Mark Round’s bass Birthrite

I would describe my bass style as fast finger plucking style. It’s funk-influenced, but I love the heavy dirt and darkness of valve. I try to get as much chromatic work in as possible, love a sweet run between octaves, and diabolic intervals. I do not play five- or six-string bass, because low B is just too muddy for the stuff I play. I haven’t had the chance to try out a Fender VI or a Burns Barracuda yet – ­­­­­they are on the list of things to make and do though.

I slap because it’s gooood and it’s great fun. But it can detract from the groove if you lay too much in; don’t let the song suffer because you are having fun. I try not slap just for the hell of it. Lots of the stuff I play requires a more solid foundation, but I do slap when the rhythm dictates that it’s time to go off on one. The secret of playing bass well is practice, practice, practice, and use a bloody metronome, you time travellers.

My first bass was a horrible P-Bass copy, with the worst action ever. However, the fine art of shimming brought it back down to an acceptable level. (Not before I’d had a rotary saw to the body, though.) My bass heroes are Norman Watt-Roy, Nathan Watts, The Meters, Bootsy Collins, Larry Graham, JJ Burnel, Bernie Edwards and James Jamerson. Sly Dunbar has this great trick of playing virtually nothing, yet sounding fantastic. Tina Weymouth has the same skill, and Bootsy… Bootsy has his own funk planet carved out of solid funky lumps.

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