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More Eddie! More Alex! More David! More of that other guy!
—"Ted Templeman" recording Van Halen, 'Yacht Rock'

In the music industry, nobody has worse press than the bassist. The singer is almost always the first person who comes to mind when thinking of the band, the guitarist is the second (complete with Air Guitar), and then there is always the one person who sits to the side and hisses along to the drumbeat.

But sadly, this is not true for the bassist. There are hardly ever any bass solos. There are hardly ever any bassist/singers. There is no hope. Okay, maybe not ZERO hope. For the short heroes' list of bass players who have risen above this cosmic injustice, see Lead Bassist.

This can be an enforced or Justified Trope. The inherent structure of much popular music encourages a simple, supportive bass line. This makes it hard for a bass player to stand out aurally, and doubly hard to do so without simply showing off at the music's expense. So most of the time, a bassist doing his job properly ends up drawing relatively little attention to himself.

This trope refers to this phenomenon, and media in which it is discussed. Compare Dumb and Drummer, which involves similar levels of disrespect but with outright insults instead of the musician simply being forgotten about.

Examples in media:


 You need a mini-fridge in your practice space. It's more important than a bassist.

If you can hear the bassist, your speakers are too loud.

    • Also this one from the third game:

 You seem to be having a problem with your bass amp. I can hear it!

  • Guess which instrumentalist isn't represented in the main page for Five-Man Band? That's right, the bassist is less important than the Tambourinist.
  • In the Home Movies episode Guitarmageddon, Jason complains about getting saddled with bass, saying it's thankless and the bass player is "the loser of the group." His friends disagree, but when he offers to trade instruments they back out quickly.
  • Fanboys makes sure to promote the air-bass whenever they mention Guitar Hero.
  • Metalocalypse, Why don't you make like a bass guitar and be inaudible?
    • By unanimous consent, Murderface's bass lines are always left out of the final mix.
  • Let the Kids in The Hall demonstrate.
  • Teen Girl Squad: "Can I not get stuck playing bass?"
  • In The Commitments (the novel), Derek is easily the least competent of the instrumentalists in the band.
  • In Rock Band, the first game had no solo bass career, as allegedly the bass didn't have enough interesting songs to warrant a solo mode. Fans of the bands found under Lead Bassist disagreed.
    • The instrument shop has an over-sized double-neck Fender custom with the description "For once... they will pay attention... to the BASSIST!"
  • Despite playing with the Midnight Riders since 1985 on 23 albums, and writing most of the band's songs, Jake Thorne is still a "provisional temporary band member."
  • Hugh McDonald has been with Bon Jovi since 1994, but is not considered a full-fledged member (though this is mostly because the band agreed never to officially replace the original bassist).
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: In the film, Scott and one of the evil exes engage in a "bass battle," which is treated as a self-evident gag scene.
  • Quite prevalent in the comments for this video.
  • Michael Cera seems to have a thing for this, playing the role of loser bassist again in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.
  • The Doors didn't even have a bassist, relaying on session players or low keyboard notes.
  • Nor do The Rolling Stones since Bill Wyman left. Unlike the Doors, they've used the same guy (Darryl Jones) since Wyman left, but he's a salaried employee of the band.
  • Abney Park's remedy to a classic onstage mishap. When the lead singer screws up, blame the bass player.
  • Pity Van Halen's Michael Anthony. Not only was he the band member no casual fan could remember, he was (musically speaking) the real-life Murderface: Eddie Van Halen generally forbade any bass line that didn't double his guitar notes, and insisted on mixing the bass below the point of distinct audibility. For career satisfaction, Anthony pretty much had to settle for availing himself of the massive groupie overstock that accumulated around 1980's Van Hale... wait. Hm. You know what? DON'T pity Michael Anthony.
  • In Jersey Boys, the bassist is The Quiet One. He barely impacts most of the plot, and he calls himself the Ringo. When it's his turn to narrate, though, look out.
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee: Juniper and her brothers have a band named "Short Angry Freuds". She told her big brother Dennis nobody would pay attention to him because he's the bassist.
  • No Doubt's breakout song "Don't Speak" is essentially a song about no longer loving the bassist.
  • School of Rock: In the ending credits, the bass player is the only one who didn't get to do a solo.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Dude, We're Getting The Band Back Together!", the boys are trying to re-form Love Händel. When they approach the bass player, his response is "You don't need me. I just play bass in the background. Nobody even remembers me."
  • Metallica treated Jason Newsted as the new guy for 14 years. (it helps that he replaced a beloved friend of theirs who died tragically) It was even (indirectly [1]) admitted there was an attempt to mute the bass as much as they could in his debut album, ...And Justice for All.
  • Throughout early Genesis albums, bassist Mike Rutherford kept finding excuses to contribute on other instruments, and he became the band's sole guitarist after Steve Hackett left. Though he continued to play bass in the studio, he thereafter farmed out the job to a session player for live concerts.
  • On The Colbert Report, Steve Van Zandt was asked a question about original E Street Band bassist Garry Tallent. At first Van Zandt was confused, and then replied, "Nobody told Garry; we don't talk to him."
  • Discussed and inverted by Trout Fishing in America on their song "The Day the Bass Players Took Over the World":

 Now one day the bass players, they decided to uprise

They were tired of being sidemen to all those other guys

So they kidnapped the horn section

They put drugs in the drummer's drink

And they tied up all the guitar players

With their big ol' flat-wound strings

  • A Cracked photoplasty of "25 Team-Ups in History That Would Have Changed Everything" had this. Noticed the lack of bassist? (we could guess the guy put Kirk Hammett when he wanted Cliff Burton, but that's giving him too much credit)
  • According to some accounts, Patricia Morrison, nominally the bass player at the time of The Sisters of Mercy's Floodland album, didn't even play on the album; or at least much of what she did play was subsequently overdubbed by Andrew Eldritch playing synth bass (the only song her bass can be clearly heard on is "Lucretia My Reflection"). She later quit the group because she hadn't been paid.
  • In That Thing You Do, the bass player of the Wonders doesn't even have a name. His character is listed as "T.B. Player," and when he disappears during the band's trip to Los Angeles, nobody really cares; they replace him with a studio musician.
  • Since their 1981 reformation, King Crimson has largely done without a bassist. Tony Levin spent most of his time playing the Chapman Stick or keyboards, and successor Trey Gunn has stuck almost entirely to the Chapman Stick or oddball Warr Guitar.
  • Invoked with Ako in Mahou Sensei Negima, who struggles with worries that she is nothing but a minor character destined to live forever in the background (which, well, is kinda true) and plays the bass in a high school rock band.

Notes

  1. the producers lost the entire low end of the album, and he had copied the rhythm guitar parts verbatim, a no-no for a bassist
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