Music, News & Commentary

The bass guitar: every home should have one

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Now, at last, all the bass guitar player jokes can be vanquished. No more the cheap japes, such as what do you call a bass player without a girlfriend?  Homeless. What do you call a bass player who only knows two chords? A professional. Yes, all completely unfair, completely, utterly.

How poorer music would have been, would continue to be, without Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorius, Paul McCartney, Jack Bruce, John Entwistle, Stanley Clarke, Leland Sklar, Chris Squire and Australia’s Tal Wilkenfeld, for instance. 

And yet the jokes survive. This week, however, the bass guitar became the guitar hero, with a little help from its friend, owner Mike Conomy (pictured above via Facebook) from the suburb of Truganina in Melbourne.

Mr Conomy used his “cheapest” guitar to first fend and then chase off two wouldbe burglars who broke into his home in the early hours. The thieves wanted his car, but what they got instead was a sound thrashing, so to speak.

“I picked up the cheapest guitar I had, went wheeling out after them, came around the corner, said ‘come on boys, let’s go’.

‘‘I ran them out of the house and smashed their (car) window in the process.’’

His partner Annabelle Sutton said, “All I really saw was him with the guitar wielding it like a battle axe.”

“Mr Conomy has several guitars, but says he chose the bass, because well it’s older, used less often, and most importantly when wielding it against invaders, has a greater reach.”

And what greater praise could a bass player ask for?

The bass-as-weapon received a few scratches from the encounter and, of course, one could say no need to fret over that. They are very heavy, but very humble instruments. 

Mr Conomy has several guitars, but says he chose the bass, because well it’s older, used less often, and most importantly when wielding it against invaders, has a greater reach.

I bet bass guitar designers never thought of that. Or perhaps they did.

‘‘They say keep maybe a golf club or something like that, but there’s nothing heavier than a guitar at the end of the day.’’

True, the No. 1 wood has nothing on an electric bass. The wood might have a bit of flex generated in the swing, but the bass is just a blunt instrument. Its job, in the main, is to keep the bottom end of a song anchored, leave all the fancy stuff to the other pieces of wood and metal. Oh, it might break out now and again, show it can match it with the virtuosi, but in the end it’s needed with the drums back and off centre (unless you’re slung around the singer as well), keep that rhythm going.

There’s some bass players who stand on stage as if mortified to move a muscle, such was the wont of the late Mr Entwistle of The Who. He let his fingers do the talking. In fact, he took the solo in My Generation. Now Mr Conomy has shown that the bass can be wielded for more than music. You don’t argue with a bass player, plugged in or unplugged. 

It was the misfortune of the thieves, and a good thing too for all us law-abiding folk, that they chose the houe they did. They might have picked one where the owner played the tin whistle. Not much of a weapon there. You can’t expect a thief to be chased out of a house by someone threatening them with a tin whistle, playing it or not.

Now if they were wielding the bagpipes, possibly. No probably.

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