoughts about sitting down while playing bass, particularly in a live situation? Leave a comment below and let me know where you stand on the issue (sorry, I couldn’t resist!). And be sure to watch my interview with Dr. Angela here.