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Bass and Vocals

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Tylos, Oct 4, 2009.

  1. I'm looking for any advice on playing bass and singing, players like Geddy Lee, Troy Saunders etc come to mind. Does anyone here do lead vocal, and rip it on the bass. Advice please.
  2. ...practice makes perfect...
  3. Rushlover13


    Jul 7, 2009
    Me! I do keyboards too, its not too hard. Just calm yourself, thats what I always do. :)
  4. solszew


    Oct 4, 2009
    One way to start with singing and playing is to go through the song slowly, just playing the root of the chords as they change, singing over that. Then bump up to 2 notes - root, five, root, five, etc. Work like this playing slowly, accompanying your singing with few notes at first, and work up. I also find learning the melody and being able to play it on the bass a great exercise in prep for finding the "right" notes to play, and makes it easier to sing over the top. It doesn't take long :)

    My 2 cents.
  5. Kool approach....kinda like learning a fast bassline...get it right then make it fast.:hyper:
  6. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I've read interviews with Geddy where he said he learns how to play the bass lines first, then adds vox. You might also notice, if you listen closely enough, his lines are a lot simpler when he's singing simultaneously.
  7. micximus


    Sep 30, 2009
    In a lot of older Rush songs, especially in the chorus, the bassline is just the melody 1-2 octaves down.

    Bastille Day
    Lakeside Park
  8. DeluxeRed


    Jun 2, 2009
    This has kind of been discussed before, and you'll find one of the big differences is that the bass part is expected to be on the beat (in most cases), and "soulful" vocals tend to be off the beat, as do soulful guitar and keyboard parts. So it is much easier to do a loose vocal playing guitar or keyboards than it is while playing bass or drums. Most of the bassist-vocals you hear tend to be more on-the-beat (maybe not on the album, but usually live--esp. Geddy). Most background vocals tend to be on-the-beat (to highlight the lead vocal off-the-beat), so bg's vocals are a lot easier to do, too.

    So a lot of it is song selection, and some of it is making the song your own. But don't be suprised if some songs are very difficult to do justice to both the vocal and the bass part (unless you're a really talented natural, in which case we all hate you!), simply because the bass is holding the foundation while the vocal is flitting around off the beat.

    Getting the bass part down so it is entirely muscle-memory is the first step, then work on adding the vocals.
  9. Thank you for all your help and advice, i'd better get off the forums and start practising.
  10. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
  11. i sing and play bass in a metalish, progish 3 piece. the way i do it w my band is to use practice time to write songs and get the instruments tight and then get the vox started after everything else is set in stone. i do some home recording and it really helps me out to get a good scratch track of the band live and write/record the vox later. then just practice. -joep
  12. JansenW


    Nov 14, 2005
    Cambridge, MA
  13. southernrocker

    southernrocker Banned

    Apr 4, 2009
    As said above, practice. Start out with an easy song to sing and play, such as rush's Working man. The key is to really separate mind and fingers, but once you learn how you become very valuable to a band. Keep working at it and Good Luck!
  14. Exactly. Takes time and like anomalybass said get the music down then add vocals. If you can play it without concentrating too hard on it the you can focus a little more on the vocals.
  15. kugelspot


    Jun 8, 2009
    Here's the big secret to singing and playing at the same time: There is no secret. Just practice, practice, practice. And don't do Rush. Geddy's vocal parts match his bass parts way too much for it to be very useful IMO. In fact, try to choose stuff by bands where the singer and the bassist are 2 different people. This will allow you to practice using you're vocal chords independently of you're fingers. When I started singing while playing bass, I noticed I would start matching the rhythm of the vocals to that of the bass, or sometimes vice-versa.

    Start out with stuff where both the bass and vocal parts are simple. Like punk? Start there. Then move on to stuff with a harder vocals but simple basslines. NWOBHM is good because a lot of those bands had great singers, and the bassist usually plays some simple riff, but not straight 8th notes. Gradually work your way up to more complicated bass and vocal parts, especially ones where the 2 parts are very different. Deep Purple would be good if you did the fill note for note, as would The Who.
  16. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    Start off with something easy without tons of bass..

    Some Kind of Wonderful etc.

    The biggest issue will be that most bass playing is connecting a current chart to a future chord... you're thinking and singing/playing in 2 different time frames.

    Get a small mixer and start practicing.. took me about 2 years to get it down.


  17. I always have sung lead and played bass since I started in bands some thirty five years ago. I can't add much more to the good points in the discussion so far, but to say the most difficult I remember doing was The Ocean. It took weeks of practice, but finally the playing and singing magically "separated" in my mind and it was no problem at all after that. Last night I tried Riders On The Storm and here I go again.

    I also learn a simplified bass part first, add vocals, and then go back and embellish the bass line some, though I am a minimalist in my bass playing anyway.
  18. Stradavus


    Oct 21, 2005
    This is hands down the best, most understandable explanation of why it's so hard to play bass and sing at the same time I've ever heard. Kudos.
  19. Revvv


    Oct 31, 2007
    To watch Josh Reedy (Decemberadio) and John Cooper (Skillet) play and sing live is unreal. They rock the bass with no mercy and never miss a word or time signature.

    I enjoy singing, and I can do so while playing guitar, but while playing bass singing is almost impossible. I think this thread has inspired me to practice and try more.
  20. southernrocker

    southernrocker Banned

    Apr 4, 2009

    SOME rush has matching bass and vocal parts. I would start out with the easy rush songs to get used to singing and playing in the first place.

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