Ben Willis

I first picked up a bass at the age of 15 because my uncle's old Gherson Jazz copy had been knocking around in the loft for years waiting for someone to take an interest. I guess it was waiting for me because it felt right straightaway despite it's insanely high action and heavy gauge flatwound strings making it about as easy to play as a power chord underwater.

My perseverence with this beast of an instrument contributed in no small part to the way I aggressively dig in when playing bass now...thanks Uncle Colin.

 

I've always been drawn to bassy pursuits...played bass trombone, sang bass in a choir, only mastered the left hand on piano etc so I think ending up where I have was an inevitability waiting to happen.

 

Early influences were the drive and flare of Cliff Burton and the unequalled melodicism of Paul McCartney...it was no coincidence that the first bass I bought was a FireGlo Rickenbacker 4003. When I later studied music  I came to really appreciate the unmatched freedom of James Jamerson's playing and the musical virtuosity of Avishai Cohen. Most of all, I've always seen bass as a rhythm instrument above all else. I'll never forget how hard some of the bass players at college found it to hold down a solid single-note running bass line because they'd already been distracted by trying to sound like Jaco Pastorius.

 

Blues has led me to all kinds of new discoveries in the last few years but Jimmie Vaughan, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and anything on the Howlin' Wolf London Sessions are pretty hard to beat. 

 

I play a Fender Jazz bass through an SWR Studio amplifier driving an

SWR Goliath II 4x10'' cab.

 

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