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3 piece VERSUS 3 piece + singer

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by ::::BASSIST::::, Apr 30, 2010.

  1. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    I am once again contemplating putting a new cover band together. This would be playing the typical bar hits... beatles, CCR, ZZ Top etc.

    I'd like to get some thoughts regarding a setup which consists of singer who is also guitarist / drums / bass VS singer / drums / guitarist / bass.... so really a 4 piece.

    Here is how I see it:

    Three Piece:

    -more money per gig
    -less schedule / personality hassles

    Four piece:

    - Likely music will be better because the guitarist can focus on playing his instrument as to doing that plus lead vocals.

    - If the singer-guitarist leaves/gets fired the band is back to square one, whereas its easier to replace either the singer or guitarist and still have more of the core of the band in place.

    - Vocals will sound better. The more people in the band who sing, the better the band sounds.

    - From my experience doing this about a year ago, things go easier if the singer plays some guitar since he has a better understanding of when to come into the verse, chorus, let the guitarist finish his solo etc.

    Anything else I am missing?

    What's the better route to go in your opinion?
  2. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    It depends on the music style entirely. If the guitarist and bassist have the ability to sing, it might be best to attempt the 3-piece option. It's preferred to me, but takes a lot more work to be solid.
  3. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    I can do *some* backup vocals, but it is not my strong point.
  4. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I'm in a 3 piece plus singer presently and I've done the tried and true "It adds value if the singer plays something too" formula.

    If you get a lead singer that only sings, they really need to be a true "front man". The singer in my band is physically attractive (so I'm told), and he's very physically active when he performs. He runs around, sings to the ladies, dances on the tables.......

    The fact that he really is an awesome vocalist is secondary IMHO.

    If it's a choice between a vocalist that stands on stage and sings real pretty, or a keyboard player that stands onstage and sings real pretty, I'd be inclined to go with the keyboard. If the singer isn't tethered down to an instrument, he should be working the crowd.
  5. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Thats just it. I think its easier to find....

    1. A really good guitarist


    2. A great singer

    But to have both of those in the same person is fairly rare.

    Personally, I'd rather have a VERY good singer who doesnt have extremely good stage presence versus a mediocre singer who dances on tables. Stage presence can always be worked on, but finding a very good singer is not so easy.
  6. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    The singer / non-player will be perceived by most people as the essence of your band. Choose wisely.
  7. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    I'm part of a 3 piece with a dedicated non instrumentalist singer. The key is the singer being a fantastic front person. If not... they might as well be playing an instrument and everyone making more money.
  8. Beginner Bass

    Beginner Bass

    Jul 8, 2009
    Round Rock, TX
    A&R, Soulless Corporation Records
    There's generally more stage presence to a singe than a singer-instrumentalist. It's typically harder to entertain through your actions when you don't have an instrument. Of course there are exceptions.
  9. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I agree with most points here:

    1) As a general rule it's easier to find a good singer and a good guitarist than to find a good singer who's also good at guitar.

    2) supposing you do find someone who's multitalented at both, it's hard to imagine that they'll also be as capable at performing both simultaneously. One will almost certainly suffer even if they can do both individually very well. I don't know too many people who can play lead guitar licks while singing.

    3) Stage presence is a lot easier to produce when you're not tied to a microphone and also simultaneously staring at your fretboard. Even if your frontman can multitask to singing and playing well, they'll also have to try and deliver on showmanship.

    4) While I agree that a dedicated singer can be the main visual focus of a band, a singer/guitarist absolutely will be the primary focus, especially in a power trio.

    4a) Expect the double role to include double control by the frontman -- they'll call the shots based on their abilities in both vox and guitar, and can therefore be much harder to veto.

    5) As noted, replacing components is easier than replacing a composite, and there's also the old saying "putting all your eggs in one basket" that comes to mind.

    There are definitely pro's to having a power trio, and I've played in more of them than any other combination, but there are definitely concessions to keep in mind.

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