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Things are just not clicking with the bassist...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by spectorbass83, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    I have been a musician for 14 years and have played bass with many bands - mostly original hard rock music.

    Earlier this year a good friend of mine (vocalist) approached me to record bass and back up vocals on his new project. Even though I was in a band already I decided to make the time for it since the music was awesome and I love being in the studio. When he asked me to be a permanent member I had to decline since I had the other band which I barely had enough time to commit to as it was.

    Fast forward about 7 months and my band falls apart. I tell my friend and he tells me he wants me to join...but they already found a bassist and need a second guitarist who can sing. I can play guitar well and I can sing. I always wanted to try playing electric guitar in a band so I decide to do it...despite the fact that the guy who they have playing bass is not the best.

    So far we have rehearsed about 6 times. The singer, drummer and lead guitarist are all awesome and we all click. But, as I expected, I'm finding myself not satisfied with the bassist. He is not playing the bass parts properly, his back up singing is weak and he constantly tries to over-complicate the bass lines.

    Nobody else in the band has noticed and if they did they have not said anything....so I am really not sure if these feelings are a result of me coming into the band as a former bassist and I am just being overly critical of the current bassist.

    Rant over. I feel a little better...but can anybody relate to my experience? Any comments?
  2. sloasdaylight

    sloasdaylight Banned

    Feb 4, 2009
    Tampa, Florida, US
    From the outside looking in, that's what it seems like to me. Pretty much too it seems like you set yourself up for failure by saying that you didn't expect you and the bassist would click.
  3. I don't think I could relax in that situation- I'd be overly critical if the bass was weak and maybe jealous if he was better than me.
  4. tdub0199


    Mar 4, 2010
    Atlanta, Ga.
    I have to agree with sloasdaylight...
  5. Absolutely, been there, am there, it's a quandry, no doubt.

    If you join a band as a guitarist, but you know you could do a better job than your bass player, it creates a lot of distraction and divided interest. You want to help the guy, and help the band, but you also need to focus on your new role as a guitarist. And you don't want friction with the bass player. The other guys might like him, and that could get awkward. So approach with caution and diplomacy.

    In my situation, I decided not to try to help the bass player unless it was absolutely necessary and he is doing something flat wrong and detrimental to the output. I don't comment on his tone or technique, or if he's too notey, or too simple. So I do a lot of tongue biting but, like I would do with any other member, if something is really magoo, I speak my mind. That makes it at least tolerable, and I can focus more energy on my guitar and vocal parts.

    You really need to have a chat with the lead singer-songwriter. It seems he trusts your instincts as a musician, bassist, guitarist, and vocalist. Certainly, if your bass player is playing the lines radically different than the way you recorded them, band leader should have some say about that.

    We made a rule in my band: No one gets/uses a mic unless it is for a pre-arranged, rehearsed, and approved vocal part. Without mic control, you get a lot of unwanted stuff coming through the P.A., not cool.

    You need to have that heart-to-heart with BL. I find that sometimes generalized band mandates work a lot better than pointing the finger.
  6. icecycle66


    Feb 4, 2009
    Are your definitions of "properly" the same?
  7. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    A story...

    My band's lead guitar player was also a former bass player, and probably better at it that I was. He was constantly nit-picking my playing, and despite my attempts to play it his way, and connect with him on a friendship level, he and I never clicked very well. He eventually got me kicked out of the band. A short time later, the whole band imploded over his continued bad attitude toward other band members who weren't up to his expectations. A year(ish) later, the band re-formed to include me, but not the lead guitar player. We have a new lead guitar player who is an awesome fit for everyone, and we're having a great time.

    Unless the bass player is truly wrecking the music, let him handle his part (the way he chooses to approach it - music is art, after all), and you handle yours...

    ...or not.
  8. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    This is the approach I have been trying to take. I defintiely don't want to be "that guy" and recommend how he should set up his amp and what his tone should be like. Screw that. Now that I think about it, it's the singing that is not sitting too well with me more than the bass playing.
  9. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    I definitely don't want to be the guy nit picking and recommending how he sets his amp. I honestly think its his back up singing that I am more worried about.
  10. themarshall


    Jun 26, 2008
    cochrane wi
    Let me get this straight: A guitar player feeling that the bass player is lacking? Say it ain't so! ;) At least you have experience as a bass player so you have some cred. If the rest of the band is happy with him, abide.
  11. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    If his singing is wrecking the songs, then focus on that issue. I'm fairly new to BG vox, but have worked at getting better with it. I found that dropping most or all of the instruments out of certian parts during rehearsal helped me find my way.

    You could approach it like this...

    "Hey, I'm hearing something wonky in the vocals on the chorus of 'Song X'. Can we do that part again without instuments?"

    This is not directly confrontational to one person, and will also highlight problems for everyone in the room.

    It may also be that he can't hear himself very well. I know that's often an issue for me.
  12. Seems like the singing is where to concentrate. Especially since if he's not playing out of key, his bass playing is well, HIS bass playing. If Duck Dunn were playing guitar in a band with Geddy on bass, he'd probably say "man I think that cat overplays, wonder if I should say something"...
  13. tmdazed


    Sep 29, 2012
    I am Terrible for that , one of our guitar player sits in on my rig for a couple songs I play guitar and sing for , iT DRIVES ME NUTS, but I have handled it , I try not to nit pick his playing , and for the most part try to ignore it . course my guitar playing probably drives him nuts , but we both just deal with it
  14. This.

    And vocal rehearsals are a really good idea if you want to get everyone on the same page. You have to tone down the instruments and focus on the vocals. My band has separate rehearsals dedicated just to working out vocal bugs.

    Everyone has to go in with the understanding that vocals are important, if something isn't working to the group's satisfaction, it has to be corrected or somehow eliminated. If your part is too hard to sing for whatever reason, you either need to trade with someone, work harder at it until you get it right, or give it up altogether. There is no room for ego.

    Since the vocals are what even the most tone-deaf audience member hears, they really have to be right. I can't stand listening to a band, everyone has a mic, but they didn't work out parts and most of the people with mics in front of them shouldn't have them. Distracting, not to mention unprofessional.
  15. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Digital Brand Development and Product Development at GHS Strings
    This is my question. When I left my former rock band, they wanted me to write the basslines down in order to have the bassist play them "correctly." I refused, citing that the new guy wasn't me and unless they want just a hired gun to go on faith and let him try something.
  16. I'd grab the bass during a smoke break and just jam a little and suddenly start to play the stuff and make sure at least the drummer plays with you. This could lead others to prefer your bassline and therefore help you improving the bass players part.
  17. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Hah, true!
  18. sloasdaylight

    sloasdaylight Banned

    Feb 4, 2009
    Tampa, Florida, US
    That's underhanded as ****, think how you would feel if someone did that to you.
  19. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    Agree 100%. Awesome advice.
  20. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    While I do understand that everyone has their style of playing and my interpretation of "proper" will likely be different than the other person, I was more referring to specific bass parts in the songs. Rather than sitting back a little and playing the part he over-complicates it and plays way too much. This has nothing to do with jealousy as I feel more than confident in my skillset and could play something intricate and complicated, if it sounded good I would be all for it.

    Some songs just don't call for that. Less is more.