2024 has already seen a number of bass players break out from seemingly nowhere as key ‘ones to watch’ in the UK, and with an effortless command of a 6-string MTD and a rather worn-looking “old-school Fender copy”, Dave Edwards is making his first tentative steps towards wider recognition as one of the brightest young players on these shores. “This year has already got off to a great start with my first ever solo bass tour,” Edwards told BP. “I'm also going to be touring with August Charles and Rosie Frater-Taylor.”
Precision-style bass guitars – that is, instruments that take their style and tone cues from Fender's iconic P-Bass – is an area of the bass market which continues to grow at an exceptional rate. Yet despite their ‘spin-off’ status, these particular instruments are not simply down-market beginner’s axes. Just ask Edwards. “Don't let the price tag fool you – cheap instruments can be amazing! And expensive ones can be totally wrong for you. If you pick something up and it feels intuitive or it gives you a good feeling, then that's really all there is to it.”
Edwards hasn’t followed the typical career path tread by most purveyors of the bass guitar. Instead, he has chosen to explore plenty of musical tangents that have seen him dabble with different genres, and a number of different basses. “I play a 6-string MTD Kingston Z, which is the more affordable MTD line, and an old-school Fender copy, which is a 1977 Aria Pro-II Precise Bass. I bought it because it was cheap, and I liked how Aria copied the font that Fender use.”
Asked which bass players influenced him, he tells us: “I’ve been inspired by Janek Gwizdala and Rich Brown, who both have such a creative approach and sound. Some of the current Brazilian players are amazing too. Michael Pipoquinha and Felipe Moreno both spring to mind. Of course, there's Rob Mullarkey, who is a much adored component of the London scene.”
During his recent UK solo tour, Edwards checked in with Bass Player to talk about his journey so far.
What was the first bassline you ever learned?
“I’m not sure I can remember that far back! My Dad’s a musician, so it could have been something he showed me. I also have this memory of having one of those Best Rock Song Playalong books and learning You Really Got Me by The Kinks, which felt like a revelation at the time.”
Is there a bassline you wish you’d written?
“I would say Tony Levin's bassline on Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel. It’s just the perfect bass part. It’s expressive and colourful, but still so groovy. It's the first thing I want to play whenever I pick up a fretless bass.”
What would you play if you wanted to impress someone?
“I don't think I'm a particularly impressive bass player in that sense. I can't play any of those insane gospel licks, and I can't sit down with a bass and slap it to hell. The only time people tend to notice my playing is when I play a nice melody or a chord. I guess people don’t expect to hear that on a bass guitar.”
Do you play with fingers or a pick?
“A bit of both depending on what's needed. I've definitely done more work on my fingerstyle playing. My approach is similar to that of a classical guitarist where I'll use every digit from my thumb to my ring finger.”
How often do you experiment with effects pedals?
“I use them a lot when I play solo. I have a reverb by MXR, a looper, and a Darkglass overdrive for adding some grit to my lead tones. A lot of my effects I now get from a Line 6 HX Stomp. I love its portability, and you can pull up any effect you can think of. That said, I've had all sorts of whacky stompboxes over the years, from amazing pedal makers like Meris, Hologram and Iron Ether.
“Most of those pedals I've got rid of, as they've been too hard to program; either too deep in terms of the digital menu, or too analog, which means they're not practical when it comes to finding and storing sounds. The only one that has stuck for me, which I still take great inspiration from, is a delay pedal from Montreal Assembly called the Count to 5, which rocks.”
Are you happiest onstage or in the studio?
“Onstage. I love the instant feedback you get from the audience, and being able to adapt the music to fit the mood of the moment. I’m a real novice in the studio. I did enjoy a recent recording session with August Charles. His new single is called In My Head. It's a very fun bassline to play.”
Do you like technique guys? Were you ever in awe of someone like Victor Wooten or Billy Sheehan?
“I would say that several players have influenced me with their distinctive techniques. John Patitucci and Janek Gwizdala both pluck hard, with a high-action, and that creates a beautiful sound. I love the hexatonic shapes and patterns that Evan Marien uses to navigate the fingerboard, and the way that Rich Brown uses hammer-ons & pull-offs to make his articulation more dynamic. I've also been inspired by guitarist Tosin Abasi to try and develop a thump style of playing. I love the way he uses it to create rhythmic percussive parts.”
Have you ever been into Level 42?
“I’ve never really listened to Level 42, but I did spend some time trying to learn Mark King's slap-style. I had this morning routine during the pandemic where I would bounce my thumb off the strings in a repetitive rhythm. It became a bit of a stamina test. The longest I lasted was four minutes, so I'd be lucky to get through the first song of a Level 42 show!”
Do you listen to players like Flea?
“I don’t really listen to Flea, although he inspires me as an open-minded musician. Apparently, I was stood next to him at a Jazz Café concert once. My friend only decided to let me know afterwards!”
For dates and release news, follow Dave Edwards on Instagram.