Greg Garbowsky: JoBro Bass
"I never thought it would get to this level," says Jonas Brothers bass player Greg Garbowsky. “When I used to tell people, ‘I’m playing with the Jonas Brothers,’ they’d go, ‘Who?’ Now when I go home and tell people, they don’t believe me!” At just 22, Greg is a well-seasoned pop bassist. But it didn’t happen overnight for Garbowsky and the JoBros. Before becoming a household name among millions of teens and tweens through their Disney Channel television show, the clan toured in a van, played sweaty clubs, and even got dropped from their label. Garbowsky was there from the beginning, starting with an audition on a referral from his Scotch Plains, New Jersey pastor to the Jonases’ father. Four years later, he’s played the world’s biggest stages and sat in with some serious musical heavyweights.
What was your musical background before joining the Jonas Brothers?
I asked for a bass for Christmas when I was 13, and then locked myself in my room and taught myself how to play. A big record for me was the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Californication [Warner Bros., 1999]. I made it my mission to learn every single lick Flea played on that record, and I didn’t stop until I knew it all.
I went to college for one year at Seton Hall, and then, a few weeks after my freshman year, I auditioned for the Jonas Brothers. I was 18.
Who are your bass influences?
Number one is Pino Palladino. Flea, Mike Herrera from MXPX, Stefan Lessard with Dave Matthews Band, and [original Incubus bassist] Dirk Lance are some others.
What’s it been like to play on award shows with people like Stevie Wonder?
I did “Superstition” with Stevie at the Grammys, and I was super-nervous. Looking out, I could see Robert Plant, Prince, and Paul McCartney in the audience! My life peaked at that moment—I don’t think anything else I do will be quite as cool as that.
Outside of the Jonas Brothers, what’s your dream gig?
Probably being a record producer. That’s my long-term goal.
What’s something other bassists might find interesting about you?
I’m left-handed, but I play a righty bass.
How has growing up onstage at the highest level affected your playing?
Starting out, I got used to playing in garage bands that would play songs differently every time. Then it came time to step up and be professional, where I needed to play exactly what was on the record. People would tell me flat-out if I wasn’t playing right. That’s definitely helped me grow.
HEAR HIM ON
Jonas Brothers, Lines, Vines, and Trying Times [Hollywood, 2009]; Jonas Brothers, Music From the 3D Concert Experience [Hollywood, 2009]
Basses Ernie Ball/Music Man StingRay 4- and 5-strings, Lakland Skyline Bob Glaub
Rig Palmer PDI 09 Filtered D.I., Line 6 POD X3 Pro (main model: SVT 8x10+U47+Vetta Comp+EQ+reverb+ delay); in-ear monitors
Studio Line 6 POD models, sometimes re-amped through Ampeg SVT Classic rig
Strings D’Addario XL Nickels (4- string, .045–.105; 5-string, .040–.125)