It’s BLP Legend time and for this October, it’s Gene Smith! Gene is one of the regular participants of eBassGuitar’s monthly song competition. What I’ve noticed is that Gene consistently puts out great quality videos; he has great tone and equally great playing in each and every one!
Learn more about Gene’s bass story in this interview. You’ll know about how he started with the bass, his new band and even his gear. He also shares his experiences with the Bass Lab PLUS courses and the community. You’ll also get to see Gene bust out some bass grooves in his playing video!
Huge kudos and congratulations to Gene for being this month’s BLP Legend!
James: Hey Guys I’m super excited to welcome this month’s BLP Legend Gene Smith!
Gene has been a member of the BLP for some time but I just realized this is the very first time we’ve actually spoken! I’m really excited to dig into Gene’s background as a bass player and how he comes to do what he does so brilliantly.
I’ve watched Gene enter our song competition every month; probably for the last year or something like that. He always puts fantastic entries in there; they’re always really interesting and brilliantly played as well. And there’s these beautiful creative moments too where he gets out an eBassGuitar mug just at that appropriate time as well. This is a wonderful element of comedy too.
So Gene, let’s start right at the beginning. I know none of this stuff so I’m excited to find out how you became a bass player.
Gene: I was an acoustic guitar player for about 20 or 30 years, doing solo acoustic gigs. I started playing in church doing rhythm guitar for 15 years or so. It got kind of boring and I was just about to give that up when our leader called me one day and said “ Have you ever thought about playing bass? “ I said, “ Yes I have “. I went by, picked up the church’s bass, learned a few lines of the songs that were coming and started playing. As soon as I started playing, I knew I have come home! That was about 5 or 6 years ago, and here we are today.
J: That is amazing! So your journey started 5 or 6 years ago. How did you start? What sort of things were you playing in the early days and how you got to the point where you are now?
G: When I started playing I started learning songs for Sundays at church. I also wanted to learn how to play it right. I started digging into all the online stuff, scales and learning the fretboard and all of that. It was like from place to place; pick up a bit here and a bit there.
Then I started playing what we call secular songs. Blues rock is my love and joy and so I started learning 70s, 80s blues and rock stuff.Then I found eBassGuitar then that lifted the learning exponentially.
J: Fantastic! Do you remember when you discovered eBassGuitar?
G: I think it was a year and a half ago. I believe this is my second renewal.
J: What do you feel you’ve got out of the Bass Lab PLUS program?
G: Fretboard knowledge, knowledge of scales and patterns, losing the fear to move off the root, throwing in arpeggios, throwing in slides and those kinds of things. Also, learning when not to do those.
It’s given me the confidence to play with other people. In fact, just in the last few weeks I joined a band and we’ll be doing our first gig this coming week.
J: Tell me about the band. What’s it comprised?
G: We got 2 guitars, me on the bass, a drummer and a singer. I’ve enjoyed rocking with them! I showed them some of the videos that I’ve done for the competitions, loved them and said come play.
J: I’ve never thought of that before! Enter our monthly competition, submit a good video and you’ve got yourself a CV for a band! You’ve heard it here first! You can join our song competition and then join a band. That’s cool isn’t it!
One thing I’ve noticed about you is you’ve always had a great sound in your videos. What bass guitar are you playing? What’s in your arsenal?
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G: I have a Fender, American standard which I use in passive mode. I run it through an HX Stomp, mostly I do that to model an Ampeg SVT. I have some compression on the Stomp but mainly it’s just modeling that SVT.
J: Is the HX Stomp; is that Line 6?
G: Yes, it’s the small version of their Helix.
J: I remember you also having a Stingray? It sounds great!
G: Yeah I have a 4 string and a 5 string. It’s an Indonesian version but it sounds just as good to me.
J: It’s a prime example that these days, you don’t need expensive gear to sound fantastic.
So what’s next? You’ve joined a band; do you have any more aspirations after that?
G: I just want to get better and improve doing my own lines.
J: So who are your heroes when it comes to the bass guitar?
G: It’s kind of an eclectic mix of people. Since I started out with praise and worship music there’s the bass player for Elevation Worship, Shae Wooten, no relation to Victor, likely because of his availability on YouTube and he talks about what he was playing, his philosophies and that kind of thing.
I saw Victor Wooten speaking one time on video and once I heard him talk about music and how he uses it as a language, that just hit me. I’ve been following Victor Wooten since then.
I don’t play like him, I don’t play his style but his philosophies I absolutely love.
J: I’d love to ask you, just to start wrapping up; what would you say to anybody thinking of joining the BLP?
G: Do it! Your teaching style is easy for me to follow, and I’m not the brightest bulb in the box; if I can follow it, anybody can. I love the way you teach the fretboard, patterns and how to think about what you’re doing as a bass player in the context of what your job within the band is.
It’s a great community; everybody is helpful. Some of the places I’ve been I felt like I just didn’t really belong; it’s so welcoming within the eBass community and I love it here.
J: If I can pin one or two things that you’ve mentioned how I teach the fretboard. Could you mention one or two things that you’ve picked up in that respect?
G: When you were teaching various patterns back on the Rookie Blues Intensive course; just those patterns and how you think about going into a target note, when you want to do a chromatic, the arpeggio scale, the pentatonic scale. How to think about that fretboard as a box, there are patterns in the box and that those are repeatable. That opened doors for me.
J: The thing is BLP teaching is all about making things simple and accessible and when you fuse that with the beautiful community that we’ve got going on, you’re going to start seeing so many people moving in leaps and bounds. You’re definitely someone I’ve witnessed doing that.
I’m really happy to have you as part of our community and I’m happier that you’re a regular participant in our song competition every month. Thank you Gene for being part of what we do here. It’s a great opportunity to showcase what you do and also a great opportunity to meet you and have a conversation and how it all started for you.
G: Thank you James! It’s great to meet you too and to be a part of this community.!