To Buy, or Not to Buy … That is the Question!
In keeping with the Christmas spirit, I’ve
been bass shopping. OK, maybe that’s not
really the Christmas spirit, but since I’ve been
buying presents for everyone else, I thought
maybe I should buy myself one, too. After
all, a new bass would fit very nicely under
my tree. And, I’ve worked hard this year, so I
deserve it, right?
So, I was shopping online and I came across
this really great bass. At the same time,
(because I am a multi-tasker) I was also evaluating a few stock market picks (hopefully
to help pay for the bass!), and I thought I’d
struck gold when I saw an article that gave
me several reasons why I should buy a particular stock. The funny thing is that when I
clicked on the next article, it promptly gave
me reasons NOT to buy the same stock.
That’s when the light bulb in my head came
on, and a new On Bass column idea was born!
At some point we all buy new gear. And for
as many reasons as there are to purchase that
new bass, there are just as many reasons not
to. So, if you are looking to buy a new bass
in the coming year, here are a few pointers
that may—or may not—make your decision a
Three reasons to buy a bass next year:
1. You need more weapons in the arsenal.
As a musician, you strive for new horizons. So
why not explore a little? Maybe your favorite
bass has a more edgy and modern tone,
and you just got a session call for a mellow,
vintage sound. Perhaps you want to go from
a 4-string to a 5-string. Whatever the reason,
if you broaden your range you will almost
surely become a better player.
2. New gear – new direction.
If I needed a favorite reason to buy a new
instrument, this would be it. For me, the sign
of a truly wonderful bass is one that inspires
new licks that I wouldn’t have played otherwise. When a piece of wood with some paint
and bass strings moves your brain in a whole
new direction, owning it is a treasure that
rewards you every time you play.
42 PREMIER GUITAR DECEMBER 2009
3. Time to grow up.
At some point you’ve got to stop sleeping
with Star Wars sheets. In other words, if you’re
going to play in a big boy’s world, you’re
going to have to upgrade your gear. The simple truth is this: buying a new bass will help
you grow as both a player and a professional.
At some point we all
buy new gear. And for as
many reasons as there
are to purchase that
new bass, there are just
as many reasons not to.
I can make suggestions
that help or hurt all day
long, but the decision is
ultimately all yours.
Now, here are three reasons NOT to buy a
new bass in the coming year:
1. You have enough toys.
The words of my mother reverberated in
my head as I typed this. For some unknown
reason, some of us are just never satisfied
with one or two good toys (or bass guitars).
So don’t clutter up the house with gear you
don’t use and, more importantly, don’t need.
And remember, many bass players have left
their mark in history by playing just one bass
over their entire careers.
2. Money is tight.
To put it simply, if you can’t afford it then
don’t buy it! And buying gear on credit is
crazy. I learned a valuable lesson when I was
15: mow yards in the summer and save up to
buy that bass. The irrational rationale of “I’ll
have enough gigs to pay for it,” will come
back and bite you in the ass every time. (Of
course, Flea you can skip this reason!)
3. Everything old is new again.
Maybe you’re like me and you have a bass
sitting around that you don’t use. And for
whatever reason—tone, set up, too many
years of whiskey shots filling the pickup cavity—that bass just sits there collecting dust.
Why not put it back into service? A little
rehab can go a long way. If you don’t like the
sound then drop in new pickups. At some
point, that bass spoke to you, and there’s no
reason why you can’t make it speak to you
Frankly, I hope your new year is a wonderfully
successful one, and that none of this advice
needs to be followed. I hope your band gets
signed, you go multi-platinum, and you can
just stroll into a music store and buy anything
your heart desires. If not, take a few minutes
and think before you make that next big
investment. I can make suggestions that help
or hurt all day long, but the decision is ultimately all yours.
Good luck and Happy New Year!
Steve Cook has performed and recorded with a diverse
range of artists, from Edwin McCain to Randy Brecker to
Course of Nature. He also performed at Woodstock ’ 99
with his band King Konga. His current projects include
extensive touring and video production with Bucky
Covington (Lyric Street), and writing a weekly tour journal
on his website: shinybass.com.