Is it the gear or is my playing getting worse?

Radspin

Member
Messages
1,432
The speakers in the amp make a huge difference. I recently switched from a 12-inch Cannabis Rex to a Tone Tubby Chicago Blue in my Ampeg Reverbojet and it sounds like a different amp now. You might want to try the old standby Eminence Legend 1258. Not a glamorous choice but I find it very much to my liking as an excellent all-around speaker in my 2-12 small box Bandmaster bottom and Dual Showman Reverb head.

it also might be pandemic isolation/boredom. I went through a phase of a month or so just like you did. Nothing sounded or felt “right.” It passed.
 

old_skool

Member
Messages
105
I can relate to what you’re saying. Changing up you hear might work. But not by much and probably not for long.

I found learning a new instrument to exactly what I needed. Got me out of my comfort zone. I couldn’t really resort to my bag of old tricks. Humbled me, and most importantly, excited me.

I also find limiting my tools to be effective. Strip back to the basics. Spend less time futzing around. Learning to do more with less can be inspiring.

Get out of your comfort zone. Play with different people, listen to different music. I think you’ll find inspiration there.
 

Jamesrohr1

Member
Messages
258
Thanks for the replies/suggestions everyone. I appreciate it. To speak to a few of the questions that were asked:

1) I play in a cover band. The problems I’m referencing are in that context. We had actually just finished a three hour set that I feel went poorly prior to my post. My band mates seem to sincerely like my playing and tone though. I’m the only one that hates it.

2) I listen to a ton of Jazz and have been trying and failing to learn it for years now. I listen to Grant Green, Kennedy Burrell, Pat, Wes, etc. and lots of horn players.

3) Pedal board for the last gig was: Wah>Tuner>Revv G3>Tech 21 Boost/Overdrive>MXR Phase 95>Joyo American Sound. I use the four cable method with a Keeley Caverns in the effects loop. The gain on the Revv is only about halfway up. I A/B’d it prior to the gig with my Friedman Dirty Shirley pedal and thought it sounded a little better for dirt. All of this went into the Origin 50.
 

CaptainAwesome

It definitely is a stupid username
Messages
2,131
Get your hearing checked, played that long can effect your sense of high end. Ask me how I know, lol.
Seriously though, before you reconstruct your rig get a quick hearing check.

I was going to say the same thing. I don't think it would cause all of the OP's concerns, but it could be a major contributor.
 

ltsmash1200

Member
Messages
785
As others have said, when I find myself in a rut I try to listen to and/or learn things I don't usually play very often. I mainly play blues/rock type stuff so if I can't get into it I'll start listening to maybe bluegrass for a while and try to noodle bluegrass runs. Or maybe I'll listen to some Motown or R&B stuff and play more along those lines for a bit. Also, just screwing around in alternate tunings helps me start thinking differently.


Somebody also mentioned going for a smaller wattage amp, you don't have a bunch of stuff in your chain, but maybe try just going straight into a cranked low wattage amp for a while and seeing if the lack of any sort of effects to fall back on breaks you out. Or, just switch to playing acoustic for a while, I think differently on an acoustic than an electric.

Oh, and another thing to note, you're probably just in your head too much about your live tone. The average drunk person in the audience would be fine listening to a DS-1 through a Peavey Bandit as long as they can dance to whatever song you're playing.
 
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2,352
When I get to that point with my guitar playing (which happens often) I put down the guitar for awhile and go play keys/synths for a week or two. Somehow it it makes me think about everything differently. And when I come back and pick up a guitar, I'm have a new take on what I'm doing and what I'm actually playing.
 

Jon C

Member
Messages
17,877
Is it possible that your tone is actually great but your standards have gone up, and nuances that never would have bothered you before are now driving you crazy? […]


Good point.... OP, what do others say about or hear in your playing?

I’ve at times played what I thought was cliched or rote (note selection/ phrasing etc., not my tone per se) and others reacted to it positively.

What do people whose ears you trust think?
 

ripgtr

Member
Messages
12,021
Is it possible that your tone is actually great but your standards have gone up
That was my first thought.

The hearing is another issue, as you get older, even without the loud bands, you lose the high end and tone can sound less "inspiring".

Except for the quilter (I've owned and used a few, did not like), the guitar and amps should be good. I'm not a fan of most SS overdrives anymore, at least for how I use an OD (clean amp, pedal does the OD, instead of pedal pushes an already on edge or distorting amp). I play a lot clean, maybe one OD. I don't use a lot of fx generally.
 

Jamesrohr1

Member
Messages
258
Not sure if this is parody or not

When you say " knowing my parts "....do you mean you just copy and parrot the music of others ? You need to create on your own....

Get your yourself a looper pedal lay down some chord changes and learn to improvise creatively....

And like the other poster said.....listen to some jazz....
I play in a cover band. What I mean is that I try to adhere to the original recordings as closely as I can unless we have a section of a song specifically set aside for extended jamming/improv.
 

Jamesrohr1

Member
Messages
258
I was going to say the same thing. I don't think it would cause all of the OP's concerns, but it could be a major contributor.
Thank you. This is a good point. I have had my hearing checked it it is fine. I also make it a point to always wear ear plugs when playing in a band context.
 

Jamesrohr1

Member
Messages
258
Good point.... OP, what do others say about or hear in your playing?

I’ve at times played what I thought was cliched or rote (note selection/ phrasing etc., not my tone per se) and others reacted to it positively.

What do people whose ears you trust think?
Everyone seems very positive about my playing. Lots of compliments that I think are sincere. But standards for good playing are pretty low where I live. It’s not Nashville. Lol
 

Brutus

Member
Messages
3,782
You’re just burnt. You lose the music even though you’re playing the notes. Cheapest, easiest solution is to take a break. A few days off can make a big difference in your head. I know when I’m playing nonsense, so that’s a handy awareness to cultivate. If I can’t connect emotions to playing, I either practice pure technique or walk away for a bit. I always sound better to me after a short hiatus from guitar. If I’m riding a wave of enthusiasm, I keep at it. When it plays itself out, that means I’m played out.
 

jamester

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,801
I kind of went through something similar a while back, what got me out of it was a combination of new gear and new music.

I tell my students that feelings of burnout and boredom aren't necessarily bad things, it is usually life telling you that it is time for change and growth.

This was the case for me, and after taking a year or so to change some gear for the better and also get into some new music and playing styles/techniques, I have found myself rejuvenated and sounding and playing better than ever (IMHO).
 

mutait

Member
Messages
120
I just want to echo what a lot of responders are saying here, that this is most likely just a stage and no cause for alarm. (And probably not a problem you need to buy something to solve -- though I know saying that is heresy in these here parts). I've felt similarly now and then, even though I'm a hobbyist who's never taken a lesson with very low stakes attached to my playing. And the experience you're describing is very familiar to me in something I know a little better than music, writing (my day job). This is true of most other writers I know, but there are days (having one today) where every sentence you write feels like trash, where all your past accomplishments feel like undeserved flukes, where you feel like you've lost any ability or talent you had -- if you ever really had it. The good thing is, after you've written for long enough, you figure out that the best thing to do when this happens is to ignore it, put the novel, story, essay, poem away, and do something else for a while (e.g. write responses to posts on TGP).

I usually tell my writing students that, when they feel that way, it's actually just because an effective tool, their inner critic, is being deployed at the wrong moment. It's great to have a ruthless internal critic, and it's very helpful when you're mastering a musical piece or listening to recorded performance with the goal of improving it. It's not so great or helpful when you're sitting down, playing your guitar for your own enjoyment or jamming with friends or something else that's supposed to be fun.

Finally, as others in this thread are absolutely right in saying, when you find the inner critic popping up a lot, it can often be a positive sign of growth or change or some other good thing that's imminent. (True in both music and writing, I think).

Just my two cents. Best of luck feeling better about things.
 

etc

Member
Messages
765
Sounds like you're just burned out. We've all been there at some point. Either give it a rest, or try to find a new approach that will inspire.
 
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3,800
I like this idea. Doesn’t have to be jazz. But different than your norm. For an extended period I didn’t listen to any guitar centric music. I stole my riffs from bassists, pianists, and mostly, horn sections. Listen to Jaco Pastorius, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Herbie Hancock, Eddie Palmieri, etc. Focus on the instruments they highlight.

I think because each instrument has a different set of limitations these musicians will come up with things I would never consider because I’m operating on a different set of limitations. Like, winds and brass can only play one note at a time, so they have to get super clever with their choices to make something really interesting.

Folks talking about burnout also makes sense. Every once in a while you gotta walk away from it, even listening.
 
Messages
910
You need to think with your crotch while playing. You’ve got to be a little bit obnoxious sometimes. Often, a perfectly tasteful, part specific solo is called for, other times you just have to CC Deville that **** if for nothing else than just to knock the cobwebs off. I was in a rut recently with guitar playing then started listening to Wu-Tang Clan. Something about the rhythms, production just shook me loose.

Love this!!!!!!
 

White Limo

Member
Messages
1,270
OP you might want to post up clips of your live playing here and get some critical feedback. My guess is everyone will say you sound pretty good and you’ll just wait until the muse returns.

But if not, at least you’ll have objective feedback from a diverse set of ears.
 




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