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Issues with singing and playing bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by DoggBisket, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. DoggBisket


    May 3, 2009
    I've read the many threads that have to do with this, but none of them addresses th third element involved and that is singing, playing, AND locking in with the drummer. IMHO that adds a third thing one must do in order to be tight.

    With enough practice it is possible to play and sing, but how do you get the point where you can do those two and be tight with the drummer as well?
  2. TypicalBassist


    Aug 7, 2012
    Practice? Ive seen a band with a singing drummer, so perhaps bass playing and singing is easier? Im not sure, I don't sing. My voice is too deep. :S Maybe just keep at it and it will come eventually.
  3. tdoody


    Sep 5, 2008
    i have done both for years.. jump in, rehearse don't be afraid to make mistakes. repetition is the key
    you will get to the point when you are on auto pilot, and everything just comes out.
  4. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I'd say that if you have to think too much about locking with a drummer then either the drummer isn't happening or you should spend more time with a metronome. So the locking part, to me, should be instinctive or automatic - you shouldn't need to "concentrate" on that part of the musical interaction. As for singing and playing, depending on what your parts are it can be very difficult. The first thing, for me, is to memorize the bass part so that I don't have to think too much about what my fingers are doing. Then it's a matter of memorizing the vocal parts. This can be more challenging than a lot of people realize, especially if you're having to memorize a particular harmony. Part of it is vocal muscle memory and that takes time. You don't want to have to be figuring out your note before you sing it during the song - you want to be able to open your mouth and be confident that the right note will come out. I've had band leaders expect to just gloss over backup parts during rehearsal and expect that the parts will then be there during a live performance but that's not giving the backups the attention they deserve. It takes time and focus. I would recommend some vocal lessons too, as that should help you improve your confidence with singing.
  5. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Most singer/bass players I have met could already sing before picking up a bass and they all say the same thing, it's about being proficient in one so it does not interfere with the learning of the other.

    You learn one then add the next, then add the next etc.
    Do not try to learn all at the same time. If you can sing, then learn the vocal part, once you have it down you then learn and add the bass...or visa versa. By being able to do one as the subconscious act it does not interfere with the conscious act.
    As we know and understand it, the human brain can only preform one learned task at a time, the other tasks are sub-conscious actions that we have learned but now are so internalised we do not give them much thought, they are now automatic.

    So it depends not on which one you are better at, but which one you have internalised, and that one for most is singing. They were singing as children, singing when growing up, so when they took up bass, they already could sing, so adding bass was the conscious act and singing never got in the way.
    Timing was sometimes an issue as they would sing phrasings on the bass or follow the timing of the drum.

    Two good examples to learn are, Stand By Me, by Ben E King.
    Fever, by Peggy Lee.

    Both have slight nuances between the bass and vocal, so are a good test or bench mark of playing and singing to see how good you are.
    In the end the more you do it the easier it becomes.
  6. Shooter McGavin

    Shooter McGavin Dam you people. This is golf. Not a rock concert..

    Jun 18, 2004
    I'm the lead singer of my band. Up until a few years ago, I hardly sang at all let alone lead. It's all about practice, practice, practice. Practice your singing by itself. Practice your playing by itself. Know the song inside and out. I agree that prior proficiency in playing helps. I didn't start leading the band until I was over 40 and had been playing for over 30. But years later, my approach to a new song is totally different. You will evolve as well, too. Good luck, man!!!
  7. Bert Slide

    Bert Slide

    May 16, 2012
    Louisville KY
    I find some songs much easier to sing and play that others. If the bassline is simply root stuff or follows the melody I find it no prob but if the bassline is more complicated it's tough. My guitar player handles most of the vocals in my current band and has the same issues with some tunes as well. We wanted to do a RHCP tune but we have found the ones we really want to do to be too difficult for either of us to handle the vocal and hold down our guitar or bass parts. We have discussed hiring a lead singer to broaden our range of doable tunes but have so far decided it's not worth dealing with LSD and paying another member. Dude would have to have insane vocal talent and the stage presence of Mick Jagger or Iggy Pop for me to ever deal with a lead singer ego again!
  8. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    It's not a "third element". Falls under the category of "playing"... :eyebrow:


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