My first time: a band tryout at age 58

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by frustum, Jan 28, 2023.

  1. frustum

    frustum Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2020
    Austin, TX, USA
    Last night I tried out for a guy putting together a cover band. I started playing bass at 20, but there was a multi-decade hiatus in there, so really I've been playing for about six years, to CDs and backing tracks. Here in Austin, TX, 99% of the craigslist "musicians wanted" posts are looking to be the next big thing. I responded to this one because it expressly said it was for fun and not fame or money, with the hope to play out once or twice a month.

    The setup was the organizer singing and playing guitar, a drummer trying out for the drummer slot, and me on bass, in a rental rehearsal room. Both were really nice guys, and the drummer's timing was rock solid -- no complaints at all there.

    Getting to the point, I had some questions.

    I was playing through my Fender Rumble 500 (10" x 2) combo amp, and because it was a small room and I didn't really think about it, I was standing pretty much right to the side of it. I could more feel the bass than hear it. Is that how it goes? Should I have been standing opposite of my amp? Turned up the bass? Or is that what happens when there are live drums? There was a PA system that the guitarist was running through but I hadn't noticed. Would that project my sound better?

    The audition consisted of three songs: Tom Petty "Honeybee", Black Crowes "Hard to Handle", and Aerosmith "Sweet Emotion". The first two were a snap to learn, and the third was just memorizing four or five riffs up to speed then learning to transition between them. I did OK but certainly could have done better. It was hard to emotionally connect to my playing since I couldn't hear myself well. Also, I should have practiced playing standing up; normally I only ever play sitting down. Lesson learned there.

    There was a time or two where the singer came in early or late -- should I have kept going with the drummer and let the guitarist/singer figure it out, or should I have tried to adjust my timing to meet the singer? I imagine in a live situation one would want to always make the singer sound good, but what about a rehearsal?

    Thanks for any feedback.
  2. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Sounds about par for the course for a hobbyist classic rock band. Enjoy the ride!

    As for hearing yourself, raise your amp off the floor or point it towards your ears or stand somewhere where you can hear it. As we say: “you don’t have ears on the back of your knees”.

    Always lock in with the drummer - let the singer figure out where the “1” is and where they need to come in. Otherwise you’re just contributing to a mess.
  3. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    The main thing that I think might help is situating your amp so that the speakers are aimed vaguely towards your ears. Ankles are good for a lot of ankle- related things, but not great for hearing.
  4. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Agree with @DirtDog lock the drummer and leave the singer to correct.
    In a band dynamic if that happens a lot (and it does) you and the drummer might learn to stutter to catch the singer but ideally that’s their mistake so stay on the drummer. In an audition stay on the drummer because the singer isn’t going to blame both you and the drummer.

    Hey, good luck. Have fun. Sweet Emotion is fun to play.

    Maybe the singer is new to this also.
  5. The joys of a small space. Go from the DI out on the amp to the PA or as others have said rearrange the amps orientation or position in the room.

    Have fun. Hope it works out.
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  6. Five or Six

    Five or Six

    Jun 21, 2022
    Can't change much that's already been stated about hearing yourself, its necessary. Your job (and vise versa) is with the drummer. You two hold down the ranch. If you two aren't together most songs may fail miserably. Good for you!
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2023
    frustum likes this.
  7. Play! Milk it! Bask in it! Enjoy!

    I too started on Bass, a long time ago (even cut an original-song album, in 1983), and, I too took a multi-decade hiatus, I too am 58, and I will be auditioning for my second-ever band, in a week.

    Fun times!
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2023
  8. Ralph Manak

    Ralph Manak Raking Light Studio Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2017
    Austin, TX
    In the small rehearsal rooms, it can work well to place the amp across the room facing you and the drummer. It's unconventional, but you and the drummer may hear the bass better and at a lower volume. Mic placement for singer(s) may need adjusting with this arrangement.
  9. BBQisgood


    Feb 24, 2016
    Yes. Want to be several feet away.

    Feel out the room. Let the singer know if you can. If better to keep mouth shut, do so.

    As for live situations, you’ve got it right.
    frustum likes this.
  10. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    At a gig, if the singer comes in a few bars or a line early, your job is to follow them. If they go off a cliff, your job is to go with them. If they're just a beat early, though, it's best to keep the feel going and let them come to you.
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  11. Lowendchamp


    Jun 27, 2021
    Shelton WA
    I once drown out my guitarist with my canga (he was playing acoustic) because he got nervous and kept messing up. I calmed down once he was back on track and gave him the forefront of the song again. He was grateful for the intervention. Of course, you have to be able to hear yourself first before intervention can be attempted. Just a story. Sounds like you nailed the audition for a bar band though. Congrats.
    frustum likes this.
  12. KenD

    KenD Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2020
    Vancouver Island
    Did you get the gig?
    Dust2Dust and frustum like this.
  13. I will usually follow the singer. You do need to (tactfully) let them know so they don’t repeat the mistake.

    I practice standing. I’ll sit when I’m too old to stand.
    frustum likes this.
  14. frustum

    frustum Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2020
    Austin, TX, USA
    I won't know for a day or two. There are other guys auditioning on other days.

    Whether or not I get it, it was a learning opportunity, and it was fun playing with real people.
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  15. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    Hearing your bass: When you are standing off axis, it will sound less distinct and bassey. So being in front of the cab as opposed to being to the side should help a lot. If the option of being added to the PA available would help as well. If the band is really loud, you may need a second cab. Last pointer, you don;t have a lot of midrange control with Rumbles but try backing off the bass knob a tad and raising your volume.

    Singers missing their cue: If they are in the rhythm pattern clock when the singer enters. If they are coming in late habitually, help them out, give them a cue. That can be from you or the drummer and can be physical or musical.

    Congrats on the gig. Sounds like fun!
    frustum likes this.
  16. ebo


    Jul 15, 2012
    Bay Area, Ca
    Every audition is a learning experience. If everyone is roughly similarly talented, it comes down to temperament and all being on the same page on repertoire and gigging schedules etc.. I concentrate on laying back and being consistent in my playing, then asking a lot of questions about the future of the project. Most of the times when it doesn’t work out it’s because of personality differences or other issues. I have auditioned for people way above or below me talent wise so that happens too, but you gotta like who you’re playing with in my opinion or you’re doomed eventually.
  17. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Good for you OP -never to late to rock!. I started playing bass @ 55, started jamming with friends a few weeks later, first CL audition was a 6 months later, first gig @57.

    Regarding volume: Every room is different. I often have trouble hearing myself when standing right next to the cab. Raising/tilting the amp may help, but in a small room, being across from it seems to work better for me. Experiment.

    Singer coming in late: this always a challenge and there is no hard fast rule. I usually try to stay on track with the drummer when this happens, but will typically chase the guitar player if he follows singer. It can be a real train wreck, but just do the best you can to find the center of the song again.

    Regarding standing: I practice standing up most of the time - if you're going to gig at some point you do need to be able to stand for the duration. You gotta train your body as much as your fingers and ears. Some folks use chairs or stools onstage. If they have health issues, I'm fine with it (have had to do that myself), but I don't like the look of it when it can be avoided.
    frustum likes this.
  18. Artman

    Artman a.k.a. Eddy Garcia Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2017
    Georgetown, TX
    Stay tight with the drummer. Treble types need to have the two of you working together to provide the roadmap for whenever they get lost.

    Whenever I have to use my Rumble 500/210 in a group setting, I have it on one of these little folding stands. That way, it's pointing up at me so I can hear it without cranking the volume up.

    GFW-GTR-AMP - Combo Amp Stand | Sweetwater
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  19. frustum

    frustum Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2020
    Austin, TX, USA
    I just ordered one. Thanks!
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  20. My first time: a band tryout at age 58


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