Bassically speaking: Jon Bakker

My bass style is a mix between groove bass and rhythm guitar. When we started playing live, we had a long discussion about whether we should recruit a keyboard player or not. Luckily we decided to strip down the music and spilt the key parts between the guitars and bass. kampfar credit Andrea ChirulescuWe have one guitar player, so I use distortion to fill out the sound. As I like to play around now and then, I’ll take on some parts that best fit the guitar, but the groove is always there. I do not play five- or six-string basses, because less is more. It’s as simple as that. In the studio I used a five-string for the low end, and I’ve tried it live as well, but it’s not much fun. I enjoy four strings when the intensity on stage is at the highest. There are fewer strings to concentrate on. I have thought about tuning my bass down, though.

The secret of playing bass well is to make bass-lines for the music and not the ego. When you want to show off your skills, the music will reek of it. Groove is very important, as well as simple low end lines to bring out the gloom. It’s okay to play around now and then, but only to improve certain parts of the music. My first bass was an Aria Pro II about 25 years ago. I bought it mainly because Cliff Burton had one. It was cheap, I covered it with stickers and tried my best to play it. Cliff is the closest to what I would call an inspiration and hero. Lemmy is a very close second. My favourite bass ever to date is still my ESP LTD F-414. Great balance, thundering EMGs and it looks badass. I have really high hopes about the new Frank Bello signature bass too: that one looks mighty good.

The greatest bass player that ever lived was Cliff Burton. He had a really cool stage presence. You can only imagine how good a bass player and songwriter he would have become.

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