Bass Guitar

Pet Peeve: Narcissistic Bassists

As you well know, I like to surf the YouTube spectrum for interesting videos. I particularly like to watch videos dealing with bass guitars. Although I haven’t played bass in a band for about 20 years, I still hold the bass guitar close to my heart, as that is what I started with when I got into playing in bands.

I pretty much watch all kinds of bass videos: instructional, performance, history, and reviews. While there are a lot of videos that I appreciate, there are some that are just plain annoying. The most annoying to me are the ones where someone is reviewing a bass guitar, but spends the first minute or more just wanking on it, attempting impress the viewer on how good he/she is before telling us about the features and if it is a comfortable bass to work with.

Yeah, great, you are the next Flea or Chris Squire. Then why aren’t you selling out arenas instead of showing us what every other bass player can do and giving off the impression that you are the best? If you are reviewing a bass guitar or amplifier (and I am sure this goes for other musical instrument reviews), talk about the features, and don’t play for more than 10 seconds with each feature.

Another pet peeve are the instructional videos that show some riff or pattern, but there is no actual instruction. The following YouTube short is somewhat of an example. The bassist is playing a famous Stevie Wonder bass groove note for note, but there is no tablature. So why tell us that it is something every bassist should know? As an aside, I know a lot of people that can play along with a recording, but have a difficult time playing with others and not having the recording to play along with.

One of my favorite YouTube bass guitar channels is the Leland Sklar channel. Lee Sklar is probably the most recorded bassist in history. The man has recorded and performed with James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Toto, Phil Collins, Linda Ronstadt, and Lyle Lovett just to start off. At 75 years of age, he is still showing the youngsters how it is done. Besides all of his sideman work, he is occasionally touring with The Immediate Family, which contains other famous Los Angeles studio musicians (they have recently made an award-winning documentary, please check it out at Anyway, Lee started the channel to talk about some of his more memorable bass lines, but it has grown to him discussing studio experiences, life on the road, and some great philosophy on rock and pop music. Now this is a guy who could put all of us to shame if he wanted to by laying down some bass lines on video. Instead, his humble talk makes one really want to sit and listen to a wise man. That trademark beard makes it all the better. Subscribe to the channel, and here’s a taste of one of his wonderful monologues:

Finally, one of my favorite videos from my favorite bass players. Who doesn’t know Paul McCartney? And what bass player hasn’t copied one of his Beatles or solo bass lines? He helped put the bass player in the forefront. This video is a bass lesson by Sir Macca himself for his song “Ever Present Past” from his 2007 album Memory Almost Full. Again, here is a legend, someone who can show us all how it is done, but he is so humble about his bass playing. That is why we all love him so much.

Chew on it and comment.