Bass Player "Audition" blues

ReverendRevolver

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Last night we (drummer and I) auditioned the second bass player we've tried this month. (Context: rockabilly/punkabilly/psychobilly band)
He showed up more or less on time. Looks to be mid 20s, cool. Introduces himself, asks where he can plug in.

Drummer asks aloud "What do you want to try?". This question is being asked because the bass player was sent the set list for most covers we do last week. Bass player didn't really answer. I ask if they want to try a Nekromantix cover. He says sure. We start into it.

He's out of time. He's off key. I chalk it up to a fluke. We try it again, and I sing this time. My voice isn't 100% after losing it last week, but I'm in key, with less growl and 0 of the rockabilly voice break/hiccup stuff I normally add in. Also, I'm playing with my tele oriented so this guy can see the board. Drummer asks him to play an octave under me, basically fishing for him to be in key.
So we run it again, he's on key but falls out if time.

So we try an Eddie Cochran song. Good, in key, almost in time. Try Pet Semetary. I flub the timing on the chorus, restart. He's in time, off key. And doesn't seem to notice.
Starts checking his phone.

We run through a Tiger Army cover. He's on key and almost in time by the end.
Try a Stray cats song. Half the time He's playing the right notes. He's sort of in time?

Says he has somewhere to be I. An hour, nice jamming with us, etc.

I doubt we'll ever here from him again, but I also doubt that it's a loss.

Is this normal now? The previous bass player I didn't meet, he met up with the drummer and crashed and burned hard when they tried jamming.
This guy seems like he kinda knows stuff but didn't do his homework, so to speak. But most concerning, I'm getting flake vibes and he's more workable than orher ones we've tried.
10-15 years ago, you'd get guitarists that couldn't play that well answer your ads, show up and stay in key and in time, boringly following the root note if each chord and Nothing else. But I'd prefer that at this point.

What happened? Is this the modern normal?
 

soul-o

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Well, you’re not likely to hit the jackpot with the first guy. You’re looking for a kind of specialized style of playing, not just any schmoe is going to be able to play that repertoire well. Good luck.
 

TheFuzzDog

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I feel your pain. My band has been trying to audition bass players for the last month. Of the fourteen or so people who have expressed interest and claimed to be starting to learn songs, just over half have done the standard flake out.

Of the three who have come in so far, two were literally unable to play. Not because they were drunk or high, but because they don’t know where the notes are on the fingerboard.

The other one was a guitarist who has decided to take up bass. He wasn’t bad but we need someone better. Worst of all - the two guys who don’t know how to play were able to send me phone recordings that made it sound like they did know how to play.
 

eclecticsynergy

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It's the age of the internet. Technology can players sound competent regardless of their skill.

And there are people who've never played with others in person, yet feel they're musicians now because they've completed a couple of online lessons.
 

dougstrum

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Keep trying you'll find the right one.
Always works best to find someone through networking.
If someone is enthusiastic and has basic skills, they can be worth working with, even if they don't know your repertoire or particular genre.
Networking seems to eliminate flakes, and enthusiasm goes a long way toward getting up to speed.
 

teletail

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When I put a rockabilly band together about five years ago, I was dismayed by the quality of bass players out there. I sent them 10 easy songs, mostly 12 bar progressions, none with more than 4 chords and asked them to learn any 5. I don’t think anyone did.

Overall, the playing was pretty bad. One guy asked if we would come to his studio and I agreed, and when I got there, he had state of the art everything. Then he pulled out a Fender Custom Shop Precision bass and couldn’t even follow a simple I, IV, V.

I provided a nice ampeg amp for auditions and rehearsals, but some of the junk basses people showed up with were just embarrassing. Cheap crap that sounded bad. One guy looked like he bought his bass from a sears catalog, sounded like it too.

Finally one guy showed up that could actually play and had decent equipment so I grabbed him.
 

Festofish

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As a guitarist…I spent many years on my trusty Carvin BB75. I did all that at churches before I knew better. I feel your pain as I played almost every Sunday with revolving musicians. Sometime the drummer knew what he was doing and sometimes…most times…blah. They didn’t even know that we were supposed to sync up. That was a huge valuable lesson I learned early on. Pocket?
 

old soul

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Attitude and a willingness to learn goes a long way! However, I cant understand answering an ad and auditioning for a band if you really dont have the basics down. I guess some people think they will blend in and really not be noticeable, under the guise of 'bass is easy!'
 

Killing Floor

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If your question is whether it’s normal for some misfits to want to audition, yes. But don’t settle. There are plenty good bassists out there.
 

sax4blues

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Is this normal now?

What happened? Is this the modern normal?
When wasn't this normal? Flaky musicians? I've never heard of that, except when our drummer decided to go for a walk around the block 30 seconds before our set, but I'm sure that's unusual.

On a helpful note, have you considered finding the best bass player, who is probably already playing, and ask them to play part time with you?
 

nojazzhere

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Last night we (drummer and I) auditioned the second bass player we've tried this month. (Context: rockabilly/punkabilly/psychobilly band)
He showed up more or less on time. Looks to be mid 20s, cool. Introduces himself, asks where he can plug in.

Drummer asks aloud "What do you want to try?". This question is being asked because the bass player was sent the set list for most covers we do last week. Bass player didn't really answer. I ask if they want to try a Nekromantix cover. He says sure. We start into it.

He's out of time. He's off key. I chalk it up to a fluke. We try it again, and I sing this time. My voice isn't 100% after losing it last week, but I'm in key, with less growl and 0 of the rockabilly voice break/hiccup stuff I normally add in. Also, I'm playing with my tele oriented so this guy can see the board. Drummer asks him to play an octave under me, basically fishing for him to be in key.
So we run it again, he's on key but falls out if time.

So we try an Eddie Cochran song. Good, in key, almost in time. Try Pet Semetary. I flub the timing on the chorus, restart. He's in time, off key. And doesn't seem to notice.
Starts checking his phone.

We run through a Tiger Army cover. He's on key and almost in time by the end.
Try a Stray cats song. Half the time He's playing the right notes. He's sort of in time?

Says he has somewhere to be I. An hour, nice jamming with us, etc.

I doubt we'll ever here from him again, but I also doubt that it's a loss.

Is this normal now? The previous bass player I didn't meet, he met up with the drummer and crashed and burned hard when they tried jamming.
This guy seems like he kinda knows stuff but didn't do his homework, so to speak. But most concerning, I'm getting flake vibes and he's more workable than orher ones we've tried.
10-15 years ago, you'd get guitarists that couldn't play that well answer your ads, show up and stay in key and in time, boringly following the root note if each chord and Nothing else. But I'd prefer that at this point.

What happened? Is this the modern normal?
Curious......where have you found the two prospects?
I have never had much luck finding other players on CraigsList. An exception (I hope) is a guy I've had two practices with the past two weeks. He's a decent second guitarist, sings reasonably well, has common musical interests and influences, and (best of all) seems to be NORMAL. Family guy, teaches at a Junior College, and (at least initially) learns new material fairly quickly. But on the same Craigslist I posted, I received a half dozen weird, "out there" responses. While I'm open to good players who might not conform exactly to my specific requirements, you need to explain in your reply WHY you are not quite what I asked for, then WHY you would be an asset to have. Once I posted seeking a saxophone player.....a lady violinist replied, and her first sentence was, "A violin can pretty much do whatever a sax can". While I don't agree entirely, I liked the "can do" attitude, and responded to her. As it turned out, she wasn't a good fit, but it wasn't because she played violin.
As Tom Waits said in the Nighthawks at the Diner LP......."Bass players oughta be locked away somewhere...." meaning, even the best of them just aren't quite "right". ;););)
Keep looking.....the right guy is still out there. When I was in High School, I would have just settled for "whoever", but today, it's just not worth the aggravation. GOOD LUCK......;)
 

ReverendRevolver

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You should come to Toronto, in addition to guitar I also play rockabilly upright bass!

More seriously, it depends if you're trying guys out on bass guitar or DB, which probably has a smaller pool to recruit from.
Yea, DB would be awesome, but we've been talking about just someone on electric since like February. We've discussed buying an upright to keep in the practice space just incase we find an adventurous bass player.
Curious......where have you found the two prospects?
I have never had much luck finding other players on CraigsList. An exception (I hope) is a guy I've had two practices with the past two weeks. He's a decent second guitarist, sings reasonably well, has common musical interests and influences, and (best of all) seems to be NORMAL. Family guy, teaches at a Junior College, and (at least initially) learns new material fairly quickly. But on the same Craigslist I posted, I received a half dozen weird, "out there" responses. While I'm open to good players who might not conform exactly to my specific requirements, you need to explain in your reply WHY you are not quite what I asked for, then WHY you would be an asset to have. Once I posted seeking a saxophone player.....a lady violinist replied, and her first sentence was, "A violin can pretty much do whatever a sax can". While I don't agree entirely, I liked the "can do" attitude, and responded to her. As it turned out, she wasn't a good fit, but it wasn't because she played violin.
As Tom Waits said in the Nighthawks at the Diner LP......."Bass players oughta be locked away somewhere...." meaning, even the best of them just aren't quite "right". ;););)
Keep looking.....the right guy is still out there. When I was in High School, I would have just settled for "whoever", but today, it's just not worth the aggravation. GOOD LUCK......;)
We've gotten those 2 hits off Craigslist.... prior no shows were just from acquaintances. I'm trying to get intouch with a bass player I haven't seen in about 16 years, but tracking down a phone number is proving difficult.
 

Nogoodnamesleft

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Good bass players are hard to find. I wish my daughter had opened up to playing electric bass (she‘s all about upright bass when she was in school). I even bought her a used MIM Fender Jazz and she’s never touched it. As much as it would have been cool to see her start a goth or punk band or jazz (her favourite), she’s moved onto other things.

I look at the bass sitting collecting dust almost daily. I think if I ever wanted to join a band again, I’d put it to use and try to get good at it. I’ve played bass for things a few times in the past. There’s probably a good amount of opportunities if someone really applied themselves.
 

charlie chitlin

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I had a very good band.
I got to the point, if I was looking for a new member, I would virtually PLEAD, "Look...I know you probably WANT to be in the band, but before you show up for an audition, PLEASE listen carefully to the recordings, learn a few songs and, most of all, be really honest with yourself about the music; is this the stuff you want to play and, ARE YOU UP TO THE TASK? Is your playing on par with what you are hearing?"
STILL, most of the people who would show up were nowhere near good enough.
I don't know if they didn't realize it, or if they just didn't care.
 

Flat6Driver

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I had a very good band.
I got to the point, if I was looking for a new member, I would virtually PLEAD, "Look...I know you probably WANT to be in the band, but before you show up for an audition, PLEASE listen carefully to the recordings, learn a few songs and, most of all, be really honest with yourself about the music; is this the stuff you want to play and, ARE YOU UP TO THE TASK? Is your playing on par with what you are hearing?"
STILL, most of the people who would show up were nowhere near good enough.
I don't know if they didn't realize it, or if they just didn't care.

To be fair, most players I have played with that thought they were all that were not playing on par with what they were hearing.

But the other points are valid. Do you like the tunes. Do you want to work on them outside the practice room? Etc
 

Guitarteach

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Yep.. tonnes of flakes out there. Def. seen more.

Modern social media nets far more breadth of player than the old ads in shops and specialist magazines.. so you certainly have to wade through more. It also makes it easier for good players to filter crap bands asking for players if they have published videos. You need to be good to attract good.

People today can get cheap, good sounding gear and follow the pictures on YouTube to fake playing their fave tune and then think they have all the skills.

They bypass all the fundamentals of scales, keys, etc. Lots skip any lesson that deals with ‘boring’ theory or mentions those ‘note’ things.

I think the mountain of videos offering ‘watch me to learn this tune’ are a big cause of the issue. Lazy learning.

Tabs are nearly as bad. You can learn hundreds of tunes with no fundamental understanding but cannot adapt or transpose or react to a dynamic event live.

Chord sites that only show #s but not flats compound the issue.. WTF!

The whole ‘bass player being unable to hear they are out of key‘ is something I’ve heard/seen a lot. If we can hear, why can’t they? Strange. So stuck in regurgitating the tab pattern, they were not listening.

I am sick of saying ‘let’s try that in Eb‘ then having to explain exactly how many frets they have to move the pattern and what key they are already in. Then they find they can‘t play it with the pattern they learned without retuning down.. so we abandon the tune.

Most people are lazy and the internet has been an easy fix for them.. then reality hits.
 
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ScottTunes

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I will say this: as someone who started on guitar, adding electric bass to my bag of tricks has given me way more opportunities to jam and gig.

Same here. I began playing folk music on an acoustic guitar in the 60s, until the Beatles showed up! Immediately switched to electric guitar.

Unfortunately for me, there have always been a ton of guitarists available - some could even play quite well! I'm in the middle somewhere, and prefer playing rhythm guitar and singing.

I found far more opportunities to play bass, and unfortunately, didn't keep up with my singing and guitar chops over the years. Now, I've finally put a band together so that I can play rhythm guitar and sing 50s/60s rock n blues. Great fun! But finding a decent bassist who not only knows how to play in tune/time, but can transpose "learned" tunes to different keys, and learn different arrangements, has been nothing short of impossible!

I'd go back to playing bass, but I find it extremely difficult to play bass and sing! Besides, I prefer playing guitar. So, we hobble along...

The current bassist is better than fairly good, but always wants to change the arrangements "back" to the record. Or, sings leads and harmonies off key... My PA EQ is all wrong, he says. And, he's really a late 70s funk player, and turns 50s/60s songs from folk/shuffle/swing into funk tunes, and over-plays.

I like his tone though! He chooses exactly the tones I do/did. He understands changing keys. Terrible singer! But, sounds like he's better than 60% of what I'm looking for, which is better than all who came before him.

Sorry for the rant! Movin' on...
 




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