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I’m a 51 year old pro bass player – I play mainly blues and jazz – well that is where my passion is at.

I got sick and tired of hiring guitar players that can sing and play really well but were difficult to work with so I decided to take on singing.

Wow, why didn’t I do this 30 years ago – I didn’t realize how much I really enjoy singing. I haven’t started singing on gigs yet because I’m so critical of myself. I do record myself for self-assessment and quite frankly, on certain/most tunes, I don’t like my voice. I’m from the old-school and have no desire to take vocal instructions (Ray Charles never took singing lessons and Greg Allman once said he sounded like crap in the beginning of his career).

I’m learning by imitating Nat King Cole and Ray Charles (Ray Charles learned by imitating Nat too). I have an app where I can adjust the keys of the songs for my vocal range. I am just wondering on why I don’t like my voice on some/most of the tunes? I know it is not because of the key because the app surely helps me finding a comfortable key. Is this normal for aspiring vocalists? I’m thinking it is because of my self-esteem and confidence and whey I was young, friends would say “you can’t sing” so I’m wondering if this is plaguing me?

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This is not meant to be harsh in any way, I'm just examining possibilities…

We start from not knowing what you actually do sound like.

Presumably, as you can play an instrument, you can also hit roughly the right note when singing [though it's not a guarantee, it's a fair bet].

Trouble is, without hearing you, no-one can say whether it's because you just aren't used to your own voice 'off tape' or because you really can't sing.

For the obvious & immediate 'straw poll' solution to that, I really wouldn't suggest you post up an example somewhere, because the anonymity of the interwebz is notorious for garnering some pretty harsh opinion with no fear of reprisal.

The chances are, you are simply not used to what you sound like yet, having heard your own voice through your skull more than ears for the entirety of your life.

I would suggest getting a lot more experience of what you sound like 'off tape' & get used to the results. There is no real substitute for practise, as we all know, but getting used to what you really sound like is a different curve.

I would also suggest [no laughing, please] to try some karaoke nights if that's an option near where you live - but somewhere where no-one knows you. Take a friend, get some confidence, learn how to feel audience reaction to what you do - something you already know from your previous experience as a player, but without the pressure of a first-time gig as lead vocalist.
Karaoke is 'low expectation' so the audience tends to be kinder - & will pretty much just ignore you if they don't like it, rather than be actually negative about it.

Work towards 'not being ignored' rather than actually 'getting rapturous applause' - & all the time you can know you're only practising - or be surprised if the audience doesn't realise you don't like your own results yet.
Appreciation is a good boost to confidence to push towards your first 'real' gig as a vocalist.

  • Good advice on posting my voice online. I've been practicing singing without a PA system -- just me, my bass, and my voice. Should I practice with a PA system and add a little effects to enhance? – rodbass63 Jan 2 '15 at 22:49
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    @rodbass63 - 'Fever' is a good song to sing with just bass! Seriously, if the backing was fuller, using more instruments, it would sound more like a proper track. Mic techniques need learning too. Don't go down the route of many singers and use loads of reverb - it masks what you need to hear. Try singing a bit higher or lower than the app says - it may not give the 'best' key for your voice.You also may find that playing and singing simultaneously is detracting from singing your best. – Tim Jan 3 '15 at 10:38
  • +1 @Tim - hence my otherwise rather risible suggestion of karaoke... though you may not be able to get much control over the reverb ;) – Tetsujin Jan 3 '15 at 10:41
  • @Tetsujin - fair enough, although there is a plethora of backing tracks out there to play guitar over - if he's singing blues songs, lots of 12 bar tracks available. – Tim Jan 3 '15 at 11:19
  • Sure thing - my only real point of karaoke (I'm starting to sound like I'm pushing it as a valid art-form now, I gotta stop;-) is that you're at performance volumes, rather than mumbling in the bedroom. – Tetsujin Jan 3 '15 at 11:28

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