Is that a plastic bass?

During my first semester of undergrad I was asked to play bass in the pit orchestra for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. I was even told there would be a bass there for me. Cool! Not having to bring my bass is a rare treat that seldom occurs.

I wasn’t expecting much – perhaps just a plywood Kay or other laminated bass.

I arrived early to rehearsal to get accustomed to the instrument and get all setup with my stool and bass gear.

“Where is the bass?”


“The bass we have for you is right over there.” The director points in the direction of the stage. One of those old stages with a plastic-like grey curtain from 1963.
I walk over and find the instrument strewn about with other musical leftovers such as tympani.
And it’s black…and some of it is shiny.

…hmmmm…. Is that plastic???

“Wait. Is this the instrument you WANT me to use?”
“Yep, it belongs to this school and they would like it to be used.”

“Isn’t it plastic?”
“Yep – made during one of the wars for durability. We got a great deal on it!”

Yeah, I’m sure they did. A Vietnam (or earlier) era bass made of only the best plastic the mid 20th century had to offer.

The strings were round wound and I couldn’t even tune the thing.
I was getting a but frustrated.
“I’m going to run back and grab my bass.” The school was only 5 minutes away so it wouldn’t take me long.

I did do the gig with my old plywood bass.

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