As the world continues to recover from the Coronavirus, we're all finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory given the subsequent lockdown that is keeping us off of stages and confined to our homes. Luckily, there's comfort in the fact that we're all in this together, and that there are still many outlets for us musicians to keep us active and sane throughout this quarantine. We're checking in with bass players from all over the world to see what they're doing to stay entertained, healthy, productive, and safe during this trying time.

Bass Player: David Santos

Bands & Artists: Billy Joel, The Neville Brothers, John Fogerty, Toto, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Melissa Etheridge

Home: Nashville, Tennessee

David Santos Photo

How have you been passing time during the lockdown?

To be honest, I’ve been resting up quite a bit, as I’ve been jumping from tour to tour for over 30 years pretty steadily. This lockdown has given me more time to spend with my girl of 25 years, Wendy Moten, and I’ve been playing a lot of piano, as well. I’ve always wanted to become a better piano player and I’ve been using this down time to work on that. I feel that playing piano is good for my ears and my hand coordination.

What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?

I listen to different bass players, across different genres, a little bit each day because I want to continue that drive, that yearning to learn. I listen to the blues bassists, jazz bassists, country bassists, bluegrass bassists, hip hop bassists, gospel bassists, rock bassists—everything. It’s all relevant.

With Melissa Etheridge:

What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?

I always go to Ron Carter. He speaks to me. Check out the Great Jazz Trio stuff he did with Hank Jones. Milestones comes to mind: 

I also love Charles Mingus. Here’s something to check out. There’s a whole lotta information in this clip; stuff that can open up your mind and get you thinking outside the box:

And anything by Paul McCartney, and you’re good.

What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?

I’ve been using the Realist pickup by David Gage in conjunction with the Fishman Full Circle pickup on all four of my main acoustic upright basses, along with “synthetic" gut strings. I have steel strings on my Sendel Baby Bass. I’ve been playing my passive Fender Precision basses, Jazz Basses, Music Man StingRays, and my Hofners. I use DR Strings on all my electric basses. I’ve got various amps that I plug into. A Hartke Kickback is always close by. I always record through my ’60s Ampeg B-15 with an Electro-Voice RE20 mic on it, and I combine it with a direct sound via a passive DI box that John McBride from Blackbird studios gave me. It’s a magic blue metal box with some unknown stuff in it that he got from a friend at Motown. He called me at 3AM one night and told me to bring all my basses to Blackbird the next day to do a DI shootout with him. He gave me the winner. It’s warm and fat, and it works well with an amp sound. So two channels of bass go out to whomever calls me for a remote session.

With John Fogerty:

What non-music activities, books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?

I walk daily. One hour at a fast pace. Sometimes I run a little. It’s important to keep moving.

What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?

So far, I‘ve participated in a few different collaborations for MusiCares. One was featured in Rolling Stone magazine and the others will be coming out before too long. I’ll be touring with Melissa Etheridge when the world reopens.

With Toto:

What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?

First I would say to keep going, keep dreaming, and keep finding your way. We bass players are the glue. We hold it together.

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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi