Last fall, I started lessons on the upright bass, an instrument I've wanted to play since I was a third-grader (I think?) and a duo with a mandolin and bass mesmerized me with this looming instrument as tall as a person with a deep, rich thump and those weird holes on the sides. Now that I'm playing it, I love its sound just as much but have a new found respect for virtuoso bassists.
It's not a particularly smooth instrument to play. It's bulky and the strings are about three and a half feet long and heavy. The low E string is as thick as a nail, and my index fingers are now rough and callused. But when my fingers are pulling on the strings and I've got a good rhythm going, hearing those surging, thumping, woody notes reminds me of those days watching mesmerized at the man with the enormous violin.
In terms of what I want to play, it's definitely jazz. Classical, bluegrass, and rockabilly are all nice to listen to, but jazz enables the bassist to have a more varied, prominent role, not just a rhythm keeper, as crucial as that role is. Lately, I've been researching various bassists, and right now I'm working on a biography (Myself When I am Real) of the complex, intimidating, jack-of-all-trades, blustry, insecure, hellraising Charles Mingus, who thundered and composed and played his way into a leading role in the jazz of the 50s and 60s. He was a man as looming and growly as his instrument, and it's a fascinating read so far.
Lastly, a pic of my bass:
Here is your rompus room, now romp!