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Playing bass

charlie on 2003-12-06:
Hi Roger, long time Purple follower from the seventies to today, now my 12 yr old wants to play bass. His school and a local search can not come up with a bass teacher locally. would it harm him to play standard electric guitar as we have had to buy him one just to get lessons to play. where does he progress to bass? keep on rocking..charlie

Hi Charlie,

I started on an old Spanish guitar, playing folk and blues songs. When we formed a band (I was 14) I offered to play the bass parts, removing the two top strings and clipping on a pick-up, as the others had better guitars or could play more chords. Any understanding of music is an asset when playing the bass, I had rudimentary piano lessons as a child and I’m sure it helped later on.


Oswaldo Malagutti Jr on 2003-08-06:
Roger, please tell me if you have used a tremolo in the bass solo of Fireball in 1971.

If not which crazy sound is that

Thanks a lot,
all the best

Hi Oswaldo,

Yes, it is a tremolo that I used, along with a very primitive distortion box.


Marcello Castellucci on 2003-07-18:
Hi Roger! You're a great bass player!
I play the bass (a RIC jetglo) in a Deep Purple Tribute Band, and I'm a bit confused about the first section of your solo on Pictures Of Home (the studio one). How did you do this solo? Is it a secret? Is it possible to tab? I know how to do the second section, but the first (the chromatic(?) scale) is almost impossible!! If you aren't too busy, please, help one of your FANs!
Thank you!

Hi Marcello,

I don’t know how to read or write tabs, sorry, but the only thing I can tell you is that it is simply a matter of fifths; the first is an open A followed by an E on the second fret of the D string. Then the same thing but a semi-tone up, and so on.


Bob Papp on 2003-06-07:

Greetings. First some quick yada, yada. I've been a BIG TIME DP aficionado since 1970. I have also been a Steve Morse fan since shortly after he graduated from the Univ. of Miami and began his stellar career. I listen to a plethora of music covering a wide array of styles. The best of The Neville Brothers is playing on the player as I type to be followed by some Steve Hackett. Anyway, When I first learned that Steve had joined the band I was blown away. A decade later I still cannot believe the union be it seeing the band in concert, on the DVD's, and all of the recordings, at least those that haven't been downloaded! Right then, I'll cut to the chase. I've listened to you and have seen you perform many times prior to Steve joining the band and have always dug your playing. But during the past decade, simply put, you have noticeably become a better player. Has Steve, not literally, pushed you with your playing? You have been able to experience his genius and devotion to his craft for many a day now. Is your practice routine any different than when you guys first met? Continued thanks for your great music and for taking this question. Bring on another Gillan-Glover project!!! All the best, Bob

Hi Bob,

Yes, I think I have changed and improved since Steve joined the band, partly because he’s such a great inspiration as a player, but he is also a very patient teacher and whenever I think I won’t be able to play some particular piece, he will guide me through it and suggest different ways of approaching it. During the last ten years or so I have felt more of a bass player than ever before.


uwe hornung on 2003-03-18:
Hi Roger,

1. Thanks for keeping the band together -I really think you have been and continue to be the catalyst since the reunion.

2. And now for another boring, train-spotting bass player question: What is it that you have been looking for over the years in your endless quest playing different basses? You've played - I'm sure I'm missing a few - Precisions, Mustangs, Rics (I know the producer in you didn't like the distortion, but man it actually was your signature sound!), T-Birds (a radical change from the Ric as if you tried to consciously de-purplelize your sound with Rainbow), Ovations, Hondos (how much did they pay you?!), Peaveys, Steinbergers (that wasn't a bass for a grown man!), even a Stingray and of course the Vigier, an excellently made and utterly dependable bass, but do it's hifi characteristics do the man justice whose bass sound walked all over Machine Head and Made in Japan and took no prisoners? I just don't find the Vigier sound as individual as it could be, very 80ish in fact, and you are - even though you continue to deny it - an individualistic bass player (if the producer side doesn't take over!).

3. And finally let's shed some light on this: Was it you after all who played on (at least) some tracks of Nazareth's Razamanaz album? The bass on that particular album sounds (and is played) different to any bass on Nazareth records before or after! Be honest, after more than three decades I'm sure the Scots won't mind the truth ... Never mind that some of those Razamanaz (the song) breaks take a bow to Speed King! Did you teach them the song?



Hi Uwe,

I don't really know what my quest was regarding bass sounds. I used to feel that the Ric and Marshall combination was too distorted but it was only when I was remixing Machine Head a few years ago that the engineer, Peter Denenberg, pointed out that bass players would kill to get that sound these days. I guess I was looking for a cleaner sound that would find some space underneath the huge sounds that Ritchie and Jon produced, instead of competing with them. As you observe, that quest has seen me playing various basses over the years, usually in an effort to find a bass that feels comfortable and natural. I've played the Vigier Excess for over twelve years now and you're correct; it is one of the most dependable basses. I will be honest - Pete Agnew played all the bass parts on Razamanaz.


Rick Goodwin on 2003-02-18:
Different kind of music altogether but what do you think of "funky" bass players - men like James Jamerson, Bernard Edwards and Marcus Miller? I'm a guitar player who has only recently started playing bass and although I've traditionally been into rock music it's these players who I find myself listening to more and more.

Hi Rick,

Fine players all. I'm not naturally drawn towards that style but I admire it immensely. I bought Louis Johnston's instructional video years ago and found it fascinating. It's hard work but rewarding if you persevere. Follow your instincts.


Kevin on 2003-02-05:

Dumb questions: given a choice, would you fret a low A on the E string (or D on A, G on D) or just play the open string?

And what do you think of five or six string basses?

And - no comment required - I've just seen Fairport Convention in Burnely and, wow, Dave Pegg really smokes!

Good luck with the new album. Purple keeps getting better. Saw you in Bradford last year and I had tears streaming down my face - just so emotional to see the best band going, going at their best. Peace.

Hi Kevin,

Where you fret really depends on what the next note is. If it is a single note I would usually play an A on the fifth fret of the E string, simply because there is more control regarding intensity and vibrato but it all depends on what the next note is.

Basses that have more than four strings I regard with suspicion. I once jammed with a rock'n'roll band in a bar and found myself making a fool of myself because I had to use a 5-string. Maybe I could get used to it over time but I am one of those for whom the E string is the anchor and every time I went for the E, a B came out – very confusing and not the most impressive jam I ever did.


Rob Maxfield on 2003-01-26:
Hey Roger,
I was watching a Documentry
on the making of Machine Head the other
night, and Jon Lord said that 2 generations
of kids in Guitar Shops have never got the
intro to Smoke On The Water right(or something like that anyway).
Did Ritchie play it with a pick or fingers?
It always sounded to me like he fingerpicked it, because you can here the 4th above the Tonic really clearly, which you
don't so much with a pick.
I've always wanted to ask that.

Hi Rob,

Most people don?t know what gives that riff its character. Yes, it is played with the fingers, RB showed me once. The first riff I ever learned was Peter Gunn, starting on the E string (actually I have no idea what key it?s in really) and most people start SOTW that way. However, it is in the key of G and the important thing is that it is two notes ? the D and the G an octave up from the low G. That?s what gives it its thickness. So you?re right. Thanks for the question.


Janis Ward on 2003-01-25:
Could I just ask, why the bass? You write lovely music and I wonder why this is your preference?
And while I've got your attention THANK YOU for the pleasure you and your many musical incarnations have given me over 30 and more years - Let's not dwell on that! 😉 and may I wish you and your family all the best for the future 🙂
an old friend, JANIS

Hi Janis,

Thank you very much for the compliment. I rarely write songs on the bass, usually acoustic or piano, unless of course it?s a jam. I started playing bass because when I was at school and a few of my chums and me were swapping tips about where your fingers had to go on the fret board, I saw The Lightnings, a school band, rehearsing Poetry In Motion (Johnny Tillotson) in the old gymnasium and suddenly I wanted desperately to be in a band. I told my pals and, as it turned out, one of them could play an ?F? chord (I couldn?t) and the other one actually had a solid body lead guitar, so I said OK then, I?ll play bass, and took the two top strings off my old Spanish guitar, screwed a pick up on it, and voila - bass player! I didn?t mind, I loved it, and grew to love it more. Thanks for the kind thoughts.


JOE MORRISSEY on 2003-01-17:

Hi Joe,

Thanks for the good words. The Rickenbacker was the only bass I used on
Machine Head, strung with Rotosound strings, I seem to remember. The bass
has a bit of a history; I bought it in New York and in an effort to save
customs duty, about ?25 or so, I had a receipt saying it cost less than it
did, which wasn?t a lot anyway, $400 or thereabouts. Ian Hansford, our
roadie at the time, brought the guitar back through British customs a day
ahead of me ? for some reason I stayed an extra 24 hours in NY. Anyway,
they smelled a rat, arrested and charged Ian and impounded the bass. When
Ian called and told me what had happened, I was armed with what seemed like
a plausible story when I came through the next day. ?Ah, Mr. Glover, would
you open all your bags please?? Putting on my best innocent face I waited
while they went through everything, even the pages of my address book. At
last I asked if I could help and the officer showed me the false receipt,
asking if I recognized it. I replied that it certainly looked like a
receipt for a bass, but added that it couldn?t be mine because the amount
was wrong (for this was my story, that the store had given me a false
receipt without my, or Ian?s, knowledge). I was ushered into a private room
where they grilled me for about two hours. I stuck to the story but my
halo was beginning to tarnish as successively tougher people came into the
room to work on me. I finally cracked when they bluffed about telephone
records (when asked, I had told them that Ian Hansford hadn?t called me in
New York to warn me that the customs had my guitar ? which of course he
had!). The end came when a senior office came into the room, sat on the
desk looking down at me and said, ?OK, Glover, what?s this bullshit?? When
I admitted at last that yes, I was trying to save $25 (even after Fireball I
didn?t have much money ? all that I earned went to pay back earlier
advances) and owned up saying, ?it?s a fair cop guv, I?ll go quietly,? and
things like that. Strangely enough, after that they were as nice as pie as
they read me my rights and formally charged me with evading customs and
excise duties. The real catch was that they had the guitar and explained
that I wouldn?t be able to get it back until after the court case, if there
was one. I told them I couldn?t wait that long, I was due to go to
Switzerland in less than two weeks to make a record and I needed the guitar.
The only option, they said, was to plead guilty, pay the fines for both Ian
Hansford and myself, and also pay an enormous sum to get the guitar back.
In all, I paid more than double the price for that guitar. It is only
fitting then, that soon afterwards I went to Montreux with DP and recorded
our biggest selling album ever with that guitar.


Rudy Neises on 2003-01-13:
Hello Roger,
at first I have to mention that I've never seen somebody playing the bass so fantastic like you.I've seen you last year in Brunswick and in Birmingham and your solos were really great.
By luck I received last year a bass guitar and started a little bit playing it and it makes really fun.Can you give me a tip what is most important to learn playing the bass straight from the beginning?
I'm very interested also in the new CD from DP and be happy that I can see you in Berlin and London in summer 2003.
I wish you and your family health and everything else that might be needed.


Hi Rudy,

Thank you. Playing the bass guitar is all about fun. Having said that it does pay to learn the basics; knowing how chords are made up and getting the shapes right is important. Fooling around on a piano helps a lot. Bass playing starts with a few patterns and riffs – you learn to master those and soon other things suggest themselves. The real trick is to play live; you learn more in front of an audience than you ever will alone in a room. I wish you all you need as well.


David ANDRE on 2003-01-10:
Hi Roger,
I'm an old fan from Paris (I've seen Purple more than 10 times on stage and met my wife at the Paris Bercy show in 1985).
My question is : Rinus Gerritsen, bass player of the dutch band Golden Earring, the man Jimi Hendrix tried to recruit for his own band, sometimes plays with a double neck bass : one part is a Fender 62 precision bass and the other part is a Danelectro bass. There is a switch in the body for an easy shift between the top and the bottom. Won't you like to play such a guitar, and have you ever played double neck bass ?
I hope I've not been too long, wish you a happy new year and see you in Paris june the 29th.
Thank you,

Hi David,

Well, I hope you enjoyed the 29th. I did. Double-necked bass? Yes I have one, but I got it only as a curiosity. It is a Hondo. I bought a Hondo Longhorn in the early 80s because I loved the way it looked, felt and sounded - that and it was quite inexpensive, which was a factor at the time. Later on, being twice as impulsive, I bought a double-necked version – it had a four string and an eight string. It looks good, even now, but I never played it more than a few times, and never on stage because I never felt that comfortable with it. I still have somewhere in my basement. The sort of bass part that I need to play doesn’t demand that kind of switch so the bas has remained in my collection, rarely played, but a decent conversation piece once in a while. Like now.


Mac on 2003-01-06:
Hello Roger,
As a long time bassist, I must say your bass tone was huge on the last tour ( please come back to Big Flats, N.Y. ). I know gear questions are boring, but I must know what effect you use on your solos to get that mean " growl ". Also, will " Well Dressed Guitar " be on the new album? Thanks for your time, take care. Mac

Hi Mac,

Normally I don’t use effects but I indulge a little in solos. I use some EBS pedals, operated by my tech. These include compression (which I use in conjunction with some of the others), distortion, flange and octave splitting. I have yet to find anything as simple – there are all sorts of fancy boards out there that can provide loads of different effects and can be programmed and sorted and modified beyond imagination, but I find a few little boxes works best for me.
Well Dressed Guitar is not on the album. Not my choice but the record company’s


Andrey Ruzhkov on 2002-12-25:
This is the question from bass-player to bass-player.
How often you use slap while plaing in hard-rock style?

Thanks for answer!

Hi Andrey,

Hardly ever. The reason is not just that I’m not very good at it, it just doesn’t appeal to me as a component of a hard rock sound, it seems too thin somehow. However, I do like to dabble around once in a while and I’d be happy if I could improve my technique to the point where I could decide one way or the other.


Evi Ivan on 2002-11-21:
Hi Roger,
the most bassplayers play without plectron. You are one of them, why? You and Jack Bruce are my favourite bassplayers, what ist your favourite bassplayer? Did you start to record the new DP-Album? I?m so courious about yo
ur artworks and I hope I can admire it soon!!! I wish you are well, all the best to you......
in greatest admiration


Hi Evi,

I play with a plectrum because for me it is more precise, and earlier on I tried very hard to be tas together with IP as possible. Actually, I prefer the the more even and mellower sound when played with fingers, but a plectrum, or pick, gives it more attack, which is good for rock.
I don't have a favourite bass player but there are a few I admire; Jaco Pastorious because was so technically and emotionally gifted, Jack Bruce, Paul McCartney, John Entwhistle, George Porter Jnr. There are probably others that don’t come to mind right now. They know who they are!