Let me start out by saying that I am not a fan of Iron Maiden, while I respect their talent and longevity - for some reason their music never rubbed off on me. So why is it that I respect their bassist Steve Harris?
It's neither the music he plays or the fact that he is a main songwriter for the band. It's also not because of how fast he can play, or his endurance to play that fast for a whole concert. If you guessed that I respected him for his sound - you'd also be wrong.
So why do I respect the man after taking away most of the very reasons he deserves respect from a bass player?
The bass he plays.
In the October 2006 issue of Bass Player Magazine's cover story I learned that Mr. Harris has used the same mid 70's Fender Precision bass for thirty years! For a guy that tours the world and is paid well (I can only assume) to play bass this is almost unheard of. Rather than get a new bass, he just gets the same old bass refinished to a different colour every few years!
I'm sure that he must own other basses - if for no other reason than as insurance against equipment breakdown or mishaps while on the road, but there is no mention of them. Regardless, I find the fact that he has found his 'voice' and stuck with it in-spite of all the gear temptations available to be admirable. So much so that I hope to one day bring my ultimate bass home and dedicate my life to it in much the same way. If the finish comes off after years of playing, perhaps I'll get my bass refinished like he does.
I respect Steve Harris for all those other reasons mentioned as well, but staying true to his favourite instrument trumps them all. Want to sound like Steve Harris? check out the Steve Harris signature bass guitar and Steve Harris signature bass guitar strings!
Honourable mention goes out to Geddy Lee of Rush. His main bass is one that he found in a pawn shop (another 70's Fender, but his is a jazz). He's been playing it since the early '90s and wore out the original neck. Rather than retire the bass, he had a new neck put on in time for the Snakes and Arrows tour.