posted on August 3, 2007 at 7:48 am

the bass guitar was invented
around the same time as me
by fender
the first ones were the best
my bass is an imitation of those first ones
the strings are tuned
eadg
and an octave below guitar strings
the bass is played by plucking or strumming a string
at one end
and pushing the string down
on the wood between the frets
so the string is raised up in down in semitones
two knobs give you volume n treble/bass
the bass is primarily an accompanying instrument
especially working tight with the drums
a kind of bridge between the melodic musicality of the guitar
and the largely atonal beat of the percussion
the bass guitar seemingly sprang from the double bass
yet each is capable of things that the other isnt
the double bass can conjure deep warm woody notes
and lovely slurs n slides
but it aint portable or easy to play
like the bass guitar
oh yeah the bass is easy to play
just like darts i guess
but only a few can throw bullseyes
bass is so sexy
bass is so insistent
bass is so subtle
bass is so down deep
bass is earth
sound of wood metal n electricity
the impulse to play bass struck me straight up thru my feet
i suddenly became aware one day of this wonderful writhing sound
underneath the obvious music
oh i gotta do that i moan to myself
now almost 40 years later still i like it so much more
you can never completely master it
its always got one more undiscovered trick up its sleeve
one more secret thing it can do
one more approach
one more syncopation or harmonic
one more counterpoint note
one more dumb throb
its atlas holding up the rocknroll world
fender jazz
fender precision
they are the best are the best
even
warm
smooth
like olde whiskey
each note sustains as its neighbour
no loud spots
no dead spots
the wood takes the sound n magnifies it
like a strad violin
like a steinway grande
its the wood
its the love of the men who built it
mine is an imitation of that love
yes
my bass is actually a relatively new american fender jazz
customized to resemble a 1957 jazz bass monster
which was apparently the bees knees
so even as a “customized imitation” mine is lovely
what to think the actual original must be like
oh the satisfaction of playing each note in a great song
the work with the kicks in and out
to play in and around gaps in the guitar
and then nail it with em in unison
in full flight the exhilaration
the sheer deafening volume
the incredible size of the bass
the way in punches you in the guts
the way it implies things in your mind
the way it moves in you
making you move
pushing you into the music
holding you aloft
that half indistinguishable sound
you feel it as much as hear it
that liquid pulse of rock
jack bruce lowdown mean n dirty
sir paul oh a lovely player, trust me
chris squire an epic trailblazer
peter hook a brand new take
bass is so nice and kind
bass is so open n understanding
a forgiving sound a solace
bass is the floorboards
bass is the foundations
bass is the thrust needed to take off
bass is the pulse n propulsion
bass is space
i love bass
bass love you
too

97 Responses to “the bass guitar”

  1. avatar
    ampeggy sue | 3 August 2007 at 8:40 am #

    that luvverly piece
    was extracted from
    the book
    “Bullseyes in the Pocket”…
    the definitive thinking person’s
    guide to to the bassssssssss.

    Ain’t it wonderful also,
    when you find yourself
    loving something
    more and more
    as the years go by ?

    What’s your usual amp rig in the studio Stevo ?

  2. avatar
    veleska1970 | 3 August 2007 at 8:45 am #

    bass guitar has always been my favorite instrument, second only to the piano. never learned how to play one, though. maybe one of these days i’ll learn.

    i’ve always wondered why you chose that instrument, and you’ve answered my question. 🙂

    “bass is space”
    yes!!

    have a good evening, steve. lotza love….

  3. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 8:51 am #

    A Fender Jazz bass is the true bass. The Precision sounds more like a punch in the guts..

    Make sure to install a bone saddle to it instead of the plastic one. It improves the overall sound.

    A Badass bridge will increase the sustain but looks like NASA built it. Can’t spoil the mojo. Brass saddle pieces increase upper end and do it good in a more retro way.

    Sting put it best:
    “I’m still fascinated about the bass. It’s.. big and chunky.. it’s got big strings”. ; )

    Lebrinho

  4. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 8:52 am #

    ..Uh ! I meant brass bridge pieces ! Silly me. Gear talk ad idiotism is my poison : /

    Sorry to bore the non-gearheads, I apologize humbly.

    Lebrinho

  5. avatar
    eek | 3 August 2007 at 8:59 am #

    Bass porn! I like it. 🙂

  6. avatar
    Pernath | 3 August 2007 at 9:09 am #

    i’ve spent my childhood more or less in front of a piano or a church organ. strings were another galaxy, i’ll never forget the neighbour’s girl practising on a violin that apparently had nothing to do with the grandiose violins on the radio. i wanted to play guitar when i was 14, but, as i was an anxious kid, i said to myself, i’ll better go with the bass, it has two strings less. then i found out it was more than a defunct guitar and when i finally took up guitar, i was thinking about what to do with the two unnecessary strings on top (i found out).

    BTW my fav ever bass piece of yours is what you do on Lustre. You apparently had some complexity pills for tea…

  7. avatar
    doctor satan echo chamber | 3 August 2007 at 9:42 am #

    Steve,
    in light of today’s blog, you MUST love dub, yeh?

  8. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 10:12 am #

    The Bass,is an extraordinary instrument.I’ve never really ventured into playing one.You know,the “what if I suck at it”syndrome…I did,for a while,have a 6 string banjo though….that was pretty cool.andI had a mandolinwhich suited me,cause i have always had a harmonic sense….so much so that I find my lil one trying to find the middle ground between the melody and the harmony…took her a while and lots of scoffing “too high/low mamma”you make the bass sound as overwhelming as I always figured it’d be……and believe it or not……I can woop both my sisters at darts{much to their dismay and astonishment}a lovely night to you all….love as always,genx xxxxx

  9. avatar
    malcolm arkey | 3 August 2007 at 10:45 am #

    Heaven’s Tibetsy !!!

    What have my hands done ??
    What rolling thunder have I unleashed ?
    What tempest in a coffee mug this way comes ?

    yeah yeah alright…
    time for me to leave via the cat flap and quietly garrotte myself with the mouse cable.

    [ sniff ]

    PS – Lebrinho: Cutting a nice bone nut does indeed improve the tone though is a very smelly DIY job…that’s what your poor guitar tech is for, right ? A new material called TUSQ also works fine for nuts however. Changing the fret wire size to your own preference also has a big impact on intonation, buzzing etc. If you really want the bees knees in bass, the lovely guys at Warmoth (Washington state ?) will make really tight tolerance necks and bodies in your choice of wood. With their woods and the right pickup choices it’s pretty easy to get back to that real old ’54 type sound. Yessir ! Warmoth bass necks are legendary (i’m not affiliated – just a fan)

    …err, bye then

  10. avatar
    cloudburst.adrift | 3 August 2007 at 10:48 am #

    Bass IS the floorboards – the ground beneath the musical feet. Blessings, and wishes for soft shoes, to all bassists! 🙂

    btw – do you still have the fretless? Which do you prefer? And how about an acoustic bass?

    janexxx

  11. avatar
    Celticat | 3 August 2007 at 10:50 am #

    Thanks Steve,

    reminded me that it’s OK to feel as excited as I did when I first heard The Beatles as a very young kid. It struck like nothing before or since. Spent years as a rockstar in my bathroom perfecting my stance and ‘tude as a result – and to every from the Monkees to Aladin Sane LOL.

    Lost all that somewhere along the way. Read yonblogge2day and I felt that chord again, u know the CCCHHhiiiiinnnnngg from HDN. But I felt it and for a time I was back in south perth as a4yo watching the ending from the beatles cartoon from down the hallway and hearing THAT chord, and I felt it again.

    Lovely feeling.

    ref the mac i’ve been listening to revolver again recently and being very concsious of the melodic bass that was he was playing (newly maybe?). Rain springs to mind n PBW too. I read somewhere that yon crunches did rain at mtv uplugged? Would luuuuurrrve to hear that!

    Last weekend sang in front of people for the first time. Had a work BBQ to go to and always it’s the same old same old – boring as bat shit! Took a 12 str washburn, my $39.95 microphone, second hand Line 6 30W amp and some Midi’s. Yep I sucked but it ended up being a great night. I didn’t give a toss what people thought but i did pull off the “FIERRRR” from rems the 1 one i love. Am i a bad person Steve? Nah i sang UTMW, UM, AWY (all good) and Ripple (badly)..

    So i ramble and don’t really care what the others think.

    It’s your blogges fault!

    Love to you and your loved ones.

    Thanks again Steve
    Celticat

  12. avatar
    GAM | 3 August 2007 at 11:05 am #

    Hi Steve,

    I’m wondering what you thought of Grants &/or Robert Vicker’s bass-work on ‘Cattle & Cane’? Surely ahead of Peter Hook? I reckon he owes one of those guys…

  13. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 11:07 am #

    Amen, Malcolm Arkey !

    I do enslave my guitar tech in these particular cases ; )
    Warmoth is OK.

    To tune up a new Am. Jazz bass I’d get:

    1) a bone saddle
    2) brass bridge pieces or a Badass bridge
    3) Seymour Duncan Basslines or other serious pickups – this is a must
    4) bigger frets (might be unnecessary)

    These mods should elevate the thing to a higher ground.

    Bless you players. Remember to PLAY and not just talk of gear like I do : D

    Lebrinho

  14. avatar
    fantasticandy | 3 August 2007 at 11:13 am #

    ‘block’ would be utterly redundant without that bass riff, as would many, many church songs.
    but the most interesting thing about your playing steve is the ‘economy’ of it.
    you’ve never been technically flashy, relying more on ‘feel’ and instinct.
    (seemingly)simple and direct more than anything.
    i like all your stuff steve,and yer a great singer, even better these last few years.
    but as a bassist……
    your’e my favorite…by a long way.
    never showy, never overbusy, always crucial to the moment, holding back, knowing when to let go. underpinning your words at the right dramatic moments, then ploughing right into it with timbo when the guitars take off!
    sinewy,organic,beauty….it’s sublime.
    i try SO hard to put the same intent into my playing and writing, your’e inspirational steve.
    i’m afraid that just like davem i ‘love you more’.
    if you had no ego at all….none of this would exist would it?
    is feeling good about yourself rampant narcissisim ?
    most of us are here because your’e an interesting guy, we like your take on things.
    the openess and candor in your writings leaves you open to attack, although i can’t see any valid reason for some of the negativity thats been on display of late.
    i think the comments thing is cool, this is an interactive, living thing rather than ‘the thoughts of chairman yeblik’…is it not?
    anyhow…’best’ bassist award goes to….steve kilbey….
    manager:
    ‘sorry jaco..yeah i kmow your’e faster and can play in crazy time signatures…but he’s more melodic…maybe next year’.
    jaco: ‘i bin robbed!’

    a spiffing weekend to all peoples,
    luv,
    andy L.

  15. avatar
    Kittyhawke | 3 August 2007 at 11:14 am #

    bass is so sassy..so sensual..such a sweetsound,when it’s played to it’s potential the way it SHOULD be…sounds as tho you were destined to play this heart thumper ,after reading your passion for it.

  16. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 11:18 am #

    Peter Hook wasn’t bad – interesting basslines, unusual style.
    Youth from Killing Joke and Wobble from PiL – dub and reggae influences into the post-punk fallout.
    Even that prick Burnel from those horrible wankers the Stranglers – great sound on those early records.

  17. avatar
    Daniel12 | 3 August 2007 at 11:20 am #

    Oh the Bass . How I lurve the Bass.Bass is the place. Way back in the olden days I was obsessed by the Bass. I played bass for hours every day and sometimes slept with it.
    The problem for me was that bass is really an accompaning instrument and a little frustrating with out a good band to work with. I wanted to be what Entwhistle was for the Who or what Mani was for the Stone Roses. Or course I didn’t find what I was looking for. Just a load of uninspiring geezers wanting root note da da da behind there five chord ditties. Fast forward ten years and i’ve long since chucked in the bass. I’m walking to the supermarket when I see this battered filthy looking bass in a junk store. It has barely any paint left on it and thick black finger gunk all over the fretboard. The body has been crudely refashioned into the shape of an axe and it has an obscenely rotten looking studded leather strap. It oozees outer suburban metal cread and it looks like it’s full of stories. Stories of anger n bad living, shatterd dreams and sadness. I ask the guy how much. “60 bucks” he says. I buy it on the spot.
    I take it home and not much happens with it for a year. It kind of spooks me and I sometimes feel it has a dark energy to it , I keep it away downstairs where it’s dosen’t haunt me at night.
    Though It’s creepy and hard to play I cant part with it. In time I do find a use for it though. I found that if i play it with a cello bow it makes the darkest most haunting string sound i’ve ever heard. This sound proves to be great on soundtracks and I decide to modify it to enable proper bowing. I cut away the body, fit it with ultra light flat wound strings C.F.A#.D# .My D# string is so light I have to specialy order it from OS.I coat it with a rich German woodstain and mount it on an old snowski spike.It looks beautifull. I start learning to play this thing and the results are startling. It haunts and entrances. I sometimes feel possesed when I play it and it seems to have a majic power over people (especialy women !) A thespian freind upon hearing it drafts me into doing a show soundtrack with it. This begins a whole chain of bizzare mixed fortune which results in me traveling and playing my bow bass around the world for years. It’s weird energy seems to exelerate and exagerate my karmic life voyage. I’ve had the best and the worst experiences of my life with this haunted peice of wood. I don’t play it so much now days as it kind of sends me crazy. However It was promenently on the soundtrack of a show which had a recent run in Sydney.I wanted to invite some freinds but it totaly sold out. My bass is a very special instrument. I’ve sometimes felt like i’m it’s instrument.

  18. avatar
    fulltiltgonzales | 3 August 2007 at 11:55 am #

    1985 was a big year for me. I turned 16, started driving, discovered New Order, The Cure, The Church, Love and Rockets, and even The Beatles (I mean, really delved into their catalog and beyond she loves you ya ya ya). That same year, I started playing bass guitar. I made the decision to become one before I ever had even played one! My sister’s boyfriend already played guitar, and I thought I’d have a better chance of joining his band if I played bass. Then, I saw the video for The Perfect Kiss by New Order. The one where they do it live in the studio, 10 minutes long, one of the worst vocals I’ve ever heard Bernard Sumner do, directed by Jonathan Demme, and with Peter Hook just TAKING OVER on bass in a way that still brings chills down my spine when I watch it today. That video clinched it for me. I didn’t see The Church live for the first time until The Starfish Tour (with Tom Verlaine and Peter Murphy opening for him), and that 12-15 minute encore of You Took almost made me give up being a musician, because I had never experienced anything so fucked-up before, and I thought I’ll never be as good of a bass player as Steve Kilbey so why the fuck even bother? Well, 20 years and three bands later, I’m still doing it.

    My setup? A black 1977 Fender Jazz Bass, made in America, with a black pickguard, with white binding around the pickguard and the maple neck, which also has the white pearl inlays. I don’t use any effects and just plug straight in to my 1976 Ampeg SVT, the 90 pound motherlode of sheer power.

  19. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 12:01 pm #

    Nice bodyswerve on the Bass, but what about your threat of deleting all comments? C’mon, I’m an artist too, Dr Kilbey, and you know the blog wouldn’t exist for you without the comments…that’s a philosophical conundrum, hmm? But let’s ignore this, and on with the Bass Waffle…..

  20. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 12:03 pm #

    You can feel the bass in your bones.It’s a bloody good feeling.

  21. avatar
    goo knee byrd | 3 August 2007 at 12:05 pm #

    sometimes when I listen to your killer bass lines,I can hear the “{mangey}{maybe not so mangey} panther” comin out on the prowl.your style is so unique,subtle, and holds a presence with thatincredible expressive undercurrent which keeps the dreaminess of the Church sprawling and engulfing the senses.Glad you love it…

  22. avatar
    malcolm arkey | 3 August 2007 at 12:29 pm #

    I’m still trying to go out in style but am currently jammed and struggling in the cat-flap…

    meanwhile…

    Lebrinho, we may as well continue the bass waffle…

    So, here are some pictures of me home made basse just for you…

    I used:
    – a Warmoth Swamp Ash 2-piece J-bass body
    – maple/rosewood J-bass neck
    – S.D. basslines pickups
    – Gotoh 206 brass string top or string thru 2 options bridge
    – Schaller machine heads
    – bone nut
    – my own passive electronics (none o’ that new fangled active rubbish)

    Tone is nice but nowhere near as vintage as i had hoped – it’s more solid than i expected i think due to the double truss rod. Still, very nice.

    Made it a coupla years ago coz i couldn’t afford a top of the line Fender…and the Fenders I could afford, well, when i picked them up they felt so icky i wanted to cry (Leo would turn in his grave).

    Can I play it ?
    Are you kidding ?
    I’m what you would describe as a “plonker” or a “plodder”.

    Still…as we all know, its all about the GEAR GEAR GEAR and the music is a minor (key) triviality…right ?

  23. avatar
    igor | 3 August 2007 at 12:45 pm #

    Daniel12,

    what a great story.
    d’ya mean that you used the spike in the same way as a cello spike and you play it like a cello sitting down ?

    how can you access the two middle strings across the flat camber ?? Did you just raise the saddles for those two to create a cello-type camber ??

    i’m not surprised the women love you – women seem to be drawn to the cello in some way.

  24. avatar
    John | 3 August 2007 at 12:49 pm #

    When I think of stellar bass playing all I hear is Ricochet and Nothing Seeker. Blow me away every time.

    Did I imagine it or did Kilbey once discuss publishing a complete book of lyrics?

  25. avatar
    boggy | 3 August 2007 at 12:50 pm #

    Now these are COMMENTS!

  26. avatar
    John | 3 August 2007 at 12:51 pm #

    When I think of stellar bass playing all I hear is Ricochet and Nothing Seeker. Blow me away every time.

    Did I imagine it or did Kilbey once discuss publishing a complete book of lyrics?

    John

  27. avatar
    restaurant mark | 3 August 2007 at 12:55 pm #

    “bass is so sexy
    bass is so insistent
    bass is so subtle
    bass is so down deep
    bass is earth”

    love today’s blog…as you may or may not know, i’m the bass player in my band…when i was 12 or 13 and everyone else wanted to play electric guitar and learn some solo or another…i just wanted to groove. it’s all about the bass lines to me…whether it be rock, 70’s funk stuff, or when i was djing. love a smooth, sliding bass line. just a few faves…david j from love and rockets, simon gallup from the cure, simon jones from the verve, and of course you mr kilbey…plus about 20 others i can think of right now…but gotta go to work.

    would hate to see the comments disabled…you gotta weed through some things, but i enjoy the interaction and reading what some of the others have to say…

    take care everyone

  28. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 1:01 pm #

    The Fender Jazz and Fender Precisions are very good basses.
    But the Rickenbacker 4003 is a hell of a bad ass axe. Tremendous sustain! Two of the players you mention use it…Chris Squire and Sir Paul.

    Mark
    Tampa, Fl

  29. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 1:02 pm #

    Did Jeff Beck ever play bass?

  30. avatar
    razeboy | 3 August 2007 at 1:07 pm #

    May 2007, My band’s in this studio in Sheffield.
    “How’d y’like our new £3,000 speaker system?” asks the engineer, “Best playbacks I’ve ever hear heard.”
    “£3,000 for 2 speakers? Er, y’do remember that we use bass n sub-bass frequencies so massive they’d shake Satan off the shitter, don’t ya?” I sez.
    “Oh, don’t worry, ” he replies, “these really are the best speakers I’ve ever used for playbacks.”
    “Er…ok, well…good luck!”
    And of COURSE the very first playback blew em to shit! One speaker completely blown and the other phutting away like an intercom! Well, I did warn him…

  31. avatar
    john paul jones | 3 August 2007 at 1:10 pm #

    If Jeff Beck HAD played bass, he’d’ve been the best ever and all the other bassplayers would have admitted it, eh, Brien?

  32. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 1:24 pm #

    Mr. Nevets~ Perhaps a few kind words of encouragement for your Harping friend Miss Patti?
    She’s got the wet dog blues. ~silly woman from Simili Valley~

  33. avatar
    miguel | 3 August 2007 at 1:25 pm #

    Hi Steve,I love your band.I think you are really cool. John{above}mentioned you might put out,a book of lyrics.That would be a good idea.I would put my hand up for a copy.I saw you play at the commonwealth games.Australia looks like a great place to liveI thought a few times about migrating to Sydney,or Queensland.They both look really good.good to read your blog,rock one

  34. avatar
    John Garratt | 3 August 2007 at 1:27 pm #

    “you can never completely master it”

    Unless your last name happens to be ‘Mingus.’

    John Garratt

    PS – VELESKA: I once read in an old Steve Kilbey interview that he learned bass because the regular six-string guitar looked too difficult.

  35. avatar
    craig1.618 | 3 August 2007 at 1:32 pm #

    i really hadn’t felt the full effect of the bass until i ran it through this ampeg svx plug-in………the earth moved, the birds scattered and the dead arose from their graves

  36. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 1:45 pm #

    anonymous @11:24.were you here this morn.keep it relevant…..or p.o.

  37. avatar
    veleska1970 | 3 August 2007 at 1:46 pm #

    thanks, john. i tried to learn regular guitar once and i found it difficult. mostly because i have small hands.

  38. avatar
    lily was here | 3 August 2007 at 2:17 pm #

    My dad’s still kicks himself about the early 60’s Fender Jazz he practically gave away in ’69, the beautiful sound of Apache in memory, the warm rich sultry tones you describe resonates, nothing quite like it, ‘tho his not a Jazz – wish you could have an original. Maybe why Im so drawn to that sound. Bass lines so subtle, haunting, driving, sensual, adding the depth and groove of so many of your songs.. and yes Block, Reptile (hey, is that the ‘writhing’ you describe?), Ripple among many come to mind, tho’ im no expert at all. yes daniel12, a spooky instrument too.

  39. avatar
    Noel Christian | 3 August 2007 at 2:24 pm #

    I’m guided by a signal in the heavens
    I’m guided by this birthmark on my skin
    I’M GUIDED BY THE BEAUTY OF OUR WEAPONS
    First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin

    – Leonard Cohen

    Adolph builds a time-bomb
    And Leo Plays with it

    – P. Gabriel

  40. avatar
    igor | 3 August 2007 at 2:35 pm #

    craigie1.6548000239,

    Is that the IK Multimedia one ?

    Is it really as good as you say ?…I was thinking about getting it…but most modelling stuff leaves me cold.

  41. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 3 August 2007 at 2:39 pm #

    Sk is right on in reference to Macca, Chris Squire and Jack Bruce being awesome bass players. I’ve seen them all live. Ron Wood played bass for JB in the JB group featuring Rod Stewart on vocals. Refo-Mation is wonderfully pervading into my psyche. I hope I spelled it right.

  42. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 2:40 pm #

    Steve said he took up bass cos it looked like being (and was) the quickest way to get into a band – guitar was too difficult and drums were too much hassle. Plus there were heaps of guitarists and drummers already.

    Why do bassplayers all want to be keyboard players though?

  43. avatar
    lily was here | 3 August 2007 at 2:44 pm #

    ps steve, dads was a Jag not a jazz, dont think it was a bass either

  44. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 3:21 pm #

    I wanna see craigs beast in action……we should all congregate in one place,and see if we can rock the world with the earthy/etherial drones of bass….J38.4Mhz

  45. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 3:56 pm #

    my fav moments of your bass playing steve…

    -north, south, east, west
    -tear it all away
    -chorused bass on paradox
    -trance ending

    there’s more but i’ve had a long day. these one’s i remember off hand.

    always loved your bass playing style

  46. avatar
    John Garratt | 3 August 2007 at 4:00 pm #

    Anonymous 1:56,

    I’ve always liked the way SK slid down to the 4th fret F# on “Under the Milky Way.” Although it theoretically does not go with any of the chords, it fits right in there so nice.

    “Hit Spacebar” came on the Zune during my bus ride to work this morning. The bass struck me as very slick. Sly. Slithery. Whatever.

    John Garratt

  47. avatar
    the iconaclast | 3 August 2007 at 4:04 pm #

    mimesis is dead, look our for triple s

  48. avatar
    ploog's dutch doochie | 3 August 2007 at 4:09 pm #

    North South East West & Paradox, yep, that’s some might fine basskilling right there. First time I heard NSEW I thought ‘how the fuck will he be able to play that AND sing?!’

    Steve, have you ever done a gig where you sang but didn’t play an instrument? Did you ever get record co. and managerial pressure to be a ‘frontman’ and hire an on-stage bassplayer in the way that you had that keyboard guy on the ’84 US gigs? I’m glad it never happened – they may have been able to replicate the notes but it’s the individual feel of the player himself that makes all the difference.

  49. avatar
    are you? | 3 August 2007 at 4:09 pm #

    the same john jarratt that killed all those people in australia that they made the movie ” wolf creek ” about ? just wondering how ya got away with all that killing ans still you roam free?

  50. avatar
    davem | 3 August 2007 at 4:47 pm #

    I’ve been playing the bass for 27 years now…after a fashion!! It was you that moved me from plectrum (sinful i know) to the fingers.
    Love your playing. It gets richer every year. It’s huge on Jazz off Beside Yourself.
    Other favourites? I agree with Squire, Pastorius. How’s about Rutherford and Entwhistle too? Oh and Revolver/Penny Lane(yum yum bass)/Pepper-era Macca was brilliant!!! I’ve alwys liked Colin Moulding’s playing too.
    Interesting that your vocals are going the same way as your playing as the years roll by…richer & deeper.
    Off on me hols now. Take care SK. All the best to all my mates on this wonderful TTB!! See you on the 26th AndyL???!!!
    davem
    x

  51. avatar
    Craig Miller | 3 August 2007 at 4:59 pm #

    I hate the way the bass is so missing from so many 80’s records. Remastering has helped many of them, but it’s still a shame. Thankfully it’s crystal clear and ballsy on most records these days.
    I’m a guitarist, but bass is a fun instrument to play for sure. I went to a rehearsal studio once in NYC and plugged into this Ampeg bass stack that was about 6 feet tall, and it was REALLY fun.
    As for favorite Kilbey moments on bass, I’m going with Radiance. Great effect, great riff, great song.

  52. avatar
    dean9000 | 3 August 2007 at 5:10 pm #

    I’m a bassist and love this post by you…. it’s awesome to hear your background regarding playing bass…I am playing a precision right now but would love a jazz or gibson thunderbird….

    As for favorites(it’s hard to pick one) I have to say I love your sound on Block…thick slabs of bass that just roll on and on…

    BTW great post Daniel..and count me in as one of those bassists who like to tinker with keys….

    I am curious what kind of effects you might use or your amp but don’t want to bog….

    Thanks for the insight Steve.

    Dean

  53. avatar
    Cee | 3 August 2007 at 5:23 pm #

    I “wear” bass well, slung low like an outlaw.

  54. avatar
    persephone2u | 3 August 2007 at 5:37 pm #

    All hail the mighty Fender, maker of the greatest basses AND my beloved pink tele!

  55. avatar
    Larry | 3 August 2007 at 5:57 pm #

    What happened to the Guild you were playing around the time of GAF?

    And do you agree that basses must have no more than 4 strings (not counting the Fender Bass VI, ’cause that’s really a baritone), being that 5-stringed ones are instruments of the devil?

  56. avatar
    MEM | 3 August 2007 at 6:11 pm #


    sk, and all beings, Daniel Pinchbeck
    just sent me
    the following clip

    for everyone here,
    it’s worth a look…

    check it out the
    Post Modern Times

  57. avatar
    JUNIOR PAINKILLER | 3 August 2007 at 6:30 pm #

    sorry for contributing to yesterdays debacle…
    mjnjr

  58. avatar
    John Garratt | 3 August 2007 at 6:50 pm #

    Commentor from 2:09,

    I spell my last name with a ‘G’, not a ‘J’.

    John Garratt

  59. avatar
    Athanasius Pernath | 3 August 2007 at 7:56 pm #

    > Nothing Seeker

    you should have heard that one in Prague. Sonic equivalent of the greatest erection you ever had.

    Hooky…he just mistook his bass for a guitar. Good he didnt mistake it for a trombone and tried to blow… but he’s awesome.

    Another of my favourites is Adam Clayton of U2. The Forrest Gump of bass players.

    But I just said that to tell a silly joke.

    In fact, my real other fav is XTC’s Colin Moulding. If basslines would look like people, Col’s would look like real gentlemen.

  60. avatar
    Anonymous | 3 August 2007 at 9:11 pm #

    Anon 10:01,
    YOU are such a wedge! You are obviously the type to kick anyone when they are already down, or squeeze a lemon into a gash inflicted by your dirty, dull blade.

    You need to just go. Anywhere else- BUT JUST GO!

  61. avatar
    restaurant mark | 3 August 2007 at 9:41 pm #

    too many church songs with great bass lines…some of my faves: chromium, reversal, ricochet, no certainty attached, kings, nsew, overview, and i could go on and on…you’re just good damn it! it’s groove, it’s melody, it’s timing, it’s placement, and it’s definately feel. what kind of amp do you play through, by the way? i have an ampeg svt 350…love it. do you amp or run your bass lines direct for recording…just curious?

    take care

  62. avatar
    dean9000 | 3 August 2007 at 9:47 pm #

    oh yeah….i love the bassline in reptile as well……

  63. avatar
    Faye | 3 August 2007 at 10:39 pm #

    If you want the original,we could pitch in….do they accept Myer card?Maybe we could charge it to medicare…..oh,and i think i need to get myself a new computer…its dicey today…another product from Bass tards incorporated

  64. avatar
    don joe | 3 August 2007 at 11:19 pm #

    Ditto Steve,
    Drums were my first love, then a bass fell into my hands and I found I could keep the love of percussive rythym as well as tapping into the melodic side of my mind which never stops. It is truly the best of both worlds and although I moved into playing the guitar as well, I always go back to the bass for the above reasons, and those that you have mentioned. How many bands do use bass? I have seen bands without drums and/or guitar but the bass is integral to all music you can keep a beat with bass; you can ride a melody with bass. It is the universal solvent, though I have yet to master the piano, as a percussive instrument it seems to take it one step further; there’s the transport thingy again…so I guess bass wins.
    I’ve loved your bass playing since year dot; big influence in me persuing it. You have written some of the most beautifully melodic lines I have heard, from “It’s Already Yesterday” to “Song For the asking” (amongst many, many others) you have the knack of the bass being perfectly restrained or in your face. You are one of the masters, though silent through lack of praise in the commercial world, I feel you have touched many of us with your tapestries woven across 4 and sometimes 6 strings (Your P=A work is some of the finest also). I look forward to many more aural experiences of your divineness with your 4 stringed woody..

    ML,
    don joe

  65. avatar
    mattdavison | 3 August 2007 at 11:32 pm #

    And with all that you would all be amazed how well sk did with the 12 str in nz…

    On yesterdays blog.

    After spending time with killer in nz I have reached a conclusion that all should be aware of.

    sk is a man deep in compassion, and writes for the betterment of us all.
    but more important is the truths that display a methodical insight into a travelled and highly interesting professional musician that profits us all.

    “People” we live with this luxury for the relative time being, and we should all be respectful for the joy we all get here on steves blog.

    the issue is us – not the vile idiots thst come on here to vent their own insufficiencies….

    BUT US..

    We can rid this blog of these cruel sad people by not biting when they attack.

    we can narrate this insubordination and not add insult to injury..

    most of us really love sk

    lets show him….

    md

  66. avatar
    Chris Barrus | 3 August 2007 at 11:58 pm #

    Steve –

    I seem to recall that you were playing a Fender Bass VI (six-string) in the mid-90s. Just wondering if you had any opinions about it after the fact (I’ve been thinking about picking one up)

  67. avatar
    Richard | 4 August 2007 at 12:19 am #

    glad you made special mention of Peter Hook – people tend to think of New Order as an electronic dance band (which of course they are) but Hook’s ‘lead’ bass is what defines their sound

    another great bass line – ‘All Lined Up’ by Shriekback and (perhaps unsurprisingly) ‘My Spine is the Bass Line’ by the same group

  68. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 August 2007 at 12:48 am #

    I agree,

    lurv
    theglynnisjohns

  69. avatar
    THIRD OF NEVER | 4 August 2007 at 1:59 am #

    Just wanted to say that FORGET YOURSELF was a major inspiration while working on our debut album. I found your blog tonight by accident, so now I’ve got my copy of EARTHED playing and all is right with the world for a few minutes.

    Thanks,

    Jon

  70. avatar
    bondi strangler | 4 August 2007 at 2:11 am #

    i will strike again soon… fear the lash

  71. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 August 2007 at 2:26 am #

    yes, the bass is beatiful.thanks for the blogg, Steve.

  72. avatar
    John Jarratt | 4 August 2007 at 2:33 am #

    I will find and kill the Bondi Srangler if paul hogan doesnt get em’ first …. bloody bastard!

  73. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 August 2007 at 2:49 am #

    great post sk.
    question on the topic: do you ever miss playing those coronado basses that you plucked for many years?

  74. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 August 2007 at 3:05 am #

    Basso profundo

    B.Bon

  75. avatar
    c-man | 4 August 2007 at 3:34 am #

    How strange that you choose this topic today, Steve. Just a little earlier I found out that I may be switching to bass for a new band. I never played it before until a couple weeks ago. I’ve found that I really enjoy it, though.

  76. avatar
    Were away | 4 August 2007 at 3:56 am #

    fantastic blogg Killer!could expect nothing less when it comes to music and the maestro!***

  77. avatar
    Damien | 4 August 2007 at 8:49 am #

    I’m a bass player too. I bought a Fender Jazz after I saw that you’d started playing one. Is that sad?

  78. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 August 2007 at 9:02 am #

    Nice to see that this blog is back on track, guys!

    Steve, I actually used to consider the bass a rather dull instrument, but you sure changed that. You’ve played so many beautiful bass lines over the years, too numerous to mention here. I recently decided to learn how to play the bass because of you. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark.

  79. avatar
    Jeff Beck the * | 4 August 2007 at 9:29 am #

    Ditto…anon at 7:02pm.

  80. avatar
    Jeff Beck the * | 4 August 2007 at 9:37 am #

    Oh…except the part ’bout the Bass being dull.It is a sublime,complex, stringed instrument,and I ,a mere god….

  81. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 August 2007 at 11:13 am #

    i could read about you musing on the bass allday you are #1 who inspired me to play it, along with pete hook. babysat at friends house they have highspeed so i got to watch all you and co on youtube and it occurred to me during thought i was over you with Grant McLannahan that one of the reasons i think ricky gervais is cool is cos he resembles you, albeit you are thinner and and more stylin. maybe you guys are from the same gene pool in England, well thought the anti drug interview of yours quite interesting, though it would have been better if you lit up a phat spleeph and show this stupid world that the reason why folks turn to harddrugs is that the beautiful maryjane is too hard and expensive to get cos of prohibition. smoke one for me pal if you got one. cheers, patrick-csa

  82. avatar
    kat | 4 August 2007 at 2:57 pm #

    i put my comment about guitar strings in the wrong and previous blog. eadgbe!

  83. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 August 2007 at 5:29 pm #

    Many thoughts on bass in order:

    1. “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbomb. When you talk of the 60’s, bass, and lyrics, this song has been in the front of my mind. It went to #1 with a bullet then. It’s still well loved- and that bass!!

    2. The techne: love seeing that in a fine artist like you; Ottmar Liebert talks a great deal of techne at his blog, Mark Sandman re-designed his bass into a three string.

    3. The physics: I knew that the Anouska concert was going to be good when I could FEEL the bass carry down the canyon from about 1/2 mile away.

    4. My dad was a professional percussionist in his adolescence…he is my main inspiration for music- bless his heart and RIP.

    ArtAmused

  84. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 4 August 2007 at 6:15 pm #

    “Back With The Beasts” is The Church’s finest jam album. It has just enough of Steve’s hypnotic vocals to make it a bona fide Church treasure. I wish I knew more about the bass but the three best bass players I have observed live in concert are Chris Squire, John Paul Jones and Macca. I have never seen The Church. I very luckily rediscovered them in the last six months. Best band in the world with one lead vocalist.My CD player will never get Churched-out. NOTE: The guitar player for Yes, Steve Howe is a virtuoso that drives Chris Squire to great heights.

  85. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 August 2007 at 8:15 pm #

    Anyone up for dialectics?? I would love to hear your thoughts on the following topic: “Dante’s Transmutation of Classical Friendship”

    F

  86. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 August 2007 at 9:09 pm #

    As a southern Italian told me about 10 years ago, he viewed Umberto Eco as the contemporary Dante.

  87. avatar
    Mood for a day | 4 August 2007 at 10:36 pm #

    there’s something missing…….a big black pussycat?!……..good morning to the precioussess!

  88. avatar
    Fireseed | 4 August 2007 at 10:53 pm #

    ah the bass
    the glue that holds the whole damn thing together!
    f

  89. avatar
    Anonymous | 5 August 2007 at 1:25 am #

    sunday morning in this part of town,the illuminati/superhip are on the move……at the juice bar…..a positive and health giving experience…many folks standing around,recreating phrases from “enlightening/self help books”…..and the juicing machine shrieking in the background……making it’s presence heard…the machine repeating,in many and varied tones”Naaaaaaaah!……no o o o o !…..naaaaaaao o o oh!…..neeeeeaaaaah!….naaaaaaaaah!”……..funny?!……love,as always,genx xxxxx

  90. avatar
    Thelonious | 5 August 2007 at 4:10 am #

    I got given a second hand bass by my brother for my 40th birthday. I just can’t play it. Sad really. I am so passionate about music & performance but seem to have no talent on that front. Oh well. I do love a great bass line chudding along holding the song together. That & a great trumpet line does it for me. Great blog 2day SK.

  91. avatar
    gavgams | 5 August 2007 at 7:41 pm #

    G’day Steve and fiends

    I like spacey bassey. One reason I like Church. Yea, a well sorted Fender is pretty good, but to me it was sort of like driving a Ford or something, a bit predictable and boring.. so I fell in love with Ricky 4001 stereo with streo rig. That Chris Squire sound on start of Fragile and new wavey sound of Jam and Serious Young Insects (ha ha).
    Once I borrowed a genuine Hofner for studio stuff and it was unbelievably good for retro warbling and melodic bass playing a la Taxman, Penny Lane, etc.. the action was so easy. And the wooden clunkyness makes it a great little pumper on the beat, but not one for the meaningful, ponderous sustain of the significant moment… bit more of a joker of an instrument if one can speak like that.
    I ask: If McCartney had fenders would the Beatles have been the Beatles?? hmmmm?? horses for courses, of course.

  92. avatar
    gavgams | 5 August 2007 at 7:48 pm #

    Wow
    Daniel 12,

    What a story
    what great commments all round

  93. avatar
    DropFrame | 5 August 2007 at 11:49 pm #

    Another bass player here

    91 Fender Precision Plus
    Two knobs & two tones – Phat & Phatter

    Two of my Faves Apart from SK & Sting (both players who sing lead as well – a very hard thing to do)

    Derek forbes (early simple minds)
    & get this – Peter Cetera. Yes he of the cheesy Chicgao ballads was/is? a stonking bass player as well and you can here this on the early chicago albums, which have alot of jazz funk fusion stuff going on.

    Bass for yo face homies

    Oh and Flea – ut he is on another level altogether

  94. avatar
    Anonymous | 6 August 2007 at 3:04 pm #

    SK’S = 1964 CUSTOM SHOP JAZZ BASS.

  95. avatar
    Mega-Jason | 6 August 2007 at 3:56 pm #

    I started off on the Lovely Bass guitar, but switched to guitar because I wasn’t coordinated enough to sing and play bass at the same time.

    After all theese years turns out I can’t really sing so well.

    Maybe there still time. Do you think she’ll take me back?

    My beautiful old 1978 T-40 (not so old to some of you). Once upon a time, Peavey briefly made some very cool guitars before all that cheezy crap they make now. The T-40 was a monster – I once had a friend come over, pick it up and sling it around his neck, within a minute was screaming for help to get it off him it was so heavy. OOOOOhh why did sell it??? And why did I never asked out that redhead in Minneapolis…

    Steve, why do your posts always fill me with meloncholy and regret?

  96. avatar
    relic | 7 August 2007 at 10:20 am #

    Give me any bass that can take $20 off the shelf

  97. avatar
    Centuryhouse | 9 August 2007 at 10:07 pm #

    I’ve been missing my Fender Jazz bass ever since I sold it, big mistake. I need a new one bad.

    When you get tired of your Jazz bass let me know, and we can work something out 😉


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