Bass Origins



  1. the point or place where something begins, arises, or is derived.


In honor of Father’s Day, I wanted to share a special story about my dad. Around twenty years ago, my dad said yes to a request that altered my path - and completely changed my life! He bought me a bass guitar.

Here’s the story.

It was my first year of middle school… 7th grade at River View Jr. High (Warsaw, OH). That would have made me around 12 years old, I believe. It was a big deal moving over to the Jr. High! River View’s school system is set up to filter four elementary schools into the Jr. High… so, I moved up from Keene Elementary (I also had a brief stint in Catholic school - but that’s another story). I remember being so nervous about that transition!

I had been playing guitar (acoustic/electric) for a few years by this point, and was so excited about being able to sign up for Jazz Band. FINALLY… I could play some guitar! I was used to only playing the flute in elementary band (shout-out to Jim Bundy - my fabulous elementary band director). And that’s how I learned how to read music. Jim Bundy would also be an essential part to my early growth as a guitarist / bassist as the years went on. He was such a big help. Thanks, Mr. B!

So, Jazz Band sign-up day finally comes around and I find the sheet… move my finger across it to find the electric guitar slot… AN UPPERCLASSMAN HAS ALREADY TAKEN IT! Shoot. I was so bummed. BUT - I noticed that there was also something called a bass guitar. Hmm. Okay! That slot is open… and it’s still a guitar. So, I immediately signed up for bass guitar! I was majorly into KISS during this time period, and was super excited about being Gene Simmons in the River View Jr. High Jazz Band. GOD OF THUNDER!

Here’s the thing…

I didn’t own a bass guitar.

I didn’t have any idea how to play a bass guitar.

…and I certainly had no idea that the sheet music was going to be in a different clef than what I was used to. That was a surprise!

After getting home from school that day, I remember walking into the house thinking… hmmm, I really need to ask dad about this bass guitar thing. I knew I couldn’t really ask my mom (she was always more likely to say no). Sorry, mom… but you know it’s true. HA! So, I waited pretty impatiently for my dad to get home from work, and as soon as he walked in the door… I asked him the big question.

I’m sure that it went something like this…

“Hey, dad… so, I signed up for bass guitar today in Jazz Band. BUT - I don’t have a bass guitar. Can we get a bass guitar? Please?”

My sweetheart of a dad immediately said yes, and before even taking his boots off or eating dinner… he took me down to the Coshocton Plaza to hunt down a bass guitar. There was a little music store by the Big Lots called Sam Goody… other than carrying cassette tapes, and CD’s - they also carried Silvertone guitars, and Marshall amps.

We walked in and THEY HAD A BASS… a red Silvertone set up like a P-Bass. Score!

I got a damn bass that day! I also remember getting a Hal Leonard beginner method book, and a songbook. I needed to teach myself how to read music on this new instrument before Jazz Band started. Well, let’s just say that process took a lot longer than I expected.

The first song I learned how to play on that Silvertone bass was “My Sharona.” HA! Courtesy of the Hal Leonard songbook.

I continued playing bass guitar throughout Jr. High, High School, and ended up studying bass guitar with the incredible Pandel Collaros at Bethany College (Bethany, WV). The high school, and college years deserve their own blog post. BUT - I do need to acknowledge and thank Keith Watson (RVHS band director - who is still there to this day)… what a special teacher, and beautiful person. RVHS is so lucky to have him! I can’t wait to share those stories soon. Sidenote: Right before I left for college my precious mom surprised me with a beautiful Custom Shop Fender Jazz Bass V… that’s a really good story too.

But for now… I’m sitting here thinking about my dad.

I keep thinking about the past decade I’ve spent in Nashville making a living as a working studio/touring musician (predominantly as a bass guitarist).

All because my dad said yes.

Thank you, dad. I love you! I’m forever grateful.

P.S. - My mom found a picture of that old red Silvertone bass… complete with awkward bangs, and braces! Enjoy.


Amanda McCoy