Tell me your bass tryout stories

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by brumshine, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. brumshine


    Apr 27, 2012
    Hey all- I'm pretty excited about my first offical bass tryout next Monday. I'm trying out for a established pop band that already has 3 albums released. I saw an ad on craigslist, answered a few of the questions like "do you play with a pick or fingerstyle" and "would this song be hard for you to learn" and I guess the guy liked my answers because he wants me to meet him and tryout. I've sorta tried out for a band before and got the position, but it was a friend's band so you know how that goes.

    The songwriter / singer gave me 2 songs and asked me to learn them for the tryout. My plan is to practice them like a mo-fo every night till I can play the songs in my sleep.

    Does anyone have any stories about there first tryout they'd like to share? Is there anything like ettiquette or common knowledge I need to know before showing up?

  2. StayinTime


    Sep 26, 2012
    Good luck man. Let us know how it goes.
  3. brumshine


    Apr 27, 2012
    Thanks Time - I'll keep you posted!
  4. AuntieBeeb


    Dec 12, 2010
    Best of luck, brum.

    In the meantime, a tale of one of my (very) early tryouts:
    I was 15, and another lad in my music class at school asked me if I'd like to join his band. I decided to give it a try and turned up to a rehearsal. Being young and nervous, I plugged in and warmed up with a couple of bluesy twiddles to establish that I knew what I was doing. Jammed a bit with the drummer who also turned out to be pretty good.

    Finally, the guitarist was tuned up and ready to go. Well, what shall we play, lads?

    Turns out the singer had an almost religious obsession with Green Day and the guitarist...only knew three chords. Better still, he only really knew how to use them in one particular song: Summer Nights, from the popular musical Grease.

    So we basically spent a couple of hours jamming over the chords to Summer Nights, with the singer struggling through what little of the lyrics he knew, and me just taking a(nother) solo when he got stuck.

    So that was a waste of a perfectly good evening. Hopefully yours will go better than that!
  5. smogg


    Mar 27, 2007
    NPR, Florida
    I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
    Make sure all your gear is in working order.
    Have fun. :D
  6. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    In the fall of 2007 I was playing with a church band, which the core members also played in a weekend band. We had a gig at a bar-b-que place that went really well. Just as we were packing up, the bass player (I was playing guitar in that band) told me a gentleman came up to him about a show gig which he couldn't take because of his day job, and asked if I wanted it.

    I literally dropped my equipment and ran to the parking lot to talk to the guy and tell him I wanted the gig. He took my name and number and said he'd be in touch. The next day, a different gentleman called me, introduced himself as the director, asked if I could read, and told me the rehearsal and show schedule. Yes, Yes, Yes!!! He said he'd mail me a contract and where to show up for the first rehearsal.

    And that's how I got the bass job for my one big gig - the last Welk special, "Precious Memories." Whether or not you like the music or not, there isn't a single person in America who does not know, "da-da da da...Good night...." And I got to be on national PBS television...great story if I ever have grandchildren, and I have the DVD to boot.
  7. craig.p


    Sep 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I've got dozens of points but you can sum it all up like this: Behave as if you were playing an arena gig and everyone's watching your every move and half of them are running smartphone video cams aimed right at you. So, set up fast, make sure your setup and teardown are choreographed to run smoothly with a sensible order so you look like you've been doing it for 30 years, and set yourself a time limit of no more than 5 seconds to get your volume and tone set. Better yet, have the settings already written down somewhere. Bring your instrument in already tuned. If you think it might need tuning when you get there, have that choreographed as well so you can get it done fast and accurately. I'm talking 30 seconds absolute max, with nothing at all coming out of the amp. And on that matter, after you've found your tone & volume, NOTHING should EVER come out of that cab again unless you're actually playing a song. That means silence. NO NOODLING, and I mean not even one note. (Like I said, treat it like an arena gig.)

    Lots, lots more, but there's a few of the larger stumbling blocks for ya.

    Oh yeah: Bring a notebook and a pen, and set them on top of your amp ready to use.
  8. sedan_dad

    sedan_dad Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2006
    Have your turds in a row. Or something like that. Be invisible and ready.
  9. pgolliher


    Apr 27, 2010
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Compliment the other players on things you like about their playing, tone, instruments, etc. Compliment the song writer about something specific you like about the songs.

    Get in eye contact with the other players- especially the drummer and try to lock in with him. Smile- have fun. Move
  10. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Well, first of all how old are you? Your age
    will impact my response.

    One thing that is more important than the bands recordings, what are you personally looking for in a band?

    Just want to play

    Paying and consistent gigs

    Get your feet wet with real band experience

  11. abemo


    Feb 27, 2012
    Arvada, co
    Make sure you fully understand what the band is looking for. They won't think badly of you for asking questions, especially before you show up. I once failed an audition because I added some slap and pop to a song. Instead of telling me to try something else, they told me they didn't want to be the chili peppers and told me to leave.

    Aside from that, be on time, do your best, NO NOODLING, and try to chat/make friends, but only when appropriate (aka, before and after jamming, during breaks if they take them, not so much in between songs)

    Good luck.
  12. dvelcich


    Aug 27, 2012
    I went to try out for a band at their jam spot. It was a cool time, and I felt they really liked me. After we were done, the guitar player went to light a cigarette but lit one of his really long dreads on fire. I grabbed a pillow off the couch and put out the flame by hitting him repeatedly in the head with it. I thought he would be grateful, but I guess I was wrong. My advice to you... If someone lights himself on fire, let him burn or lose the gig.
  13. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I think attitude is #1 over even how good of a player you are. I have seen this myself in bands I have been in and tried out for. If you come in prepared to the best of your abilities, be polite, ask real questions and tell them a little about yourself you can give yourself a chance.

    We have had people come out and we had to pry info out of them, some change their stories on what projects they are in and how available they really are. Be honest!

    We have picked players who were maybe not the best of the lot because of some of the tips I just gave you.

    Remember you are checking them out as much as they are you. If it doesnt feel right then it probability is not.
  14. There are a few specifics I'd recommend for an audition;

    1. Be on time. Actually be 15 minutes early to set up and be ready to play. Punctuality is the first thing you are judged on, so don't be late.

    2. Make sure your gear is in good working order. Bring some things like an extra instrument cable and an extension cord. Tune up ahead of time and just give it quick check when you get there.

    3. Have a good attitude. Be honest about your ability. Personality goes a long way for all except the high end pros, where ability is the most important thing.

    4. Be friendly. Be yourself. Dress comfortably, make sure you don't stink like BO, and appear professional. You might be surprised at how far this goes.

    5. Don't bring every effects pedal you own. They're not interested in all your toys, they're interested in you. Travel light, if you have a small combo or decent smaller amp it will usually work. No need to haul that 810 rig to a tryout.

    6. Thank them for the opportunity, regardless of whether or not you are invited back.

    7. Try to get a short list of songs ahead of time that they do so you can brush up on them and at least have a fighting chance.

    8. Don't drink alcohol or take any drugs. Lots of bands say they are drinking/4:20 friendly, but I would say don't do it on an audition. If you become a band member then you have to do whatever it is you do, but stay straight for the audition at least. Even if the others are indulging. And don't be afraid to let this play into YOUR decision if you want to play with them or not.

    And have fun!

    When I auditioned for my current band I did a decent job. They auditioned other bassists, but I was chosen even though I wasn't the most talented. But they said I had the best basic skills, my attitude was right, I was the most "normal" person who tried out, no chemical issues, and my truck was big enough to move the PA system and equipment.

    I still say I got the job because of the truck.

    Let us know how you make out!!!!

  15. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I probably got my first gig because I had the right equipment for it. Back then if you wanted to be a bassist in a band all you needed was a loud enough bass amp (I became savvy of this after I got dumped from a crappy high school-age band because I was using a stereo system as a bass "rig"... and also I'd been playing for about a week or two). This particular band was in C#/drop B and I happened to have a 5-string. When I doubled up on their low-tuned stuff and the bass was booming like an an angry earthquake in the tiny 4x4 room (or however big it was) the drummer/band leader looked at me and I knew I was in.

    As an older dude I don't have to audition... people beg me to join their projects. Then I have to learn how to play in their styles because all I've really done the last 15 years is prog metal.

    Sounds like you'll be fine. I'd work on the facial expressions so that it looks like you are really into it. "ooooo-yeah!"

    If it's an originals band they might want to hear something of your own. Any good audition should have some solo stuff involved (doesnt have to be a "solo" but at least have a bass line on hand you can play well), I'd expect it.
  16. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I think the most important thing on any audition is to know the material as though its the most important gig of your life. To be able to play it flawlessly, without thinking, even if the band screws up. When you know the material like that, you present an entirely different vibe than if you go in hoping you don't screw up.

    Aim to be a half an hour early.

    Be friendly.

    Keep your mouth shut as much as possible. I disagree about dropping compliments, unless they're totally sincere and come without effort.

    If your new to this I'd advise to set everything flat on your bass and amp, then tweak minimally to get set up as already mentioned as quickly as possible.

    Say a prayer if you believe in that kind of thing.

    Know that if your supposed to be the band, you will be in the band. There really is no winning or losing.
  17. brumshine


    Apr 27, 2012
    Wow, this advice is SOLID many thanks everyone so far.

    Blue- I'm 24 years old. My goal for joining this band is to be challenged to be a better bass player. The band experience that comes with playing a lot of gigs is a big motivator for me. I have no interest in making any money playing in a band, I'm financially stable.

    BayState- thank you!
  18. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I was 38 when I became the regular bass player for a band. I had played some electric bass in a band I was in in high school, but I was really the guitar player, as I was for many other bands throughout my 20s and 30s up til then. So, there was a beach band looking for a bass player, and I thought to myself, "If I can't play bass on some beach music, I don't have a hair on..." I didn't even own an electric bass at the time. So...I went and bought one (90 days same as cash) just to go to the audition. Heh, went home and played it a bit and thought about how to approach the audition. Well, I simply just showed up and jammed with them on a few tunes. I told them I hadn't been a full-time bassist before in a band. Nonetheless, I did real good and got the gig. Been doing it ever since. In three bands at once right now.

    My advice is to relax, be friendly, and don't worry. Learn the tunes until you feel confident, and then just go get that gig.
  19. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Then I would be careful, the demands of a busy working band may not be a fit for you. Most of us in working bands ( weekend warriors) have careers and are financially stable.

    If you get the gig you could always give your share of what your paid to the other members of the band or donate your pay to a band fund ,since you have no interest in compensation.

    Also if they know you don't have any interest in making money in a band it might increase your chances for winning the gig.

    Good luck

  20. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    This always works for me. I view this to be the same as interviewing for a job.
    -Be groomed
    -Be 15-30 minutes early
    -Be prepared
    -Be polite
    -Listen, and keep any comments to yourself
    -Don't use foul language
    -If you're practicing at a member's house, note the address, and send them a hand-written thank you card. It may sound "gay", but you have no idea how many doors that simple gesture has opened for me.

    HAVE FUN and good luck!