The Professional Bass Guitarist
Working as a Bass Guitarist Andy Till
The professional musician, playing a musical instrument is very rewarding. If you play music you will know how much fun is involved, performing for people, the frustrating times when inspiration runs low!
I play the bass guitar, an instrument I found when at school. It all came in to place; I found the bass guitar and wanted to know what it was all about! After having lessons I stuck with it and knew before leaving school that I wanted to be a professional musician. I feel lucky finding what I wanted to do in life and finding it was the bass guitar!
I now make a living playing the bass guitar, after learning, practice and getting out there and playing music, hard work, I play an instrument I love and the challenge of making a living doing something I love!
So where do I start? If you play bass guitar and are at that level where you can go out and play with a band, play to people and enjoy playing bass, here is some ideas and tips that I hope may inspire you to make them steps to playing bass as a living!
When I started out, I didn’t really know where to start, where to go and meet the rite musicians! I was lucky as I spent many years playing covers in pubs and clubs and meeting musicians along the way! Eventually I started to meet professional musicians, who put me in the rite direction and I learnt a lot from these musicians, who I am very grateful!
Practice, practice and practice is important, knowing your bass guitar and what is required from the bass guitar goes a long way!
They’re thousands of bands out there performing and playing and also there are professional bands and music work if you look for it!
A key thing as a professional musician is to network. Get out there and tell people about your bass playing and what you do! Contact professional musicians and professional bands; tell them you are available to work. There are professional bands out there from the working bands, function bands, tribute bands and if your lucky professional original bands. If musicians don’t know who you are, they wont contact you! Network away!
There may be a professional band looking for a bass player, or need a bass player to stand in or session for them!
The Internet is a great thing these days and great for networking with other musicians. There are musician forums where you can post your details or look for bass player auditions, musician websites and search engines searching for professional musicians and music jobs.
The music press is a great place to look for music auditions and jobs, music papers and magazine where you can also put advertisements about your bass playing!
Getting out there as a bass player and networking, playing with as many musicians as you can. Jam sessions are a great way to meet other musicians. Check your local town or city for jam sessions; you may meet professional musicians who may need a bass player to stand in or a place in a professional band.
A lot of work I do is with the tribute bands, the working bands and function work along with original work and recording!
Word of mouth works well. You do a gig or work for one band and if you do a good job, you get recommended and the networking works well this way! It has worked well for me and is part of the music business.
Working as a professional bass player been a good people person is a must, getting along with other musicians as you might end up working and travelling with a band for a long period of time, it’s always good to get along and have a great working relationship!
I have found a good professional manner is important, been reliable as a bass player. Good time keeping, not only in your playing, but also for turning up on time for that gig, reliable transport, willing to travel long hours and working and reliable bass gear! A v.g.s.o.h always works well!
The playing is the fun side of this work; on the other side there is business to playing the bass. The bass becomes your business and you have to keep on top of getting gigs, getting interest in your playing and contacting bands for session work, contacting the bands who need a professional bass player and also running the business side of things, the book keeping and the self employed side of the business of music!
From the bass playing perspective what is required as a player?
A good all round player who is ready for the gig, a good knowledge of the bass guitar and its role. Practice and learn new ideas and techniques, be ready for new songs and material.
Play what is required for the song, you may be asked when recording what to play; if you are doing session work you get paid to play what is asked! If you’re doing live work playing covers play what is required for the songs you play! If you get a gig writing, that’s great and you can be creative with your bass playing!
Be ready to play for the song and open to new ideas. A good solid bass player and working tight with the drummer works very well listen and work as a team! Be ready for rehearsals and do your homework. If you read as a musician it opens up a whole lot of work for you, however a lot of work is done by ear and non-reading music work.
As a working bass player it is a great life, you may not be playing stadiums like Paul McCartney and his bass, but you are making a living playing the bass guitar, loading your bass cab in and out of venues and clubs week after week. If the big comes in and you get a lucky break then you will have plenty of experience working out there as a bass player!
I hope I have inspired you and may have given you and your bass playing some advice that you might have been looking for!
Get out there and network with other professional musicians, practice and work on your bass playing, believe in your playing and the most important thing….have fun playing the bass guitar.