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It is tough to sing while you play the bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Rod Barchetta, Feb 24, 2021.

  1. I have recently started singing in my band. I have to be selective about the songs I choose to sing on. The bass line rarely follows the vocal melody and marrying the two can be super challenging. I have never had a problem playing rhythm guitar and singing. One of the most talented musicians I know (who can smoke almost any instrument) says the bass is the hardest instrument to play while singing. Who out there agrees?
  2. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    It's taken some time to be comfortable singing and playing but I've gotten to the point where I can play most anything and sing. I find that I have to be able to set my hands on autopilot to sing effectively. It's like anything else, time and practice :D
  3. KJMO

    KJMO Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2015
    It is hard. Guys like Les Claypool, Geddy, Larry Graham prove it can be done, but I agree it's harder than a lot of other instruments. Probably not as hard as saxophone though. I guess Ian Anderson made elf noises in between flute blasts, so that's kind of possible too.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    Rodney Fritz likes this.
  5. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Bass parts tend to be tough to synch with singing - it's not just you.
  6. misterCRUSH

    misterCRUSH It's all jazz...it's ALL jazz... Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2015
    I can play rhythm guitar and sing all day long. Bass is really hard for me. I find that songs with a simple funk line are easiest to sing with for me. Oh, and something like the trumpet would be the hardest instrument to play while singing. (sorry I couldn't help myself). Carry on.
  7. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    Yes. Keep practicing. Been at it almost 40 years
    fleabitten, Rezdog, J R Knots and 3 others like this.
  8. Chad Michael

    Chad Michael Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2001
    Pacific Northwest USA
    Loved singing backing vox while playing, didn't take much effort.

    Lead vox? Maybe 3 per night, and it was a struggle for me.
  9. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
  10. Agreed. I started with backing vocals, but found I could actually sing better than my other bandmates, particularly the higher lines. The lead guitar player forced to become a lead singer out of necessity. I really enjoy the challenge.

    Just got Smoking Gun by Robert Cray down. That was a mind bender. I have to slow it down and synch each phrase with the "auto-pilot" bass line. I basically learn to sing to the bass line.
  11. AboutSweetSue


    Sep 29, 2018
    Hell yeah it is. Takes a lot of practice.
  12. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Always wondered:

    Learn lyrics/melody/bassline down cold ...

    Practice all 3 real slow and build up?

    Always works for me for practicing just bass.
  13. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I enjoy that every single time.

    Yes, there are ridiculously hard songs to cover on both bass and vocals.
    Loring, Garret Graves, DrMole and 3 others like this.
  14. IMO no, get the bassline down cold first. Makes it easier to put it on autopilot as much as that's possible and then its (somewhat) easier to add the vocal, especially if you're more naturally a bass player than vocalist. Easier to do if only singing backup.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
    FretFree, newwavefrank, 4dog and 3 others like this.
  15. Macca, Sting, Geddy, Lemmy & a few others make it look easy. I couldn't do it, to save my life. :(
  16. 100% agree. Bass line until it's auto-pilot, then add the vocal to it line by line. It's a grind, but it is super satisfying when it all comes together.
  17. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    When having either sing in tandem with a particular set of notes in the bassline, or attempt a vocal line that kind of goes outside of the regular time/across the bar (Sting is the master of this IMO) I just feel like something in my brain knots up and I usually mirror the vocal rhythm in the bassline, or else I nail the baseline and end up 'singing' in Pootie Tang speak/gibberish.

    Hope to be a Cold Tony at it one day.
  18. Practice makes perfect. If you keep at it, something will click at some point, and it will suddenly become much easier. It's like any other skill that requires control over two separate parts of you. You just need to keep working at it.
  19. This is good advice.
    Gearhead17, ElMon, EdO. and 1 other person like this.
  20. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! Supporting Member

    Death metal and hard rock not too challenging to sing and play.
    I limit myself to zz top and backing these days.
    dkelley and Jacobaeus like this.
  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 14, 2021

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