Bass Players- a forgotten trade?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by MattB, Sep 10, 2003.

  1. MattB

    MattB Member

    As MD of a 4th section band who has found getting bass players to be like finding gold in a tin of beans, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that there simply are no bass players left alive.

    Thinking logically, if a bassist was on the lookout for a band, decent 4th section standard, contesting and busy concert programme, then said bassist would turn up to rehearsal. However! After months and months of searching I have yet to find anyone who openly admits to being a bassist!

    Are less people playing bass these days? Do they all want to play for Fodens? Is there nobody out there more than willing to bumptibump their way through classics such as Hey Jude and Best of Bond? Even greats such as Dimensions on the contest stage?

    If I don't start hearing good news soon I'm going to go into mourning..............

    On a more serious note, are other 4th section bands finding filling chairs a struggle? We are full everywhere apart from a Baritone and three Basses. Do you know how frustrating it is!!!!
  2. Darth_Tuba

    Darth_Tuba Active Member

    I have just been to the medical centre at work and they can confirm that I for one am indeed alive! :lol: I see your point though.
  3. Di B

    Di B Member

    We basically have a full band but only have basses that will come to concerts/contests rather than regular bass players. I think they are the 'in short' supply at the moment, but I also remember when it was a Cornet shortage and more recently (or it seemed that way to me!) a euph/bari shortage.

    This poses a question for me... if you have the option to teach a kid to play bass..... how old/tall do they need to be to actually manage?! Most people who I know of my age who play bass started on another instrument at a young age and moved downwards from there! Is it just that due to the shortages in other sections that players now don't need to move onto bass as a euph/bari/trom seat is available? *shrugs*
  4. leisa

    leisa Active Member

    we had a brass band at primary school where we all started playin g aged 9 and we had 3 bass players and i only know of 1 of them who is still playing the bass and she was also one of the bass players at my high school where we used to have two!! Last year at stockport we had to move one of the euph players to bass because we didn't have enough!
  5. Darth_Tuba

    Darth_Tuba Active Member

    I know plenty of very good tuba/bass players who didnt start playing bass until say 14/15. I started on cornet and was swiftly moved onto horn, and finally ended up on god's own instrument at the age of 12 or so... could be wrong though. My memorys going...
  6. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I think that one factor may well be the availability and cost of instruments. If you've got a youngster learning a cornet, horn, baritone etc it is fairly easy to give them an instrument to take away and practice, whereas I should imagine that there are relatively few young learners who are able to cart a bass around from place to place. That may also be a factor in people transferring onto bass when they are older.

    I think, also, you can be caught in a bit of a cleft stick as far as tuba-playing is concerned. Many of us know what can be accomplished with a tuba in the right hands and the right setting, but, in banding terms, it is hardly the most glamorous of instruments, rarely getting the chance to show off its paces, and often relegated to oompahs and long notes. This is especially the case in the simpler types of arrangements often encountered, so maybe it is not surprising that people are reluctant to identify themselves as bass players.

    Funnily enough, when I was at Bolton Citadel, out of a small band over half of us would have described ourselves as first and foremost bass players, although the parts we actually played included horn, trombone and solo cornet!
  7. geordiecolin

    geordiecolin Active Member

    From my experiences recently in the North East and just scouting round the Sheffield area, i have found that there are few vacancies for bass players at the moment. Perhaps theres not a shortage of players, just that they're all commited to bands??

    I must admit though that i think that there may be a shortage of young bass players coming through. When I came through years 11/12/13 of school I was the only bass player in Northumberland playing at County Level and that was only because they wanted a Cornet player to take the job on! I went back to play BBb in the Youth Brass Band this year for a concert and there are now 3 bass players coming through the school system. Its still a sad state of affairs when the whole of Northumberland (a BIG place) can only produce 3 bass players...
  8. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    hey matt, it's not just the 4th section... i think there is a shortage of bass players in the NW generally, flixton only have 2 basses and both of them are part timers due to other committments.
  9. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    But we only have to be part-timers, as half the time they only let us play on the 1st and 3rd beats :wink: :lol: :lol:
  10. Andy_Euph

    Andy_Euph Active Member

    Too true Colin, it is a shame that they're are hardly any young brass players, let alone lower instrument players, coming through and that even less seem to want to play for bands. Three bass players, two Euphonium players, two baritone player and a handful of cornet and trombone players really is a sad state of affairs :(
    Its even worse when you think that Northumberland has produced so many good bands and players over the years, and now there is only a handful of bands left and even less players... it seems we are destined to go the way of the dodo :cry:
  11. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    In the early part of this year we searched for a BBb Bass, and just through sheer good luck found a real cracker in a fairly short time.
    Now the other one has had to leave due to work committments, and we have searched and advertised for weeks with no success.
    Where are they all ?? - perhaps they should be as designated as a protected species and bred in captivity to increase their numbers !!
  12. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    eek what a terrible thought!! another geordiecolin argh argh argh
  13. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    It would probably fail, as they couldn't be dragged out of the Bar to breed !!
  14. Lothianh

    Lothianh Member

    Okay, this may not help you much as I'm writing from the Yank perspective, but I've found that these things sort of go in cycles. In the band I play with (PBB), we had a period last year where we couldn't attract and keep tubas (okay, basses) to save our lives (we were struggling with two regulars and one sub on concerts for a while). Then, in the space of about two weeks three more almost literally fell from the sky! We are currently working with a section of five (three on Eb and two on BBb, for now). Apparently, all the offerings we'd made to the tuba gods were finally repaid.

    Now, tenor horn - that's the instrument we really have trouble with! Ever tried to fill three seats on an instrument nobody in the country has even heard of??!! Seriously, say "tenor horn in Eb" to most people in America and they have no clue, even brass players. All the concert bands and orchestras in schools here use french horns, so nobody "grows up" learning tenor horn - most horn players here are french horn converts.

    (That being said, we must be doing something right, as we currently have five - FIVE!!! - current or prospective horn players!)

    Best of luck on your bass hunt!

  15. best situation ever happened t'other day at band,
    we had too many cornets. Can't remember last time i saw that happen in a top section band
  16. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    I think I may have found a colony of bass players! A couple of weeks ago Cawstons' tuba quartet were invited to play at one of Sheringham SAs 'guest nights'.

    In addition to the various acts on the programme a 'Faith Band' was formed and played several items.

    This band contained 9 basses out of band of about 30!
  17. BottyBurp

    BottyBurp Member

    I've just started as the MD of a 2nd (1st as of January) Section band, and I can't get hold of Bb Basses. I managed to get an Eb to join, but (dammit) my other Eb got a job down south so has had to leave. Of my age group (mid 30's - mid 40's), I find that a lot of players (all instruments) have just simply packed in playing, some with the pressures of work and relocating etc. but also a fair amount are disillusioned with contest results (here we go again), and just cannot be bothered to put in the work & effort to just to get dodgy results.

    On a more positive note, my band rehearse half a mile from Junction 2 of the M5 (Oldbury/West Bromwich area) and if you are a Bb Bass (decent) player( or a Baritone), looking for a band let me know!
  18. rach marriott

    rach marriott Member

    Sorry... off the thread, I know, but I just had to reply to this...!!! mid-30's, you, ha ha ha ha!!!!!
  19. BottyBurp

    BottyBurp Member

    grrr - I did say "of my age group". :evil:
  20. rach marriott

    rach marriott Member

    Righto! :roll:

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