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Tom Lilly is a bass player who grew up in Dallas, TX and records and performs with Beth Hart. He takes pride in being a versatile player, being able to move from one style to another at the drop of a hat, but really enjoys pouring his energy into one main playing situation, as it really helps him focus on what to practice.
When not working with Beth and the band, he spends his time composing music for TV shows. "That’s an incredible opportunity that allows me to explore other instruments and styles, as needed for various sound palettes for different shows and moods. And I find that taking on the rolls of composer/producer/multi-instrumentalist is an invaluable discipline for learning about music."
What does he like about Vintage? "The tone: These basses fit in the mix really well. My Vintage Icon series Jazz Bass has such a fat tone. It’s so musically pleasing. I love it. My Reissue series 5 string sounds even and wide. Perfect. And my Reissue series Pbass is ridiculously “alive” tone-wise."
How did you get started playing bass?
I was enrolled at Booker T. Washington High School For The Performing Arts in Dallas studying jazz on the saxophone, but the first day of my senior year, we had a new, unfamiliar Jazz Director, and we didn’t have a bass player for the Jazz Combo rehearsal, and I had been messing around on bass and guitar with my friends outside of school, so I volunteered to give it a try. Well, things went very well for that first rehearsal, and the new Jazz Director recommended that I just become the permanent bassist for the combo. He said I could use the school’s Fender Jazz bass as my own, and that he would give me bass lessons. As it turned out, this new Jazz Director happened to be an accomplished bassist and an author of several electric bass technique books. That was an amazingly fortunate and transformative day, and a year of concentrated study of all things bass. Lucky me! By the time I graduated high school, I was already getting paid gigs as a bassist.
Tell us about your current gigs.
I’m so proud to still be working with Beth Hart. It’s currently my only live performance gig, and I like it that way. It’s my musical family. I used to take pride in being a versatile player, going from one style to another all the time, but lately I enjoy pouring my energy into one main playing situation, and it really helps me focus on what to practice, as well. My other gig is composing music for TV shows. That’s an incredible opportunity that allows me to explore other instruments and styles, as needed for various sound palettes for different shows and moods. And I find that taking on the rolls of composer/producer/multi-instrumentalist is an invaluable discipline for learning about music. Learning to “fake it” on other instruments, even if I suck at it, is a ton of fun, opens a lot of doors to creativity and ultimately makes me a better bassist. “I’m not a guitar player, but I play one on t.v.” haha!
How did you hear about Vintage Guitars?
From my good friend and guitarist extraordinaire, Jonny Nichols. Jon has always had some of the greatest guitar tones, so when he was extolling the virtues of Vintage Guitars, I definitely was paying attention.
What do you like most about our basses?
1. The tone: These basses fit in the mix really well. My Vintage Icon series Jazz Bass has such a fat tone. It’s so musically pleasing. I love it. My Reissue series 5 string sounds even and wide. Perfect. And my Reissue series Pbass is ridiculously “alive” tone-wise.
2. The playability: These basses set up and play as good as anything else in my arsenal. These are very solid professional quality instruments. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t be using them.
3. The price: It’s insane how affordable these high quality, classic sounding and great playing basses are.
Any advice for players just getting started?
Daily contact with your instrument is vital. Get a decent stand for your instrument, so that you can leave it sitting out in the room where you can just pick it up and play at all times. Those little 5 minute quickie practice sessions spread throughout the day can really add up to accomplishing a lot of measurable progress on your instrument. Additionally, find a regular practice routine, and prioritize ruthlessly in your life to stick to your routine. It’s more difficult to sustain this routine than most people think. Most importantly, strive to constantly surround yourself with musicians that are much better than yourself. I’ve made a career out of it and continue to do so to this day.