From a guitar perspective, how important is not playing and restraint ?


Silence is golden and when it comes to guitar and I think it's a valid statement. Players like Peter Green or Albert King didn't just hit notes. They hit the right note at the right time and knew how to use their silence for the benefit of the music. I was listening to Peter Green on love that burns, a blues masterclass of playing the right notes and silence just working wonders for the song. It's why guitar music like shred just horrifies me as there is nowhere for the music to breathe. As Albert king said, play every other note, and the song breathes and develops in a way ramming endless notes down your throat cannot.

What other players do you believe play silence like an instrument itself and it adds to the music ? Clips showing this very welcome of course.


Its always better to play well what you can and to not try to do something you know you cant. If that's a more open, airy, less notey style then great but that's not to say that a shredder shouldn't do what they do either. The old old school blues guys used a lot of sayings about playing every other note and make the one right note speak for a thousand notes etc but in truth most them had horrible and/or poor technique with both hands which really limited them and forced them to play what they did. Theses guys learned to play in the street and were not schooled musicians. Most of them did a lot with a little. Again its not to say that everyone has to play that way but it is a legitimate style.

In a modern sense I think Bonamassa does this really well. He can really play just a few choice notes and then burn a bunch of flurries but keeps it all really interesting. To me its not just a note but its also the tone and the sound of the note that makes it great.


Clouds yell at me
Gold Supporting Member
I don't think there's any one way to do anything, but I'm definitely in the "play the spaces" camp, as a listener and a player too.

We talk about phrasing a lot. Leaving space between phrases is a big part of that. It is possible to create phrases without the space between and sometimes that can work too, and switching things up can be good. But leaving the room between them is really effective and to me the main way to approach phrasing, once you get that going the rest falls into place.

Sometimes, a flurry of notes sounds great and sometimes, it doesn’t; the key is knowing the difference between those moments.
As I said, I don't think there's one way to do anything, but you can play flurries of notes, and make them more effective by leaving some space between the flurries!


Silver Supporting Member
This concept is critical to actually making music and incredibly overlooked when the discussion turns to rhythm (backing either melody/voice or soloist).
I still suffer from over playing, but after taking up mandolin, I have really focused on what and when not to play.


I've played a lot of pickup gigs, and that means constant surprises when the singer goes off the setlist. You wait in the weeds and pick your shots when you know it'll work. Singers LOVE it! "Man, they way you played those spaces!"


Depends on the situation, really. If you're playing in a 9-piece band, you can't have the mindset that you're in a power trio. In that case, less is pick your spots accordingly.

Look at Brian Setzer. He certainly plays differently in the big band than he does with the Stray Cats...and he's a complete badass in both situations.


While I think it is quiet genre dependent, I tend to think guitar and key players are the usual worst offenders in not thinking about rests.

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