Earlier this year, our bass player at church went on hiatus. His wife was pregnant and they were attending all sorts of classes and getting things ready for the impending day of baby. I had started playing djembe with the worship team to help fill in when we were lacking percussion, but since our drummer had returned, I thought I might take a run at playing bass. I had only played on Rock Band before, but everyone told me that it was pretty much the same. I didn’t believe them, but I didn’t see any harm in trying.
I wasn’t ready to spend a bunch of money just to try something out, though. Instead, I borrowed a bass from a friend of mine and started plucking at the strings and futzing around. I didn’t really practice much, but every other week our worship team would meet to practice and I steadily got better. I knew the names of the strings, and what a G and a C and an F# was, and I could generally play with the group as long as they didn’t deviate from the music too much. I could even do some transposing if they changed the key… and told me far enough in advance.
But while it was fun and I enjoyed playing, I wasn’t practicing in my free time. It wasn’t that fun, so I figured I would give the bass back to Brenda in December and that would be that. If I did want to buy one, though, my band mates told me that I wouldn’t have to spend much–I could get a cheap bass at Hoover for $200 or less that would be just fine for what little I do. That way, I could play now and again, pluck those low notes to fill in the sound, and not invest a bunch of cash for the privilege of doing it.
April and I visited the store on Saturday and I checked out the bass I had planned on buying. I had done some research online, read some reviews, and it seemed OK. I picked it up and played a bit, and it was… OK. It was’t bad. It made sound.
Then I picked up another bass, and I felt something slot into place in my soul. I don’t know how else to describe it… it wasn’t a momentous feeling. It wasn’t a sense of destiny or fate. It was more like that feeling of trying to get a stick of RAM to slot in, and the hammer finally goes down to secure it and it clicks into place. It was wrestling with the CPU latch and finally getting it contorted so it catches and holds. It was the feeling of trying to get something to fit, and it finally slotting in and setting. A sense of rightness and completeness, but in a small way. This isn’t the completion of a life, just of a moment.
And I knew that if I was going to play bass at all, I had to get this one. If I got the cheaper Squier, I’d never play. I’d leave it at church, pluck some notes with the band, and that would be it. It would be a waste of money. But with this bass… I will play this bass.
I picked up the bass and the necessary accoutrements during lunch yesterday, and then spent some time yesterday evening cleaning up the basement and re-arranging to create a music space. I then played for around an hour, and I look forward to doing the same tonight.
The bass, pictured below, is an Ibanez SR 500. It is very different from the one I borrowed from Brenda, which is a Fender Aerodyne J Bass. It is lighter and the neck is thinner, but I think the Fender might be less finicky for those reasons. I have to have a lot lighter touch on the Ibanez or the strings will buzz on the frets. But when I do it right, it’s pretty good. I discovered Scott’s Bass Lessons and will be going through that, and I’m going to spend this evening trying to program my fingers to play a C Major Scale.
I played violin for ~10 years, and have been playing djembe for ~7. I never really liked violin, but I enjoy playing djembe with the band at church. These days, though, when I am playing djembe, I wish I was playing bass. I think I’m going to have a lot of fun learning this 🙂