Friday, March 21, 2008
Musings on Gearheads, Part II
Writings relating to gear and setup in the bass world are usually of two categories. One is the standard "Here's what I like" variety. In this sort of article or blog post, the writer basically lists what equipment they use and describe why they like it. This question is often also asked in interviews of bassists. I'm not a big fan of these, and here's why: I'm not that person, I'm not playing that bass, and I may not be making the kind of music that that person wants to make. Some bass player telling me they use two Flexocor Originals and two Eudoxas with their Kolstein All-Weather Rosin tell me virtually nothing about what sort of equipment I should be using when I play on my bass and bow. The only solid value this information has to me is in aggregate; if I see everyone trying out a new string or rosin that might mean it works well enough for enough people that I should try it out. Otherwise, it's not very helpful. Even if I know how this bassist sounds and like it, there's no guarantee that my bass would make the same sound with those strings and rosin.
The other variety of gearhead writing is of the review/advocacy type. Someone reviews or tries out some new stuff and comments on it. This has many of the same problems as the "Here's what I like" category in that I can't understand what that equipment would do for me. Plus, this sort of writing can be colored by bias or conflict of interest if the person has a relationship with the maker of the product.
The writing I want to see about bass gear would:
- try to achieve some sort of objectivity in its presentation of what gear does; and
- try to describe how gear would react to certain types of basses, especially student level instruments that are readily available. That way I could understand how the gear might work on my bass, since I can readily compare my bass to the readily available "control" instrument.
I try not to complain about something unless I can contribute in some way to improving the situation, but in this case I have to confess to not being able to do much to improve the quality of bass gear writing. I simply lack the passion for the topic, and the thought of sitting down and writing something meaningful about what a certain set of strings does for me makes my insides shrivel up. It's tough enough for me to sit down and write something (that doesn't suck) about things I am passionate about. So, consider this a shout into the void of cyberspace: Where are you, person who could blog meaningfully about strings and other gear? Why do you remain silent while generations of bassists ache to hear your mighty voice? Come forth and save us from crappy strings!