Joined my first cover band, any tips and tricks for learning all those songs

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Evitucci, Feb 13, 2015.

  1. Evitucci

    Evitucci Member

    Jan 27, 2009
    Like the title says after 20 years playing in original bands I joined a cover band. Mostly because I am new to the Denver area and don't have the time to be the band leader. Still going to write songs on my own. Very excited about it and the new challenge.

    So for all of you who play in cover bands any tips and tricks on learning a lot of songs quickly? Do you create a note book with all the tunes, do you use an iPad, do you recommend software to slow down and learn the guitar solos, any website you uses for tabs? Anything like that. - Thanks
  2. GuitarGuy66

    GuitarGuy66 Member

    Aug 20, 2014
    The amplitube app lets you slow them down. What's the list? Make a playlist and listen to it constantly. Choose 5 songs and learn them. Then 5 more. Etc etc.
  3. mscotts

    mscotts What?! Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 30, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I use an app called Anytune. Fantastic to either move keys up or down and keep the same tempo or keep the same key and slow the tempo of a song or part down to learn it. Invaluable tool for me!
  4. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2002
    Santa Barbara, Marin, Chico, CA
    Just study with Youtube .... a lot. Repetition is the key, but you may want to write a rudimentary 'chart', more of a roadmap through the tunes.

    I say learn chords and song form first, then defining licks or figures, then solos.

    In my opinion, try playing them ALL WITHOUT YOUTUBE once you've figured them out. Youtoube can be very helpful at first, but it can also become a terrible crutch. You'll memorize them better w/o Youtube, but you may learn them better with it.

    My two cents, Dana O.
  5. CRBMoA

    CRBMoA Member

    Sep 17, 2010
    Anytune ROCKS!

    I am in the process of learning 57 new songs (joined a band in a different genre).

    Basically go to sleep every night listening to the sets, and every couple of days I play along and fine tune what I am learning.

    No substitute for putting in the time.
  6. Bankston

    Bankston Member

    Nov 21, 2007
    In the old days I would burn the songs to a CD and play along. If I got stuck, I'd check out a tab (which were usually wrong) or watch a youtube video of the artist, which is much more helpful. is a good tab resource.

    The best app I've ever used for slowing down, changing keys and looping songs is called Anytune Pro+. There is very little loss of fidelity even at half speed.


    Apr 11, 2008
    Anywhere but Here
    Guitar Pro Software was the best 60 bucks I ever spent. Has everything. Notation, tabs, speed and tempo, ability to change tuning to anything and transpose them. I usually give songs a crack at learning by ear first and then go to Guitar Pro if I can't suss out what's going on.
  8. TheoDog

    TheoDog Silver Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2011
    Bethany, OK
    When I do this, I write my own charts in pen by ear.
    I listen, note the structure and pick out the chord progressions. Then work on the hooks and solos, annotate as needed, then give a full listen to verify, then a full play through. Take a coffee refill break- next song.
    I take those charts to the band practice and make additional notes. More times than not, everyone else would be picking things out by ear/foggy memory and that chart becomes the only reference. It ends up with hints for vibe (like references to other songs) and always includes key and bpm.
    Writing out my own charts gives my memory an added visual cue. So after the first couple times glancing at the chart with the band, I pretty much just see the image of the chart and remember what I wrote.

    After it is a song I am ready to gig, scan it into DropBox and import into unRealBook app on iPad.
  9. Yer Blues

    Yer Blues Member

    May 26, 2013
    I just make a playlist and play along with them until I learn them. Once I learn them I can listen to them to brush up. I suppose it would work the other way, too.... but honestly my mine wanders when listening to them sometimes and I feel I focus better when playing along.
  10. acwild

    acwild Member

    Feb 28, 2007
    Hillsborough, NJ
    Anytune and Guitar Pro have been very helpful. I listen to the tunes until I can recall all of the melodies. Any part that gives me trouble I loop and slow down with Anytune. My band also tunes down a half step so it's great to be able to hear the songs in the pitch that we're going to play.

    Taking it a step further, I'll use Guitar Pro and extract the midi files, then convert them into EZ Drummer and use Garage Band for a bass line. Then I can make sure that my solo phrasing fits within the framework before showing up to rehearsal and trying it out.
  11. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2007
    North Myrtle Beach, SC
    I buy the sing on iTunes so I know the original artist will get SOMETHING for me covering THEIR tune and making money off it...
    I create a playlist and try to listen and learn as much as I can away from the guitar.
    I then grab the guitar and learn as much as I can by ear.
    I'll use YouTube if I need it and there is a decent lesson (or a cooler version, acoustic style, etc) where I can meld parts if I have to.
    There is a lot of shut that's just wrong or super over simplified on YouTube. But every once in a while you find a gem, I learned how to play Lisa Loeb "Stay" correctly by watching an in studio radio performance she did.
    Ultimate Guitar is super basic (and those ****ers use capo for everything!) but ok if you are pulling a loose request on stage.
    I have to check some of the other apps mentioned and I'm looking to build a lyric library I guess using OnSong?
  12. n9ne

    n9ne Member

    Jul 4, 2010
    Chattanooga TN
    Cheat sheets definitely help. I generally find that as long as I chart out the basic chord progression, I don't have much trouble remembering transitions or single-note lines. It's mainly a matter of getting the basic structure down.

    I also find that the act of charting it and writing everything down by hand drills it into my brain. In many cases, by the time I'm done going through a song a few times and charting everythkng out, I don't even need the cheat sheet anymore.
  13. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Member

    Apr 3, 2009
    East of the Rockies...
    I just use a regular notebook and write down my parts and I pick them out. I prefer working with a CD....that way I can go back to the exact second in the song that I need to figure out. I use my notes at rehearsal and try to learn to play without them asap.

    That's pretty much what I do, too.
  14. RCM78

    RCM78 Member

    Dec 28, 2003
    I use Transcribe! for adjusting pitch, looping sections of music, slowing it down. You can also export the songs from transcribe into your media player of choice. What I do is adjust the pitch so everything is at A440 and add the song to my playlist. That way I can play through the list without retuning.

    YouTube vids can be very helpful. It might take me an hour to learn an entire song by ear but only 5 minutes by watching someone play it. Big time saver!!!
  15. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

    Aug 14, 2006
    Monterey, CA
    AGREE with Dana 300 percent ...
    CHARTS ... write out a book of charts first. In whatever manner makes the most sense to you ...

    Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Solo section, chorus, Ending...
    (Whatever ...)

    Then go back and learn them through repetition ..
    First gather the info before you even try to learn to play the details ...

    Will save you a great deal of time ...
  16. dzeitlin

    dzeitlin Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    like others have said, use youtube and tab sites. if you don't have to learn the solos note for note, that will make it easier too. for some songs the solo needs to be note fro note, but others, i try to pick out a few key licks and the wing the rest. also makes playing the songs more fun since you can change them up.
  17. Mayfield

    Mayfield Silver Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    Great advice.....and you probably already know this, but, just in case. When I am learning a cover song by ear, You Tube, tab..whatever, I get the basics down and then I spend the rest of my time learning it standing up. It highlights the parts that I still have to work on more and I can get the feel for the performance of the song and how I will have to play it live. That helps me to know where I tend to concentrate more or am more loose with the interaction with the audience as well.

    A big chunk of being in a cover band is "selling" the song live.
  18. picnic

    picnic Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2005
    Jersey Shore or Ft Lauderdale
    have the setlist prearranged. I make notes on my list. Intro lick, chords, keys. Quick reminders, just incase I brain freeze.

    Like others have said, YouTube is your friend. I search the original, but I also search covers of the song. Hearing another cover band's take on the song is a ear opener.
  19. Evitucci

    Evitucci Member

    Jan 27, 2009
    Thanks everyone for all the great tips, I have guitar pro 6 lite never thought about using it to learn tunes going to try that as well as build out some charts!
  20. scottlr

    scottlr Member

    May 14, 2006
    Born & raised in Texas; stranded in Iowa
    Wow. I am old. All I had was a record player. Play the record and figure out the song. That's how I developed an ear for figuring things out and I did it that way from 1966 to 1986, though I had to use a cassette deck by then.

    I have a friend that learned EVERYTHING he knew from Youtube. He can play those songs, but cannot just hear and figure out any other songs. He learned visually, not by ear. It took me 2 years to get him to try just hearing a song and finding the notes/chords.

    One thing I wish I'd have had back in the old days, is Logic or some DAW where I can loop a passage. That eliminates the need to stop playing and put the needle back or rewind.

    But in the end, you need to train your ear.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2015

Share This Page