Sometimes a fresh look is all you need.
Conventions. Patterns. We're pretty much all creatures of habit. From the music we enjoy, to the "licks" we play when we improvise, to how we approach problem solving; we often fall back on the familiar, the tried and true... basically, that which seems obvious or comfortable.
It's only natural; cognitive scientists have studied the brain and found that our incredibly complex mind often resorts to "shortcuts" and conditioning to quicken decision-making. It's an evolutionary skill, as it's the sort of thing that can save your life; imagine walking through a forest, and out of the corner of your eye, you see a slithering movement -- and hear a light rattling sound. Chances are, you're 30 feet away before you've even had a moment to go through the thought process of, "hmmm... a slithering thing could be some kind of a snake, and that rattling sound, if it's related, that could be... aw, heck, I'm outta here!"
So certainly, habits and conventions - and learning from one's past - can be very valuable. But sometimes it pays to think outside the box. For instance, as a means for getting off a creative "plateau," many songwriting websites and books suggest changing the tuning of your instrument to something unusual; by changing the familiar layout, it forces you to overcome your habitual note patterns - and find an exciting new path.
Here's an example - check out my article on blending a mic and a pickup. In it, I talk about a new way of thinking through the process of getting a good sound.
If you have come up with a great way to approach your bass from a different angle, drop me a line.