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Bassist stage placement?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Dexterzol, Aug 14, 2019.

  1. Dexterzol


    Apr 11, 2019
    So this has been bugging me for a bit. I'm 18, and have only been in one band, at least as a bassist, and I'm wondering about stage placement. You always see these bands, singer in the middle, drummer in the middle back, guitarist and bassist on either side of the amplifiers.

    The thing that's been on my mind however is if those are some sort of rules or just an inaccurate portrayal, just something a few bands do sometimes, because our first gig.

    I was front and center on the stage. I'm not the singer, I shared a few words with the audience, but it's a 4 piece type band, it's not my band, the singer/guitarists stood by the sides of the stage, and I was right there in the middle.

    Is this a normal thing? I was just told where to go. It's not some genre thing either. It's the kind of band where everybody gets their piece, but it's an equal partnership.

    Maybe I'm overthinking it, but is it normal to put a non-singing, barely talking bassist in the lead singer's spot on stage, or is that just some dumb non-rule?
    zon6c-f likes this.
  2. Dexterzol


    Apr 11, 2019
    Also, just to add, I'm not complaining ;) I'm a bit of jackass, got some ego on me. Just strikes me as odd that the engineer, who owns the damn place put me in front. Anyway, what's your take on this, and what's your preferred spot on stage :)
    JC Nelson likes this.
  3. GrapeBass


    Jun 10, 2004
    Graphic designer: Yorkville Sound
    It's honestly up to personal preference and convenience.

    My 'personal' space is typically stage right (to the right of the drummer) like many of the bands in the 60s, think 'The Who.' I also find it easier to keep an eye on everyone on stage from that stance. Again, what ever is more comfortable and which ever is easier to keep an eye on the whole stage, you wouldn't want to face away.
    Kickdrum, SteveC, iiipopes and 4 others like this.
  4. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Well, for my bands it's almost always a consideration of how much space we have. I'm quite flexible where I stand, so I get put wherever they need me to. We often play in pretty cramped areas, just like the last gig we had, which was a wedding, and I got put in the darkest corner of the stage. Just how I like it.
  5. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    *shrug* doesn't matter one bit. Whatever works for you guys.
    I usually find myself stage left of the drummer, but have also been front and center before.
    kesslari likes this.
  6. akrachanko

    akrachanko Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    Western Pennsylvania
    It's all preference, whether personal, or band. If they want you up front, then they want you up front! I personally like to be as close to the drummer as possible, since together, we're the powerhouse of the band, but that's just me.
  7. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I prefer stage right so I can keep an eye on the guitar player's left hand. But, I'm okay with wherever.
  8. BBQV


    Feb 13, 2010
    Uppsala, Sweden
    I seem to end up stage right most of the time, even though some of my more experienced bass playing friends tell me it's wrong... :)
  9. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    Same reason why I go left of the drummer, so he can see my hands better.
    bhendrix, SoCal80s and akrachanko like this.
  10. Pulverizor


    Jun 14, 2018
    New Zealand
    Just means you're the best looking!
  11. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I've been everywhere on stage except behind the drums. My personal preference? Gimme a spot in front of the stage for my mic. But understand that while I'm not singing I'll be hanging back with my drummer.
  12. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Moving the singer away from the drummer isn't conventional, but it might be reasonable.

    In one of my current bands, the female lead singer is staged to be the center of attention. But although she sounds like a belter when recorded or through FOH, her unamplified voice is not actually loud. And the drummer in that band is a former touring pro who plays with a lot of stage charisma and sings great harmonies, but he's a fairly hard-hitting drummer.

    Given that set of strengths and limitations, we have the drummer stage left, singing over his hi-hats to the room, which not only makes him more visible but also reduces the amount of drum bleed into the singer's mic. Double win.
  13. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    no rules, really, but there is some 'tradition' involved depending on the type of music/genre. e.g., i've generally preferred the hi-hat side of the drummer when playing swing or bebop jazz because it lets me connect better with the snare/hi-hat/kick. watching the 'physicality' of a good drummer gives the bassist boatloads of spontaneous information during the playdown. in some funk and rock bands, especially if it's loud: it matters less.

    quiet drums played with 'finesse' = hi-hat side, close to drums
    loud drums played with 'muscle' = anywhere with a line-of-sight to drummer

    the above assumes that the drummer is musical and not just a wannabe with a set of drums. if the drummer is a poser = wear green spandex and stand wherever you want for the best view of the bar/chicks/bouncers/etc. :laugh:
  14. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    I prefer stage left. The side with the hi-hat. It also helps that my lead guitarist is a lefty. I think it looks nice that our headstocks aim away from the singer.
  15. High - hat side of the drummer. Yes, I've worked with lefties. Just my preference...
  16. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    There was a good thread on this recently. Me, when playing bass, I prefer hi-hat side of drummer. Also lets my whip around the neck of the bass without hitting anyone!

    When I'm playing pedal steel, I'm on the other side.
  17. GBBSbassist

    GBBSbassist I actually play more guitar... Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2010
    It doesn't make a difference. It's all about preference. It's such a minor thing, but sometimes it's a neat thing to see at a live show when a band breaks the norm.

    In some bands, the drummer does most of the lead vocals.

    Jebberz and dirtychinchilla like this.
  18. InhumanResource


    Dec 28, 2012
    No rules but I don't often see the particular arrangement you describe. Nothing wrong with it, maybe you're something of a spectacle to look at!
    Michigander likes this.
  19. Wood and Wire

    Wood and Wire

    Jul 15, 2017
    Nobody puts Bassy in the corner!
  20. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    No rules. I've found that I kinda get "what's left over" after everyone else has claimed territory. My preference I to have the drummer (and rest of the band) on my left (fretting hand) because that maximizes my visual site lines. But even having been in only 2 gigging bands and less than 20 gigs, I've been every where: left, right, center and all points in between. In my previous band, we finally got a somewhat standard setup after about ten gigs and I've only done one gig with my current band, so hoping to start locking down "my space" as we go along. Sometimes there's just not a choice. If you like the spot light, work for a front of stage location.

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