Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with random Ruminations – The Invisible Man edition

The Invisible Man


Being a bass guitarist is like being the invisible man of the band. The guitarists get all the attention, the drummers get all the women, and you get the bar tab. Bassists seem to compensate for this in several ways. Some jump all around in an attempt to be noticed (see Flea), some retreat even further into the shadows (see Entwistle), and some overplay (see me).



But do you know something? Without the bass line, the song falls apart. The rhythm stops. The guitar noodling with no sub-strata to hold it up just sounds like some guy practicing scales, and the kick drum sounds like a petulant ex kicking the door to be let in.

And if your removal from the band’s sound doesn’t do this, you’re not doing your part as a bassist. Your contribution has to be just that – a contribution. Not a drone or a kick drum with a note attached to it, but an integral part of the sound.

If it’s not, you may as well just sell your shit and buy a motorcycle.



Oh – and while we’re at it – I’d like to introduce you to “The Fantastic Four” :



And, of course – “Rigzilla”…


“SUNN – when you absolutely have to destroy everyone in the room with low end”.




8 thoughts on “Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with random Ruminations – The Invisible Man edition

    1. I’m also the proud owner of a set of Taurus I bass pedals. The room shakes, and peoples’ glasses vibrate off their tables.

  1. Well, that’s one of those cliches that begs for counterexamples. Since you have Rickenbackers, I assume Chris Squire is one of your heroes. (How do you use that 8-string? I have an 8-string Hagstrom, and it always took over the soundscape! I never found a role for it, and it’s remained in its case for a decade now.) Granted most of the famous bass players in rock are more celebrated for writing, singing, or bandleading (McCartney, Geddy Lee, Phil Lynott, Les Claypool, etc.) how come the best known Motown employee whose name was never on the record cover is James Jamerson?

    1. The Rick 8-string is an interesting beast. If you pick downwards, the primary (bigger) string is loudest.
      If you pick upwards, the octave (smaller) string is most prominent. It requires a bit of concentration to manage this oddity for maximum effect.

      The only issue I’ve ever had with it is that since the neck is the same narrow/thin neck as 4001 Ricks, that even with the twin truss rods, neck bowing is inevitable.
      That, and it’s tiring to play after a few songs. Records like a dream, though.

      An amusing coda : I bought that bass on Ebay for $385 including a flight case, simply because the seller spelled it as “Rickenbacher”, and it wasn’t showing up in searches for “Rickenbacker” and got no bids.
      I spent a sleepless night counting down to the end of the auction, ready to counter, but mine was the only bid.

      The last one I saw for sale was around $3,800.

      And yes, Squire and Macca are my bass heroes.

      1. I have experience of narrow Ric necks. In my most successful band, which actually made a record we didn’t have to pay for ourselves, I played a 5 string, and eventually bought a Ric. The neck was just 1/16″ wider than the standard neck. (I really needed the low string! The first tune on our CD was in C#, and it was really cool to have that note in its lowest register. And we had another tune using the open B.)

        Good deal on the 8! I paid something like $900 for the 5 string.

        I too love Paul and Chris, but my most useful models were Jack Bruce and Jack Casady. I identify as an old hippie.

    1. In a later post, I’ll show you Rigzilla’s even larger predecessor, “Stonehenge” from a show at the Agora.
      In that pic you’ll see that NO ONE is on my side of the stage.
      No one.

  2. Not just in Rock is the bass line key. Baroque music falls apart with a solid basso continuo!

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