Singing and Playing

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by BeansBeansBeans, Apr 30, 2020.

  1. BeansBeansBeans


    Apr 30, 2020
    Does anyone have tips for incorporating your singing into your bass playing? Every attempt I've made has resulted in one of the two getting screwed up.
  2. It’s tough if you don’t start out doing both, and as I am now learning, tough to re-learn if you let the skill slip away, haha/groan. What worked for me the first time around was just jumping into singing a song where I knew both my bass part and the lyrics well enough that I didn’t have to think about either. The guitar player watched it happen and was awestruck, haha.
  3. Come to think of it, I have pulled it off recently. Again, I knew both parts really well, and in this case (jamming with my then-kindergartener on drums), it was “N.I.B” by Black Sabbath, and the riff and vocal line were pretty much the same.
  4. jmon


    Jan 27, 2002
    Jax Fl.
    You can simplify the Bassline a bit to jumpstart the process. But they key is the Bassline. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Commit to total muscle memory. And you can’t look at your fretboard. At all really. Then sing along to it. Every time you practice it. The sync of the two will come.
  5. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Practice. A lot. Until you can't stand either part. Then keep going. Tap them out slowly and see how they "interleave". And practice the heck out of it, did I say that?
  6. Basslice

    Basslice Supporting Member

    May 11, 2008
    Western Massachusetts
    I have been the lead vocalist and bass player for a 60-70s rock and blues cover band for about 15 years. Before that I sang some background vox and a few songs lead in various bands over time.

    It was hard at first and I could only do it on a few songs, and only then with lots of practice.

    For me, the secret of success has been to let go. Once I started to just go for it, it got easier and easier. At this point, I can take on anything (vocal range permitting).

    I will be the first to admit that my bass chops have slid a little and I tend to dumb down trickier lines to keep the groove and feel going.

    My experience is that you can make playing mistakes or substitutions and most people don't notice. Screw up the lyrics to any well known song, however, and you will get criticized.

    In the end, our audience likes it and the only people that know better are other bass players in the room.

    Once singing and playing get comfortable, I find myself not actively thinking about either (except maybe when we are harmonizing and I cannot tell where the other guys is going to go).

    Go for it and don't look back.
  7. I found, you need to know one or the other dead cold. No thinking about it - it has to just flow from you. For me, this is typically the bass line - then I can sing the vocal and do my half ass version of vocal riffing or embellishment. I’m not a great bassist, and not a great vocalist. It can be done - you need to put in your time. The good news? It does get faster and easier to learn new lines and vocals. It really does! Like any skill, it needs attention, repetition, and persistence.
  8. LowWay

    LowWay It’s got 4 strings ‘cause they’re bigger! Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2009
    W Mass
    I was in a 3 piece and we did 3 part harmonies. My bass lines never lined up rhythmically with my vocal lines.
    Just like everyone has said: commit both parts to muscle memory so you don’t have to think about either.

    It’s really satisfying when you get there playing a melodic counterpoint on your bass to the harmony line you’re singing.
  9. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug

    "Background" vox are relatively easy for me. How hard is it to scream Ride, Sally, ride!, or Hoooooo.oooo.oooonky Women!, while thumping? That kinda stuff should be autopilot, I'd think.

    Singing lead is another story. Which is OK by me, cuz no one wants to hear me sing.
  10. Wanker_Joe


    Sep 26, 2017
    What I did to get the hang of it was to break a song into parts I could sing and play and parts I couldn't. For the parts I couldn't I then broke those sections down into smaller sections and just practiced those small sections until I could do them. Sometimes it was as simple as me just trying to get a particular vowel sound to come out right while the bass part was doing sometime else. As I got those parts together I would then start chaining them to the other parts that I could previously sing and play. Over time I chipped away at it until it worked.

    Also, I noticed that once I got a few songs under my belt I was able to learn others much more easily.

    (Now if only my voice wasn't so terrible)
  11. Practice and repetition are the key, IMO.

    I've always been singing, since I was a kid I was singing along to the radio, my dad's band, whatever was playing so that was a natural thing. When I started as a drummer it was just what I did, and I sang along to the songs as I practiced playing the drums along to the songs.

    When I sold my last drums and started bass it was the same thing. I sang along to the songs as I learned the bass parts. And playing bass and singing is far easier than being a singing drummer.
  12. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I can sing along while playing guitar or piano but not while playing bass. I ain't got that gene.