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SInging and Playing Bass at the same time

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bassman314, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. bassman314

    bassman314 I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process...

    Mar 13, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    Hey folks, I stuck this under performance, as this is related to live work, not recording.

    On Sunday, our worship band is playing a song that I wrote as a "special music" piece. As I wrote it, the rest of the band basically told me I have to sing it, too.

    I am a decent singer, and a decent bass player, and I can do both at the same time pretty well... that is until the mic goes in my face. It's not an issue of "me hearing myself". It's more an issue of I'm just not comfortable with a grill up in my grill...

    Anyone have any tips on how to overcome this?
  2. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    It depends on why.

    If you think there are cooties on the mic from others, take an alcohol swab and swab the mic before you use it.

    If you are intimidated by others looking at you, then don't look directly at them. Look between then, whatever. Do NOT stare at the ceiling.

    You say you can play and sing at the same time. Then DO IT!
    Many bass players can't do that. Heck, many musicians can't do that.

    Hope this helps,
  3. Wear sunglasses.
  4. I think the only solution is to keep practicing until you are confident enough to do it consistently. That's what I've done and it has worked. If you don't feel confident, don't perform it in front of people.
  5. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    I'm a committed introvert. Singing was the LAST thing I wanted to do.

    however, when I joined my current band, they were in desperate need of someone who could do high harmonies and would pick up a few leads in order to give the lead singer a break. It was part of the deal that I did it.

    I don't love it, but I've done pretty well. At first, yeah, my nerves were on edge. But like everything else, I got used to it.

    Now I get off on sticking a harmony! And lead? It can be fun to be the center of attention, at least here and there. Yes, I'm an introvert!
  6. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    It's just a matter of practice like anything else. I find I have to simplify my bass lines in order to sing. You might plan on that in advance if you are expecting to be a bit nervous the first few times up.
  7. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    agreed. some songs no WAY I could sing and play. Others, no problem. Others, have to dum down the bassline a tad in order to do both.
  8. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    About the mic thing: What freaks me out is singing into a mic that doesn't have compression on the channel! I feel very self-concious when I'm hearing certain sylables jump-out, and others buried; I start thinking about mic control (distance) and all - this really distracts me.

    Now I use compression, and just EAT the mic all the time (except 'background-ish' vocals, where of course I back-up). I think it makes a huge difference.

    Remember that you can get these made-for-vocal-mic preamp/processors for not much dough. I know DBX makes a good one for only a couple hundred or less. The advantage of these for you would be that you don't have to have the soundman put it into the board insert; you can just have one extra mic cable, plug your mic into the unit, and hand the soundperson the end of the cable that comes OUT of your processor. If you have your own mic too, then you can set the processor for your voice and mic - then slap a security cover on it, and you never have to think about it again.

    This makes a huge difference. Try it...

  9. bassman314

    bassman314 I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process...

    Mar 13, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    Thanks for all the help folks!! So relax, keep the bass lines simple, and eat that mic... sounds about my nromal routine... other than eating the mic... :bassist:

    Yeah, we have 3 DBX compressors in our rack. Our sound guy has his poop together, so I'm not worried about sound... the whole monitoring thing will be wierd... but I'm up for the challenge.
  10. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I for one don't agree with eating the mic. You can't articulate your words and phrases when a grill is pressed against your lips (plus if things aren't grounded properly, you can get one hell of a shock). I used to do that until friends told me that I sound like I have a ham sandwich in my mouth when I sang. Take a look at any good vocalist, and you'll see they they rarely "eat the mic". Eating the mic is equivalent to ham-fisted playing on the bass - plenty of volume but no articulation. Eating the mic makes up for lack of projection from your voice. If you project well, you can sing further from the mic and still get all the volume you need (assuming the soundman is taking care of things).

    Using the mic is a an overlooked skill among vocalists. There was a time when I couldn't sing with a mic, but I could sing just fine in an acoustic situation. After years of practice, I can sing just as well in either situation. Part of it was relying on biofeedback (i.e. feeling in the vocal chords, chest expansion,etc.) as well as what I hear in the monitors. The rest of it was using the mic.

    To add more bass to your voice, sing closer to the mic. To take off some bass and increase the highs, sing further away from the mic. A good place to start is about 2-3 inches from the mic. If you can't be heard, ask the soundguy to help out.
    For lead vocals singing closer to the mic is needed, but if you are singing backups sing further away from the mic (4-6 inches away). Of course this all depends on the mic you are using as well as your voice itself.

    Above all, the most imortant thing is to sing in pitch. Singing out of tune will negate everything else you are doing right.
  11. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Using compression will also allow you sing further away from the mic since it not only lowers peaks, it will raise the volume of softer sounds.
  12. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I don't press my lips agianst it! I mean I can just feel the foam windscreen brush a lip once in a while (actually, the windscreen itself keeps me a certain distance from it).

    Also, with the '58 that I use, I don't care for the sound of it for lead when I back off more than an inch - like you said, it sounds more 'manly' (low-mids, I guess?) when I'm in the proximity-effect zone.

  13. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Gotcha, I know a couple of guys with higher timbre that do this to fatten up their voice.
  14. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I forgoe such things as pitch and key and just roar into the mic. Fortunately, because of the music I play, everyone cheers.
  15. Diggler


    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    You just gotta know the songs inside and out. I sing most of the songs in our band. We did a lot of GnR a while ago since I have a very Axl-like voice, and I had no trouble hitting every bass note of Welcome to the Jungle while hitting every bit of the vocals as well.

    Of course, I really liked them and knew the bass inside and out. You go on autopilot and the bass just happens while you're singing.

    If you are intimidated by the mic and its placement, take a cue from Garth Brooks and try a headset mic.
  16. fatbassjazzer


    Feb 27, 2004
    I do that as well. The good thing about death metal is that you can forget all the lyrics, and still get away with it.
  17. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Let me tell you something.

    Jaymz Hetfield wasn't gonna be the frontman of Metallica.

    So maybe you're meant to sing.
  18. HiFi


    Apr 20, 2002
    Anaheim, CA
    I went through the same thing a few years ago and I gained so much out of the experience even though I didn't want to sing. My church had a large congregation but very few musicians who could commit. I ended up being asked to sing while playing and I gave it my best and took what I could from it.

    Just relax and don't be too nervous. It is church so people are suppose to be supportive and non-judgmental anyway; plus, you have the knowledge that you have talents that others don't so you should feel good about that. It's nice to keep the people digging the music and you should give it your best, but whenever I'm involved musically in a church setting, I remember that I am playing (and singing) for God first and foremost.

    Good luck! :bassist:
  19. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    For all they know, I could be quoting news reports.

    "I think he just said 'woe is my beating heart of steely darkness!'"
    "He's so deep."

    It's even better doing grind. Half the songs don't pass the minute mark, so if you forgot the lyrics, by the time you realized you don't know the words, the song is over, and people are cheering. Metal is fabulous like that.
  20. nataku


    Jun 21, 2004
    San Jose, CA
    i used to absolutely not be able to do it, but a friend told me to try it with guitar instead of bass, and while it still wasnt easy, it clicked after a while. something about using a pick or strumming makes it easier than fingerstyle bass. now i can only really do the strokes type music on bass while singing, but im better with guitar. i just learned our time is running out by muse, and although my voice sucks HARDCORE its still fun.