Singing while playing. Simplify or avoid?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by OOD, Jul 29, 2021 at 2:49 PM.

  1. OOD


    Jul 29, 2009
    I consider this band management because it has to do with deciding roles based on member’s abilities.

    Considering that a new singer is something being looked for, for the time being would you take on singing if it meant simplifying bass lines or would you just deal with off pitch and rhythm vocals from another member? If you’d simplify, how simple would be acceptable to you?

    If I took on this task I would work to improving my bass lines as quickly as possible without sacrificing the vocals.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  2. wazzel


    Dec 27, 2007
    Cypress, TX
    If I have to take on lead singing the band just a soon take a hiatus until a new singer could be found.
  3. Probably a question for the band, try and see if overall the sound still works with the simplified bass lines.

    Isn't the joke here that no one knows what we're doing until we stop anyway? If that's true most folks won't notice if you keep enough of the essential lines.
  4. OOD


    Jul 29, 2009
    I have to consult the experts at TB before I pitch the idea.
    vvvmmm and WI Short Scaler like this.
  5. OOD


    Jul 29, 2009
    That option would have them looking for a singer and a bassist, since they are fine with the current vocals for the time being, but if they could find a lead singing bassist it would help them out a lot lol. You got a problem with simple bass lines or lead signing in general?
  6. Jason Stock

    Jason Stock

    Aug 13, 2019
    Personally, I would not be willing to deal with "off Pitch" vocals as you put it. As I do most of the lead vocals in my main band, playing and singing is what I do.
    Now, in your situation, it really depends on the songs/type of music. If simplifying the bass line in the short term only can work, great stuff, but if it makes the song sound empty or missing...well.
    Chances are if you have been playing these songs, you may surprise yourself and be able to sing them and keep the bassline more easily than you realize.
    instrumentalist likes this.
  7. Guitalia


    Jun 7, 2008
    Baltimore, MD
    Me, I'd practice at home, singing while playing the accompanying bass lines until I was comfortable.

    Depends on the style of music and on the particular song, of course, but if Paul McCartney (a bass player of merely average competence, according to some posters on TalkBass) learned to sing while playing bass by age 20, so can you.
  8. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    I would find figuring out new bass lines harder than the “singing while playing your normal lines” learning curve. Getting good at that skill is a huge plus for a gigging bassist and worth the effort as a lifelong skill, IMO.
  9. wazzel


    Dec 27, 2007
    Cypress, TX
    I can sing and play without any issues, I just do not have a good singing voice. In the past I have done a few songs during the gig, but no way I could carry a band all night.
  10. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Bad vocals are worse than simplified bass lines. Many bass lines will actually sound better simplified!
  11. Gothic


    Apr 13, 2008
    I don't like simplifying stuff. If I can't cut it on both, I'll pick a different song. Both bad vocals and simplified basslines are bad to me. Sure, bad vocals are probably more obvious but still, nah.
    smogg likes this.
  12. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Good vocals mean more to 99.86% of audience members than a cool bass line.
  13. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    I'm all for consolidating and splitting the pay one less way!
    I've been called out for letting the groove get a little wobbly while attempting to multitask. Nothing some woodshed time doesn't fix. (Practice separately, then combine w/ beats written out over each other if necessary and start slowly.)
    If a guy like me can play Salsa Tumbao rhythms and sing backup in Spanish phonetically, I figure most people ought to be able to pull off more than they might imagine.
    Being a good front man, that I can not help you with at all.
    instrumentalist likes this.
  14. Zak TMD

    Zak TMD

    Apr 22, 2016
    Outside of the heart of darkness, Washington, DC
    Breaking even is the new making money.
    I don't know if this is super helpful, but it just so happens that I was (just) the singer of my band back at the end of 2015 and our bassist moved. Dudes said either I play bass or that was it, cuz we had all had enough of trying to find people who were a good fit, after a few previous bouts trying to find a forever bassist (our founding bassist moved around a lot over the years).

    I've played bass for a long time, but nothing like playing in a band for years and years and it was a pretty heavy lift. I did, however, do all the bass work / writing on the run up to our previous recording in 2014, so they knew I could at least play. Playing bass and singing was a whole other thing.

    Anyway, long story short(ish) I put in a lot of work practicing and figuring out what worked. I had to simplify some of the bass lines or change up some of the vocal approaches simply because my brain couldn't figure them out, and by March of 2016 we started playing shows again. It took me a little while to figure out how to sing, play, and be something of a frontman (way different with a bass in my hands and tied to a mic stand) but we made it work.

    If it's something you're really interested in, and your voice suits the music, it's just gonna take some work. If it's a temporary stop gap, I don't know that it's worth that much effort. Focus that energy on finding the right person to sing.
    BSatt likes this.
  15. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Are you talking about gigs or just sludging through rehearsal until you find a new front person?

    For gigs, neither is really a good option, but I'd choose dumbed down lines with good vocals vs better lines and poor voice. For rehearsals, it's less important - you're just trying to get through songs.
    vvvmmm likes this.
  16. When I played other instruments I sang, even lead in several bands, but playing bass it is a different matter for the most part, generally my line is "I get paid extra to play bass and NOT to sing" because it is just that bad. Proof is when they hear it. There have been a few occasions when backing vox have worked out but it has been a rarity. It is something I have put a lot of frustrating work into, but never crossed the bridge successfully even after the 10,000 hours and the patient teaching of several professionals who were just as disappointed.
    I still do vox in the studio as needed for projects.
  17. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    Personally I work the bass lines until I don’t have to think about them, then layer in the vocals. It takes practice.

    I never want to hear pitchy vocals.
  18. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    Seattle, WA
    This would depend on the song, the type of music you're playing, and the audience itself. In cases where I could simplify, I would if I had to. If I didn't have to simplify to play the part and I could sing it as well (I've been practicing this with Bob Marley's "Waiting in Vain", but only with backup vocals) I'd do that. If it were a song where the bass was prominent and contributed a large part to the melody, harmony, and memorability of a song, I'd focus on the bass parts.

    If you're in a transitory period, you all do what you can to make it work. And if that means trading duties per song, so be it. The other member may be aware that their vocals are subpar, but may be doing it anyway because it has to be done. If you feel that you can help to shoulder than burden, then I'd say yeah, do it.
    OOD likes this.
  19. jdh3000


    May 16, 2016
    If acceptable to the band, simplifying would work until you have a chance to work on it.
    You can get to where you can sing any of it correctly while playing the right part, it just takes practice.

    It's better to have the singing part down and a simplified bass line wouldn't kill the song as much as vocals that were off.

    Long ago when I started singing Come Together by the Beattles I did the signature part on the beginning and everywhere there weren't vocals and just played a single notes while singing.

    I thought that would be tough to learn both but once I put my mind into it, I was able to do both parts well. After that I didn't find singing and playing intimidating and I can sing and play anything now.
    TomB likes this.
  20. lbbc


    Sep 25, 2007
    Seaford , DE
    I play and sing lead and backing vocals. I have a high tenor voice...and sing harmonies above our female singer. I DO, sometimes, simplify the bass line stated before...people will notice poor singing before they notice a simplified bass line.
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