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Rana Ross


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More than just another pretty face!


In the world of business and, for that matter, in the world in general, if you are thin and beautiful, the world is your oyster. You are more apt to be paid more, more apt to be hired or promoted quicker and you often are thought of as more intelligent and more interesting. People often roll out the red carpet as you saunter through life.

In the world of Rock and Roll, however, particularly if you are a woman, things can be completely reversed. If you are beautiful, an attractive package, the level of skill in your craft is not taken as seriously, nor do you find the opportunities that necessarily reflect your needs as a musician and as a person.    

Most people can’t and won’t take you seriously. It doesn’t matter one whit that you have worked as hard, if not harder, than your male counterparts. 

This bias against women in musical groups tends to relegate women to the role of vocalist or backing vocalist. Rarely do females, regardless of their maturity, their intelligence, or their musical skill, find themselves in the position of guitar player, drummer and even more so, bassist.

There are rare exceptions, female players who are taken seriously for their skill first and foremost. Musicians such as Tina Weymouth, bassist for The Tom Tom Club and previously The Talking Heads. However, you can count the success stories for women in the role of bass player quite literally on the fingers of one hand.  

So what happens when that prejudice, that limitation built upon gender, is confronted by the likes of individuals like Rana Ross?


Rana is a careful balance of tough and tender. Her speaking voice has the rough edges of someone who has spent their life belting out vocals in smoke filled bars. But that edginess is undercut by her innate intelligence and her sensitivity. This is not a piece of trailer trash you’re talking to. That platinum blonde head is full of attitude AND aptitude. She knows what she likes, what she wants, what she expects from you and more importantly, from herself, and she is prepared to do ‘the necessary’ to get it. 

In Rana’s case however we are not talking about backroom antics, catty behavior or by back stabbing allies and friends to get to her goal. For this lady, we are talking focused hard work, with years of working her bass guitar to the point where she is finally being taken very seriously by her male counterparts. 

She may be ‘perty’ but she sure knows her stuff!

Now like any warm blooded heterosexual girl, she loves the boys, but her career comes first these days. Recently she told us that she has taken great pride at being taken seriously as a musician first and foremost.  

Her recent successes have allowed her to find an acceptance in her field that she has fought very hard for. She knew that things were starting to break when she was invited to be part of a recent issue of Bassics Magazine. Finally she knew that she was being welcomed into the hallowed and male dominated halls of what she calls, The Boys Club.  

Rana: I see myself as part of the Boys Club and after making it onto the cover of Bassics to me, I knew I was finally in.. I started getting e-mails from Billy Sheehan saying “Hey, congratulations!” I’ve broken through the glass ceiling! Is this really happening, yeah it is!  

She also realized she was being taken seriously because she had been approached by many companies and asked to endorse their equipment, a sure sign you are making waves.  

GB:  Now you are actively involved in this series of endorsements, including 9 years with Hohner. Please tell us a bit about that. 

Rana: Nine years with Hohner and people ask me, “Why”. I need to be really honest about this. There are a lot of basses out there that are great. I own a Fodera, I use it in the studio. I have no problems saying that. I have a Fodera medium scale 5 string that Vinnie and Joe (of Fodera of course) made for me about 8 years ago. It’s probably the most beautiful bass I have ever seen. It would probably go for about $6000 bucks. ( I did not pay that !) It’s bad ass… . It’s the kind of bass you see in the music store that is covered with ‘Do Not Touch’ signs.  

I also use the Hohner sometimes in the studio, but for me, it’s more of my stage bass. Other products I endorse are La Bella, SWR, Digitech, (I have had their stuff for years), LightWave Systems, who I just signed on as a full endorsee.

In all these things, I am very much into the whole Karma thing. I’m very much into the fact that the product has to be good enough…believe me, I’ve got my stuff hot-rodded too. Anybody that endorses any company, has their stuff hot-rodded.  

Right now I have a Hohner bass, it’s totally cool. I use the B Bass 5 and there is only one version of the 6 string, which I have. They also handle a four string acoustic bass, one of which I have. I used that once on a live radio show. The thing with Hohner and Bob Cotton, my ‘rep’ at Hohner, he is a mentor, like a Dad, he’s a really good friend. He saw something in me when I was 21 years old, 10 years ago, and it was all by accident. I was at a NAMM show, I had just moved to L.A., I didn’t even know what NAMM was, somebody invited me to a show, gave me a free pass with somebody else’s name on it, saying “Here Rana, go have some fun.”  

I walked in there and I did what every new comer does at a show like this, ‘Oooing’ and ‘Ahhing’ at all the cool stuff. This is Disneyland for a musician!  I went over to booths and I started trying out stuff. I looked up and I was starting to create crowds!

I noticed the power of what I had and I thought, “Hmm, this is really interesting…”  I was only 21 years old, Bob Cotton saw this and said to me, “Who are you?” and I said, “Nobody!”. 

So why Hohner? It’s about the company, it’s about a bass that is built just as well and is as good as any other mid priced bass. It is a great workingman’s and woman’s bass! For me, I really know that Hohner is about service. One time I told Bob Cotton that I wanted to give a bass away after every show during a tour I was on. He backed me up! That’s remarkable and that’s why I stay with this company.  

I also use a Budda effects pedal. Budda is a new company, they have only been showing at NAMM for about two years. I use an effect called a Phatt Bass pedal, an analog stomp box. It is by far, and I have been searching a long time, the best distortion pedal that I have ever seen made specifically for bass guitar. I love it, it’s my secret weapon in my musical arsenal.  

Aguilar is the newest one that I endorse. I’ve got their preamp which I had put into my Hohner Prototype.   

GB:  With the wider necks of most 5 and 6 strings, do you find them hard to work with yourself? 

Rana:  My hands are small. I was able to get the formula of what would make up a flatter neck like some 6 strings have, but incorporate that into a 5 string. By making the radius a little different and putting thinner frets on it. I took my bass to my luthier and sat down with him for about 3 hours. He had these tools that would take the radius at Fret 3, Fret 5, Fret 7, Fret 12…We got it down.  

GB:  You’ve put a lot of thought into this. 

Rana:  I am a Tech Head. I love it and to tell the truth, maybe I am a little bit flaky when it comes to things like the dreaded VCR, but I can program all my music equipment. There are certain songs that demand certain sounds, and when I hear them in my head, I need to be able to find those sounds in my gear, and I can.  

GB:  The Glass Ceiling, that limits the growth and advancement of women in many working environments, is alive and well in Rock and Roll. How do you handle it and does it affect you still.  

Rana:  It used to, up until a couple of years ago. When I told someone that I was a bass player, the first thing they would say is, “Let me see your hands”, and feel my fingertips to see how callused they were. I got that a lot and I did not like it. But now I have a lot more respect, I am given a whole new level of respect.  

GB:  Do you look to music as your sole source of income and have you ever been tempted by the lure of joining an established touring band to make a regular paycheck?

Rana:  Sure it would be awesome to come home with a cheque for $20,000 cash after a couple of months work on tour. But I am not looking for some short-term rewards, I’m looking out for my lifetime. I definitely see doing some film scores in the future and more studio work. 

GB:    You spoke earlier of Karma, so you operate in the belief that you get what you give, that it all comes around?

Rana:  I strongly believe you get what you give. If you want to live a good life you have to act accordingly.

Until very recently, Rana was a partner and a member in a musical venture that was catching a lot of peoples ears, a 4-piece band called Sinboy. They had been working on a series of songs for a Demo and their CD was what she had sent our offices before the interview. After 3 years with the band, Sinboy is on currently on hiatus, but at the time of this interview she was still with the band.

She has her own compilation CD with 15 tunes, including the 5 recorded with Sinboy, but the other songs are, as she says. Completely different things. Heavy duty funk, a song that’s almost Country,  Aerosmith-type rock, to show my diversity” Recently at the summer NAMM show she handed out many of these CDs and signed tons of posters. She designed this CD to be given also to manufacturers and other people in the industry.

When we asked her is she was getting any radio play with the CD, she laughed and said, “L.A. local radio sucks as far as rock radio. There’s one giant alternative station and that’s actually the station would get airplay on. But, they are so entrenched in corporate stuff that there’s no way that any local band would be able to get airplay.”  Sound familiar folks? 

GB:  If it isn’t safe, if they can’t sell ads around the music, it won’t get airplay. It’s easy to forget that music radio is in the business of advertising, not music.  

Rana: Yeah, and that’s supposed to be our ‘Alt’ station. The chance taker.  

Recently she decided to take a hiatus from Sinboy, her band of the past 3 years. She says she has decided to take this opportunity to tart her solo effort. She says, With all the notoriety that I’ve been given this year, I though it would be foolish NOT to set out on a solo thing. The cool thing is that I know so many people that want to work with me, that I could call in for my sessions.” (Editor: In recording her solo work)


She says things are moving very quickly now. “Lots of my lyrics are already written. I’m waiting for my workstation to arrive from Peavey, and once I get that keyboard, then I can start transferring all the stuff that I have in my mind. I think it will end up sounding a little like a mix of Primus, NIN and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I can’t wait to do this. I’m sooooo excited!”

She also wants it known that even though she is actively working on her solo project, she is still very much the free agent. She would entertain anyone offering her a genuine opportunity that would further her career.  

She has picked up a new ad campaign with LightWave Systems, the cover story from our last issue in Global Bass (see Archives). The remarkable pickup technology has a lot of people talking. As Rana says, “Who would have every thought of infra-red to pickup vibrations? I am proud to have an alliance with a company like this who dares to be different. Currently, my Hohner is being retrofitted with a LightWave System.”  

She’s also involved in a series of ads for SWR’s Mo’ Bass in the very near future. She says, “Richard Ruse (of SWR) has come up with a smart, sexy, clever idea that I’m down with. You will all just have to wait and see when the ad comes out.” 

Rana was recently in New York for Bass Day, which she says was “awesome”. She says, “the performances were great. Gary Willis, Billy Sheehan, Will Lee, Percy Heath, Oteil, Marcus Miller…and let’s not forget all my fellow bassists and friends that I ran into” 

She is going to be a panelist at the RockGirl Convention in Seattle, where virtually every woman in the industry will be. She will be speaking n the Endorsement Panel, sharing the stag with Stephanie, the drummer from Kid Rock. She says it will be “slammin’ “     

Rana believes that the reason many women are not taken seriously in rock music is that they are not willing to do the work necessary. She knows that will raise some flack but she supports that statement by asking why it is that the truly great players are all men.  So far. 

What sets Rana apart from the belief is that she is willing and focused upon her goals. She wants to be thought of as a player first and foremost. No task is too much for her determination. 

Rana:   I love challenges. I love it when somebody says to me, “I don’t think you can do that!” That’s the worse thing you can say to me, and the best thing. Don’t doubt for a second that I am going to come back to you the next week and have it done!”.  I am the kind of person where I have to always win, always prevail. I have to win for myself. I can’t lose to myself. It’s never good enough, I am a perfectionist. It’s a blessing and a curse.

She closes by saying, “It’s really important to me that I am not seen as some cutesy girl bass player that plays with a pick. Some one that just knows how to play a couple of riffs and gets by on that. That’s not what I am about. Someday in the future, I want people to look back and say, ‘Damn, that Rana Ross…she was a really really great bass player! That chick could rock!’”

Rana is where she is because she is where she deserves to be, in a dynamic career built and maintained by skill, and intelligence, not just because the camera loves her. Balance. There’s that Karma thing again. 


You can contact Rana Ross by visiting her website:

   Read this article in Spanish as translated by Sebastian Alejandro Caffini




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