Jeff Berlin explains why playing bass is like playing kazoo

Dave Mustaine of Megadeth wins Golden God Award. Jeff Berlin performs at the Markbass booth during the NAMM Show
(Image credit: Photo by Chiaki Nozu/Getty Images & Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Yep, that was a headline we never thought we'd write. Regular readers will know that last week we looked back to the time Dave Mustaine slammed bass players live on Good Morning America. Commenting on a video of the then-Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee playing bass guitar, Mustaine said, "This is so bad, besides the bass isn't a difficult instrument to play. It's one step up from the kazoo isn't it?”

So far, so man-says-controversial-thing-on-the-internet. What happened next was the truly surprising thing: some of the world's best bass players seemed to agree with the Megadeth frontman. 

“He's right! It kind of is!” jazz fusion ace Jeff Berlin wrote under the story on the Bass Player Facebook page. “What makes things interesting are the notes that we choose to play on this kazoo.” In reply to Berlin’s comments, one follower posted: “If bass is one step up, so is pretty much every other instrument. Except jaw harp, of course.”

Berlin, for his part, replied again: “Not really! It takes a long time to learn how to produce a decent sound on a violin, brass or reed instruments before you can play a musical idea on them. Sometimes it can take a year.”

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.