Playing your bass and singing

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by B-Mac, Aug 31, 2019.

  1. B-Mac

    B-Mac Happiness is a Warm Puppy and a Great Bass Supporting Member

    not sure where to put this as I’m on my 5th rum and tonic and BOC is on the radio playing Don’t Fear the Reaper at the outdoor bar of my favorite watering hole, so mods move this as you seem fit. I can sing, but have no clue how to sing and play bass at the same time.

    What is the secret?
  2. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    I'd start by putting the drink down, first.
  3. B-Mac

    B-Mac Happiness is a Warm Puppy and a Great Bass Supporting Member

    Relaxes the vocal cords dramatically

    One of favorite local performers sweared by Grand Marnier to help his singing voice through the night.
  4. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
  5. eJake


    May 22, 2011
    New Orleans
    It's hard..... Gotta shed the separation like a drummer does.. find out which notes hit together and which notes don't...
  6. theduke1


    Dec 22, 2010
    Sussex WI
    I have been doing it all of my playing life
    Start with easy songs to play 3 cord wonders like
    Louie- Louie
    Or songs you can sing without thinking about the words
    It will come just not over night
    mexicant, kwdhsk, DanAleks and 10 others like this.
  7. Yeah...I can’t do it either except for a line here and there. From all I’ve read on this over the years, it just takes practice to the point where it gets easier. Many people have some good ideas how to practice it. I just haven’t been motivated enough to practice it enough yet :)
    chupacerveza and RumbleMan3 like this.
  8. 1) Practice songs on the instrument until it becomes second nature
    2) Learn the lyrics. You'll get easily distracted if you don't
    3) If you must, simplify the instrument parts

    That's what worked for me when I had to sing while playing drums. It's much harder for me to sing and play bass because I'm a bass newbie, so I'm still working on number 1.
  9. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
  10. I think it’s hard. The bass player is playing the rhythm and singing the melody.

    I haven’t paid much attention, but I wonder how closely Phil Lynott’s or Geddy Lee’s bass lines follow the melody as opposed to laying down a complimentary groove.
  11. matti777

    matti777 Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2007
    Edmonton, Canada
    Geddy Lee said he first learned the bass line inside out for his new songs and then worked on singing.
  12. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    on tougher songs i'd have the lyrics and ad some kind of rhythmic/melodic notes of what i'm playing ... some kind of " points " that help sync the 2 together ... kinda like a lead sheet - vocals / bass part

    maybe the Visual cues will help .!?
    chupacerveza, Pbassmanca and B-Mac like this.
  13. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Guest

    Nov 22, 2017
    I've been doing it for a long time. It's still not easy. Here's what I can tell you.

    Early on, I had to just practice, practice, practice. Find a vocal/bass combination that is challenging you and just do it over and over. If you do it enough, you'll feel something click in your head that means you've gotten to the point where all the neurons in your head for doing this have connected and you'll have more independence between voice and hands. When this happened for me, I actually felt it and things were never the same again.

    That being said, you'll still always have to do some work. Learn both parts, but get the bass part down to where it's automatic, because singing WELL requires a ton more concentration than playing well does. When you have the bass part down, you can layer the vocal on top of it and concentrate on making the vocal good. Practicing both at this point adds the polish.
  14. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    I think the ability to do it well is genetic. I'm also pretty sure I don't have right genes for it...
    BwanaDust and Green Knight like this.
  15. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    I learned how to do it by "mouthing" the words whenever I practiced by myself. I didn't sing out loud, I simply mouthed the words so I could get used to singing and playing. It helped because I could learn without worrying about singing on pitch. I felt that it trained my brain on how to do more than one thing at a time. Once I can mouth the words, I find that pitch almost comes naturally.
  16. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
  17. B-Mac

    B-Mac Happiness is a Warm Puppy and a Great Bass Supporting Member

    I have no problems singing alone. It’s the singing combined with playing that is the problem.
    chupacerveza and TheDominoKid like this.
  18. Steve Philip

    Steve Philip

    Jun 8, 2019
    Been doing it my whole life, some people have a harder time than others, I guess. Also, some songs harder to sing & play, never could do Use Me Up, play & sing. Best way I can describe it is like someone else already said, you've got to be doing one or the other automatically, farmiliarity is the key, practice it til you can do it in your sleep....
  19. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Practice, and if there’s somewhere you’re going wrong (like at times my bass line will slip into the rhythm of the vocal), make sure you shed that part a lot so you don’t ingrain the mistake.
  20. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx!

    Oct 31, 2006
    Western Hemisphere
    practice... sober