Playing Lead While Singing


goldy54
Registered User
Joined: 07/19/10
Posts: 61
goldy54
Registered User
Joined: 07/19/10
Posts: 61
04/10/2011 8:04 pm
Hendrix, Stevie and many more did this so well. Much easier to do while just playing chords. I find it nearly impossible for me to do. Any tricks out there or even comments on this subject?
# 1
RiskyNZ
Registered User
Joined: 05/17/09
Posts: 13
RiskyNZ
Registered User
Joined: 05/17/09
Posts: 13
04/10/2011 8:35 pm
The stuff you're playing has to be really tight so that you don't even have to think about - your hands can be trusted to just do it. Just practice practice practice - if it is a written piece. Chords are usually easy because you only need to get a few shapes/movements tight, and they are usually rhythmic so you don't have to focus on multiple rhythms that may/may not be related.

If you are completely improvising just make sure you have lots of licks and practice practice practice those so they are tight, and let your hands do what they want. It pays not to practice doing both simultaneously right away, especially if you're a beginner - but rather to make sure your guitar is tight and thoughtless and then focus on doing the singing over it once it is.

EDIT: Also most of those players aren't playing at the same time, the blues is good like that you can call and respond with guitar and voice and it sounds great. Partly because that would be real hard, partly because it isn't usually good to have two dominant melodic voices - they clash if you aren't careful.
# 2
goldy54
Registered User
Joined: 07/19/10
Posts: 61
goldy54
Registered User
Joined: 07/19/10
Posts: 61
04/11/2011 12:56 am
Thanks Risky, What you say makes a lot of sense. One huge problem that adds to this, is the fact I really suck at singing (See my thread titled "Can wail on guitar but can't sing a lick" Been awhile now but have made great progress there, thanks to one of the world's most renouned vocal coaches that i've been studying with) Really appreciate your input! Thanks
# 3
hunter1801
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/05
Posts: 1,331
hunter1801
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/05
Posts: 1,331
04/11/2011 1:39 am
I can't do this and I've been playing for 13 years. I hate it.....never been able to do it. I can't even talk while I play haha. I'm always concentrating on what I'm playing and if I try to think of words that I'm supposed to say/think, everything just falls apart.

It comes easier to some for no reason really. Take a look at people like Alexi Laiho from Children of Bodom. Lead guitarist that SHREDS and also the lead singer of the band. Impossible for some.
# 4
goldy54
Registered User
Joined: 07/19/10
Posts: 61
goldy54
Registered User
Joined: 07/19/10
Posts: 61
04/11/2011 4:02 am
Yo Hunter,
Great hearing from you again. I was the guy that posted "Can wail on guitar... But can't sing a lick" Since then I hooked up with one of the most renouned vocal coaches in the world and just completed my 3rd lesson. She agreed that I was probably the WORST singer in the world.... However, now she says I have a great voice, just not a good singer,yet! She says there is a lot of hope. So you can imagine how difficult it is now to sing and play lead at the same time. Probably taking on too much at once. I'm filming my lessons... When I'm ready I'll post it on here. Hope you're doing well.
# 5
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,354
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,354
04/11/2011 1:34 pm
Originally Posted by: goldy54Hendrix, Stevie and many more did this so well. Much easier to do while just playing chords. I find it nearly impossible for me to do. Any tricks out there or even comments on this subject?

I learned to do it fairly well by attacking the problem from two directions.

1. Sing exactly what you play.

Hendrix does this in Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) on the 1st verse. Led Zep does it in You Shook Me. When I started a blues bar band we didn't have a singer, so I decided to do it myself. That one song really helped me get my playing to mimic my vocal phrasing. Lots of old jazz & blues players do this sort of thing all the time in their solos. So I figured I should incorporate the "trick" into my tool kit.

Other neat examples include Dave & Ed on the intro to Fools by VH, Frampton's talkbox melody on Show Me The Way.

2. Trade licks & vocals with yourself.

In many blues songs there is the opportunity to sing a verse line, then immediately play a lick, then repeat throughout the tune. Going back & forth between these two really helps isolate these components, while at the same time getting great practice at organizing them into manageable, equal sized units.

This second approach to the problem wasn't an intentional way of learning to play lead & sing at the same time. But I noticed that the more I did it, the more comfortable I became at starting a lick while still doing the last bit of the vocal phrase. And conversely, I could hold the last note or play the last few notes of the lick while jumping in on the first bit of the next vocal phrase. Make sense? :)

By doing these 2 things over the course of a few years I gradually started to be able to play lots of standard licks while singing.

Finally, teaching guitar helped a lot, too. You get hours & days of practice at playing something over & again a zillion times while having to talk about it to your students!

Hope this helps. Have fun!
Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
# 6
goldy54
Registered User
Joined: 07/19/10
Posts: 61
goldy54
Registered User
Joined: 07/19/10
Posts: 61
04/13/2011 2:03 am
Hi Chris, Thanks so much for your reply. What you said actually is now helping me "This second approach to the problem wasn't an intentional way of learning to play lead & sing at the same time. But I noticed that the more I did it, the more comfortable I became at starting a lick while still doing the last bit of the vocal phrase. And conversely, I could hold the last note or play the last few notes of the lick while jumping in on the first bit of the next vocal phrase. Make sense?"
By the way...Just curious what you said about Led Zep's "You Shook Me". Did Page sing that???
# 7
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,354
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,354
04/13/2011 1:03 pm
Originally Posted by: goldy54Hi Chris, Thanks so much for your reply. What you said actually is now helping me ...[/quote]
You are welcom. Good for you getting a handle on it! Well done. :).
[QUOTE=goldy54]By the way...Just curious what you said about Led Zep's "You Shook Me". Did Page sing that???

No, as usual Plant sang & Page played guitar (slide specifically for that line). But he doubled the vocal line on the guitar.

Which meant if we wanted to cover it effectively (or even somewhat closely :p ), we'd have to have that happening. Since we didn't have a singer in the band I figured I'd give pretending to be Plant & Page at the same time a try. Lots of hours in the bedroom, basement & garage practicing that one. :)

In later blues bands I had singers. Eventually one that could also play blues licks on the harmonica fairly well, so it was even closer to the Zep version. But I learned a lot in those early days having to do it myself. Have fun!
Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
# 8
JonChorba
Registered User
Joined: 11/27/10
Posts: 231
JonChorba
Registered User
Joined: 11/27/10
Posts: 231
04/14/2011 11:58 am
Originally Posted by: CSchlegelI learned to do it fairly well by attacking the problem from two directions.

1. Sing exactly what you play.

Hendrix does this in Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) on the 1st verse. Led Zep does it in You Shook Me. When I started a blues bar band we didn't have a singer, so I decided to do it myself. That one song really helped me get my playing to mimic my vocal phrasing. Lots of old jazz & blues players do this sort of thing all the time in their solos. So I figured I should incorporate the "trick" into my tool kit.

Other neat examples include Dave & Ed on the intro to Fools by VH, Frampton's talkbox melody on Show Me The Way.

2. Trade licks & vocals with yourself.

In many blues songs there is the opportunity to sing a verse line, then immediately play a lick, then repeat throughout the tune. Going back & forth between these two really helps isolate these components, while at the same time getting great practice at organizing them into manageable, equal sized units.

This second approach to the problem wasn't an intentional way of learning to play lead & sing at the same time. But I noticed that the more I did it, the more comfortable I became at starting a lick while still doing the last bit of the vocal phrase. And conversely, I could hold the last note or play the last few notes of the lick while jumping in on the first bit of the next vocal phrase. Make sense? :)

By doing these 2 things over the course of a few years I gradually started to be able to play lots of standard licks while singing.

Finally, teaching guitar helped a lot, too. You get hours & days of practice at playing something over & again a zillion times while having to talk about it to your students!

Hope this helps. Have fun!


Excellent advice, Chris!
Looking for Guitar Lesson in the Dallas/Fort Worth area? Check out my Guitar Lessons In Arlington website!
# 9
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,354
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,354
04/14/2011 1:48 pm
Originally Posted by: JonChorbaExcellent advice, Chris!

Thanks very much, Jon. :)
Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
# 10
MarcusWiesner
Registered User
Joined: 04/10/11
Posts: 34
MarcusWiesner
Registered User
Joined: 04/10/11
Posts: 34
04/23/2011 5:57 pm
I am learning how to do this too, thanks for the pointers. It just takes a lot of practice. talking while you play seems to help detach the different parts of your brain to some extent, just thought I'd throw that in there, though it has already been said with the teaching thingy :)
# 11
JoaquinCastillo
Registered User
Joined: 03/27/11
Posts: 40
JoaquinCastillo
Registered User
Joined: 03/27/11
Posts: 40
04/26/2011 6:27 pm
Originally Posted by: goldy54Hendrix, Stevie and many more did this so well. Much easier to do while just playing chords. I find it nearly impossible for me to do. Any tricks out there or even comments on this subject?

Try doing other stuff that is not as difficult while playing like walking, talking, making rock faces. This will traine you to do several things at the same time and thus be confortable with singing on the long run.

I also agree with the comment of having whatever it is that you are playing down nice and tight.
# 12
goldy54
Registered User
Joined: 07/19/10
Posts: 61
goldy54
Registered User
Joined: 07/19/10
Posts: 61
04/27/2011 11:52 pm
Yo Joaquin, Good advice, and as well pointed out, these guys are not really playing different lines at the same time, nor do you want to do that either. you really only want to showcase one lead at a time(either a guitar riff or a vocal lead), unless you're playing the leads for Freebird... doesn't that have like 3 lead lines going at once? LOL. Anyway you're right the more you practice anything simultaniosly, the easier it becomes! Thanks for your input!
# 13

Please register with a free account to post on the forum.