I Know I’m Annoying The Bass Player

keithb7

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Posts
5,394
Location
Western Canada
7 years or so playing with the bass player. He’s a good guy. I consider him a friend.

Like anyone, when we practice at home we get better. When we gather for rehearsal I can only take so many sour bass notes. I try to be positive, encouraging him to fix his errors. I say “I hear something is off. Let’s work it out.” We do. He often gets grumpy, but we fix them. Next practice same wrong notes. Stop again. Work them out again.

Sometimes he aggressively says “Ya, ya. I got it. Let’s move on”. If I don’t say anything, more often than not he doesn’t hear the sour notes. He does not realize he’s one fret out. Or sharp or flat. His ear is not very developed. I let this go for a long time. Then I’m thinking to myself “this is wrong we need to fix this. He does not know he’s playing sour notes”.

When he does get annoyed at my neutral comments to address the mistakes, I smile and say, “I’m not trying to pick on you. We just need to fix this”. Other times I start to say something and then stop myself. So as not to get him on the defense.

One time just the two of us were practicing together. We rarely ever do this, just the two of us. Maybe once a year. I said let’s work out things. Make sure we are playing the right notes together. We did well. I said “This is good. We are getting better. I’m sorry if you feel like I am picking on you at band rehearsal. I’m not. I just want to fix things.” He said “this is the time and the place to do it. Not at rehearsal”. I was stumped. If I can’t say it at rehearsal how are we going to fix things? Foolish pride I guess.

He accepted my one-on-one coaching well and we fixed errors….Until next practise. Tonight at rehearsal I’m watching the fingers, seeing and hearing the same sour notes.

I guess I am not asking for advise. I’m just venting. I know what probably should be said if we are to fix things and keep them fixed. I’m not interested in a hen fight over grown adults practising at home. I’ll cut him some slack. It’s summer. Lots going on in his personal life. Less time to practice at home maybe.

Tonight he got pretty defensive about a song. I stopped and said we need to fix this. Wrong notes. He got pretty defensive claiming “I’ve always played it this way. Maybe you need to put your capo on for this song”. Nope I said. “We’ve played like this at least 20-30 times. You are out and very flat”. Bass player came back with more defence and push back. I’m like “Man, I don’t know what to say. It’s wrong. Your notes are wrong “. He eventually came around and agreed, he was mistaken.

I’m not perfect either. I too make errors. Yet I hear my errors immediately and strive to improve. I point out my own errors and say “I screwed that up. Can we go again from 4 bars before the bridge”. Or whatever.

I am struggling a bit with someone who does not hear their errors and is resistant to coaching to fix them. Band drama. That’s my rant. Good night. I’m over it. I’ll try hard to keep my mouth shut or this band will come apart.
 

arlum

Friend of Leo's
Platinum Supporter
Joined
Jun 7, 2018
Posts
2,464
Age
67
Location
O'Fallon, MO
How good of a friend are we talking about and how important is it to you to take the stage with a band that could grow into something great. If you're playing as a hobby with no eyes on the future I'd keep your friend because, yes, he or she is a friend. If you're hoping to be in a band that could grow a large following and possibly make it to the big time then you'll have to replace members that don't work at their instrument with the same urgency you do. Depending ..... you'll have to make a choice.
 

Thebluesman

Tele-Holic
Joined
Feb 20, 2009
Posts
834
Location
nowhere anymore/UK
Form another band who have no undeveloped ear issues!problem resolved.Otherwise continue the ongoing musical relationship with Mr tantrum!
You could...all play the wrong notes with deliberation..except the drummer!
please keep us informed accordingly.
 

runstendt

Tele-Holic
Joined
Feb 21, 2011
Posts
577
Location
Bloomsburg PA
He does not realize he’s one fret out. Or sharp or flat.
I've seen this with several bass players that I've played with, and most of them usually had decent ears and were good listeners. I've been told that it can have something to do with a combination of the notes being so low and the bassist being so close to their amp that they don't actually hear the difference in pitch. What generally happens is I shoot them a look, they say "what?", look at their fingers, then slide up or down a fret.
 

24 track

Telefied
Ad Free Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2014
Posts
20,561
Location
kamloops bc
I used to video the rehearsals so we could see:
1) our own stage presence
2) any missplaced idiosyncracies
3) to be able to visualize the mistakes and fix them

its a great tool , it shows you what you look like to the audience and how bad are the mistakes plus how much those mistakes pop out!
 

KeithDavies 100

Tele-Holic
Joined
May 19, 2021
Posts
730
Age
60
Location
Cambridge, UK
Years ago, I was invited to join a band made up of 40-50 year old guys who had learned to play and got together. They were all mates - had known each other for years. The drummer was the only one with band experience - he's played in bands as a young man, then reluctantly stopped to raise kids, build a business - you know, life!

Anyway, they were a delight to work with, because they were all still learning. Their goal was to play three songs at the drummer's 50th birthday party, in a local pub. His birthday was 6 months away! Though they were nervous about performing in front of people, they already had their three songs nailed, so I suggested three more. A month later, I suggested some more, and in the end we played a 2-hour set, to the joy and amazement of all their friends and family - I've never played a gig with such tangible warmth coming from the crowd. The place was packed.

After that, I continued to play with them for about three years before I moved away, for work.

Some of what we played wasn't quite what I'd like to play, but such compromises are part of any group activity. And they were still learning and developing, so you've got to make allowances there. However, the singer and bass player really did come on in leaps and bounds. Turned out the singer was a closet sax player, so we dragged his confidence on that along as well and he took a couple of sax solos.

The other guitarist, though, just never progressed. He strummed everything like it was a rendition of Row The Boat Ashore, and didn't recognise - or play - any difference between major, minor or 7th chords. There was no way I could set up a 2-guitar arrangement for a song, because he couldn't - or wouldn't - do anything beyond the incredibly simple. I got frustrated a couple of times and discussed it with the drummer, but his - quite admirable, really - attitude was that the guy's a mate, he's one of the group, and we all carry on together.

I got a job offer and moved away, and left the band after about three years with a combination of sadness and relief. I'd enjoyed playing with them, and they were a lovely group of friends, but the frustration was always there.

Anyway, I recently moved back to the area and, having been away 6 years, the drummer phoned and said their current guitarist was going to be on holiday over a date they'd been asked to play at a friend's wedding, and would I be able to cover. Be delighted, I said. Now, I do need to acknowledge here that I turned out to be incredibly rusty - far worse than I expected - and I'm sure that made rehearsals more stressful for everyone, including me, than we would have liked, though that wasn't a problem on the night.

However, I noted that the guitarist was still the same. I asked him about a chord sequence for a song they now do that I wasn't familiar with and he said "G, D, E, C" or something. Instinctively, from what he'd said, I said "E? E minor?". He shrugged and said, "Oh, I don't know, I just play the same thing."

The point of this admittedly lengthy ramble is that you've played with this guy for 7 years. Maybe this is as good as he gets. And maybe the discussion/decision needs to be about whether you just live with it, because he's a mate, or whether the quality of the band's output is more important. For me, it would be the latter. For my drummer, it was the former.
 

Skyhook

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Aug 12, 2014
Posts
2,677
Location
Turku, Finland
Years ago, I was invited to join a band made up of 40-50 year old guys who had learned to play and got together. They were all mates - had known each other for years. The drummer was the only one with band experience - he's played in bands as a young man, then reluctantly stopped to raise kids, build a business - you know, life!

Anyway, they were a delight to work with, because they were all still learning. Their goal was to play three songs at the drummer's 50th birthday party, in a local pub. His birthday was 6 months away! Though they were nervous about performing in front of people, they already had their three songs nailed, so I suggested three more. A month later, I suggested some more, and in the end we played a 2-hour set, to the joy and amazement of all their friends and family - I've never played a gig with such tangible warmth coming from the crowd. The place was packed.

After that, I continued to play with them for about three years before I moved away, for work.

Some of what we played wasn't quite what I'd like to play, but such compromises are part of any group activity. And they were still learning and developing, so you've got to make allowances there. However, the singer and bass player really did come on in leaps and bounds. Turned out the singer was a closet sax player, so we dragged his confidence on that along as well and he took a couple of sax solos.

The other guitarist, though, just never progressed. He strummed everything like it was a rendition of Row The Boat Ashore, and didn't recognise - or play - any difference between major, minor or 7th chords. There was no way I could set up a 2-guitar arrangement for a song, because he couldn't - or wouldn't - do anything beyond the incredibly simple. I got frustrated a couple of times and discussed it with the drummer, but his - quite admirable, really - attitude was that the guy's a mate, he's one of the group, and we all carry on together.

I got a job offer and moved away, and left the band after about three years with a combination of sadness and relief. I'd enjoyed playing with them, and they were a lovely group of friends, but the frustration was always there.

Anyway, I recently moved back to the area and, having been away 6 years, the drummer phoned and said their current guitarist was going to be on holiday over a date they'd been asked to play at a friend's wedding, and would I be able to cover. Be delighted, I said. Now, I do need to acknowledge here that I turned out to be incredibly rusty - far worse than I expected - and I'm sure that made rehearsals more stressful for everyone, including me, than we would have liked, though that wasn't a problem on the night.

However, I noted that the guitarist was still the same. I asked him about a chord sequence for a song they now do that I wasn't familiar with and he said "G, D, E, C" or something. Instinctively, from what he'd said, I said "E? E minor?". He shrugged and said, "Oh, I don't know, I just play the same thing."

The point of this admittedly lengthy ramble is that you've played with this guy for 7 years. Maybe this is as good as he gets. And maybe the discussion/decision needs to be about whether you just live with it, because he's a mate, or whether the quality of the band's output is more important. For me, it would be the latter. For my drummer, it was the former.
A (very glorious)bass player I worked with back when everything was better(the olden days), used to say that music groups / programming teams and the like... any project group, really... can't be staffed based on friendship. Sure, it's great if you have
people who are already friends who have the skills to do what's necessary but if they don't; they have no place in the group.
This is because a project group has a goal to produce a certain output and they can't do that without all cylinders firing.
It could even end up damaging friendships much more by including (skill-wise)deadbeat friends than leaving them outside
because they don't make the cut.
 

FaithNicole

Tele-Meister
Joined
Dec 29, 2012
Posts
261
Location
Florida
I have several thoughts.

When I started, and still occasionally, I find myself playing to the vocal shift when that's wasn't what the song or bass line calls for. Is he perhaps doing that?

Or maybe he is practicing at home, incorrectly, and reinforcing his errors?

Some people know they make the mistakes yet hate having them pointed out, especially in front of others. He likely takes it better one on one for that reason.

I accept criticism and critiquing. I know I have plenty to learn and the guys I play with have a lot more experience (and better musicians). So when they say it's the wrong note or want me to play it different, I do the best I can to accommodate. I will say this, I typically hear my wrong notes as I play them w/o being told. I've made wrong notes that I knew about and they didn't hear in the mix.

The bass player that I replaced, nice guy, great rock bass player. Yet when it came to what our group plays it was like he knew nothing, wouldn't practice, made the same mistakes in the same places every time - or got totally lost. And, that's why I am now in the group.
 

maxvintage

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Mar 16, 2003
Posts
6,234
Age
63
Location
Arlington, VA
From your account it seems like no one else in the band is complaining. You have the bass payer half a step off, which is a lot, but why is the rest of the band not hearing this and being bothered by it?


It makes me wonder if there is some other dynamic at work here?
 

AAT65

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
May 29, 2016
Posts
6,529
Location
West Lothian, Scotland
I've seen this with several bass players that I've played with, and most of them usually had decent ears and were good listeners. I've been told that it can have something to do with a combination of the notes being so low and the bassist being so close to their amp that they don't actually hear the difference in pitch. What generally happens is I shoot them a look, they say "what?", look at their fingers, then slide up or down a fret.

Our bass player has trouble hearing what he is playing sometimes - he did not like standing on the far side of the room from his bass amp, although we told him we could hear bass much better than he could by standing a bit further away. In the end he got in-ear monitors sorted out and all those “oops wrong fret” problems just disappear when he uses them.
Again this is a guy who’s a friend and we don’t want to give him a hard time, but he wasn’t happy until he could hear what he was doing. He has very good ears, he’s great at working stuff out by himself - but in a band environment, at close quarters, the bass can be strangely difficult to hear.
 

FaithNicole

Tele-Meister
Joined
Dec 29, 2012
Posts
261
Location
Florida
I've seen this with several bass players that I've played with, and most of them usually had decent ears and were good listeners. I've been told that it can have something to do with a combination of the notes being so low and the bassist being so close to their amp that they don't actually hear the difference in pitch. What generally happens is I shoot them a look, they say "what?", look at their fingers, then slide up or down a fret.

Our bass player has trouble hearing what he is playing sometimes - he did not like standing on the far side of the room from his bass amp, although we told him we could hear bass much better than he could by standing a bit further away. In the end he got in-ear monitors sorted out and all those “oops wrong fret” problems just disappear when he uses them.
Again this is a guy who’s a friend and we don’t want to give him a hard time, but he wasn’t happy until he could hear what he was doing. He has very good ears, he’s great at working stuff out by himself - but in a band environment, at close quarters, the bass can be strangely difficult to hear.

I re-read the thread and missed that. I have encountered this myself. Most areas are too small for me to get any distance from my amp all I can do is be to the side to avoid going deaf. Volume-wise I am ok as I do the sound check for the group from the dance floor.

I got 'lazy' one time and during the first song, follow-up sound check, I wander over to some gal-friends table and sat with them while I played & listened. It didn't work out as the difference from the dance floor threw it off. I was a half-step off when I stood back up. Embarrassing.
 

SRHmusic

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Oct 19, 2020
Posts
1,872
Location
North Carolina, USA
Sounds like he doesn't really get that the bass lines follow the changes and keys/scales of the songs, generally. Maybe go over the actual notes and why those are the notes? There are a lot of "pattern" players out there.

I understand not being able to distinguish very low tones in the moment, something I have trouble with. But, uh, it is his job. :rolleyes:
 

keithb7

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Posts
5,394
Location
Western Canada
So many responses. Wow. Apparently many have had similar experiences of some sort.

I’ll try respond to a few.

Other members hear the sour notes too. We glance at each other when we hear it. They remain quiet too. I guess so not pick on someone. Other members are polite gentlemen. Wouldn’t say nothing. All good guys for sure. Yet if nobody says anything nothing gets corrected.

Its a hobby band. We’re not “making it” ever. No plans to. Just trying to have fun and gig 10 times a year. "Keep the friendship" is the right answer here. I have to just grin and bare it or stuff will get ugly. I can tell if I push too hard to get better it will go sideways.
I’d like the band to be the best we can be. I realize I can’t make someone else want that too at the same level of expectations that I have.

It’s not a train wreck. Its not all the time. Its not every song. But it grates on my ears when it’s repetitive and a player can’t hear it. There is practice going on at home. Indeed, it is quite likely that sour notes are being practiced at home. Reinforcing the mistakes.

We're guy friends trying to have fun. Its best I just shut up and let it go.
 
Last edited:

soulgeezer

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Posts
9,124
Location
Sinatra's World
I play with a rhythm guitar player like the bass player in the OP. Constantly and consistently makes the same mistakes, even after endless (very polite) correction. Refuses to even admit that playing a major chord where a minor chord belongs makes a difference ("I'm only playing the two lowest notes anyway!" Well, he's fretting the entire wrong chord and those other wrong notes ring!). Or, he just plays the wrong progression in the wrong place and blissfully saunters on as if nothing at all is wrong with what he's doing.

People like are either tolerable or they're not. This guy owns the PA and gets a lot of the gigs, so... Tolerable.

I just wish a had a pedal that would let me mute him, when he goes off into never never land!
 

SRHmusic

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Oct 19, 2020
Posts
1,872
Location
North Carolina, USA
Other members hear the sour notes too. We glance at each other when we hear it. ... Yet if nobody says anything nothing gets corrected.
...
I’d like the band to be the best we can be. I realize I can’t make someone else want that too at the same level of expectations that I have.
...
It’s not a train wreck. Its not all the time. Its not every song. But it grates on my ears when it’s repetitive and a player can’t hear it. There is practice going on at home. Indeed, it is quite likely that sour notes are being practiced at home. Reinforcing the mistakes.
This may have been mentioned before -
Can you make recordings and play them back to listen to as a group together? The issues are more obvious when listening and not playing.

Even better is a mutitrack setup (easier with a digital mixer and a DAW like Reaper). It's even possible to create practice/critique mixes for each member, with the band in one stereo side and the individual on the other. That's some work, but not too bad once the multitrack is set up.
 




Top