If you’re not grooving, all the gear in the world won’t save you
By Jon Liebman
Week of April 22, 2019
This week we published a compelling interview with Andrew Barta, founder of Tech 21, a well-known company that manufactures a variety of quality amps, pedals, and effects, including the wildly popular SansAmp. Tech 21 products have been used by bassists Geddy Lee, Michael Anthony, Rex Brown and Tom Petersson, and guitar players Richie Kotzen, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Randy Bachman, and Joe Walsh, to name a few. Even Les Paul loved what Tech 21 did for his sound.
Not to take anything away from players who are into effects, but when talking to a guy like Andrew, I can’t help but think about players whose electronically enhanced sound is such a big part of their voice, often their whole musical persona. Names like Bootsy Collins and Freekbass come to mind, as do Juan Alderete, and tone-aholic Bryan Beller.
Most players will tell you, “The sound comes from the hands.” But does it?
There’s an art to making music groove. If it sounds better when it’s electronically enhanced, tastefully, then go for it. But you’ve got to be a groover first, like Bootsy, Freekbass and the others (everybody says they already know that, but it’s worth restating anyway).
In our courses at FBPO, the focus is on helping you become a better bass player. When our members spend time on lessons like Building Bass Lines, Sight Reading, Slapping, or even our newest addition, 6-String Bass, we make sure they’re emphasizing musicality, groove, and making the music feel good.
Sound enhancers, pre-amps, signal processors, etc., all have their places. Just don’t rely on them when it comes time to do your job as the bass player. You can have all the chorus, delay, flange, and octavers you want, as long as they’re used to enhance the music, not be the music. When the “music” sounds like someone is just pushing buttons, that’s when I’m outta there.
It can be done. Don’t fall for the “whoever has the most toys wins” trap.
Have a thought on the subject? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. In the meantime, watch my interview with Andrew here.