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ubit

Any singing bassists here?

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We have not played for a couple of years now ( constraints of my job) but all through my musical life, I have been not only the bass player but also the lead singer. This has posed many problems over the years. Mainly I have to take far longer to learn my parts as I have to learn the bass line, learn the lyrics and then master the art of doing them both at the same time. Obviously, you need to be able to concentrate completely on the singing, therefore you need to be able to play the bass part without thinking about it. Our guitarist used to always say, right lets do this next gig and I would be like, I'm not ready, but he would insist. It used to drive me up the wall.

Do any of you singing bass players have techniques that you use?

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For me, just keep doing it as you say. Ive been known to adjust the occasional bit in either the lyric line or the bassline to suit , but other than that juts keep practicing

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Yes, learn both parts individually, but you need to know the bass part so you can play it on autopilot. The vocals always take priority so you need to concentrate on those during the performance. Luckily I only take the lead vocal on a few songs. I don't think it would be fair to subject the audience to too much of my voice :)

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1 hour ago, Frank Blank said:

I can't sing and barely play bass, I dread to think what the two combined would sound like!

Probably like me ..

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1 hour ago, Norris said:

Yes, learn both parts individually, but you need to know the bass part so you can play it on autopilot. The vocals always take priority so you need to concentrate on those during the performance. 

This, very definitely.

I've always managed to sing and play ok, but talk and play? Impossible.

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Yeah, I find that complicated bass lines are not too hard to sing over just as long as the bass falls on the beat. As soon as you have to play half notes or triplets, it becomes harder. Then I am forced to simplify the bass line. 

I once heard a guy saying he played with a pick as it was easier to sing and play as it was more percussive. Not sure what he meant but I play more or less all the time with fingers unless I want the pick sound. 

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There's a YouTube video by Jay Leonhart called "It's Impossible To Sing And Play The Bass".He's playing DB and I and many others know exactly what he is talking about.I do a few vocals and backup vocals and it took a while to get things coordinated, especially when trying to learn a new song while reading music and words at the same time. I can do it easily on guitar but DB is a whole other world.

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I never used to sing. In fact I couldn't sing a note until a joined a function band 20 odd years ago. They let me sing backing but I wasn't all that confident and stood back from the mike. Every gig I kept plugging away and got a lot better.
Fast forward 20 years and now I am a better singer and sometimes get the lead vocals on a few numbers (Although I have to simplify the bass part)
It just goes to show what you can do if you keep on at it.

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I find that time is the thing that helps me. I feel like I am never getting the piece, then after playing it for a while, it becomes easier. That was my biggest bugbear. Our guitarist was always saying, right we will do this-this weekend and I would not be ready

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1 minute ago, Hobbayne said:

I never used to sing. In fact I couldn't sing a note until a joined a function band 20 odd years ago. They let me sing backing but I wasn't all that confident and stood back from the mike. Every gig I kept plugging away and got a lot better.
Fast forward 20 years and now I am a better singer and sometimes get the lead vocals on a few numbers (Although I have to simplify the bass part)
It just goes to show what you can do if you keep on at it.

Mrs Ubits brother is proof of this. He plays guitar and could not sing to save his life. He kept plugging at it and now has a fine singing voice

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2 hours ago, Norris said:

Yes, learn both parts individually, but you need to know the bass part so you can play it on autopilot. 

Definitely this but I also used to slow the parts right down and think about how the two melodies and the timing of them inter-reacted. Sometimes I could get a part to work that seemed impossible at first.

Unfortunately, while I could sing the right things in the right places my voice still sounded horrible 😃

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My singing and playing are about on parr. 

Absolutely shyte at both. 

Doing the two together? There's more chance of me coming up with a viable method of cold fusion. 

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6 hours ago, ubit said:

Yeah, I find that complicated bass lines are not too hard to sing over just as long as the bass falls on the beat. As soon as you have to play half notes or triplets, it becomes harder. Then I am forced to simplify the bass line. 

 

I only do BV but you have hit the nail on the head. The lead guitarist/ vocalist on one of my bands can’t get the idea that some songs I can play and sing on are more complicated on paper than others that I can’t sing on but it’s the rhythm more than complexity that nobbles me.

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I can sing.  I can play.  Although much improvement is needed on both, I feel I am getting closer and closer to doing both together one day.  I'd love to carry it off well though.

One of the things that is pushing me towards that goal is that I can't get to jam these days.  It strikes me that I should use the time I have on my hands at home to get ready to solo at an OM when I can get out and about again.  Gawd help the lot of you!

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@12stringbassist does this well. I only do it on the rare occasions when I'm solo, and I then play minimal root notes while I'm singing and elaborate the bassline between verses. As said, put in as much practice time as it takes to nail one so you can do it while thinking about the other. Best wishes!

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9 hours ago, Ricky 4000 said:

Oooof, difficulty levels just went "turbo"! 😁

In some ways I feel it as challenging as I did when I first realised I'd have to eventually play for actual people.

By people I mean those who aren't friends who would give me a street opinion because they don't know me personally.  The buzz from meeting that milestone and passing it was worth the efforts leading up to that point.  I expect it will be the same sort of buzz if I can get to do the singing bassist thing.

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Way back when I first started singing, I remember the weirdest thing was hearing your voice coming from somewhere else. I got used to it, but I love singing as much as playing.

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22 hours ago, el borracho said:

Definitely this but I also used to slow the parts right down and think about how the two melodies and the timing of them inter-reacted. Sometimes I could get a part to work that seemed impossible at first.

100% this. I have to take it painfully slowly to really feel how the Vox & bassline sit with each other. Practice, practice, practice. It can take forever but it does work.

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I've done it off and on, more BVs than lead.  To echo a lot of what has already been said, for me I have to know how to play the bass line well enough without concentrating on it, then move on to the vocals.  But there would be certain things where the different timing of each part would make it impossible.  In one band where we sacked the singer and couldn't find a replacement for ages, the rest of us shared out the vocals to see if we could keep ticking over, and there was one song where one of the guitarists could manage the choruses but not the verses, and I could manage the verses but not the choruses

so in summary, make sure you write all of the vocal melodies yourself, and structure those around what you can sing while playing the bass line 

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Yup I'm a lead singing bassist.

As the others have said, try to learn the bass part and singing part separately first to get your head round it. Then just plenty of practising, so you know what the timings are etc. For originals, the same applies but you have the chance to write the singing accordingly.

Some songs are nigh-on impossible where the bass and singing don't interact much (ie Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, Billie Jean etc) but most songs are ok with a bit of practice.

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2 hours ago, bassbiscuits said:

Some songs are nigh-on impossible where the bass and singing don't interact much (ie Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, Billie Jean etc) but most songs are ok with a bit of practice.

Yeah, For instance, I can sing and play Crazy Little Thing Called Love easily as its a walking bass line, but struggled with The Killers All These Things That I've done. I had to simplify it as I just couldn't get that the notes were different lengths. Dead easy bass line to play. A bugger to sing over. It used to annoy the hell out of me, as I always felt it was rubbish not playing that verse correctly, but it went down so well, that we kept playing it

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