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Can a bad singer be a good bass player?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Champion, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. Champion


    Jan 18, 2011
    For some reason, I just struggle to sing in tune. It actually get worse after I started playing the bass guitar for some reason (well it may not be related).

    I have heard that bad singing is related to bad hearing. Is this true? Does it mean that I cannot be a good bass player?

  2. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Yes. I know some really good guitar players who can't sing in key at all, go figure.
    Take some vocal lessons.
    A good teacher can turn you around in a few lessons.
  3. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    People have ask me not to sing. But, they do ask me to play bass and rhythm guitar.

    Two entirely different skills, and yes I'm sure lessons would help. It's a matter of priorities; the bands I'm in have plenty of vocalists - so I concentrate on what I do best - the other stuff.

    No one says you have to sing.
  4. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    There are two different things going on. First, learning to sing in tune without playing. Second, gaining the coordinated independence (drummer term) to sing and play at the same time. It's not easy, but it's not impossibly hard, either. Just takes practice.
  5. gavinspoon


    Feb 11, 2008
    Cardiff UK
    How do you know you're a bad singer?

    If you worked it out for yourself because you can hear that your singing is off pitch, then that won't stop you being a good bassist, or - with a bit of work - a good singer.

    If you think your singing sounds fine, but everybody else thinks it sounds awful then it's likely that you have issues recognising pitch. That would be a problem you'd need to overcome before you'd be good at anything musical.
  6. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    A bad singer can be good at anything except singing.
  7. Most people can't sing because they've never exercised their vocal chords, diaphram, and all the other muscles involved with singing. It has nothing to do with your ears at all. My father used to claim he was tone deaf, but he used to whistle all the time, and his pitch was immaculate. If he could whistle in perfect tune (and with a nice vibrato as well), there was obviously nothing wrong with his hearing. I know plenty of good musos who can't sing at all, usually because they've never really tried.

    I used to be the same, then I went and took voice lessons. While I don't have a good voice (too may cigarettes), I can certainly sing in tune, and I sing harmonies all the time (and really enjoy it). It's just a skill you can learn; no different than anything else.
  8. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Belfast, UK
    I've got a sh**ty ear when it comes to singing. I'm a terrible, terrible singer.

    On the other hand, I'm extremely capable of playing bass by ear with other musicians (I need a little help with recordings).
  9. bander68


    Jan 29, 2013
    When I was in music school, one of the classes we took was Theory. Part of that class was singing songs in solfege form (Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti-Do). We had to read the notes on the staff and sing the appropriate syllables, one at a time for a grade in front of the rest of the class. It always struck me (and the other band/orchestra students) as hilarious when the vocal majors (who had beautiful operatic voices) would do their tests...they sounded wonderful, but couldn't maintain their pitch center for ANYTHING! Meanwhile, the trombone and trumpet and violin and piano and clarinet majors had ugly, rough voices but were spot-on accurate with their pitches. Playing an instrument helps TREMENDOUSLY with ear-training, and as a result - with singing. All you have to do is learn to enunciate for your particular genre and your bass should help you with pitch over time.
  10. Similarly, a bad brain surgeon can be a really good plumber.
  11. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    I can sing and play rhythm guitar

    I cannot sing and play lead guitar

    I cannot sing and play bass

    I played all 3 for about 10 years before trying to sing. I never sang because my choir teacher in 6th grade told me to drop his class and take shop because I was hopeless. So i did :meh:

    Two very different things to me. When I sing and play rhythm guitar, my strumming is in line with my singing patterns and phrases. I've been told my strumming patterns are unique but fit. When I sing and play bass, my fingers want to pause with my vocal delivery, which is not what a bass line should do, at least not in every case.

    Please don't give up. You should explore getting a vocal teacher/coach. I know paying for lessons is a luxury, but if you are serious, you should. Those of us that didn't sure wish we did. My voice is wrecked now, so lessons aren't in my future. Cigarettes and other clandestine things will do a number on your voice.
  12. dtripoli


    Aug 15, 2010
    Can a bad singer be a good bass player? yes
    Can a bad bass player be a good singer? yes
    Can a good bass player be a good singer? sometimes
    Can a great bass player be a great singer? yes, but rare
  13. I completely agree. I had about 20 vocal lessons and the improvement was incredible. I don't have a great voice (same thing, too many cigarettes, etc), and there's nothing I can do about that, but I love singing harmonies, and am actually quite good at it these days. I do even sing the occasional song with my band, though it's usually when everyone is too drunk to care. ;)
  14. Beersurgeon


    Jul 16, 2010
    I'm in the same boat, I'm a good bassist, but can't sing to save my life. I'm happy to hear that others improved with taking lesson because I do enjoy singing back/harmony. I cannot sing and I speed up big time when trying to sing with playing. Does anyone suffer from both?
  15. leftiebass


    Oct 17, 2009
    Can't sing. That's why I play bass.
  16. Champion


    Jan 18, 2011
    Thanks for all the replies, it is encouraging. I can hear that I am off pitch and struggle to find the right pitch. I may take some lessons but not too worry at this stage as long as I still have hope in bass playing!
  17. Um... I guess. Maybe you need to practice alongside the bass, not playing tunes but only notes. Play an A, for instance, and hum it alongside until both the bass and your voice sound tuned. Play next note and hum. Repeat until you hum all 12 notes tuned. I would say that's it.

    Unless you're saying that not singing like an opera singer makes you a bad bass player...
  18. This.

    I love to sing, though, however poorly.

    Years ago I was walking through the office where I worked, singing something. As I passed the receptionist, she asked, "What did you do with the money?"

    "What money?" I replied.

    "The money your mothah (this was Boston) gave you for the singing lessons."
  19. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist Bassist for Michael "Epic Mic" Rowe

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I kind of see what the OP is getting at here...like if his ear is bad with singing, does that mean he has a bad ear in general?

    I'd say the answer is no. Think of it like how an athlete's body can be tuned or better suited to different sports. A soccer player, football player, and baseball player are all considered athletes and have great muscle tone but in different areas/concentrations. Your ear is for hearing and reproducing bass notes, just not singing notes. That can be changed with practice, but that's up to you, bro.
  20. I USED to sing well - on key and pitch and in time 'n all. I was in choirs, Special Men's Quartet, etc., and once I started playing bass it all went away.

    I've in the past year been recorded singing in a studio setting, a couple of Willie Nelson's songs and even while listening in one ear (via headphones) to the music and the other ear to the bass line I laid down beforehand, now-a-days I cannot find the correct pitch - urrrrghhh!

    Willie - your job is safe, at least from me!

    Playing bass ruined my pitch control somehow. I kinda miss it - kinda don't.