Guitars with bad vocals wants to sing back ups (looking for advise)

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Highroler79, May 5, 2018.

  1. Highroler79


    Apr 24, 2013
    Hello TB, I am in a three piece band with a singer I do the backing vocals (I have in previous bands) I am not great but can do some harmonies and have the self-awareness to know when it is needed and when it is not.

    Out Guitars is a good guitarist but has terrible vocals and is insisting that he sings too, I have tried to explain that the first thing an audience hers is the vocals on if they are off people will leave the show and we will not be booked back. I have recorded our live jams and listing back he still thinks it sounds OK??

    He doesn’t take lessons, or go out and play solo and sing, is there any hope for someone like this are they doomed to shoot themselves in the foot, I don’t want to play live if it is not 100% and the sound is great.

    What would you do?
    mikewalker and Conkal like this.
  2. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    Take charge of the sound board, or have a sound guy. Give him a mic and his vox in his monitor, or even better, in-ears.

    Send no signal to FoH.
  3. Highroler79


    Apr 24, 2013
    That is what I was going to do, but I don't even want to indulge this, is it possible for a talents lead guitarist to be tone deff?
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  4. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Demonstrate to him what his part(s) should sound like. Then, if he can’t pull off the parts after some practice, you will just have to be brutally honest if you want the vocals to sound good.
    MEKer likes this.
  5. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    Maybe. Yeah, probably just say "no" and punch him in the face.
    JohnDeereJack likes this.
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    JohnDeereJack likes this.
  7. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    If the drummer and singer back you (and they do, right?), you could just make "No" happen. But convincing bandmates trumps coercing them, and it'll be hard to convince your guitarist that it's a better idea if he doesn't sing.

    Like highroler, I'm wondering what his limits are and whether some of them can be worked around. Some would-be singers struggle to hear themselves. Others haven't put in the work on interval recognition to "hear" their notes before they sing. Others get pulled onto the melody notes. Others get hit their cognitive limits trying to attend to different rhythms and harmony in their instrumental part and vocals.

    If your guitarist's vocal tone isn't terrible everywhere in his range, you might be able to find songs in which he sings a simple pedal harmony for specific lines in a bridge or a chorus. If during the typical night, he can chime in for 4 or 5 songs, that may be enough to keep everybody happy.

    Depending on his particular limits, his voice, and his ears, I might be willing to try putting him on IEMs, especially with an auto-tune box that is audible *only* in his IEM mix. That way, his wedge won't sour the stage sound or FOH, but he'll have the pitch-corrected note via his IEM mix—and it can be as loud as it needs to be to pull him on pitch. Of course, he'll need to be passably close to the right scale tone for this to work, and it's a beginner's crutch at best.

    OTOH, if he can't hear when not to sing? Then you should have a mic mute before he hits the FOH mix. Open it up for the handful of lines that you've arranged for him and that he has proven he can repeatedly hit; the rest of the night keep it muted. Or just go back to option #1: hard "no."
    nolezmaj and juancaminos like this.
  8. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Have a "vocal" practice and record it.

    Listen to it as a group.

    Show him up close and personal that he can't hit the notes and keep in tune.

    Tell him to practice on his own, take vocal lessons, and get ear training.

    Tell him when he can hit the notes and sing in tune consistently then he can sing with the group.

    Until then, yeah, no. NO.

    Just curious, how does his lead playing sound if he can't carry a tune?
    db59, SoCal80s, marmadaddy and 4 others like this.
  9. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    This seems like good advice to me.

    As an ok singer, I have worked very hard over the last few years to become a lot better. I’m still hamstrung by a limited vocal range and deep voice, but I’ve come an amazingly long way.

    The way I (we) did it was this, and you can share it with your guitarist:

    Singer taught me harmonies for certain parts of songs. I recorded them on my phone and would woodshed them. I had the harmony part for reference, the harmony and melody part together, and just the melody so I could sing along with the harmony (that one was most useful). We looped the specific part three times or so. No point in having wasted space on the recording. We worked out a handful of songs. Once I could competently sing those harmonies we added more.

    My vocalist uses a harmony pedal and that’s my cue when to add harmonies (but I often don’t).

    We also have a few songs where I’m singing lead but he’s singing harmonies too the whole way.

    This should satisfy your guitarists desire to sing and work on his harmonies. I also was willing to take direction and put in a lot of practice. If he’s not then get him out of the FOH and your monitor mixes. It’s one way or the other. Either he does a good job on a few limited things or he sings only for himself.

    I read that Robbie Robertson’s mic was accidentally left on during the last waltz instead of being muted during songs and that was one reason the re-recorded everything.
    Max Bogosity, juancaminos and Stumbo like this.
  10. Run his vocals through an auto tune box and don’t tell him.
  11. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Passive aggression (turning his mic off in FOH) doesn't solve anything. I'd tell the guy "we need a guitarist, and you're a good one, and we're happy we have you with us. But you are NOT a singer, and that is not going to be your role in this band. If that doesn't work for you, we'll find another guitarist ... one who doesn't sing, and doesn't insist he does". End of conversation.
    MEKer, mrcbass, Rich Fiscus and 4 others like this.
  12. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    Then you will lose a good guitarist. Who is going to stand for this autocratic behaviour?

    I agree though that passive aggressive behaviour won’t solve anything either. If he knows he’s being turned off FOH and the reasons why, and also in your monitor mix so it doesn’t throw you off then it’s not passive aggressive behaviour. It’s recognizing his desires, goals and effort and giving him an opportunity. Now if he doesn’t recognize that and use the opportunity then I agree with you, tell him straight up it’s never going to work with him as a singer.
  13. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Guitarists grow on trees. Easily replaced in my experience. He's had a chance to recognize his shortcomings, and didn't. Any band member who doesn't or can't put the good of the band before his own ego-driven ambition is no asset. And any band who pays a member who isn't an asset is throwing time and money down the drain.

    Uh ... isn't that exactly what I said?
    MEKer and bolophonic like this.
  14. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    If the guitarist can't sing, can't tell he's off pitch and can't take 'constructive' criticism from the rest of the group that he simply can't sing on pitch AND still insists on singing it's time for Craigslist, etc.
  15. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    No hope unless he learns to sing with the help
    of a voice teacher.
  16. You can try to rehabilitate him. Good luck with that.

    Or you and the drummer can take a stand and take away his mic while you're at it. In my band, a microphone is not a right, it is a privilege to be earned. You audition for a mic in my band, just like any other singer, and if you don't cut it, aren't offering anything of redeeming value, you don't get a mic.
    MEKer likes this.
  17. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    Record a practice session where the Guitarist is singing as well. Maybe even record the same song(s) at different rehearsals.

    Then all get together & listen back to the recording(s) critically. Be professional about it.
  18. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Record a rehearsal of a song with guitarist singing ALONE. Play back.
  19. jchrisk1

    jchrisk1 Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Northern MI
    I would record a rehearsal with only him doing backing vocals. Then listen back with the entire band, and discuss.
  20. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    I can’t believe that people are coming up with technical fixes to send a special auto-tuned dummy-mix to the guitarist’s monitors instead of just saying “your vocals are not up to the same standard as your guitar playing,” and leave it at that.
    MEKer, RustyAxe and oldrocker like this.
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