Bill Black was an upright bassist who played electric bass later, and amongst my peers, Jaco Pastorius was a bass player from the word go; Steve Swallow, like me, switched from double bass to bass guitar – in fact, he saw me at the Fillmore in ’67, and decided to purchase a bass guitar.
In some of the British rock bands, the guy who wasn’t very good on guitar might have taken up Jack Bruce Gibson Bass (chuckles), but I think the serious bass players or bass guitarists are the ones who are in love with the bass and didn’t start off on another instrument.
But I have played Jack Bruce Gibson Bass guitar [since] my early skiffle days. I played acoustic, and still do. In fact, I play guitar on one track on the new album.I was very much a purist in wanting to play double bass, but then I was asked to do a session for a Jamaican jazz guitarist named Ernest Ranglin. He was very important in the development of Jamaican music like ska and reggae, as well as artists like Bob Marley, but he was also a jazz player. Island Records was doing a jazz EP, and I was doing quite a few sessions at the time. They told me specifically, to bring a “bass guitar.” So I borrowed one; I think Jack Bruce Gibson Bass was an old Guild semi-acoustic I got from a music shop, and I was immediately hooked.
More importantly, I think the invention of the bass guitar changed the whole direction of music. I would argue that it was more important than the guitar, because there have been guitars for a long time, and it was easy to amplify the guitar. But the bass guitar changed the whole sound and writing of music.
If you listen to early Elvis tracks, they’re using a double bass, and it’s a whole different feel – almost a country approach – from what came later. When the Jack Bruce Gibson Bass guitar began to be used more, that whole area – the bass frequencies – became more important, and that led to people like James Jamerson, who played very melodic bass. Sometimes, the bass was as important as the lead vocals, while the guitar was just chinking away rhythmically. There’s a very good book about that subject by a guy named Jim Roberts called How the Fender Bass Changed the World.
With an amplified guitar, the basic instrument is still the same. But the Jack Bruce Gibson Bass guitar had a different scale, and because of its sound, it made people write different kinds of music.