Poll: What are you?
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View poll results: What are you?
Bass Player
362 63%
Bass Guitarist
216 37%
Voters: 578.
Page 1 of 9
Hey idiots who vote without reading the thread! Read the thread!

I was watching VH1's Rock Honours of The Who. There was a clip of John Entwistle where he was standing in front of his rig. He played a few notes with a totally clean tone, and said "Bass player...". He turned a knob, triggering a million distortion and mod effects, played the same notes, and said "... bass guitarist."

And here's my question: what are you - a bass player (defined as a backbone player with a round tone), or a bass guitarist (defined as a possibly lead player with a distinct tone)?

I'm definitely a bass guitarist - I pride myself with having a great, full, clear tone and a top-of-the-line pedal board and my playing is rarely 'under' the rest of the band; it's more along side. What say you?


1) If this turns into an arguement over semantics (i.e. 'it's not a guitar'), I'll end your breathing.

2) Metal lead guitarists: Asking why a bassist needs a pedal board is like asking why a woman needs a job. Take that however you will.

3) I'd ever-so-like to see a response with every vote. Y'know, meaningful contribution.

4) Please, be decisive. We're all bassists - just wondering what subcategory each of us considers ourselves. And please, let's be decisive - none of the ol' "I do both, it depends." If you insist on being stubborn, imagine two artists need a bassist - one needs a bass player, and the other needs a bass guitarist. Neither wants both. Who would you work with? If you say neither, please cancel your UG account.

Hopefully that roots out most of the spam. So what is everybody?
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
I'm very up front with my current style. I hate blending into the mix, I will throw in odd notes to stick out and prove I'm still there.
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bass player. im too lazy to go crazy (lol rhyme) but i can back up a band if i need to

john entwistle is the man r.i.p.
90% of my own material would probably be considered lead

So I guess I'm a bass guitarist
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Crap I'm the only guitarist ATM in my band, meaning I have to fill a huge gap in the sound, so I'm a bass guitarist. I admire the work of bassists, though. They are the ones who keep me on time whenever I solo just too much haha
Bass guitarist. I write all my music on my bass. I play lead parts on my bass. Hell, I don't even bother learning bass parts for songs, I learn the lead parts and adapt them for my bass.
Bass guitarist. I'd love to get asked, 'that's a bass?'.
the minimalist σƒ τλε τρπ βπστλεπλσσδ
I don't use effects much, but I still think myself to be a bass guitarist. I'm currently in a trio (with guitar and drums) and we need a big lead bass sound to fill the space and I think I fill it quite nicely using that technique.
Though blending into the mix isn't neccesarily a bad thing for me, I try to be a lead player as much as possible.

I don't think this will be an honest poll. Surprisingly enough, the bassists on this forum don't want to be a background player.
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Last edited by KKING911 at Jul 20, 2008,
I have a very "defined", very prominent level in my band, my tone is sharp and aggressive, I use my fair share of effects, I play strongly and not subordinately, I don't "dum dum dum" and I don't "play this because it fits". I make damned sure I'm heard, and that my instrument is speaking, audiable, screaming even. but I call myself a bass player. I fill the pocket in the band. It just happens to be a big pocket.
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Last edited by Caustic at Jul 20, 2008,
Idealy I'm a bass guitarist, but the members of my band are not that open
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I'd probably have to say bass guitarist. I always try to complement the guitar as opposed to playing underneath it, even if it sounds sort of "out there" sometimes.
Pretty much a bass player. Every now and then I'll screw around with a lead type part, but not often. Mostly I enjoy providing a solid background that may be technical and impressive in and of itself, but is not the part that jumps out and grabs you. Its more the part you don't even realize is contributing so much until you really listen to it. I prefer mostly to work behind the scenes, I'm not really an attention grabber or a showman, so I'm better off not fronting a group anyway. There are exceptions to this at times, but by and large I like being in the background.
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In most of the stuff that I write, I'm a bass guitarist. I like using just guitar, bass, and drums, so bass gets a bigger role in what I write. I don't use lots of effects or anything; it's just that the bass is less in the background and more in-your-face.
@ Fett's sig

Quote by Deliriumbassist
Damn you and your rule 4 Fitz! It really is a case of which band I'm playing with... but I prefer being a bass guitarist.

That wasn't so hard, was it?

But yes, people make a good point, and I'm not sure how to phrase it without some people seeing bass player as somehow lesser. I guess here's another way to phrase it:

Do you want someone to say "Dude, you're awesome!" (bass guitarist) or "Dude, your band's awesome!" (bass player)?

That might skew it the other way, but you know what I mean.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
I would perfer the latter.

The way you phrase it now I would like to be a bass player lol.
the minimalist σƒ τλε τρπ βπστλεπλσσδ
I'd want to hear the second one too even though I prefer the bass-guitarist style most of the time

Another way to phrase it could be: Do you like to have a more up front-role or a more laid back role. None is necessarily harder or better, and both support the overall sound well.
Oddly enough most of the music I enjoy listening to has simple bass lines that drive the rhythm. Therefor, when I play covers of my choosing I'm a bass player...

Now keeping with fitz's rule, I will say that the amount of time I spend in this covers role is pretty negligible compared to time spent playing the leadish lines I compose, so I, like many others in the thread, definately fall into the bass guitarist category. A lot of my bass leads start out as catchy acoustic guitar finger picking patterns, which I heavily alter to make appropriate for the bass.

In defiance of Entwistle, and a possibly rule #2, I'll say that my leads tend to be a lot more clean than the "bass player" things I write. I usually go heaviest on the effects when I am trying to create background ambiance and pulse, rather than when I want to stand out up front.

edit* sounded ambiguous
Last edited by dullsilver_mike at Jul 21, 2008,
I'm a bassist!

... lol

It really depends on the song though. If there's enough space, I'll be a bass guitarist... but most the time in a 2 guitar band, I'm the bass player. know what I mean?
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Bass Player.

Perhaps when I've been playing for longer than 1-2 months I'll say bass guitarists
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Quote by thefitz
But yes, people make a good point, and I'm not sure how to phrase it without some people seeing bass player as somehow lesser. I guess here's another way to phrase it:

Do you want someone to say "Dude, you're awesome!" (bass guitarist) or "Dude, your band's awesome!" (bass player)?

That might skew it the other way, but you know what I mean.

I would definitely prefer the "Your band is awesome." It the whole band is awesome, than it is obviously implied that I was instrumental in said awesomeness. If only one person is singled out then the rest of them were crappy and only that one person was good. I'm willing to sacrifice my exclusive accolades of awesomeness and share with the band if it keeps us getting gigs (assuming of course I had a band in the first place, which I don't so this is all hypothetical )
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I think you are a fool
I like to do both depends what music I play.
Quote by MoshPitRock
that's just what they do.
there's probably humans doing the same thing.
quit being so paranoid.

I'm a bass player currently, because I dont have the skills really required to truly "lead", and with the current band I'm in I dont really think it would go well sound wise. That bass guitarist aspect is coming along with the more experience(and better gear) I get.
Bass player becoming a bass guitarist. I used to be rather nice and comfortable in the bass player role (introvert that I am), but the more I play the more the inner Bass guitarist seems to come out . I would love to say it was self driven, but I've been playing with this guitarist lately who seems to think its his life mission to get me firmly out of my comfort zone, lol.
Quote by UtBDan
I'm a bassist!

Why is this not in the poll?

I do not submit to your poll, Fitz.

I play in 4 bands, including a 3 piece acoustic cover group, a 3 piece pop-rock band, a 3-5 piece straight rock band, and a 4-5 piece along the lines of Killswitch/A7X.

You have to play every song on its merits, just like in cricket. You can't go smashing at every ball, because you will get out eventually (often early) and people will say you're an idiot.

Also, who says as a bass guitarist you should have a pedal board? I can get along swimmingly playing a leading role without any, which is not to say I don't want any.

A bassist is a musician, so they should be more interested in music than just bass, so I will go as far as to say that I am not a bass player, bass guitarist, or a bassist. I am a musician with all of my heart and soul.

/alienating and pretentious spam

OK, in terms of this poll I am a bass guitarist, but I say so begrudgingly.
Quote by fleaflicker182
Why is this not in the poll?

Because, like I said in a previous post, we're all bassists. Bassist is the heading. Player/Guitarist is the subheading. We're all human. Which are male, and which are female? Hermaphrodites don't exist. They're lies.

But I will clear some things up for those so inclined - I rarely use effects in a standout way. I step on the distortion and octaver when the guitar solos, and I do some chorus and sometimes octaver during the soft-ish parts. There's only really one or two places I use a wah, and only one with the delay.

But basically, let me rephrase it like this: a bass guitarist isn't afraid to use a pedal board. Not afraid to have a tone that stands out or stands along side. Are bass players afraid to use pedal boards? Maybe. But it's more of a point of view. An ethic.

And, let's not forget, the whole effects thing was John Entwistle's way of making a very deliberate point very quickly, clearly and unambiguously in a humourous way. Y'know, a soundbyte (which was precisely what it was). If we analyze that particular element beyond the point we have we might as well start talking about how the chicken knows it's crossing the road.

And finally, I simply cannot, do not, and will not subscribe to the belief that exceptions trump general trends. No, you can't knock a cricket ball out of the park each time, but some guys are known for knocking balls out of the park. Some guys are known for (the cricket equivalent of bunting, as I clearly have no idea about cricket). In baseball, there are designated hitters. All they do is hit. Not all home runs, but that's what they got hired for. Their ability to hit homers.

OK, maybe this post of refining will give the future voters some clarity.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
Last edited by thefitz at Jul 21, 2008,
Hmmmm I prefer being the backbone of the rhythm section than go off and solo, if I wanted to do it that much I would've just played guitar to be honest, but hey that's just me

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Although I enjoy doing both:
eg. When I'm composing my own stuff I definitely give the bass a large role. However, when I'm part of a band I Love being able to connect drums with chords and just be part of the mix.

I would have to say that I feel more fulfilled when the band as a whole do well, rather than if I wow or stun someone with my lead skills ( I'm not saying that the opposite means your an egotist or anything). So I guess that means I'm a bass player.
Quote by thefitz
Because, like I said in a previous post, we're all bassists.

I would disagree on that.

I would also suggest that just because you can play guitar that you are not a guitarist, or just because you can play drums, you are not a drummer.

To be considered a bassist/guitarist/drummer/anything else, I believe you need to be able to play from a musical standpoint, not just from within your own instrument. This can mean not playing flashy for the sake of it, and it can also mean not playing within the stereotypes of the instrument because it is accepted.

There are endless ways to play one progression, as shown in the I - V - VI - IV progression, which pops up in almost every genre in existence, so none should be any more valid than another based on either stereotypes or flashiness. Just remember, one note can make 1000000 people love something, and at the same time make 1000000 people hate it.

Music is and musicians are totally largely unselfish, yet an instrumentalist can be very unselfish and ruin a song for many people.

Of course, I do realize where this whole argument came from, I just hate sub-categories amongst musicians as much as I hate genres and sub-genres.

In other words, music FTW.
Well, this is interesting. After much thought (well like a minute or two), i voted bass guitarist. But the parts I play are usually more of what a bass player would play in a more traditional setting.

Because I play in a thrashy metal band, the most common thing to do in this genre is just to double the guitar riffs - play what they play at the same time. To make my parts stand out more against the guitars, i play root notes and fills under most of the riffs. Because im playing something different, the bass is more noticeable. So by playing like a bass "player" in the context of my band I'm a bass guitarist.
I would say i'm a bass guitarist although i don't use too many effects. But with the current band i'm more of a bass player, but that's okay since my parts are inclusive aswell.
What would I like to consider my playing style?

Bass guitarist. However, I (and probably quite a few people) are probably overexaggerating when we state that we consider ourselves lead players.

In the jazz band I play in, I would say that I converge upon the bass guitarist style role at times, whilst usually staying in the rhythm sextion quite firmly.

However, in my own music, I tend to develop a more lead-role. It just depends on if it's suitable for the music (and saxophonists...).
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I use alot of treble and punch in my sound and play flamboyant entwhistle esq solos. No distortion i suppose, but the solos alone definately make me a bass guitarist. That's not to say that i can't lay down a groove or a backbone and i'm not the kind of bassist who just HAS to be heard over everyone else, but I like a bit of the limelight occasionally.

In my own music, m lead role was in fact more of a happy accident than anything else, as originally i was the only member of my band who could improvise. Also, my lead guitarist uses a very bassy metal tone (as opposed to the other guitarist, who has a clean twangy feel), which led me to try and find other ways to be heard other than the "slide underneath" approach.
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im not a lead musician by any stretch of the imagination. i will do my job as a bass player and make sure everyone else is in check but i'm not a centre stage person. it's just not who i am
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I'm both. I play in a cover band, so I do most songs with a nice, twangy tone, then for the Muse songs obviously I have the overdrive on. I always write my own songs with clean bass though, so I'm probably a 'bass player' really.
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XD this is a awesome thread but i honestly dont know never really thought about it much .... now im gunna loose sleep tonight.