Bass players are a bit of a weird subset of musicians. Stereotypically, bassists are quiet, organized, reliable self-starters that truly represent the backbone of any band, and not simply because they provide that “thump” that is so recognizable when listening to any music.
Don’t misunderstand, not every bass player falls into that stereotype … oh no, not by a long shot. There are some crazy characters playing bass, to be sure, but “generally”bassists are as described. There is a web site called TalkBass which has a membership of over 315,000 (!!!) bass players, and within that group you’ll find proof that while most members are kinda level-headed, there are absolutely some that can only be best described as “nut jobs”!
Regardless of normal vs crazy status, one thing bassists seem to have in common is an unrealistically high volume of basses in their collection. For reasons unknown to anyone, including the bassists themselves, there is this compulsion to look at, obsess over, covet, hold, play and ultimately own as many basses as they possibly can.
Why? Who the heck knows … it’s just the way it is and must be imprinted in the bass players DNA.
Me? I’m no different than most. I’ve owned way too many basses over the years, at one point around 2010-2012 I think I had over 40 basses in my possession. Sure, I tried to pretend that they were basses I owned for purposes of reselling for a profit (and indeed, many were bought/sold), but the truth is that G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome) had reared its ugly head and gotten a firm grip on me.
Luckily, I came to my senses, sort of, and sold off a bunch of stuff in the mid ‘20-teens, so by the time I came down South to be with Sheila I was down to maybe 11-12 basses. Yes, yes, yes … still way too many but better than 40! For her part, Sheila really didn’t care how many basses I had; she had already mentally given up the lower level of her house to my music endeavors and I imagine as long as I didn’t infiltrate our daily living space, Sheila was okay with the gear.
About a year after we were married, Sheila suggested that I make a list of the basses I owned and jot down some particulars about each instrument. This way, in the event of my untimely demise, she and the rest of the family would know what they were talking about when they put the basses up for sale.
Right about the time we were discussing this idea, I suffered my heart failure issues. Without reiterating details already given regarding my heart, suffice it to say that I now have severe problems playing certain types of bass instruments. And specifically, upright basses and extended range basses (extended range basses have more than 4 strings and generally have wide necks).
Since I was already writing down very specific details on these basses, I figured why not just sell them? That will avoid all of the issues of selling these basses for my family trying to settle my affairs after I’m gone. While I don’t have any reason to believe my demise is imminent, the reality is that I’m 70 years old (how the heck did that happen???) (where did that time go?) and I do have some medical issues of concern.
I did start selling basses. First crew to go were basses I never played, and would never play even if I was healthy. A good example was a “Beatle Bass”, made popular by Paul McCartney. I originally bought it for pretty darn cheap money when my late wife, Bunny, noticed the bass in a for sale ad and said, “You should get that one”. Bunny was a big Beatles fan and really liked Paul McCartney.
Considering bass player G.A.S. had absolutely inflicted me at that point, I said “Sure!” and bought the thing.
Now, this is a great example of bass player foolishness, and particularly during a time period where most electric basses I was playing had at least 6 strings and big, wide bodies. This Beatle Bass is a tiny little body, skinny neck, and only 4 strings. I never did, and never would, be playing this bass on a gig.
I had previously owned, then sold, then re-purchased a 5 string bass built by FBB Custom Bass Works. When I bought it the first time I didn’t care for it because the body was far too small, even though it was immaculately built and sounded great. After the first sale, when I saw it was once again up for sale by someone else, I bought it back and ended up with the same sad result.
Bass after bass after bass was bought and sold. Finally, in 2021, I made a concerted push to rid myself of anything that was never going to be gigged again, to the point where I am now down to 5 basses, and two of those will eventually be sold off.
Out of the basses I have remaining, my most recent acquisition gets played the most. This is a Breedlove fretless acoustic bass guitar, and it seems to get along quite well with my physical restrictions. Sounds great, too!
I am sorry to see some of those basses go, but the reality is that I will never play them again and having them sitting around was only a constant reminder of that raw fact. One of the few basses I will be hanging on to is this double bass. Even though I really can’t play it any more due to my health restrictions, I remain hopeful that maybe someday I’ll get a few more tunes out of it!
Sheila and Ed Goode reside in Acworth Georgia, which is in the greater Atlanta region. Sheila specializes in mid-Century Modern styles and vintage clothing. Ed is a musician with his primary focus in the jazz field.
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