Playing with different bass players


You’ve played with a wide variety of bass players throughout your career ranging from those categorized as — please excuse the labels — more jazzy (for instance, a Tony Saunders), more funky (e.g., a George Porter), “classical” (Alfonso Johnson), melodic (Phil Lesh), etc. The list goes on and on…. Pete Sears to Reed Mathis to Jack Casady…. And of course. longtime collaborator, Bobby Vega. The point being that many of these bass masters have a recognizable “signature sound” of their own.

Knowing that your repertoire often involves very intertwined collaboration between the guitar and the bass, how does your playing change with each different paring? Do you ever intentionally change your tone, volume, style, or chosen equipment to best match the other guy?

Please be somewhat specific as to some of these musicians (the ones you’ve had significant history with), so I can listen closely to some prior recordings and try to see if I can pick up any differences in your approach.

Thank you

Alan, MD

2 Thoughts on Playing with different bass players
    7 Apr 2020

    Hi Allen, good question, thanks for asking.
    The short answer is the majority of the adjustment is attitude or internal decision making process as opposed to physical production.
    The amp, speakers, effects, “hardware stuff” is usually justified by the entire production.
    Size of venue, loudness, singers, drums, monitors, keyboard production, other guitarists, etc.

    That “setting the table” kind of stuff normally involves everybody using whatever they’d normally use under the venue and ensemble size conditions.
    Porter uses his go-to rig, personal or backline, as would Andy Hess or Bobby, and they’d all adjust their playing to suit.

    Same deal for me.
    I do definitely find guitar choice helps me hook up better sonically, playing, feel wise, with different bassists for different material.
    I feel like I’d do better with GP with the L-5, probably do better with Jack with the L-7, probably do better with Bobby with the Strat regardless of amp.

    Those sounds go together for me, those guitars with those players relative to my own comfort zone.
    It’s extremely subjective tho, huh?

    Anyway, overall the majority of “adjustment” is in the head and hands, following along is guitar choice, with amp considerations last.
    Does that answer your question?
    Kind of a big question. .

      13 Apr 2020

      First, thanks for taking a non-technical question. Second, I appreciate your reply.

      (I’m not a musician, so didn’t know if you’d say something like, ” I know this particular guy’s style hogs the low midrange at 200 Hz so I definitely have to crank up my ziffler-buzz knob to compensate…”

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