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Halfling™ Bass Player

Bobby Vega


Born in San Francisco, bassist Bobby Vega has significantly contributed to the city's rich musical heritage, and his resume reads like a who's who of Bay Area rock, soul, funk, and world music. He's a master of pickstyle funk, a tone connoisseur, a professor of the groove, and one of the funniest people you'll ever meet.


Mr. Vega began his professional career at age 15 with Bo Diddley, but he attained widespread attention as a 16-year-old for his distinctive picked and muted bass line on Sly Stone's I Get High On You (from Sly's 1975 album High On You). Since then, he has contributed his soulful feel and incredibly dynamic playing to a long list of world-class artists, including: Billy Preston, Booker T., Paul Butterfield, Joan Baez, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Santana, Tower of Power (filling in on 40 shows for Rocco Prestia in 2001), Etta James, Zigaboo Modeliste, Quicksilver, Messenger Service, Jefferson Starship, Babatunde Olatunji, Kitaro, Ronnie Laws, Hubert Laws, Lee Oskar, Melvin Seals and Cold Blood.


In addition to his stellar career as a sideman, Mr. Vega has been a member and co-founder of several of the Bay Area's finest all-star collaborations, including Zero, KVHW, the Avalon Allstars, and Don't Push the Clown; he continues to work with Zero/KVHW guitarist Steve Kimock in various situations. His 1997 solo album Down the Road with special guest performances by the Turtle Island String Quartet, Tower of Power drummer David Garibaldi, and legendary percussionist Airto Moreira is a showcase for his diverse compositional, harmonic, and rhythmic chops.


Mr. Vega's a world-class bass collector and a "vintage freak" of the first order, but the 1961 Fender Jazz affectionately known as the Shark Bass has been his main squeeze since 1977. The other instrument most commonly associated with him is out Bobby Vega Halfling™ Bass, an acoustic bass guitar built by luthier Tom Ribbecke. He uses Dunlop Tortex .73 picks on both.


Mr. Vega's reputation as a creative force has taken him into many other musical arenas. An accomplished composer, he has collaborated on the soundtracks for the TV documentary Vietnam: A Television History, the Francis Ford Coppola film One from the Heart, and the Sega video game Sonic The Hedgehog 3.


In 2007, he played more than 200 gigs, made in-store appearances, taught clinics, and began working as a producer. His appearance at last year's School of Bass weekend in Phoenix, Arizona was a highlight of that event, and his performance and interview with Bass Player editor-in-chief Bill Leigh is one of the most popular features in the history of bassplayer.tv (indeed, readers voted it their favorite Bass Player TV video of 2007).


Four decades and nearly 5,000 gigs after he first began playing bass, Bobby Vega continues to develop his complex and heady blend of rhythm and blues, rock, funk, technique, and tone, "laying it down" with incredible feeling and groove.


Click here to view Mr. Vega's website.


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