Singing + Funky Basslines = Disaster!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by FreakWalrus, Oct 7, 2004.

  1. FreakWalrus


    Sep 27, 2004
    Gonzales, CA
    This is my first post here, ive been crusing around abit and ive got stacks of great tips already! Thanks all!

    Ive been playing electric for about 4 years, been luck enough to do a bit of gigging and jamming in that time. In the last year ive been throwing together my own tracks using Guitar tracks pro and im getting to the stage where im really enjoying what im hearing. :bassist:

    Im jamming with a guitarist and drummer who are way better than I and they are keen to jam out and maybe perform my songs!!!! but theres a catch.

    I can only barely play and sing my parts if I do them at the same time! :crying:

    I know the best answer is practice, practice, practice but ive been practicing hard this last 8months. Ive improved incredibly but im far off competently jamming them and years off performing them and I NEEEED A SHORTCUT!!!

    The options ive considered so far have been:
    1. Getting another singer to cover me in the harder bass parts
    2. Getting another bass player to cover me in the harder singing
    3. Trying to palm off some of the funkiness to the guitarist
    4. Writing the hardest bass licks to CD and giving the drummer a click track (OK, im clutching at straws!)

    Has anyone been in a similar situation?
    Any good advice?
  2. millard


    Jul 27, 2004
    How about having the hardest singing and hardest bass parts be in mutually exclusive parts of the songs?

    Typically, a singing guitarist will lay-off a bit when he is singing to avoid the same issues you are seeing. If it helps, it isn't just you.

    It also makes perfect sense -- the lyrics should be coming through and not competing with the music (this may not apply to some musical styles :) ).

    Now, if it ruins the song to do that, then you'll need to pick one of your other choices -- find singing or bass help or re-arrange the song a bit. Perhaps you can trade vocal lines with the guitarist and you can each can funk while the other guy sings.

    Sounds like you're having fun. Always remember that a lot of us wish we had your problem.

  3. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Written ths before, but I'll share it again.

    If you want to get better at singing and playing, that's what you'll have to practice. Work out your weak part until you're comfortable with it, and then throw in the stronger part. The weak/strong part can be your singing or bass playing. Practice doing them simultaneously and take some mental notes so you can work out your mistakes.

    Also keep in mind that independence between your voice and bass playing is a goal worth striving for, but don't let that make you throw away the interdependence between you voice and bass. Use both to accomplish your goals.

    Now that the basic philosophy has been stated, here's some concrete tips you can use:

    1. While you are singing, try to stay in one position. Reduce the amount you go up and down the neck. Doing this will reduce the amount you will look down to see what fret you are hitting as well as the likelyhood of moving to the wrong note.

    2. Work on your plucking hand. The plucking hand is what locks in with the drummer, provides the pulse, and pumps the groove. Missing with your plucking hand is more noticable than missing with your fretting hand. Practice plucking eighth notes, quarter notes, syncopated plucks, etc. If you are a finger picker, while you are singing along with the song on the radio in the car, tap out the pulse of the song with the index and middle finger of your plucking hand on the steering wheel.

    3. Memorize some generic patterns with your fretting hand. Learn patterns for funk, rock, blues, etc. The patterns should be moveable, i.e. a pattern played on the E and A string can be moved to the A and D string, and a pattern played on the 3rd fret could also be played at the 5th fret. From there it's just a matter of learning the changes of a song and adjusting those patterns to them. The advantage of singing along is that you'll know when the changes are coming.

    4. Use your vocals to cue your bass playing. The other tips are to help with independence, this one is for interdependence. Use a note or word to trigger the note you are going to play on bass. For example, when the first word of the chorus is sung make a mental note to play 'X'. Practice this and let your vocals and bass work together. It's sort of like how the two hands of a pianist work together. It will also make remembering bass lines and lyrics easier because you'll have another thing to associate them with.