The electric bass guitar (or "electric bass") is a bass stringed instrument played with the fingers (either by plucking, slapping, popping, or tapping) or using a pick—if you are a pansy and cannot keep a driving force with your fingers. The bass is similar in appearance and construction to an electric guitar, but with a larger body, a longer neck and scale length, and usually four strings tuned one octave lower in pitch than the four lower strings of a guitar.
Since the 1950s, the electric bass has replaced the double bass in popular music. Its main function is to bridge the gap between the lead and rhythm instruments and the drums. The bass provides the low-pitchedbass lines and bass runs in many different styles of music, ranging from rock and metal to blues and jazz. The electric bass is also used as a soloing instrument, where bass lines are composed with soul and a sense of rhythm, not to be played like an electric lead guitar in the way that Les Claypool misinterprets its main function.
Bass players come in all shapes and sizes and from every musical genre. But when the bass guitar is referred to as a “thunderstick,” we are speaking of a specific genre of music—rock and roll—and it is time to introduce you to my top ten rock bass players, also known as the Thors of the Thunderstick.
Beginning with number ten, we have probably the most underrated and under appreciated bassist in the industry, the man who had to bridge the gap between the whimpering and flaccid drum beats of Don Henley and the quixotic guitar meanderings of Bernie Leadon, Don Felder, Joe Walsh and Glenn Frey—Randy Meisner. Meisner was best known for his stint with The Eagles, and his penning of their super hit “Take It To The Limit.” But prior to the Eagles, he played with both Poco and Ricky Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band. Ironically, after quitting both Poco and The Eagles, his replacement was none other than Timothy B. Schmit. Fame reared its ugly head on Meisner in a bizarre twist of fate when he was arrested for impersonating his imposter. Apparently, a man was arrested several years ago for impersonating Randy Meisner in an attempt to swindle people out of money, goods and services. “I considered this a personal violation,” Meisner said after his arrest. “I guess I just snapped!” Meisner’s impersonator was released from custody two months ago. That’s when Randy started impersonating him and was arrested.
Number nine, the first of four Johns: The Ox—John Entwistle. Also known by the moniker, Thunderfingers, Entwistle pioneered bass’s main function as the bridge between the maniacal drums of Keith Moon and the dominating lead guitar of Pete Townshend by both reconstructing and deconstructing its role as a vital instrument of a rock and roll band. His influences can still be heard in such bassists as Lemmy of Hawkwind/Motorhead, Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, Geddy Lee of Rush, Mike Watt of Minutemen/fIREHOSE, and Peter Hook of New Order. His aggressive bass playing was unheard of for a 1960’s rock band and would eventually go on to influence a whole new approach to the bass guitar as a valuable and necessary instrument to all rock music, except The White Stripes and other namby-pamby sad bastards found in their ilk.
Thors of the Thunderstick