On stage in the rock n roll world, all eyes are on the singer or lead guitarist with very little attention paid to the rest of the band that can be the meat and potatoes of every song. At Jive Sound in Alexandria, one of the only bass guitar stores in the area, the bass player is the center of attention.
Bass guitars are sort of like the forgotten instrument in the music industry, said Jong Lee, a computer programmer, bass guitar aficionado and owner of Jive Sound. We tend to be in the background, he added, referring to his role as bass player for a local cover band Revolution and a group at his church in Fairfax. Being in the background is easy for bass players because they tend to have a supportive personality, Lee added.
Lee is supportive to bass players who come in looking for an instrument that fits well with their bodies, and looks good. Jive Sound is located in Del Ray, in a business park off Mount Vernon Avenue. The arts of Del Ray, proximity to the Birchmere and Jive Sounds reputation after two years in the business seems to work. Lee sees customers on appointment or during the weekend when the shop is open.
William Woodson, a Maryland musician who frequents Jive Sound, noted Lees expertise in the bass guitar. Hes considered the Porsche dealer of basss, said Woodson. We all hang out there, its like a meeting place, Woodson added.
Inside, there is the bass room, where musicians try out the goods, the amp room, where those looking for the right amp hang out, and the front room where the deal is made. It is the only store strictly dealing with bass guitars in the area, Lee said. Guitars there range from $800-$3,500. The walls are adorned with artwork from local artist Rob Landeck, which are for sale also. Jive Sound also does repairs.
Lee started on the bass at age 17, taking lessons in Chicago where he grew up. He started in a garage band called Feedback, playing the heavy metal greatest hits list from Metalica, Megadeath, Rush, Led Zeppelin and AC-DC. We made it from playing in our own garage to playing in someone elses, he said.
His wife Elizabeth is very supportive of his entrepreneurial spirit. If he could be a rock star, thats what he wants, she said.