Scotty, I Need More Bass!
by Eric J Baker
Poor bass players. What’s it like to be invisible in plain sight?
I liken the bass player in a rock band to Scotty on Star Trek. If Captain Kirk is the lead singer – arrogant, full of swagger, and always bagging the chicks, then Spock is the guitar player – the guy who the cocky singer doesn’t realize is actually the star. Dr. McCoy, naturally, is the drummer with all his charm and humor. Meanwhile, poor Scotty the Bassist is off camera in the engine room, futzing around with dilithium crystals and never getting any credit.
A lot of casual music listeners have said to me over the years, “To be honest, I can’t even hear the bass guitar.” That right bassists: Outside of prog rock and fusion nerds (and your fellow musicians), people don’t even realize you are there. Unless your name is Geddy Lee, all those cool bass runs you came up with seem to fall beyond the range of average human hearing. When most people think of bass, they think of teenagers driving around with 15-inch subwoofers in the trunk, rattling Precious Moments figurines off their shelves with grating low-end thump that, embarrassingly for you, isn’t created on a bass guitar.