Singing While Playing Bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by naruki, Oct 24, 2011.

  1. naruki


    May 1, 2010
    Any suggestion for a practice routine? I can't do it naturally so I figure there must be a routine I can do to let my body get used to playing while singing.
  2. nautipaul

    nautipaul Singer and bass player / acoustic guitar

    Oct 22, 2011
    Zebulon, NC
    Practice, practice... Start with a simple song that you know with a simple bass line. The more you do it, the better you'll get. Helps a lot if you have someone on guitar or keys working with you... Oh yeah, drums too....

    40 years ago my band couldn't find a bass player so I put down my rhythm guitar, picked up a bass and never looked back.
    afs2011 likes this.
  3. naruki


    May 1, 2010
    I practiced talking while playing the bass for starters, didn't get anywhere. I was like playing Tom Sawyer or something while trying to say "a b c d e f g h i ... etc" steadily.
  4. RFord04


    Apr 8, 2009
    Flint, Michigan
    You just gotta keep at it. Find something simple that you can kind of sing and play at the same time and go from there. Work up to the harder stuff.
  5. pudgychef

    pudgychef In Memoriam

    Jan 22, 2005
    Chongqing, China
    yep - best practice routine I have found is simply more practice - it will come :bassist:
  6. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone

    Feb 23, 2011
    Give it up, I've found it impossible :p
  7. jeff5311


    Jan 27, 2008
    Atlanta, GA
    Every song is different. Practice your bass part. Then practice singing. Then put them together. Slowly.
  8. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Elaborating on that 'slowly' thing - focus on where certain syllables coincide with beats or rests in the bass line, especially in bits you find difficult. I find when I listen to the recording they're often not quite where I expect!

    It's much easier to play rhythm guitar and sing, as the strumming motion usually follows the strong and weak beats, whereas when playing bass you often have to follow a more irregular pattern.
    afs2011 likes this.
  9. naruki


    May 1, 2010
    I wish I can ask Claypool directly haha :D
  10. First tunes I sang lead and played bass on were mostly country style tunes with a simple 1-5 type counter bass. I learned to sing the song playing my guitar until I knew it inside out and then picked up the bass. Even today (30 years later) I still learn them the same way.

    For me learning the words and phrasing are what takes the most work. Once you get used to singing and playing some simple bass patterns/lines you will find it easier to step up your bass playing to more complex lines.
  11. If you try to sing and play bass at the same time, you'll fry your brain and have to become a guitarist.
  12. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
  13. I played in a rock cover band while learning to do it. Sang backup vocals for stuff like Alice in Chains, Bush, Shinedown, 10 years i.e, relatively simple stuff. The key is to know the bass part so well that you don't have to pay attention to it. You let the feel of the song guide your hands while you pay attention to hitting the pitches correctly. That's the only way I can do it. And I gave up on being claypool long ago, so I won't be improvving and singing anytime soon.
  14. naruki


    May 1, 2010
    So, just like, maybe watch TV while playing bass to sort of disconnect my mind from my fingers?
  15. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Lake Havasu City, AZ
    I was in a YES tribute band about ten years ago. For those familiar with YES music, you already know how much Chris Squire sings while playing bass, and his vocal parts are often out of sync with his bass playing.

    I had to practice and practice and practice until I finally got both parts down and sync'd together. It was very detailed, such that I had to sync a certain syllable of a word with a certain note, and practice it until I nailed it.

    We played the entire Close to the Edge album, plus a bunch of other YES songs.

    I had been playing the bass lines for years on my own, but once I got into that band, I had to learn the vocals too. It took alot of time and patience. I don't know any other method that works.
    Tom Bomb likes this.
  16. Difficult you say ?

    Just watch McCartney or Sting. H3ll, even Gene Simmons can do it. :D
  17. TinIndian

    TinIndian Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2011
    Micco Florida
    I always found it impossible to do more than extremely rudimentary vocals while playing bass, until I joined my current band. There is only one thing that will work and you've already heard it. Practice, Practice, Practice. There are still songs that I have some difficulty with, but the more I work at it the easier it gets. I do all the background vocals and sing several songs on my own now. Heck of a lot of fun after you get it down.
  18. Rudyboy98


    Jan 25, 2008
    South Bay, CA
    Well, I have done both singing whilst playing guitar or bass. Both are challenging.

    Best suggestion (speaking from my own experience) is to practice singing once you have your instrument part down. If your bassline is complicated, even more the reason to do so.

    Once you have the bass part down pat, practice singing the chorus/refrains first. Parts that repeat are often the easiest ones to learn - and if you are playing odd time sigs, work it out in small bits and pieces. Don't give up. Use a click to keep yourself locked in.

    Try the easy songs first, then move up to the next level of difficulty based on the songs you are playing. (Obviously.)
  19. stingraysvt


    Jun 20, 2011
    Sting has even confessed that he can't remember lyrics to songs unless he's playing the bass.

    On his "All this Time" DVD
  20. ChasBass


    Dec 15, 2007
    Charleston, SC
    Start with songs you already know on bass. If you don't have the range yet, drop down an octave. A lot of KISS songs are fairly easy to sync. Thin Lizzie should have a few like Don't Believe a Word. Eddie Money and Tom Petty have lots of songs with simple bass lines for singing.

    Also, Pink - Who Knew
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