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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been playing mostly lead guitar for too friggin long now, and in all the bands I was in I'd do very minimal harmonies on backup vocals. COuple of years ago I started on more Acoustic style songs as well as the electric, and I find myself wanting to carry a tune not just with my guitar playing, but vocally as well. So basically I want to learn to play and sing at the same time. Right now when I sing a tune I keep the vocals so low I can barely hear myself try to sing over the guitar. It's like when I first started on guitar and didn't feel adept enough to comfortably play loud. Any hints, tips, ideas, or recommendations from the many people who already have this skill under wraps and "are not afraid of their voice"?
 

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I just started a year or two ago. For me, it was really difficult because my style of play was often slightly behind the beat...Keith Richards-ish. With the guitar beat and vocal beat in different places I found it almost impossible. I had to adjust my guitar playing to accommodate the vocals. I love it though...eve eif it's just backups.
 

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A couple of ideas...

Just do it - over and over. I've been working on the same thing for about 5 years now, and it's still not easy for me, but lots and lots of repetition is helpful.

Try monitoring yourself in real time with headphones. I find that I make the best progress when I can hear my own voice very well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
For a little more
Adopt a 'Could care less what people think. I'm gonna sing' attitude.
And be the laughing stock of my household? Fuck that shit dude! lol.....seriously though, you're right. Maybe I'll go get a Vocal mic and drive everyone crazy till I can pull it off correctly (for me). I'm a bit of a perfectionist so that has some fairly serious consequences to any approach I might take.

@bw66 , yeah, that's pretty much what I'm doing...except not quite. I'm taking pretty simple songs like the 2 mentioned and getting comfortable with those first to where it leads.
 

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I've played lead guitar in since 1983. I've always sang harmonies even before I started gigging on lead. So it always came naturally to me. Since about the early 2000's I got lazy and started to not sing much. I wouldn't step up to sing and harmonies in band seemed to take a back seat. I stopped even singing the 6 or 7 songs a night that I'd sing. Well now I'm back in another band after not gigging at all for the last couple years. This band has a focus on strong harmonies and wants me to start singing lead again. Its amazing how hard I find it after being lazy for so long. Its like I have to get used to it all over again. The only difference for me is that I did it before so I know I can do it again. So my only advice is to stay with it. Practice singing and playing at home every chance you get. With lots of stage time it will come.
I used to sing lead on songs and play my own fills and leads, etc. That was something that was also hard for me but since I only sang a few songs and I'd carefully choose my songs I was able to get it.
 

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Another thought:

I hired a vocal coach about a year and a half ago and the main things that we worked on at first were breath control and singing intervals. Keep your lungs as full as possible and keep pressure on your diaphragm.

(JB and Greg also gave good advice while I was typing the last one.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for that @Greg Ellis . Once I get a Mic I'll do that for sure. Already have all the necissary equiptment apart from a vocal mic anyway.

@bw66....for sure...I did a lot of interval training and sight singing when I went into a Jazz music program here in Edmonton, but unfortunatley never put the time in afterwards. A lot of advice is incoming that I'd normally give to someone else, so maybe it's time to take my own advice, as well as others of course.
 
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I used to be self conscience of my vocals way back.
I know my voice sucks, but I enjoy singing.
When I mention this others, I'm often complimented for over coming my fears.
The usual response is 'so what, you're having fun'.
 

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You are actually doing three things at once. Playing, singing, and breathing. It's best to sing with lungs full of air. Timing your breathing with your guitar playing is something to practice. If you have a big note to hit find a spot to take that big breath. When I perform, I always have to hear my voice above my guitar and the band. I'm a loud singer, but if I can't hear my voice I can go off pitch very easily.
 

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Practice, practice, practice, the same songs over and over and over. I started singing while playing acoustic about a year and a half ago. I was horrible at first. Like you I sang very quietly. I go to a once a month acoustic jam where it's sort of a song circle. I had always passed when it was my turn. I decided enough was enough and learned a couple of songs then took my turn. It was horrible. They had a microphone. I had a very hard time singing in key let alone sound good. I kept at it. I started going to the occasional open mic. I play in a weekly jam at a local bar and I started singing the odd song there as well. Last week at an open mic the organizer of the monthly acoustic jam came up to me and told me I had really improved. She enjoyed my three songs, said I was in tune and sounded really good. It still sounded horrible to me but I think that's pretty normal. A lot of top singers like Roger Daltry and Tom Petty say they hate the sound of their own voice. At first pick simple songs that you know well. There are a lot of really good two or three chord songs that you can just strum. If you don't know the song well listen to it over and over until you do. Buy a capo and try every song in different capo positions until you find a key that matches your voice. Even a half step can make a huge difference. There is no rule that says you have to be in the same key as the original. Practice, practice, practice. It is hard work but the reward is when someone comes up to you after a performance and says they liked it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I'll check that one out. Sennheiser has some nice low to mid priced stuff for sure.

You guys are right...I'm thinking I'll try a little 3 song set list for my vocal practice.
 

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I have some real important advice, likely the same advice you heard when learning to play guitar; practice.

Breath control to make sure you don't run out of breath is very important, so practice this. It's especially important at the end of each line or verse. I am not the greatest singer by any means but I was given this advice about 25 years ago at a karaoke night and it has helped me to the point I have actually gotten a couple of compliments. One thing I have learned, is that some songs are just not suited to my voice or tonal range. You will find the same thing unless you have a range like Whitney Houston.
 
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I agree with all of the above Pete. Important to keep singing. The more you sing, the more confident you become, and the better you are at it.
And don't start off each session with the hardest song to sing. Pick a song that you know well, and that you can nail every time, and always sing that one first. Call it a tune up song, or call it a confidence builder, whatever. Then work your way up bigger & better things.
 

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re: vocal mics - there are lots of options to choose from. I went to Cosmo in Richmond Hill at a not very busy time and the PA guy let me test drive a whole bunch of different options in and around $100. This was 5 or 6 years ago, so it's probably more like $135 CDN now.

I ended up with an AKG D5, and I've never regretted it. It fills the same niche as the sm58's you'll find used for live sound everywhere, but sounds a LOT better to me - the AKG has a nicer top end with more sparkle. It works really well on acoustic guitar too and it wasn't too long before I bought a second one for that purpose.
 

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re: vocal mics - there are lots of options to choose from. I went to Cosmo in Richmond Hill at a not very busy time and the PA guy let me test drive a whole bunch of different options in and around $100. This was 5 or 6 years ago, so it's probably more like $135 CDN now.

I ended up with an AKG D5, and I've never regretted it. It fills the same niche as the sm58's you'll find used for live sound everywhere, but sounds a LOT better to me - the AKG has a nicer top end with more sparkle. It works really well on acoustic guitar too and it wasn't too long before I bought a second one for that purpose.
I bought an AKG as well. Can't remember the model now but it was so much more powerful than an SM58. Sparkle on the top end like you say and the bottom was bigger.
 

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I do not sing (had story tellers at home, but no singer) : my voice just wanders and slips out of tune... :-(

My wife (formerly member of a vocal choir) once told me I needed a teacher to find my voice (tone and range) and then get trained.

By the way, I was impressed to hear Leonard Cohen's voice go lower and lower as he aged.
 
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