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Singing Bassists, Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by P. Aaron, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    I’ve had a few vocal lessons over the years but until now, I’ve never been asked contribute vocally to a band’s set.
    For voice health, and endurance, what advice if any do you have for this beginner?

    What do you drink onstage to take care of your voice during a set?

    Any thoughts would be much appreciated.
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Plain old water. Anything else will just gum it up.
    Dwight Trash, ERIC31, PeterH and 9 others like this.
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
  4. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Step one: figure out where your voice best lays (e.g. do you have a sense of whether you are a tenor, baritone, or bass?) Consult a local qualified voice teacher if you need to (preferably a member of NATS--the national singing teachers association). Whatever you discover will determine how high or low the parts you will sing--to do otherwise can risk the quality and health of your voice. Self-awareness really is key to success in singing.

    Step two: take it slow, but challenge yourself to grow. There's no such thing as perfect--but as a professional singer, I can tell you that I work for consistency of tone, phrasing, and most importantly: expression of words. Even if your part is Oos and Ahs, you are helping to provide color, description, emotion.
    mikewalker, AlexanderB and Ewo like this.
  5. Use your diaphragm rather than tightening your throat for your high notes. Your abdomen should be tight, like doing sit-ups, when you’re in your high range. Otherwise, you’ll wreck your vocal cords after a 3 hour gig.
    bholder, retslock, MonetBass and 2 others like this.
  6. Jebberz

    Jebberz Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    Quebec city
    And without ice, best to dink room temperature, it's easier for your throat.
  7. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    True, I prefer icewater, but room temp is better for keeping the chords warm and lubed and happy. :)
    jumbodbassman likes this.
  8. Bassndrums73


    Mar 13, 2018
    Beer. Bet you didn’t see that coming.
  9. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I've played in enough dive bars to know that it's the beers you don't see coming that'll get you...
  10. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    First, practice and exercise your voice. It's an instrument and chops need to stay sharp just like your bass work. Aside from my work at home, I take walks during breaks at work and listen to stuff I'm singing and work my parts while I'm walking. Sometime it's mostly under my breath so I don't annoy passer-bys, but I still keep the vocal cords working. And make sure to practice doing both together - it sometimes still surprises me how hard it can be to bring together the two parts that you can nail independently.

    Second, make sure you have both parts down cold (bass and vocals). You need lots of confidence to play and sing (at least I do), and knowing your parts without thinking is great for confidence.

    Third, I use a little honey to help soothe my throat if it's raw. Earlier this year, I was carrying way more vocals than I should while working with a project looking for a singer. My throat got pretty raw after an hour or so of solid singing. I have a little travel container that I loaded with honey and would just squirt a shot of honey in my mouth and let it slowly dissolve. Helps a lot.

    I don't think I've ever done it, but I seem to recall that hot tea with lemon was recommended by college instructors to do help soothe the voice.
    Groove Doctor and Alik like this.
  11. I'm not much help; I do backing vocal gigs but just here and there. I don't do anything differently BUT I did have a few years of coaching as a kid. Maybe I warm up a little in the car on the way but that's it. I sing the high parts the other guys can't hit. I'll drink but plenty of water with the booze. My big 'trick' such as it is: I always wear earplugs. So I always have my 'head' sound. This allows me to easily match pitches with the other singers who are very loud in the monitors, as they bleed through my plugs. This works very well for me and eliminates any tendency to strain my voice to be heard in crummy monitor situations. I just lip the mic when I know it'll be needed and it's all good.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2018
  12. If you don't know what that means, basically there should be no air coming out your nose (your nose should be shut off) when singing. If your diaphragm is engaged it will (or should) shut off your nose. Engaging the diaphragm as dreamadream99 stated puts air pressure against your vocal cords making it easier to engage and control them (that's how it seems to me anyway). Think bagpipes - gotta have air pressure against whatever it is that creates the sound coming out. Filling the lungs and creating pressure by engaging the diaphragm makes hitting pitch and not blowing out your vocal cords way easier.
    P. Aaron and jumbodbassman like this.
  13. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Agree with water. No alcohol. Stay hydrated, and relax. It's very important that you have fun.
  14. Skullheadrac


    Jun 13, 2018
    So Cal
    I'm the lead singer and bass player in my band. My band's style is not that far off of Motorhead. Really really rough vocals. On stage, it's all water for me. Room temp or cold.
    Every time I've played in Europe there's at least one bottle of carbonated water and dear lord whoever drinks that is the spawn of satan.
    Destroyer661 likes this.
  15. andrus108


    Mar 11, 2018
    I'm no singer, but I work in a call center, which means talking and occasionally shouting bullpoop 40 hours a week, and it's actually time spent talking for me. Once for the heck of it I bought a video called 'Zen of Screaming', but funnily enough the whole video is pretty much about basics of how to maintain one's voice. I use her speech tips, and it really helped me with not feeling strained at the end of the day, and customers I speak with (may higher spirits, energies etc. bless their tormented souls for having to call us) seem to hear me better too due to correcting my voice projection. Highly recommended, even if you're not planning to cookie monster the mic.
  16. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    People will say things like "use your diaphragm" but not really instruct you much on what that entails. For me, as a singer, I've always had to keep a whole set of muscles in shape in order to make singing happen more easily while I'm playing. That involves exercising several sets of muscles in my abdomen and flexing the singing muscles in my throat on a daily basis. You can do the abdominal exercises while taking a walk and you don't need to go overboard on them; the idea is to make sure all the muscles that support your lungs are flexible and strong enough that they will engage with your voice properly and naturally when you use it. I usually only need to do this for maybe five minutes a day.

    Of course, I exercise the singing muscles in my throat by singing (duh), and I figure out what the problem areas are in my range and then concentrate on making those areas work better. Singing well is a lot harder than most people think it is and requires a lot more work than they imagine, especially as you get older.
    EdO. and mrcbass like this.
  17. portpc


    May 31, 2011
    Besides the other great suggestions (the best being practice all you can singing/playing until its comfortable) I'd say knowing your range & staying within it is very important. Learn where your voice sits within the others' in your band.

    Nothing is worse than hearing vocal strain & that will quickly blow you up.
  18. jshinal


    May 28, 2013
    Raleigh, NC

    When singing, extend your neck and chin slightly up and outward toward the microphone. This lines everything up and gives a little muscle support to the throat as you sing. Never squeeze your chin and throat downward to hit a note, don't clench downward as you sing.

    Practice singing in the car, it's a great use of your time as long as you watch where you're driving !

    Record yourself singing along to something. You will notice the places where your pitch or pronunciation is off much more quickly that way.

    Take your time. It won't come right away (playing while singing) but after a while it gets much easier.
  19. Sixgunn


    Jun 6, 2012
    Colorado Springs
    I don't wait 30 minutes after eating, to go swimming.
    I prefer an I.U.D. ;)
    Inky13 and tepperware like this.
  20. Water is key above everything no matter what your vocal style and making sure you do some sort of warm ups prior to hitting the stage so you're loose and ready to rock. I just recently started playing bass in a metal band where I split vocal duties with the guitarist and I've honestly spent more time as a vocalist in bands than a bass player. That said water, water, water and warm ups. And prior to all that constant practice at playing/singing, I'm still struggling managing both responsibilities and sounding decent.

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