with Rob Kohler
Name: Rob Kohler
Bands: This World, In Flight, Three Form, Delta Quartet, Rob Kohler Trio, etc.
QRD – What was your first bass & what happened to it?
Rob – It was ‘67 Gibson EB3. My Dad owned it for a while. I took the frets off & put on a bad ass bridge. I sold it to a student, she stills plays it I believe.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from bass to effects to amplifier?
Rob – It really depends on the gig. I mostly prefer no effects. I have a Ditto Looper & TC Electronics Reverb.
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig - bass, amplifier, or effects?
Rob – The Bass
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Rob – Eden 550, Bag End 15. It sounds awesome.
QRD – Do you prefer upright or electric bass?
Rob – I’m about 60% bass guitar, 40% upright
QRD – Do you prefer to use a pick, fingers, or a bow?
Rob – Whatever the music calls for. Mostly fingers, then bow, & pick only occasionally.
QRD – How many strings do you think a bass should have?
Rob – I have a 4 string & a 5 string.
QRD – Why do you play bass instead of guitar?
Rob – I play anything with strings including guitar. The bass is in my singing range & is the best sound for me to express myself.
QRD – How is a bass different than a guitar other than being lower in pitch?
Rob – Function. It can function as the bottom, a counter melody/harmony, or melody
QRD – What’s your main bass & what are the features that make it such?
Rob – My main axe is a custom Burrows 5-string. I helped to design it. It has a Bartolini pickup wired directly to the output jack, no knobs….
QRD – What do you think of the thumb rests on some basses?
Rob – I don’t use them.
QRD – If you had a signature bass, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Rob – The Burrows is my signature model.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Rob – I like chorus/reverb/distortion….
QRD – How many basses do you own?
Rob – I have two 5 strings, a 4 string, a fretless, a solid body upright, an upright.
QRD – How & where do you store your basses?
Rob – In the cases, cool & humidity controlled
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a bass?
Rob – It depends on what I need. Mostly I want it to sound & feel amazing before I plug it in.
QRD – How much do you think a good bass should cost?
Rob – Fair market value.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your bass or just stick with what you get?
Rob – I’ve upgraded pickups, electronics, bridges, ripped off frets, etc.
QRD – Are you after one particular bass tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Rob – I am always looking for “My” sound.
QRD – What are some basses, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Rob – So many great products on the market, I don’t where to start!
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first bass that aren’t always there?
Rob – Low action, no buzzes, decent electronics.
QRD – What have been the best & worst bass related purchases you’ve made?
Rob – Best, 25th Anniversary Sting Ray, worst was having it stolen!
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & bass brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Rob – I really like Foderas, Epifani, Augilar, AccuGroove, good sounds!
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a bass?
Rob – Biddly biddly boom.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing bass?
Rob – 12 years old.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best bass playing?
Rob – Early 20s I started to figure out what I wanted to say, I keep practicing & inch along….
QRD – Do you feel bass lines should echo & emphasize guitar & drum parts or be their own distinct elements?
Rob – I like a distinctive melodic & independent bass line.
QRD – Would you rather people hear or feel your bass?
Rob – Hear it & then feel it in there dancing shoes.
QRD – Why do you think a bass fits you more so than other instruments?
Rob – I love the sound.
QRD – Do you see your bass as your ally or adversary in making music?
Rob – It’s a means to an end. The end result hopefully being music.
QRD – Who are the bassists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Rob – John Entwistle, Eberhard Weber, Jaco Pastorious, Scott Lafaro, I could go on & on.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their bass is natural or silly (e.g. naming their bass)?
Rob – I had a Gibson Ripper named Jack.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a bass & how did you do it?
Rob – I cracked the headstock on Jack. It was very cold & it fell. Got it fixed & he is still alive.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Rob – I practice the art of improvising.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play bass & how many hours would you like to?
Rob – As often as possible, I prefer to be playing gigs & then preparing for the next one.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Rob – 45, 60, 80, 105. I drop my E to a low D often. 28 for high C.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Rob – Not as often as I used to. Mostly before a tour or recording session as needed.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Rob – Never, except when I put on a new bridge & didn’t fit the saddles properly. I broke 3 strings that night
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming/bowing hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Rob – I work on both hands, I believe that a solid fretting hand technique is important for articulation & a proper picking/bowing hand is imperative for sound & groove. When your chops are together you can play what you hear in your head, hopefully.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Rob – I sometimes will do drop D tuning. I have a high C on my 5-string.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Rob – Tab can be handy for figuring out some things, but it is really important to learn how to read music. There is a lifetime of written music to check out!
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Rob – I don’t have any bad habits….
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s bass playing?
Rob – Drums, piano, guitar, upright if only bass guitar, bass guitar if only upright player, Most of the great musicians that I have come across can make music on anything.
QRD – What’s a type of bass playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Rob – I’m still working on how to play various Latin styles authentically.
QRD – What’s a bass goal you’ve never accomplished?
Rob – Still working on a lot of goals!
QRD – What’s the last bass trick you learned?
Rob – I try to play music, not tricks.
QRD – Did you ever take bass lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Rob – I’ve been lucky & have had some great teachers. I’ve learned how to think about music, how to listen… so many things. A great teacher can point you down the right path. It is up to the student to do the heavy lifting.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a bass lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a bass teacher?
Rob – I try to discern where they are as a player & then open them up to a concept or process that will best help them on their way.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Rob – Hopefully practice!
QRD – If a band has good bass work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Rob – I will admit to listening to bands because the bass player was happening.
QRD – What famous musician’s bass would you like to own & why?
Rob – Probably, one of Eberhard Weber’s instruments. Or, one of Entwistle’s… the tone!
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative bass player & why?
Rob – There are a lot of great players in the world. I’m fan of them all!
QRD – Where can people hear your best bass work?
Rob – At my gigs, I try to bring my A game, every time.
QRD – Anything else?
Rob – Thanks for listening!