Bass Book Review: The Bass Handbook – Updated Edition by Adrian Ashton…
The Bass Handbook, by Adrian Ashton, originally published in 2006, has a newly updated edition. It is a hardback spiral bound book that has been thoughtfully designed to sit just as comfortably on a music stand as on a coffee table. The book starts off with a succinct, enthusiastic forward by John Paul Jones – ” Adrian’s book tells you everything you could possibly want to know about instruments, amplifiers, effects, players, setups, and history. It’s all here….” I tend to agree with Mr. Jones, The Bass Handbook offers an extensive overview of all things bass and is quite interesting in the telling and showing.
The Bass Handbook launches into a brief overview and history of the bass guitar, which is then followed up by delving into the design of various models and the functions of the component parts that make up these models. We are then treated with more discussion and advice on strings and pickups and even some hints on how to go about purchasing a bass. The author then delves into an overview and history of bass amps, speakers, effects and cables.
At this point, the Bass Handbook switches gears and starts to look at various players and the techniques they employ. There is a CD provided to supplement the 200 plus exercises that are included here. The exercises are practical and cover a broad range of styles. I found the “30 Top Tips” to be insightful and would likely be of use to many players, be they beginners or seasoned musicians. The book ends with recommendations for both music to listen to and videos and books for those who wish to delve in even deeper into a particular style or technique.
My Final Thoughts
My baseball cap is off in salute to Adrian Ashton! The Bass Handbook, Updated Edition, is truly a wide ranging and fascinating overview of the bass guitar, both the history and usage in modern music. A book this comprehensive runs up against some interesting challenges that should be noted. Bass players, in general, are extremely open minded to innovation, which continues to fuel advances in amplification and speaker cabinet design. The sections in this book on bass gear, as with any hard copy book, are static at the point of publication while innovation marches on. My point is that there have been, and continue to be, some significant advances in amplifier and cabinet design that , in their absence, tend to make this section appear a little dated – a minor point, but one I felt needed mentioning. My other comment is that any list of recommended players or music is always going to overlook someone that made (or has yet to make) a significant impact in your playing. Take the list for what it is, a great introduction to many wonderful musicians – but what book is big enough to list them all?
Bottom line: This will be a welcome addition to the bookshelves of any student of the bass guitar. For more information: Backbeat Books