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Old 10-26-2013, 07:58 PM   #1
PunkRockerMatt
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Too many band members! Bass player wants to play guitar

Hey everyone,

I'm in an interesting situation, I think my band has too many members.

So we are a Alternative Rock band, I'm on rhythm guitar/lead vocals and originally I wanted our band to be the classic two guitarists, bass and drums.

We recently tried out a new bass player and he's great but after a few jams but he said he'd also like to play electric guitar in the band for some songs and write songs. He is originally a guitarist but tried out for bass because we needed one for some upcoming gigs and he's a friend of ours.

We do have another bass player in mind but we don't think he'll be as good.

So there are really a few things I could do I guess..

1) Tell him that he can only play bass as the guitarists role is already filled

2) The lead guitarist and him could swap instruments with each other depending on the song. But I'm not sure how the lead guitarist feels about playing bass. Or I could play bass but I dont wanna do that haha.

3) Have 3 guitarists! find another bass player and the current one could move to electric gtar. I'm not sure how well 3 gtars would work, I think the sound would be too crowded and messy.

4) I just stick to singing, we find another bass player and we have 2 guitarists and a bass player. I dont think I want to do that either. and I only write most of our songs on guitar so I think I'd want to play it

5) Fire him!! find a new bass player haha

Any advice would be extremely helpful,

Thanks
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Old 10-26-2013, 10:16 PM   #2
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He signed up for the bass position. That's what he's playing.
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Old 10-26-2013, 10:26 PM   #3
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Ultimately, if you don't let him explore some on guitar, you risk losing him. If he's a good bass player and adds a lot to the band, you should accommodate him.

Otherwise he'll stick with you until he finds a better situation for him, and leave.

How you want to accommodate him is up to you, but I'd suggest that everybody compromises some. That may mean you play bass on a few songs. If your idea of compromise is that the OTHER guitarist compromises and you don't, that's not really compromise.

As far as songwriting goes, that's an area where there's no room for ego. The band should play the best original songs that you guys have. If those are yours, great, if those are his, great. Bands sometimes will make decisions to include one song by every writing member, but those songs have to be in the ballpark of as good as the rest of the output. Beyond that, the best songs win. CHeck your ego at the door.

(Sounds like that's some good advice for you overall).

Having a bassist who's invested in the band, who feels like the band is helping fulfil his musical ambitious, is a great thing and it can be hard. Yes, that means you're going to have to compromise some. The alternative is getting a bassist who doesn't have as many musical ideas, who just plays what he's told, and may well get bored and move on fairly quickly. He certainly won't have a major commitment to you and your band.

So I would say to him something along the line of, "Between us two guitarists, we're both happy to do a song or two on bass to mix it up, should be fine, but we were looking for a bassist, and we need you to be comfortable mostly playing bass. Is that going to work?"

If you can't say that honestly, then you don't need to fire him because he'll be quitting soon enough. (Hopefully not right before a gig you care about).

If your attitude is accurately captured by your aside "I could ... but I don't wanna do that" then you're going to find yourself going through a lot of bandmates until you reach a position where you can pay them to play exactly what you want them to play.
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Old 10-26-2013, 11:44 PM   #4
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I honestly wouldn't even compromise. Someone needs to stand up and take hold of the direction you want to go. You want a classic setup with 2 guitars, bass, and drum...then do that. If he wants to be in the band and play he can be on bass, the position he tried out for. Now this is not to say when it comes to writing songs he can't give some input on the guitar parts, in fact, I think its a great idea for band member to be able to play multiple instruments, helps the song writing process and makes it easier to communicate with each other musically.

If you're serious about the band and actually work and put on shows and give him a reason to be there, he won't leave or pass ya'll up just to play guitar with someone else starting from scratch.
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Old 10-27-2013, 12:34 AM   #5
PunkRockerMatt
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Thanks for the advice everyone! Really insightful stuff.
He signed up for bass so that's what he should be doing!
That's not to say he couldn't play a guitar track on a recording or play the odd song live on gtar but he's there to play bass mostly. I would still love his input on guitar parts writing wise and he could even come up with guitar stuff just like I could make the odd bass line for him. But all in all he joined the band to play bass and if that isn't enough for him then he might have to leave down the road.
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Old 10-27-2013, 12:43 AM   #6
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And everyone agrees 3 guitars would be too much? I think so. The other funny thing is I asked our current bass player when I was starting the band if he wanted to play guitar for but he said he was to busy with other stuff. Then the band formed and we needed a bass player for a gig, he wanted to and now he wants in on the band guitar wise. Haha. Funny how things work out.
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Old 10-27-2013, 01:20 AM   #7
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I didn't read all the posts fully, but I would try for a different tact.

Get a new bass player. This guy has guitarist dreams he's going to quit eventually. I might be wrong. He could settle into his bass position and be phenomenal. But it doesn't sound like his heart's in it. Punk music especially needs to have a lot of heart.
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Old 10-27-2013, 04:47 AM   #8
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Yeah I agree rybread3.
He's an awesome guitarist and he plays bass for us really well but I think he's gonna go after these gigs. I've talked to our lead guitarist and he's not happy! there is no way he is playing bass for certain songs, he doesn't want to play bass at all, which I can understand. I don't think he'll settle as bass player, I think he'll always want to do more so I think he'll have to go after these upcoming gigs.
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Old 10-27-2013, 05:54 AM   #9
MaggaraMarine
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About writing songs... Why should every member write their own parts? Why can't bassists write guitar parts and vice versa? When I write music, I write all parts, not just my part. One guitar/bass part doesn't make a song (and I'm the bassist in my band). The bassist doesn't need to play the guitar in the band to be allowed to write guitar parts for the band. Also if everybody writes their own parts, your songs will sound messy (if you don't let anybody touch your parts because they are "your parts").

In my band I would sometimes also like to play the guitar. But we have found out that the songs just work better if I play the bass all the time.

IMO three guitars is an overkill, unless you have songs that need three guitars. But if the guitars play the same thing almost all the time, three guitars is an overkill.

But I would say, maybe try swapping instruments sometimes. Or maybe you can convince your bassist that playing the bass is as much fun as playing the guitar is and he'll be happy just playing the bass. But I wouldn't get rid of him if he's a good songwriter so I agree with HotspurJr. And I really don't see anything wrong with swapping instruments (considering that everybody can play bass and guitar well).
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Old 10-27-2013, 06:42 AM   #10
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I totally agree man. I write parts for all instruments as well. Writing for other people's instruments isn't a problem at all! Don't have a problem with it. But I think people need roles in the band. We wanted a bass player not another guitarist and I don't want the current guitarist feeling like the bassist is breathing down his neck. Swapping instruments for jams is cool I think but I don't want to swap instruments on stage.
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Old 10-28-2013, 07:44 PM   #11
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Here's another point of view... coming from a fellow singer/guitarist.

You're the singer. Be the front man. Don't tie yourself to one spot on the stage as you stand there playing your guitar in front of a mic stand. Grab the mic, and be a front person. Perform. Be engaging.

I find that, when I play guitar and sing, that I don't sing as well as I would if I was just singing. I also don't play guitar as well as I would if I was *just* playing guitar. I sure as hell don't perform as well doing both as I do when I'm just doing one or the other.

Let the other guy play guitar. When required, you can be the three-guitar band with you picking up the guitar from time to time. April Wine and some other bands along the way have done that. It works... just not all the time.

Pick up the other guy to play bass who actually wants to play bass.

Everybody wins. Seriously.

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Old 10-29-2013, 08:10 PM   #12
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Interesting point axemanchris,

I've thought about this and have tried this but I don't think I want to do that. I think I sing better when I play guitar, the reverse of you haha. I wish I could run around the stage like a front man vocalist but I think I'm much happier playing guitar as well. Also I'm writing most of the guitar parts, I think it would be weird if I wrote all these guitar parts but someone else would play them.

I've talked to the rest of the band and they either want the guy to play 100% bass or we will have to find somebody else that does want to only play bass. But yeahhh... guess that's how it goes.

Thanks for the advice everyone, really good stuff
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Old 10-30-2013, 04:58 AM   #13
MaggaraMarine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axemanchris
Here's another point of view... coming from a fellow singer/guitarist.

You're the singer. Be the front man. Don't tie yourself to one spot on the stage as you stand there playing your guitar in front of a mic stand. Grab the mic, and be a front person. Perform. Be engaging.

I find that, when I play guitar and sing, that I don't sing as well as I would if I was just singing. I also don't play guitar as well as I would if I was *just* playing guitar. I sure as hell don't perform as well doing both as I do when I'm just doing one or the other.

Let the other guy play guitar. When required, you can be the three-guitar band with you picking up the guitar from time to time. April Wine and some other bands along the way have done that. It works... just not all the time.

Pick up the other guy to play bass who actually wants to play bass.

Everybody wins. Seriously.

CT

Yeah, good point. There are lots of bands who do this. Bruce Springsteen is the first to come to my mind.

And TS, why do you care who writes the parts? If I write a cool guitar riff, I'm just happy if our band's guitarist plays it. And if he writes a bass part, I play it. This is what I was talking about in my first post. Guitarists don't need to write guitar parts and bassists don't need to write bass parts.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine : 10-30-2013 at 05:01 AM.
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Old 10-30-2013, 09:24 AM   #14
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#5...unfortunatelly...

Our old bass player was a guitarist and his heart wasnīt in it...when our old bass player moved back we recruited him again and moved our basist to guitar.....didnīt work.....3 guitars is hard and youīre gunna need at least 2 exceptionally good guitarists too pull it off....I mean "bloody Iron Maiden Iīm going to do this... you do the fifths and then harmonize the rest" frikin good or itīs just a waist of space

on the good side he quit on his own and weīre all still buddies....

and as for the frontman not playing all the time thing...this is true.....after adapting songs with Three guitars and me (singer) not playing all the time we kept doing this when our third guitarist left......sounded even better.....gave the song some air and added Dynamics which it didnīt when we were 3....that just added volume. Like it has been said before "less is more"
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Old 11-02-2013, 02:48 AM   #15
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It's been awhile since these posts went up. How did the bass player situation go? Did they settle into position? What happened after all this?
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Old 11-03-2013, 08:17 AM   #16
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Thanks for all the posts guys!

MaggaraMarina: I agree with you, I dont care who writes what parts. I write stuff for drums, guitars, bass and vocals and i dont care if somebody writes a part for me. What I'm saying is if I was only the singer in the band but wrote guitar parts or bass parts but wasn't actually playing them, it would be weird for me. but anyway it doesnt really matter that much .

rybread3: The current bass player seems to be happy in his role at the moment but we all think its only a matter of time until he wants to play guitar again or leave the band that I would totally understand. We have another bass player waiting in the wings desperate to play with us after seeing us play live the other night but for now, the current bass player is staying and seems happy enough for now.

So it has sorted itself out for the meantime but we'll see....haha
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Old 11-03-2013, 09:33 AM   #17
MaggaraMarine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PunkRockerMatt
Thanks for all the posts guys!

MaggaraMarina: I agree with you, I dont care who writes what parts. I write stuff for drums, guitars, bass and vocals and i dont care if somebody writes a part for me. What I'm saying is if I was only the singer in the band but wrote guitar parts or bass parts but wasn't actually playing them, it would be weird for me. but anyway it doesnt really matter that much .

rybread3: The current bass player seems to be happy in his role at the moment but we all think its only a matter of time until he wants to play guitar again or leave the band that I would totally understand. We have another bass player waiting in the wings desperate to play with us after seeing us play live the other night but for now, the current bass player is staying and seems happy enough for now.

So it has sorted itself out for the meantime but we'll see....haha

Well, I don't feel weird when our band's guitarist plays the guitar riffs I wrote.

And if I write songs as a bassist, I don't only write bass riffs. Bass riffs aren't songs. We are an instrumental band and guitar usually plays the main part in the songs. So if I write a song, I need to write the guitar parts. I mean, songs are about melody, harmony and rhythm (and of course lyrics if you have a singer). And when you write songs, you pretty much write all parts (rhythm, melody, harmony and lyrics).
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine : 11-03-2013 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 11-03-2013, 10:27 PM   #18
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Most great bands involved members swapping instruments. Don't see the problem. You seem a little hung up on "looking like a conventional rock band". A lot of bass players started out as guitarists before they realized bass is a thousand times cooler.
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Old 11-03-2013, 11:04 PM   #19
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By the way, how good is he playing guitar???? that's a pretty important thing to consider, I'd understand if he's not better than you or your lead guitarist that you only want him playing bass, but, if he's better than any of you, it'd be a little silly not to make him a guitarist (it'd be you probably who'd have to give up on guitar and stick only at singing), unless you don't get along with the guy and just don't really care to keep him in the band.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:04 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Niiko_Xeneize
By the way, how good is he playing guitar???? that's a pretty important thing to consider, I'd understand if he's not better than you or your lead guitarist that you only want him playing bass, but, if he's better than any of you, it'd be a little silly not to make him a guitarist (it'd be you probably who'd have to give up on guitar and stick only at singing), unless you don't get along with the guy and just don't really care to keep him in the band.

So the bassist should be worse than the guitarists? There are many bands where I would say the bassist is actually better at playing the guitar than the guitarists (I would say Rob Trujillo is more technical player than James or Kirk in Metallica). But if he joined the band as a bassist, IMO he should be a bassist. If TS has never played the bass, he will be terrible at it. I mean, bass isn't just an easier guitar with four strings. You need to think like a bassist to play the bass well.

For example in our band I'm way better guitarist than our keyboardist is but if we need two guitars in a song, our keyboardist plays the 2nd guitar and I still play the bass. Because I'm the bassist of our band.

Edit: Your band's bassist should be the best bassist of your band. The band already had two guitarists, it is not looking for more guitarists. They need a bassist. And if both guitarists are at least decent, it doesn't matter if the bassist is a bit better guitarist. The only thing that matters is if he's good at playing the bass.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine : 11-04-2013 at 09:59 AM.
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