New bass player fired after 2 rehearsals

Timbresmith1

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I play in an alt country band. About half original music and half covers. There are 3 core members and we all get along pretty well (lead singer, lap steel player and me on guitar) . We all have day jobs of course but take it pretty seriously, and try to play decent paying gigs but not all that frequently. We have got into the habit of working with a roster of different bass players and drummers from time to time who like working with us but without committing to any one - they always get paid and it’s just easier that way.

Recently we tried out a new bass player - friend of the lap player- who is more of a casual bass player. As a sub for some of our more low paying pwyc casual gigs (we always take equal shares) if he learned the material it might be good to have a good back up. We were told he was really excited about working with us and looking forward to it etc. has been a friend of the band for years and always said if we had an opportunity he would love to play with us. It was clear that he thought he was auditioning as a full band member which was weird as that was never discussed and he knows we work with lots of other people.

Anyways 2 rehearsals in and it’s clear it’s not going to work. He doesn’t use charts, doesn’t take any notes during practice, hasn’t “had time” to listen to any of the material (he has copies of our 2 cds plus YouTube links and charts i sent on Dropbox), keeps talking about how busy he is and says he will try to find time to learn the material. He watches my left hand and plays about half a beat behind. My response is WTF!!!We have a gig coming up in a few weeks and are running out of time and patience to work on it with him. After the last rehearsal, our drummer came up to me after and pleaded with me to get someone else and sent a follow up email. That clinched it. I was able to convince our lap player that personal relationship aside this was NOT going to work.

So the message was delivered that it just wasn’t working out and he reacted very badly and said all sorts of fairly juvenile and nasty stuff. But he still seems to think we owe him more of an explanation. My view is that if he doesn’t know why, that is part of the problem. I really liked him as a person but talking about this further is pointless. Anyways I am frustratedly and just ranting here. Anyone had similar experiences and is there a different approach or is it better to just rip off the bandaid in one pull and move on?
How did it take 2 rehearsals? Seems like 1/2 an hour would have done it.
Sounds like he thought he was joining a band with his buddies.
I’d tell him that excuses about not knowing the material are not acceptable from the other guys that play bass with you, and because you like him, you don’t want to have to avoid him or lie to him about gigs and you aren’t willing to forfeit future gigs or the band’s reputation because he doesn’t have time. He doesn’t KNOW the material. That’s plenty of explanation.
 

Jazzcaster21

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I have a completely different experience when it comes to gigging bands.

I have been in a country/americana duo project with a guy now for the last few years that sometimes will do full band gigs. The leader of the band does not like to rehearse and prefers to do it on the gig but, he will send out songlists (with keys), charts and playlists before the gig so that potential players can prepare as much as possible on their own. Not the best approach but for the most part it works. I didn't like it at first myself but now I am used to it.
Plus, it's not like the material that we are playing is the music of Rush. It's four chords for the most part.

I will add though, there are a lot of rock players in the scene that don't like to just show up and wing it on a gig, freak out if you aren't playing a tune that "just like the record" and can't adjust on the fly if something goes wrong. To me part of being a pro is being able to adjust in the moment, listen and not panic.

I am not opposed to rehearsing myself, would prefer it sometimes and have been in bands that DO rehearse but for some reason around here, getting people to do it is such an ordeal.

To that point, a band needs a certain amount of rehearsal to get their set list together before gigging and from there, rehearsals are only necessary when you are trying out new material or bringing in a new member. If the new guy doesn't do his homework BEFORE the rehearsal, makes lame excuses, etc. then it's not going to work out. Whether you are playing top dollar private functions or late night bar gigs it's all the same. Yes, you can be a bit more relaxed on a gig where maybe you aren't the main attraction but you gotta be prepared no matter what.

I am also not opposed to people using charts on a gig if that is what they need, especially if they are a last minute sub and no rehearsal was possible. I have done it myself in the past many times but ultimately it's my goal to have all the material memorized so that I don't have to split my attention between playing guitar and reading a chart. But, everyone is different. As long as you are doing the job that you are there to do, then that is all that matters.
 

aFewGoodTaters

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True nuff. On the other hand…. the songs have to hang together. But you’re right maybe it was too much to ask.
IMO, it sort of depends on a few different factors. If you approach the player and say 'we're looking for a backup bass player for low paying gigs,' I don't think you can expect them to spend tons of their own time learning the setlist note for note. Personally I wouldn't show up to someone else's rehearsal with no idea of what to play, but that's just me. If someone called me and said they wanted to put me at the bottom of their call list in the event I'm needed in a pinch, I'm probably not going to put in tons of effort to learn the set, but at the same time I'm not going to be completed unprepared. I think it's all about adjusting expectations accordingly from all sides.

Anyway, it sounds like the guy handled it poorly and you probably don't want to deal with that drama, even from a backup player.
 

bottlenecker

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I've asked friends to play in my band when I had overestimated their ability. It does put a strain on the friendship. I don't think there's a way around it. People feel like you're rejecting them as a person when their musicianship isn't up to standard, which is kind of strange when they don't seem to have put that much work into it, but that seems to be how it is. The best I know how to do is be honest while spending as little time as possible describing their shortcomings.
 

chris m.

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I have a completely different experience when it comes to gigging bands.

I have been in a country/americana duo project with a guy now for the last few years that sometimes will do full band gigs. The leader of the band does not like to rehearse and prefers to do it on the gig but, he will send out songlists (with keys), charts and playlists before the gig so that potential players can prepare as much as possible on their own. Not the best approach but for the most part it works. I didn't like it at first myself but now I am used to it.
Plus, it's not like the material that we are playing is the music of Rush. It's four chords for the most part.

I will add though, there are a lot of rock players in the scene that don't like to just show up and wing it on a gig, freak out if you aren't playing a tune that "just like the record" and can't adjust on the fly if something goes wrong. To me part of being a pro is being able to adjust in the moment, listen and not panic.

I am not opposed to rehearsing myself, would prefer it sometimes and have been in bands that DO rehearse but for some reason around here, getting people to do it is such an ordeal.

To that point, a band needs a certain amount of rehearsal to get their set list together before gigging and from there, rehearsals are only necessary when you are trying out new material or bringing in a new member. If the new guy doesn't do his homework BEFORE the rehearsal, makes lame excuses, etc. then it's not going to work out. Whether you are playing top dollar private functions or late night bar gigs it's all the same. Yes, you can be a bit more relaxed on a gig where maybe you aren't the main attraction but you gotta be prepared no matter what.

I am also not opposed to people using charts on a gig if that is what they need, especially if they are a last minute sub and no rehearsal was possible. I have done it myself in the past many times but ultimately it's my goal to have all the material memorized so that I don't have to split my attention between playing guitar and reading a chart. But, everyone is different. As long as you are doing the job that you are there to do, then that is all that matters.
Being able to sit in on short notice and roll with the band is a great skill to acquire. It typically takes years of singing or playing in ensemble settings. Lots of guys from the YouTube generation just haven't had enough opportunity. It doesn't help that most K-12 schools no longer have the richness of choir, orchestra, band, marching band, and jazz-rock band that they had back in my day. My high school had all of these and more. Those were seminal learning experiences on how to have big ears and know your spot.

Once a band has its material together I agree that they don't need to rehearse as much. My band rehearses for these reasons--

1) when we want to learn new songs. This is important, because we get stale if we don't keep adding new songs to our repertoire. It gets boring playing the same songs. It's fun and invigorating to learn new stuff. We pick a couple of songs that the singer is psyched to do, we practice them on our own, and then when we get together for a rehearsal we give them a few run throughs and figure out if they're going to work. Usually we can add them to the set list after maybe a half hour of working on it as a group....because we all showed up at least 90% familiar with the song and its changes.

2) To review the rough spots in the last gig. We talk about where we had a few minor train wrecks, such as a botched ending, and go over it to tighten it up. The audience never noticed, but we did.

3) When there's a long hiatus between gigs. When we're playing every couple of weeks, we just gig. But when we have a month between gigs that's an opportunity to get together and work on stuff, and it helps keep us tight. Besides, we actually like hanging out with each other-- kind of like poker night but with music instead of cards.

4) When we need someone to sub. We've had to get a bass player or a drummer on short notice and ideally we get together at least once with them before the gig. If they're good musicians one practice is enough and they're good to go. If it's a short notice deal they usually end up with at least a cheat sheet for some of the songs.
 

ReverendRevolver

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You're lucky. I met a bassist who, in the last 4 years got better. Problems?
He is about 5'5" so he can only play a short scale bass. I made the mistake of giving him a chorus pedal to try. Now he has one on his pedal board and loves the sound. I've told him repeatedly that it DOES NOT FIT in a blues band. He tried to use it with the surf band so I dissolved that band and the country band as well. He said that " the songs need a different flavor added."
I'm trying to kick him out of the blues band as well, but with gigs lined up it's impossible to bring a new guy in to learn all three sets.

If he learns proper technique he can play on any bass. I've played with a couple of bass players with short, stubby fingers who can fly on a precision. Ever watch a really good string bass player? String basses have a 41" scale. It has nothing to do with scale and everything to do with technique, barring an actual medical condition.
I'm 5'3".
I bought a bass from a pawn shop for $35 to help out a friend's band who needed a bass player(this was when I was 16, so I'd been playing guitar for 5-6 years already).
That first bass was an ESP B-104. Black cherry finish, it matched my V-100 at the time. I learned all the songs and then some.
Now, I'm a boring hack of a bass player, but height has nothing to do with ability to play a regular scale electric bass. Upright bass? Totally a problem. Short people need a 3/4 scale double bass or a full size Cello.
I've owned short scale basses. The CiJ mustang bass felt tiny. My late uncles Hagstrom feels less thin, but a bit less substantial. Comfortable for sure. I'm no bass player, as I said, but someone who is 5'5" probably has more reach than me, and just chooses the more comfortable instrument. Not talking smack, but they shouldn't blame being short for not wanting to play a full sized instrument. It makes other short people look bad, and since Prince died, we need all the good press we can get ;)

@Matt Sarad just tell the guy that the "flavor" his chorus pedal adds is completely ruining every song. Blues needs grit not shimmer. A bass player making excuses and using effects that make no sense is pretty much like having a fat hairy guy insist on going shirtless, wearing spandex, and shredding on his BC Rich in a jazz band. If HE can't see why it doesn't work, it's a mercy to tell the blind deaf fool. Feel free to use that analogy when describing his "contributions".
 

nojazzhere

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You're lucky. There are tons of posts here from people bragging about never rehearsing, just showing up and playing. I feel for the audiences.
I agree 100% with what you said, but I WILL add I played some with a bass player who had toured with some hot Nashville star, and his ability and encyclopedic knowledge of music was astounding. He was mostly known as a country player, but he knew rock and jazz songs, (note-for-note bass lines) perfectly. We got together for a High School reunion band, and without first seeing a song list to prepare, he NAILED every song. I was gobsmacked. I threw in Robben Ford's version of Talk To Your Daughter (which has some very specific bass changes) and this guy knew the whole enchilada.
Point is, every once in a while a prodigy comes along. ;)
 

teletail

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I agree 100% with what you said, but I WILL add I played some with a bass player who had toured with some hot Nashville star, and his ability and encyclopedic knowledge of music was astounding. He was mostly known as a country player, but he knew rock and jazz songs, (note-for-note bass lines) perfectly. We got together for a High School reunion band, and without first seeing a song list to prepare, he NAILED every song. I was gobsmacked. I threw in Robben Ford's version of Talk To Your Daughter (which has some very specific bass changes) and this guy knew the whole enchilada.
Point is, every once in a while a prodigy comes along. ;)
And for every one that comes along like that, about 10,000 come along that can’t play the lines perfectly even with rehearsals, so I’m not sure what your point is.
 

teletail

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IMO, it sort of depends on a few different factors. If you approach the player and say 'we're looking for a backup bass player for low paying gigs,' I don't think you can expect them to spend tons of their own time learning the setlist note for note. Personally I wouldn't show up to someone else's rehearsal with no idea of what to play, but that's just me. If someone called me and said they wanted to put me at the bottom of their call list in the event I'm needed in a pinch, I'm probably not going to put in tons of effort to learn the set, but at the same time I'm not going to be completed unprepared. I think it's all about adjusting expectations accordingly from all sides.

Anyway, it sounds like the guy handled it poorly and you probably don't want to deal with that drama, even from a backup player.
Not trying to beat up on you personally, because this is a prevalent attitude on all of the music forums I'm on, but it drives me crazy when people equate how much effort they are willing to put in based on how much a gig pays. What about professional pride? Even a hobby player should have enough pride to not want to embarrass himself or herself. If you accept a gig, you learn the songs, I don't know how people can argue with that. Maybe I'm an anachronism, but I put the same effort into playing Joe's corner bar as I do a festival attended by thousands.
 

aFewGoodTaters

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Not trying to beat up on you personally, because this is a prevalent attitude on all of the music forums I'm on, but it drives me crazy when people equate how much effort they are willing to put in based on how much a gig pays. What about professional pride? Even a hobby player should have enough pride to not want to embarrass himself or herself. If you accept a gig, you learn the songs, I don't know how people can argue with that. Maybe I'm an anachronism, but I put the same effort into playing Joe's corner bar as I do a festival attended by thousands.
I hear you, and I put in effort as well and don't care about pay. Maybe I'm not articulating myself well (wouldn't be the first time), but what I'm saying is if you approach someone and say we want you to be an emergency backup or fill in for gigs that don't pay well, you're kind of letting them know what you think about their skill set. You're not good enough to play the festival for 2000 people, but you can play for tips at Joe's Corner Bar. I'm just saying when you approach the situation like this, you can't expect the person to dedicate tons of time and resources into your band.

I operate differently - I'm all in or I don't take the gig. But not everyone operates like this and you really can't expect them to.
 

teletail

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I hear you, and I put in effort as well and don't care about pay. Maybe I'm not articulating myself well (wouldn't be the first time), but what I'm saying is if you approach someone and say we want you to be an emergency backup or fill in for gigs that don't pay well, you're kind of letting them know what you think about their skill set. You're not good enough to play the festival for 2000 people, but you can play for tips at Joe's Corner Bar. I'm just saying when you approach the situation like this, you can't expect the person to dedicate tons of time and resources into your band.

I operate differently - I'm all in or I don't take the gig. But not everyone operates like this and you really can't expect them to.
I think we're in agreement. My entire life I've battled the notion that we don't have to give our best effort because we're only getting paid X amount of dollars, or it's a Sunday night and no one will be there, or any other excuse from a long list of excuses.

I got burned badly by this attitude once. We were playing a gig on a Sunday night down in Fort Lauderdale in the 70's and we were trying to get into some of the better clubs. The manager for one of the clubs we were trying to get in to stopped by unannounced and saw the drummer and guitarist phoning it in and we didn't get the gig at his place. It was a huge missed opportunity. Not only did we not get the gig at his club, playing there would have helped us get into other clubs. You never know who is in the audience.

I wound up leaving shortly after that. I wanted to be in a great band, they wanted to be rock stars. The story of my life.
 

Mindthebull

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IMO, it sort of depends on a few different factors. If you approach the player and say 'we're looking for a backup bass player for low paying gigs,' I don't think you can expect them to spend tons of their own time learning the setlist note for note. Personally I wouldn't show up to someone else's rehearsal with no idea of what to play, but that's just me. If someone called me and said they wanted to put me at the bottom of their call list in the event I'm needed in a pinch, I'm probably not going to put in tons of effort to learn the set, but at the same time I'm not going to be completed unprepared. I think it's all about adjusting expectations accordingly from all sides.

Anyway, it sounds like the guy handled it poorly and you probably don't want to deal with that drama, even from a backup player.
Yeah we had this conversation. Not note for note but at least kind of know the chords. Our expectations were lowered, which is why we ended up doing 2 rehearsals to give him a bit of time. The first was just with the core band members and the second was full band with drums and that’s where the cracks really started to show.
 




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