Ron Fairbairn

cartoon by Scott Fairbairn



When I was 16, I asked a friend of mine if I could play in his band. I was kind of a “folky” with nothing more than my acoustic guitar. His advice was that I should get myself a bass because, as he put it – “there’s a million guitar players out there but there’s never enough bass players”.

I headed down to the Long and McQuade music store on Granville street in Vancouver and came back with a Hofner “Beatle bass”. I couldn’t get enough of it! As basses go, the Hofner is a small bass with a shorter scale, so adapting from guitar was not that difficult. It also had the advantage of being a semi-acoustic instrument and so I developed the habit of playing it acoustically. I basically played it 18/7 (when you’re young, you do that). I believe that the better an instrument sounds unplugged – the better it will sound when it is plugged in.

And then I discovered some people in my school who were into the bass that I would have never imagined, and I learned some patterns pretty fast, which led to some jamming, and I was hooked. Bass rules.

The bass is a very powerful instrument, kind of like the source of the musical soul. People don’t often hear the bass- it’s more of a feel thing. I got a bass teacher who told me that housewives don’t go around singing Paul McCartney bass lines, but he made damned sure I learned them. We studied Motown, Soul, Rock, Blues, Jazz.

Gary Lawrence was a great teacher who taught me how to compose a bass line, how to jam and be spontaneous. I eventually played in his band  called ‘Ricochet’ and played my first pro gig at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. I travelled around BC and Alberta and made a living playing the bass throughout the 70’s. I loved it. I have since started to become more serious about guitar playing and songwriting, but I think my heart still feels truly at home behind the strings of a bass guitar.

1 comment

  1. ronfairbairn - April 18, 2014 6:10 pm

    Bass Rules. Period.


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