Using a Sub Bass Player

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by tapehead, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. tapehead


    May 27, 2008
    I am in a general rock cover band...hits from 70's through today. I was already in another more specialized band when I joined this band, they knew this. General cover band gigs about 4 times a month.
    My other band cannot be subbed out very easily, just because of the type of gig it is, but it does not play out very often, but when it does is good $$.
    I've subbed out roughly 3 gigs in a years time with the general cover band. And I even found my own sub who is as good on bass as me and a much better background singer. And he did a very adequate job when he subbed for me.
    But I'm being told if I commit to a gig with general cover band they dont want me to sub it out, even with plenty of notice and my more than capable sub. They say I made a commitment. But isnt this what subs are used for?
    Is what I'm doing really that unethical? Can you only sub out if you have a family or medical emergency?
    Basically, they dont mind me in the other band, and will even excuse me if I am booked on a date they book (thats hardly ever happened tho) They just want me to play a date I commit to without EVER subbing out. Isnt that one of the things subs are for!? Keep in mind, only talking a few times a year..
  2. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    You should play whichever gig is booked first.
  3. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    If you can't make the gig and you have found a sub that doesn't stink, I don't see the issue. If the band is your job, and your job is your life, then yeah, if you can't make it cancel the gig. For a cover gig with plenty of advance notice, I think someone is taking this just a little too seriously.
  4. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Endorsing Artist: Eventide, GHS Strings, G&L Guitars, NS Design, Tsunami Cables
    I'm of the mentality that the first gig that's in the books is the one that gets the gig. So, if your cover band booked a gig first and then your other (more well paying) band tries to book a gig on the same night, you need to hold fast to that initial commitment. Because, you're telling the cover band that "I'll play with you guys unless my other band books a gig, regardless of what we already have in the works." I can completely see why your cover band would not want you to sub out gigs at this point.

    I try not to get a sub just because another gig has come along. It just looks bad, and I'm guessing that your cover band is getting upset with your subbing, regardless of how many times it's been.
  5. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always overcompensating Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    I swear I thought this was about a bassist playing only sub bass frequencies.
  6. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Sub whenever you need to, but as others have said, the gig that gets booked first should be the gig you play.
  7. tapehead


    May 27, 2008
    That was exactly my feelings that they were taking it a little too seriously.Most of the songs they do are easy stuff like "I Want You to Want Me" that any decent substitute bass player could do.
    I just dont see the need to be so strict about it when its not very often.
  8. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    They should hear your sub before making such a decision. Can he come to a rehearsal?

    But be careful - I just got a steady gig by being a sub that they liked better!
  9. If the band has decided they do not want members playing in two bands, that's it, it's been decided, there is no debate. There are good reasons for bands to feel this way, whether or not you agree or think it's fair.

    They've put the ball in your court: Play by our rules, make this band your #1 Priority, or be replaced.
  10. chriscrob


    Mar 24, 2008
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Me too. I was intrigued.
  11. lowfreq33

    lowfreq33 Guest

    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Subbing 3 gigs in a years time doesn't seem too bad to me, but really it's their call. For general rock stuff I can't imagine it would be a big deal, but it's not my band. Some people just aren't comfortable playing with subs.
  12. I agree, personally, I think it's a bit nitpicky. But I've been in bands that would accept it, and I've been in bands that would not.

    It's actually the kind of thing that should come up during the audition stage so you know what you're getting into. But some bands change the rules as they go along. It would seem this band has learned they have zero tolerance for subs outside of a bonafide emergency.
  13. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Well, you clearly lack commitment to your cover band. If I were them, I'd be looking for another bass player. If you commit to a gig, then later back out and ask them to hire a sub, you are breaking your commitment. That light doesn't shine well on you as a band member or as a person.
  14. BassyBill

    BassyBill Still here Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    If you say to the cover band when a gig comes up, "I'm already booked, so I'll get a sub for this one", that should be okay.

    If you say to the cover band when a gig comes up, "Great, I'll do it" and then later try to change that to "A gig's come up with my other band, so I'm going to book a sub for the one I said I could do," that is far from okay. That's backing out on a commitment you already made and it's a matter of pretty basic professional etiquette.
  15. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    They want you to honor your committments and you want to know if that is unreasonable?

    Your replacement "did a very adequate job when he subbed for you." Maybe your cover band wants to sound more than adequate. I don't care how good someone is, it's rare that they can nail all the intros, changes and endings like the regular guy.

    Sorry, I've been in this situation (on the band's end). If you make a committment, stick with it. If you can't honor your committments, let them know so they can find someone who can.
  16. Blatz

    Blatz Guest

    Feb 11, 2012
    Just curious. How much prep time do you need when you gig as a sub? Do you already know most of the material? Fast learner? I never subbed
  17. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    A good sub will be able to step in with minimal (or no) prep time. If it is standard covers then he/she will probably have played most of it before. I like to have a setlist and keys in advance but I have stood in with zero notice.
  18. Factor88

    Factor88 Guest

    Jun 21, 2011
    That's it exactly. Additionally, I've played with plenty of great subs over the years (and been one-well, an adequate one-too) and it is extremely unusual, even for a general rock cover band, to have that situation not involve some sort of hand-holding or other mild sacrifice on the part of the band when dealing with the sub. So your band dealing with a sub for you involves a bit more effort than if you were there-all while you are out making more $$.
  19. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    Ask your bandmates a simple question: 'Would you rather not play and not get paid because I can't make it, even though I have provided a qualified sub, OR would you rather land the gig and advance the fortunes of the band in a professional manner?'

    They have to understand that losing out on good gigs is a step backwards, no matter the reason.
  20. chriscrob


    Mar 24, 2008
    Atlanta, Georgia
    You forgot the third option: "Or would you rather find a bass player who will be at our shows and kick me out of the band for backing out of commitments I made because something better came along."