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What do u look for in potential bandmates?

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Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 44
Topic starter  

I'm a vocalist and getting closer to where I want to be.
I will soon be ready to form a band.

I haven't really jammed with ppl so I don't know what defines a great guitarist or perhaps the most compatible guitarist for myself.
I don't know what makes a great bassist.
I don't know what makes a great drummer.

What should I look for?
How do I go about this? I would very much appreciate your advice folks.

P.S. what do you guys look for in VOCALISTS?

Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4113

my suggestion is figure out what you like then look, or hit the craigslist lottery in your area and check out bands looking for a vocalist


Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5349

Number one thing is friendliness, regardless of the instrument he/she plays. Second most important thing is motivation. Then circumstances like how far that person lives from the practice area, whether he has his own transport and instruments etc. After that you can check the actual skills but I wouldn't bother: just find a nice and friendly person who's motivated and able to show up. If the skills ain't up to par yet they will be after some time, just be patient and have fun. After all, what's the point of having a virtuoso if he's a pain in the butt, or doesn't care at all, or can't show up for rehearsal most of the time?

Prominent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 837

^^Agreed. And I'd like to add on to that. Chemistry is a very important thing which goes hand in hand with friendliness/motivation. If you guys can jam for 30 minutes that'd be real cool, but make sure you guys can talk and sit down for 30 minutes too.

But lets say your band has a creative genius. Lets say he's really something. Don't hold that person back from flying. Let him share all of his ideas. No stubborn members that want to do just their thing, make sure everyone gets a fair share of the pie.

Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5342

All-round decent bloke

Did I mention commitment?

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at:

Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 10264

Someone with reasonably similar tastes in music to yourself. No good being in a band if the other three guys want to do Bee Gees cover songs and you want to write original metal music.

:D :D :D


"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 6348

what I would look for in a vocalist would be all of the above things mentioned.
plus, they would have to be comfortable getting in front of the band. physically and musically.
the band gives the vocalist a platform. (I am assuming you as a vocalist that does not hold a guitar; just sings)
be able to sing on pitch, have excellent timing and phrasing, and be able to sing with heart would be essential and a demand on my part.

in a band, all of the above plus a willingness to listen, be able to understand dynamics, and it would not matter if they were super ace guitar, bass, drum player genius or a average player. as long as they want to learn, contribute, try, and have a sense of humour.

the last band I was in , we auditioned lead players. one guy was amazing. totally understood his rig, his tone. he could play like four different guys; ie, Keith Richards, Clapton, etc..note for note. freaky.
we passed on him because he would not listen, want to do it other ways. his way was the way. a snob.
when he saw my lap steel he had a fit. he was the only slide player in the band. avoid people like that.

Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 4921

I'm with Alan: commitment is #1 - I've known too many musicians who a) showed up for rehearsal without learning their parts, b) learned their parts, but showed up at a gig stoned and promtly forgot their parts, or c) didn't show without letting anyone know. I don't care if you're the greatest musician ever born, if you don't support the project, you're useless.

Attitude is second. If you're great, wonderful. If you think because you're great everyone else isn't, there's going to be a pretty high stress level. You can get only get away with an attitude like that if it's really "your" gig - if you're the leader, you got the booking, you hired the others, the crowd is coming to see YOU, etc. Most people with attitude don't bring as much to the table as they think they do.

A grasp of reality is third. If you're getting paid to play somewhere, it's a JOB! That means you show up on time, dress appropriate to the occasion, and have the tools you need to get the job done.

All bands have different dynamics, so what's right for one won't work in another. Flexibility - being able to adapt - is pretty important too.

Way down on the list is ability. If you've got the above, you'll get better over time.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL

Reputable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 407

I would put them in order of importance as follows :

1. Similar taste in music . At first people are happy just to be in a band , any band , so they think "this is great . " Over time they start to think " I really want to play (insert favorite band name here)" and someone else in the bands says "I'm not playing that , they suck" and there are hurt feelings and before you know it you're searching for a band with similar tastes . So eliminate the first roadblock to band longevity , creative differences .
2. Availability . If someone works a different shift or rotates shifts practices are hard to schedule . The same goes for people who travel for their jobs . Coordinating three , four , five or more people's scheduling conflicts to find the time for playing together is not the simplest thing to do . Things like jobs , wives , girlfriends , kids , friends , drinking and drug habits , other commitments (the list goes on and on) are obstacles to getting together . Some are necessary obstacles and have to be accepted .
3. Personality . You will be spending a lot of time with these people . It helps if you like them and they like you . You will find that the things you look for in a bandmate are the same things you look for in a friend or mate . Consideration , commitment , communication , being on time , being prepared , are they easy to get along with ...
4. Ability . Can they play and are they committed to working to get better ? Do you make good music together ? Is it fun ?
5. Ambition . Are their goals the same as yours ? Do you or they want to be the next big thing or just get up and play for friends and family ?

This is only my opinion , freely provided and of debatable value .

If I claim to be a wise man , it surely means that I don't know .

Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5582

I agree with Alan, commitment is #1. What good is a great guitarist or drummer if they fail to show up at practice? So, you need someone who is serious about forming a band and is willing to work hard.

Attitude is very important too, you need someone who is flexible and doesn't have to have their own way all the time. It is amazing how many musicians are prima donnas. They have to do everything "their way" or they will take their guitar and go home. Let 'em, musicians like this are a pain in the you-know-what.

Again agreeing with Alan, ability comes last. Now, you don't want a complete beginner unless you are willing to take a very long time to learn enough songs to perform. So, they need basic ability to play. But in no way do they have to be great, with practice everyone can learn to play well. And going along with commitment, you need someone who is serious and will practice when away from regular scheduled practices. Nothing more frustrating than trying to learn a new song and find out nobody has worked on it during the week.

And lastly, like the old sales motto: Plan your work, and work your plan. You have to have a little discipline when forming a band. Start with a few simple songs, have all the music and lyrics for each player. Don't noodle around, get right to work and work on these songs. Next practice, review all material and work on more new songs. But you can't just go into a practice session with no idea of what you are going to learn or play. So plan it all out and work your plan. :D

Good luck forming a band. It is a lot of fun, but it is also a lot of hard work and very frustrating at times. You just have to tough it out.

Oh, almost forgot, you asked what to look for in a vocalist. :D

The most important thing for a vocalist is to discover their own voice. You have to know what you can sing well and what you can't sing well. Professional singers absolutey know their own voice. They know which songs they can sing well, and they know which songs they can't sing well.

And they only sing songs they can positively sing well.

So this is where many singers make a big mistake. They try to learn songs they like or copy their favorite singer even though they have a completely different voice. It is true with practice that a singer can increase their range, power etc...
But basically you are born with the voice you have and this will never change. So you have to find songs that fit your voice, songs that are EASY for you to sing, and that you naturally sing well without difficulty. This is what pros do, they carefully search for songs that fit their voice. They never sing songs that do not fit their voice.

So that is # 1. And it is important to record and listen to yourself. You have to sing on key, and you have to eliminate bad singing habits like popping Ps or Shhhhhh.... Unlike talking, singing is probably 90% vowels. Keep consonants short and vowels long. :D

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis

Reputable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 407

Due to time constraints and slow typing skills I failed to address your last question in my earlier post so here is my opinion on what I look for in a singer .

I look for someone who can obviously sing with conviction and make a song his or her own . I look for an entertainer who is comfortable on stage . The singer is usually the mouthpiece for the band so he or she should be able to banter with the audience or the other band members . Dancing , gyrating and prancing about are not necessary to make the song sound any better but live music is also a visual medium so it doesn't hurt to throw some of that in once in a while .

It is also important to make it seem as if you are having a good time because you should actually be having a good time . Jokes , anecdotes , interesting news items are all things that can fill up an otherwise awkward silence while a band member changes a string or instrument or takes care of one of the many technical problems that can arise in a live setting .

Even if you don't play an instrument now , think about learning to play one . Many lead singers will also play harmonica , flute or saxophone . Sometimes the lead singer will also be expected to sing back-up harmonies for other singers in the band .

If I claim to be a wise man , it surely means that I don't know .

Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3709

Being that I am not a professional musician, I look for friendship first ... musicianship second. I want to play with people I like to be with. If it isn't fun, I don't want to do it.

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --

Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2171

I don't know what makes a great . . .

Truly great players are rare.

But most people don't need someone that's great. What they need is great people.

Look for folks who share your level of commitment and passion to the music you're trying to create. Look for people who are willing to partner with you -- who will accept your fair criticisms and suggestions and who will offer the same back to you. Look for people who care more about the band succeeding than their own glory. Look for people who have fun doing what they do.

Some of the worst "musicians" in the world pack full stadiums every night because they have the passion, personality, perseverance, and pure luck to succeed, and some of the best in the world sit alone because no one wants to play with them.

Being great is fine. But it's much better, career-wise, to be good enough, but to engage the audience and have fun like no one else.

Fans like a band that likes each other. You can tell when a group loves what they are doing together, and that is infectious.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST

Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 630

I have a suggestion that can tell you all you need to know with one simple question.

Do you like the beatles? If they say no then they are hopeless, they lack talent and drive. They can't tune. They don't shower as often as you would like a bandmate to shower. Stear clear of them.

"And above all, respond to all questions regarding a given song's tonal orientation in the following manner: Hell, it don't matter just kick it off!"
-Chris Thile

Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038

Friendship is a nice thing, but has little to do with making good music. Many times, I would rather play with my friends, but it is not always the case that the best music or the best band would result from choosing only to do it with friends. Often the opposite will happen as the friendship is more important than the music (it is!), and spared feelings will be more important than the quality of the music. If this is about making a successful band with a good working relationship, then mutual respect -- personally, musically and professionally -- is a vital ingredient. That, along with self confidence (everyone, not just you), and a reasonable level of musical competency can take you far -- especially if one or two members have an infectious creativity and style the rest can work with. And someone has to be a leader; and others recogonize that leadership. Very few band democracies work for long.

All of the above means you will be working with people who will show up (and on time), know what they are supposed to know, understand the importance of working to a plan, know that listening to others (and others music while playing) is just as important as talking and playing, be able to give and take constructive criticism, understand that following a leader is often the best way to get things done and done well and can grow and learn from their successes and their mistakes.

-=tension & release=-

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