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Cheating bass lines to sing.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by kiwlm, Nov 7, 2003.

  1. I was wondering if its common for bass player to cheat (simplify) the bass lines when they are performing on stage.

    I know of one HK band where the bass player sang half of their songs. Some of the songs have pretty nice bass lines. But during the concert, the bass lines are highly simplified when the bass player is singing the tune.

    Just wondering if any other artists (or you guys) do the same thing?
  2. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    The only time I do it, is when I have to "Oi, Oi, Oi" during TNT by AC/DC. I suck at singing and playing. I don't play the riff. I just thump the root note. It sounds... well, like AC/DC.
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Funny you should ask. Our band covers a song called "If I Were You" by a southern California group, Venice. It has a somewhat busy, highly-syncopated, but excellent bass line in it. The song has three-part vocals all the way through, and I have to sing one part. The vocal part has triplets over the bass line's dotted eighths and sixteenths. I struggled and practiced and practiced some more, until I could pull it off, thinking, "Damn! how does that guy do that?"

    The other day, I had their CD in the car and was listening to it more closely. That hoser was cutting out half the notes during the vocals. Rat bastrich.
  4. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    I really really try to keep the bassline. 95% of the time I can with a lot of practice play and sing.
  5. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    Sometimes, simple bass with vocals brings more to the song than a good bassline by itself.

    Where it gets hard is with three-piece bands where you have to both sing and whip out a busy bassline to fill the gaps, methinks.
  6. Luckily when I sing backup vocals on my band's stuff it's our own songs and frankly, I just make the bassline simpler there :)
  7. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    Hmmmmmmmm. Probably the biggest suggestion I got, was to learn the bassline until you can play it in your sleep. And to memorize the lyrics, and just mold them together afterwards.
  8. sunburstbasser


    Oct 18, 2003
    Sotos got it. Makes it way easier. I am by no means a good singer, but I can sing some Pink Floyd songs and "Under The Bridge" with almost all of the bass intact.
  9. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    Cool :D
  10. matt bass

    matt bass

    Apr 28, 2003
    Staffs, England
    The only song i can sing while playing is Under the Bridge, probably cause the bass lines seems to follow the vocals pretty well.
  11. I would really like to try backing vocals and playing live but before I go on someone keeps unplugging my mic...I wonder where I went wrong :rolleyes:
  12. I play the bass + sing in two of my bands.. I'm getting better at playing cool bass lines and singing simultaneously. it's about practice, like most other stuff. although you can't do just about anything.
  13. g4string

    g4string Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Melissa, TX
    Dont laugh, but try karoke CD's. Play them through your CD player and prictice singing to them while playing your insturment of choice. Since your using a CD player you wont get the graphics. But, you should have the lyrics memorized before you attempt to sing and play at the same time anyways. Keep using this method until you start to get the hang of it. It helps. Then if you ever have a real tricky song to learn, you can always revert back to this method if need be. That is, assuming the song you are trying to learn is sold on karoke.
  14. Singing and playing is easy...doing it tune, now that's another thing. :)

    All I can say is practice, practice, practice. Eventually, you'll be nailing it down more than clamming it up.
  15. Yes.

    And frankly on a lot of songs, there is nothing wrong with that.

    Do you see lead guitarists playing full speed through their own lyrics very often? No.

    It takes a lot of practice to be able to do both seamlessly, and if you need to drop some bridging material or go to a simpler run while you are singing, it's probably worth it - assuming you are talking about a lead vocal.

    Your vocals, if singing lead, are going to be a lot more obvious to everyone in the audience - except maybe other bass players.

    If you are talking about chorus or backup singing, you probably shouldn't sacrifice your bassline much if at all.
  16. bill7122


    Feb 23, 2003
    Albany NY area
    It's so hard to sync a complicated bass line with vocals that run different directions, unless you're Greg Lake or Chris Squire.

    Some songs are easier to sync than others, but I try to limit what I do with the bass line if push comes to shove. Most folks in the audience know the vocals, so my thought is to combine accurate vocals with a slightly simplified bass line, and it won't produce as much as a batted eye.

    I think another key is to pick tunes that you can sync, and avoid the ones that are more difficult, if not impossible. Some just are really hard to do both in.

    Also, most tunes I play are mostly Jamband/Blues in style, so that the bass lines aren't cast in concrete. That lets me sing my lead vocal songs with vocal gusto. Example: US Blues by the Dead. The verses are various walks, and Phil Lesh does 'em slightly different every night. By feeling the walkin' lines, the vocals just take on a life of their own, lettin' me cut loose vocally. The choruses have a really nice group of base lines, but they are after the words are over with in each chorus.

    Many times the backies are accents that work off the music such that they come at a time that the music is "layin' low", or a vocal part "rides with the bass line, like the backies in Crush by Dave Matthews, for example.


    :bassist: ;)
  17. no4mk1


    Feb 21, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    In my trio, I am expected to start singing backups, and it is difficult, but I am starting to get the hang of it. If I have a part that I find challenging, I will practice just that part over and over while singing the riff. Seems to help. The fact that I can't sing myself out of a paper bag has been a bit frustrating though. :rolleyes: