I would describe my bass style as schizophrenic. I definitely have musical multiple personality disorder. With Spock’s Beard I do a little of a lot of different styles, but the primary one is pretty aggressive. “Rick with a pick” would best describe it. I didn’t play with a pick much before Spock’s Beard, but that’s the only way I could get the tone I was going for, so I worked on it and now I’m very comfortable using a pick. I have a pretty nice five-string by John Carruthers, which replaced a really nice Musicman five that I bought in the late 80s and unfortunately burned up in a fire.
The secret of playing bass well? There’s a question.Do I even know the answer? Well, let’s pretend that I do. To me I guess it’s a combination of a lot of different things, more like a little book of secrets. Having the basics down (education and technique, both of which I’m a little lacking in), but not letting your education or technique rule you. Don’t be afraid to play like an idiot if that’s what the song calls for, and never limit yourself to what you have learned or what you can learn from somebody else. Sometimes you just have to trust your gut and make stuff up as you go. Having good time and feel is fairly easy, having great time and feel is incredibly valuable and hard to achieve. Knowledge and technique is like your vocabulary, but time, groove and feel, that is your personality. It comes naturally to a few lucky bastards, but most of us have to work on it and it’s an ongoing process.
Basses Rickenbacker 4001, John Carruthers five-string Sterling Music Man SB-14, Fender Precision, Fender Jazz, Aria
Effects IK Multimedia software plugins, Digitech RP-21D combo preamp, MarkBass synth bass pedal
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Amps Eden WT-1205, 4×10” Eden cabs, Eden WT-800, SWR Henry 8×8” cab