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Clenched teeth while playing?

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Billy Budapest

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I recently noticed something that might be the source of some of my issues-

In my Frontman gig, things seem to be pretty hunky dory.

In my bass player/lead singer gig, I'm noticing that while playing the bass I'm CLENCHING MY TEETH.

Never noticed it before until recently.

I can only imagine that this is locking up my 'vocal mechanism' quite a bit. While the tunes in this band are pretty high, I notice I get fatigued much more in this one than in any of my other projects.

I would imagine singing drummers would do this, maybe guitarists, but I don't have that problem when playing guitar.

Anybody else ever have this issue? How'd you get rid of it? I've seen peeps say "Chew gum" but the only person who could get away with that was John Lennon. Everyone else looks kind of silly- plus, kinda hard singing with a wad of hubba bubba goin'...

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Are you comfortable playing bass and singing? Meaning do you need to concentrate on your Bass Playing?

I play Bass also and know that there is more going on in Bass playing than in guitar playing, At least between Bass and Rhythm Guitar.

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mdew- (IS THAT FOR Mt. Dew- my drug of choice!)

Well, in one band (the one that I eluded to above), the bass parts have become automatic, meaning I don't have to think about them too much. Though I still find my self doing the teeth thing. In another band that I'm also playing bass in, the parts are much more difficult and I'm on constant clench mode. I am a relatively new bass player, but I'm pretty comfy with it (love it actually!- there's something about playing bass that I don't get from guitar or keys). (sorry, I'm in quite a few bands actually).

I know some guys stick out their tongue when they play, or are slack jawed. Not me- total clencher! It actually makes my jaw sore afterwards.

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You caught me on the MDEW thing. :P

You are using a concentration crutch with the Teeth clenching. A habit is easier replaced than broken. At the moment I can't think of anything to replace that habit with that is healthy except for more practice on the bass.

Now that you are aware that you are doing it, you should be able to tame it easier.

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I haven't experienced it personally but I do play bass and sing sometimes, and this what I would try if it happened and I wanted to fix it:

Run all your bass parts in isolation, practice them in front of a mirror so you catch yourself clenching your teeth and can consciously stop it. That alone might help you fix it.

Then add in the vocal parts, and see if that makes it come back. If not, you should be all good, if yes, then do the same thing, look and the mirror and catch it every time you do it.

Also if you suspect the teeth clenching is a concentration related thing, another thing you could try if you happen to be able to read bass music or bass tablature...you could practice sight reading (at your skill level) while trying to keep the teeth from clenching...that way you can test and monitor how that tension operates in a situation that requires a lot of conscious mental thought

A couple more thoughts regarding explanation for the tension:

Maybe your bass technique is unrefined and leading to tension creep crawling way up to the jaw??? How comfortable are your right and left hands when you play bass?

Maybe try re-adjusting the strap height to find something more comfortable for you.

Before you play, make damn sure your mic stand is adjusted for you to sing comfortably. Way more of an issue playing an instrument and singing, and you need to address it before you play or else you're kinda screwed. If you're overlooking that and screwing up your head posture to reach the mic, maybe that's what's causing the clenched teeth and/or extra effort.

Hope that helps.

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