I Know I’m Annoying The Bass Player

getbent

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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.

you know who he is and how he plays. He is not changing, neither are you. Either get good with it, or change bands.

If the rest of the band is also going to be unhappy with him, then fire him.

We fired a couple of guys who we knew would never make us happy. no harm, no foul.

We were always on the verge with our keyboard player. After our band broke up (after 17 years) he joined 2 different bands, both had lots of gigs and a busy facebook page and all over it was crappy playing. Go figure.
 

tfarny

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I have a friend who insists she's tone-deaf. She's not shy about admitting it and doesn't regret it, but I'm stubborn and have an irrational need to believe that everyone can love music. She says she's "amusical," and it doesn't bother her, and her own young son is kind of a savant when it comes to playing piano.

I've never tested her, but tone-deafness is testable, right?

You can play a note for your friend and ask him to match it. He may not be able to, and unlike my friend, is embarrassed about it.
Tone deafness is extremely rare. When I was a child I was told (and believed) that I was tone deaf even though I loved music of all kinds. I thought there was no way for me to make it as a musician so there was no point in trying. All a pack of lies!

Here is a useful test: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/tunestest/test-your-sense-pitch
 

richiek65

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Lots to agree with there @Harley Wycliff. A good band is firing on all cylinders. Members engaged with the audience. Listening to each other. Feeding off each other. Striving to be better. Practicing at home alone often. Not just at band rehearsal. Rehearsal is not the time to learning your parts.

My bass player did send me an apology last night. After checking his notes at home, he was assured he played the song incorrectly at our recent rehearsal. As mentioned, a decent person. A friend. The tough part is, his ear could not tell him every note he played was out 1 fret. This very example is what’s bothering me.

I have decided to use this recent example to try and talk to him privately. To ask him how would he prefer we address this. We can’t go out and play like this live. I will ask him if he agrees that his ear is not so good. Does he agree we should not be playing live like this. Would he rather I remain silent and let us play out like this? Or would he rather I point out that things aren’t right and we need to correct them? Would he rather I do that after rehearsal when the other band mates are gone?

If I was walking around in public with a piece of toilet paper hanging out of the waist of the a s s of my pants, I hope that a friend would tell me. To me, it’s the same thing. If you are happily gigging somewhat oblivious to sour notes, would you want someone to tell you?
That sounds exactly how it needs to be said, how could anyone not take that the wrong way?
 

String Tree

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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.
That's a tough trail to walk!
Been there, had to do that.
It's Hell on the Nerves!
 

TheFuzzDog

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I have a friend who insists she's tone-deaf. She's not shy about admitting it and doesn't regret it, but I'm stubborn and have an irrational need to believe that everyone can love music. She says she's "amusical," and it doesn't bother her, and her own young son is kind of a savant when it comes to playing piano.

I've never tested her, but tone-deafness is testable, right?

You can play a note for your friend and ask him to match it. He may not be able to, and unlike my friend, is embarrassed about it.
Almost no one is actually tone deaf, and almost no one who says they are tone deaf means actual tone deafness. What they mean is usually one of these:

- I can’t sing well
- I don't like to sing
- I’m embarrassed to sing
- I can hear when other people are off key, but not when I am
- I don’t really like music
- Music isn’t a big deal in my life
 

burntfrijoles

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He's a bass player so it's justified. (Just kidding, that's for drummers :lol:)

If I knew I was annoying him/her I would likely have to make decision. Either swallow my tongue and live with it or move on. Who needs the constant tension, conflict? If you have to walk on eggshells or be constantly annoyed that's just not good for any relationship.

PS: I'm a big fan of bassists. They hold it all together for everyone. I also have tons of respect for drummers because I can't come close to the tiniest ability to drum.
 

Wagster

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Georgia
It's not his ear that's lazy, it's his band ethics. My band, dare I say, has similar issues. I feel your pain, but they will never change. I try to "fix" some things here and there. Gotta pick your battles. Accept it or move on are the only choices here.
 

Twang-ineer

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So the bad notes are in the practice venue as well? No complications from the stage and as ideal a situation as he is going to get...... dude needs to step aside and let the band move on without him. If the bass player is wrong.... everybody is wrong. That is what I always loved most about playing bass.

There is no excuse to be made here, he just does not care enough to fix the problem. What would fixing this take? Record each practice take two hours a week breaking it down and working the parts? That is likely less time than he spends driving to practice and gigs.... that is nothing time wise.

That may sound harsh, but really.... years of this? weeks maybe , months is really stretching it.... years.... no way.
 

Harley Wycliff

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10,000 foot view: A serious cover band's job is to play the songs correctly and make zero mistakes. Every successful band I was ever in held that up high in the air as its weekly standard. The bands that didn't do that found themselves stuck in the dive bar circuit, and spinning personnel in and out every few months.

Some bands seem to think that the team needs to be all kum-ba-yah and "karing 'n' sharing" and all that business. That's fine if its goal is to get together every week for a few laughs and cold ones, and to play a few tunes and laugh at each other's mistakes and annoy the neighbors. But, over my half century of playing, I've found that that "business model" just doesn't work in this highly competitive business. You can not transport a band with that collective mindset into a world where even the best cover bands are finding it tough to find gigs that pay more than (figuratively) a five dollar bill and a bowl of soup.

So, I think success begins with the band's members sitting down together and deciding exactly what they want the band to be, what they want to achieve, what they're willing to sacrifice to reach that goal, and what they expect of their mates to get there -- and then making that the band's charter from which the band will never deviate.
 
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jrblue

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It is amply evident that he's not very good and he doesn't really care. Unless he is performing at some level of harmonic brilliance that the rest of us cannot even process, wrong notes are wrong notes in conventional songs and arrangements. It's not tricky. Either he can't tell, or doesn't care. The excuse of maybe not hearing what he's playing is obviously crazy... unless his name is Ludwig von Beethoven. Not every problem has a solution. How would you react if someone pointed out that you're playing a wrong chord, etc. With pushback and failure to correct? Or, like most musicians, with an apology and fast attention to the mistake? Musicians want to get better -- or at least not sound like crap. This is the only method I can think of that might work, and not if handled as a "listen! Here's what I've been saying!!!" but more as as a "do we sound funny here?" check mixed in with "I think we sound terrific here..." for honesty and balance.
Can you make recordings and play them back to listen to as a group together?
Great approach and a good regular practice. Everyone can improve.
 

radiocaster

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It's hard, and he may not notice. I've done it myself, and did not notice until I heard the recording. Even if playing in the scale of the chord, one note may not fit at one moment.

Well, if the bass plays exactly the same thing as the guitarist without the extra notes, that problem is avoided. Sometimes that is indeed better.
 

teletail

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100% this. No amount of drinking or job stress excuses it, either.
I’m going to go out on a limb, but when someone has to tell me they aren’t a racist, it usually because they are. Like that guy that just was in the news for shouting racist names at a server. He’s not racist, he just shouts racist things.
 

keithb7

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Lots of good points made here. We continue to rehearse, weekly. I hear some improvement. I’m also biting my tongue as if I keep pointing out the areas to address, friction will boil over. Everyone’s situation is unique. This band could use a clear band leader. One has not been appointed. I’m not going there. So it will carry on amuck. We do alright. We are fine with the dive bar circuit. 10-12 gigs a year is just dandy.

The part I struggle with is wanting to be our best. I’m looking for a Steak & Lobster dinner with a $10 budget perhaps.

Frustration may come and go. As do emotions. This week The sour notes are less and not getting under my skin. 200 strong audience at the upcoming gig. It’s no dive bar so I suppose “We’re doin’ all right. Gettin’ good grades”.

I shall Smile. Give the audience my best and be good with it.
 




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