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Has anyone changed instruments in your band?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by blubass, Feb 2, 2018.


  1. blubass

    blubass

    Aug 3, 2007
    Modesto Ca
    Current: Blackstar, DR strings, Nady. Previous endorsements with: GK, Rotosound, Ernie Ball, Cleartone, EMG, Dean, Dava Picks, Rebel Straps, Dickies
    Here's the deal... I'm one of the primary writers for a new originals band. The other guitarist and drummer are thoroughly satisfied with what I'm writing and proposed the question... would I like to switch to playing guitar on a permanent basis? There is no pressure, only the opportunity. This opportunity also doesn't have anything to do with finding another guitarist or bassist regardless of my decision.

    Tonight was the first time I had ever played guitar with live drums. I enjoyed it, but I feel like I'm in my infancy as a guitarist because of how little experience I have with live playing, and how much more experienced the other guitarist is.

    This has been further complicated by a pending amplifier endorsement (too early to name the Manufacturer, but they have both bass and guitar gear that interest me)

    I'm neutral at this point, so I'm interested how any of you multi-instrumentalists have approached which roll you'll take up in a band?

    Any information, anecdotal stories or guitarist flogging comments will be helpful :bassist::thumbsup::roflmao:
     
  2. whatizitman

    whatizitman

    Sep 9, 2014
    I'm certainly not at a pro or endorsement level. But I am a multi-instrumentalist, more out of necessity and functionality than anything else. That is, I realized early on that if I wanted to record songs I wrote for demos and such, I would either have to record my bandmates, pay for other musicians and/or studio time, or do it all myself. The case usually being the latter, I had to at least learn to be comfortable with the bass beyond picking out a few roots. Fortunately, I found I absolutely love playing bass, and I'm probably better at it than I ever was on guitar. Not sure why that is.

    I play bass almost exclusively in my current band. Partly because I'm the only one who knows bass, and partly because I'm the only one who wants to play bass. It certainly makes things easier. I'm perfectly happy in that role, in this particular project. The main folks are the guitarist and I. It just so happens we "are between drummers" right now. But no biggie. That's what drum tracks are for. And not having drums certainly makes practice and shows easier. My guitarist also writes 5 songs for my 1. It's far easier for me to pick out a bassline on his songs, than to teach him a guitar part on mine.

    I started learning drums this past year. I absolutely love that, too. I finally have a place I can store and play them - something I've never had. I would be perfectly happy pushing myself to get good enough to play drums for this band. But functionally, I'm not sure it would be the right thing. Who would play bass?
     
    blubass and Torrente Cro like this.
  3. Seanto

    Seanto

    Dec 29, 2005
    USA
    I've been pressured in the past to take up further instruments with a group, but not exactly switching from bass altogether. Largely i have shown interest in adding more instruments to arrangements initially, only to come to the realization that i didn't really have enough time to practice them and do them justice while remaining a full time bass player. Eventually i just conceded.

    So point is, i think you need to have time to really practice the second instrument to be comfortable on it in a live setting. If you have the time to do that, that's great. I've just found that i really don't, and switching instruments for me would be truly moving from one primary instrument to another for long length of time if i were to do it.
     
    Eric_71, Deak and blubass like this.
  4. craigie

    craigie

    Nov 11, 2015
    calgary
    You have drum tracks? Record or Sequence the bass then.
     
  5. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Once, years ago, I switched from bass to keys when we lost our keyboardist. As long as you are confident they are not doing this to ease you out, do it if you want. They sound comfortable with your playing, despite your concerns. Do what you like better and is best for the band.
     
    blubass likes this.
  6. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I’d be inclined to ask why I was being offered the option to switch.
     
    blubass likes this.
  7. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    Guitar gear is lighter than bass gear. Half the audience probably thought your bass was a guitar when you were playing bass. Guitar strings are cheaper. You can make weird faces when you play a guitar solo.
     
    RiffwRiter likes this.
  8. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Have you been playing as a trio and want to add a guitar, or did you lose a guitar?
     
  9. blubass

    blubass

    Aug 3, 2007
    Modesto Ca
    Current: Blackstar, DR strings, Nady. Previous endorsements with: GK, Rotosound, Ernie Ball, Cleartone, EMG, Dean, Dava Picks, Rebel Straps, Dickies
    The move has nothing to do with my abilities on either instrument, but rather, possibly our hesitation to incorporate another member.

    This project is newly formed 4-piece with no gigs yet. It's myself and the drummer of my previous touring band, and a guitarist from another prominent band in the area who had filled in as a touring guitarist for us in the past. I didn't mention the vocalist as she has no opinion in the matter and can't play an instrument (her words).

    So far, we have 1 song that I wrote, half a song the other guitarist wrote, and about a dozen ideas.

    We spit balled several ideas. Towards the end of that touring band, they pre-recorded bass tracks and everyone played to a click.
    They said never once did someone question where the bassist was. We all agreed that was an option.

    Another option was to pick up a touring guitarist or bassist to fill in on an as needed basis.

    The last option was to actually add guitar or bass, and keys were also thrown in as an option.

    I think the idea is (it was hinted at but not directly discussed yet), that members for an original band that share the same vision, discipline, dedication, and availability are hard to find. We've all been down that road with a BL (being the drummer) who made the decisions and members either towed the line or got the boot. He (drummer) doesn't want this to be a BL situation, just democratic in nature. Adding a member to the fold complicates matters for the reasons noted above.

    Our old band also suffered numerous line-up changes by adding permanent members who were good at saying what we wanted to hear, then flipping 180 on direction and vision throughout their tenure.

    They are 100% supportive of me in any decision I make, and they know ultimately I will choose what's best for both the band and myself.

    Along the lines of gear, I have plenty of bass gear, but nothing that fits the nature, style or tone of this band (my words, the others don't have an opinion). As such, I'd be replacing that stuff so I'm essentially without gear for either instrument.
     
  10. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Well if that’s the case, a new bass player is certainly gonna be far less likely to rock the boat or try to engineer a change in creative direction than a new guitarist might. Bass players are sticklers for things like timing. They’re less the type of bandmember who may eventually try to stage a coup d’etat.

    So if that’s the unspoken concern, it makes sense to recruit a new bassist rather than introduce a new guitarist into the band as long as you are willing to take on the role of being the second guitar.
     
    blubass likes this.
  11. blubass

    blubass

    Aug 3, 2007
    Modesto Ca
    Current: Blackstar, DR strings, Nady. Previous endorsements with: GK, Rotosound, Ernie Ball, Cleartone, EMG, Dean, Dava Picks, Rebel Straps, Dickies
    Great point!
     
  12. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    One other thing to consider. And if it doesn’t apply to you feel free to ignore it because it’s just my own opinion.

    Based on what I’ve seen over the years, while many people (even guitarists ;)) enjoy playing bass, they don’t necessarily want to be the bass player in their band. Because let’s face it, it’s an often frustrating and thankless task with little chance of recognition for your contributions outside the circle of musicians that actually care about the bass role. And even there it’s only when you’re not cutting it that you become visible even then.

    So you’ve got nearly infinite downside and little (if any) upside being a bassist 95% of the time. It’s only in your absence that what you bring to the party becomes obvious to everyone. But when you’re there it’s mostly just taken as a given and promptly put out of mind.

    The bulk of any satisfaction you’re likely to get from playing bass will come purely from inside yourself. That’s just the nature of the bass player’s role. Almost Zen-like in a way.

    So…anytime anybody asks “Should I stay on bass - or should I try playing something else?” I always recommend they at least give the other option a try. Because, if you’re genuinely considering the possibility of going in a different musical direction, you’re probably not going to be as happy remaining a bass player long term. Somebody who’s decided bass (or any other instrument for that matter) truly is their instrument isn’t going to be asking that sort of question.

    Or so my experience talking to many players over the years has shown me.

    With all the other cool roles to have and different instruments to play, it makes little sense (to me) to take on something as thankess as being a bass player unless your head and heart are really into it. Especially since you can always play some bass anytime you get the urge without assuming the role full time.

    So: When in doubt - look about.

    Something to think about. :thumbsup:
     
    blubass likes this.
  13. blubass

    blubass

    Aug 3, 2007
    Modesto Ca
    Current: Blackstar, DR strings, Nady. Previous endorsements with: GK, Rotosound, Ernie Ball, Cleartone, EMG, Dean, Dava Picks, Rebel Straps, Dickies
    That's absolutely something to take into consideration. I whole-heartedly consider myself a bassist. I've always been happy and content playing the most mundane bass roll because for me it's easy to focus on another aspect of the music if my part is too easy or doesn't call for a more prominent roll.

    Unfortunately that is not the case in my area, where most guitarists will quickly shift to bass for another band if they think the opportunity is more lucrative than where they currently are.

    I also wonder how much I'd clash with a bassist if I switch. I take the roll seriously and want what's best for the song, not the individual.

    I appreciate the response, it gives me a lot to think about that I didn't necessarily consider beforehand! :thumbsup::bassist:
     
  14. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Philadelphia
    Am I right that if you move to guitar, the current guitarist would play bass? If so, maybe you could play guitar on songs you write, and he plays on the ones he writes. That might work if the tracks can be grouped so you're only switching once or twice in a set.

    I have switched between instruments in a cover band, and it worked fine. I played bass on some, lead guitar on others, and did lead vocals on several. (I was completely off stage for a few.) We simply clustered the songs, so most of my guitar tracks were played in a sequence. We didn't bother grouping songs by lead vocalist, because those switches were easier to manage.

    My last band was an originals band, and before our demise we were planning to add some covers to broaden our appeal. I would have played guitar on some of those, with our songwriter/vocalist moving to bass. I would have simply used his guitar amp, and I think it would have been easy to manage. (We couldn't have shared instruments, because he played lefty.)

    I've never been a songwriter in a band, but I do write some music, almost always on guitar. If a band ever played those tracks, I'd probably prefer to play them on guitar even though I'm a better bassist. For some reason, when I write a track on guitar I have trouble coming up with bass parts I like. No clue why.
     
    ThudThudThud and blubass like this.
  15. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    You are going to have to be able to play the tunes live, and if you had to have backing tracks (something I don't like in these situations, it would be easier to add a rhythm guitar or keys than bass.
     
    blubass and Bassbeater like this.
  16. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    Maybe learn to play both instrument's parts and then settle into one instrument based on what members you can find to join later. Seems like since more people play guitar than bass it would be easier to find a guitar player. If you make chord charts it shouldn't be too hard to find someone to play rhythm guitar.
     
    blubass likes this.
  17. blubass

    blubass

    Aug 3, 2007
    Modesto Ca
    Current: Blackstar, DR strings, Nady. Previous endorsements with: GK, Rotosound, Ernie Ball, Cleartone, EMG, Dean, Dava Picks, Rebel Straps, Dickies
    No, the guitarist would stay on guitar. Sorry for the confusion.

    And yes, when I write guitar parts, I have slightly more trouble writing bass parts, but for myself that has much more to do with then becoming the sole writer for all the instrumental parts as I coincide programming drums with guitar, even if the drummer completely changes what I initially write.
     
  18. blubass

    blubass

    Aug 3, 2007
    Modesto Ca
    Current: Blackstar, DR strings, Nady. Previous endorsements with: GK, Rotosound, Ernie Ball, Cleartone, EMG, Dean, Dava Picks, Rebel Straps, Dickies
    You all bring up some fantastic points which is exactly what I'm looking for to help in my consideration. I greatly appreciate you guys' time and effort helping me thus far.
     
  19. One of our guitarists used to be our drummer.
     
    blubass likes this.
  20. blubass

    blubass

    Aug 3, 2007
    Modesto Ca
    Current: Blackstar, DR strings, Nady. Previous endorsements with: GK, Rotosound, Ernie Ball, Cleartone, EMG, Dean, Dava Picks, Rebel Straps, Dickies
    Why did he switch if you don't mind my asking?
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Apr 11, 2021

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