Bass Legend Stuart Hamm Reacts to Dave Mustaine Saying That ’Bass Isn’t a Difficult Instrument to Play’

While recently appearing on Ultimate Guitar’s “On the Record” podcast, bass guitar legend Stuart Hamm reflected on Dave Mustaine’s comments that the “bass isn’t a difficult instrument to play.” Mustaine’s statement dates back to 2008 when the Megadeth frontman appeared on TV and then shared a few negative comments about politician Mike Huckabee and his playing skills, ultimately saying:

“This is so bad, besides the bass isn’t a difficult instrument to play. It’s one step up from the kazoo isn’t it?”

Stu Hamm on bass innovation & Alex Skolnick | On The Record

The story resurfaced in the media earlier this year and Stu Hamm and his bass colleague Jeff Berlin commented on the matter through social media. In the new interview with Ultimate Guitar, Stu was asked to weigh in on the matter as well as to share his opinion on whether “bass is still an underappreciated instrument.” The bassist replied:

“Personally, I don’t care. I mean… No, I mean, personalities… There’s a reason why Dave Mustaine is a guitar player and not a bass player. Because no bass player would say that. Well, no, I rip on guitar players nonstop, so I take that back.”

“No, I think a mature bass player… If you’re playing in Megadeth, that’s what you’re going to be doing. I love Billy [Sheehan], Billy’s a good friend of mine. Billy’s one of the most incredible forces of nature, but it would have sounded awful in Van Halen, right?”

“That band needed Michael Anthony to just lay it down and the sound of his voice. And if you’ve got someone trying to sort of compete or double Eddie, then it’s gonna sound more like [David Lee Roth album] ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile,’ which is a completely different animal.”

Stuart Hamm Bass Solo

“I mean, Mustaine’s right for his music. And that’s what he wants. Not everyone can do everything. I mean, you hear like Rudy Sarzo play that old classic rock stuff and he just knows how to play it correctly, where someone with a lot of Berkelee knowledge can say, ‘Oh, that music was easy.‘ It just sounds boring and inappropriate, right? There’s an art and a skill to be able to play each style of music authentically.”

“I will say that there’s obviously the whole solo bass-playing thing has become a thing. And I think now it’s good that it’s sort of separated itself from traditional bass playing. A lot of the younger players seem to decide early, ‘Okay, I’m going to play two eighth string double neck tapping things.’ And they’re not even going to try to play ‘Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love,’ right? [Laughs] That’s a different aesthetic, musically.”

During the interview, Stu was also asked if he could remember the first bass guitar that he ever got to which he replied:

“I do remember it because I got it for Christmas in 1973. I’ve been playing upright bass for a few years and using the school’s electric bass and played music all my life, different instruments.”

Electric Bass Lesson: An Introduction to Slapping with Stu Hamm || ArtistWorks

“When I started playing bass, it was pretty apparent that I had a feel for it. So it was the only time I searched around my parents’ bedroom when they were at work to see if I was gonna get a bass and I found my Christmas present before Christmas. It was called Alvarez.”

“I think my parents bought it at a pawn shop in Champaign, Illinois. And it was a copy of a Gibson SG double cutaway, with the little horns on the side. And the funny thing was, is that the first thing I did when I got it was put a Silver Surfer sticker on the headset. So it sort of pre-shadowed my ‘Surfing With the Alien’ days [with Joe Satriani].”

“I sold that long ago to… I think the guy who was the number two bass player in the jazz band, the school band I was in, when my parents bought me my first Jazz Bass in ’74. So I don’t have either of those two basses, sadly.”

Stu Hamm | Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Richie Kotzen | Gear, Solo, Music and Life | Interview | Thomann

As of this moment, Stu Hamm is promoting his upcoming album. Titled “Hold Fast,” it’s planned to come out sometime this year and also features Testament’s Alex Skolnick on guitar. Stuart is also crowdfunding the album through Indiegogo and you can check out the campaign at this location.

Photos: Victor Peters (20131116-220657-840 Carl Verheyen Band Paradox Tilburg), Selbymay (HF2022Megadeth 2)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.