Barry Bales

Barry Bales

fretlessbass Fretless Questions, Player Bios Tagged Tags:
Barry Bales playing upright bass

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Barry Bales
Barry Bales playing his Kay upright bass

Fretless Questions: Barry Bales

FB: How long have you been playing fretless bass?
Barry Bales: I started at age 16 and have been playing for 17 years.

FB: What influenced you to play fretless?
Barry Bales: I grew up in bluegrass and was always around acoustic basses – I really loved the sound.

FB: Are you self-taught or did you take lessons?
Barry Bales: Self taught.

FB: Who are your main fretless bass influences or favorite players?
Barry Bales: Roy Huskey, Jr., Todd Phillips, Larry “Dee” Sparks, Mark Hembree. Favorite – “Dee” Sparks, great “pull”, tone and feel.

FB: Do you play upright, electric, or both? Which do you prefer?
Barry Bales: All, I prefer the upright most of all.

FB: What was your very first fretless bass? Do you still own it? Have you had or played others?
Barry Bales: ’87 P-Bass. It was stolen. Favorite – my ’26 American Standard upright. I did own a late 60’s Kay and a ’43 M-1 Kay, now have a old plywood Miesel (unknown date) and the ’26 American Standard. Also own a early 90’s Azola electric upright.

FB: What types of strings and fingerboards do you prefer?
Barry Bales: On the Standard I have a gut g & d, D’Addario Helicore Orchestral heavy gauge on the A & E. Full set of Helicore mediums on the Miesel, Thomastik Dominants on the Azola.

FB: What playing styles do you use?
Barry Bales: Finger(s).

FB: What bands or projects feature you playing fretless bass?
Barry Bales: Recorded the last 12 years with my full time band Alison Krauss + Union Station. Have also recorded with Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Reba McEntire, the Chieftains, Clint Black, Vince Gill, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, as well as the soundtracks to “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” and “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”.

FB: What would you say is unique about your fretless style?
Barry Bales: I would like to think that I combine the “pull” and drive of some of my earlier influences with a more modern, thoughtful approach.

FB: Are you still actively playing fretless bass?
Barry Bales: Yes, playing live and recording regularly.

FB: Do you have any basic advice for bass players looking to take up fretless or those who are currently playing?
Barry Bales: Practice A LOT!! Develop your listening skills. Don’t just listen to the bass, listen to everything on a recording. Listen to the way all things interact. Practice with a metronome for timing. Practice with a tuner for pitch. Get out and play live where ever and however you can.

FB: Do you have websites or social media sites you would like to share?
Barry Bales:

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