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Solo guitarists on TGP?

guitguy28

Member
Messages
1,163
Hi,

I was wondering about those TGP members who play solo.

It could be solo instrumentals, or playing and singing.

First of all, I'll start with what got me into it? I guess it was through learning solo pieces on guitar, mainly via Fingerstyle Guitar and other tabs. It was liberating, and really cool, to play self-contained pieces instead of what I'd been mostly playing, which was just parts.

On a more negative aspect, bands can be tough to keep together, which can be disheartening. People have personality conflicts, they move away, they're too busy. It's the same thing for me, too, but the basic thing is I like the idea of not having to depend on anybody to play music.

There's even more reasons why- one being the amount of open mic scenes going on in all the coffeeshops here in Victoria, BC Canada, and even just being able to serenade my girlfriend without playing a guitar part that sounds lacking by itself. And, you can play with other musicians without having to try and keep a full band together; for instance, you can just play with a bass player or something.

And to add to that, solo guitar playing got me into different avenues of guitar, to make it sound fuller or different- playing fingerstyle as opposed to with a pick, baritone guitar or tunings, altered tunings, playing through bass amps, looping, more of a focus on songwriting and certainly a different way of arranging music.

There's also a lot of cool players out there too. Bruce Cockburn and Joni Mitchell have been two fellow Canadians who can do so much with guitar and voice. Then you have instrumentalists like Don Ross, Andy McKee, and so many others, and Michael Hedges who was the starting point for a lot of cool things...

Thoughts?
 

Celticdave

Seeker
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
5,220
I've played solo shows (singing as well) for about 15 yrs now. I've been in and out of bands but the main reason I do solo shows is bc I can't seem to find any guys that are as dedicated to the music as I am...

Its like putting a dog in a room of females in heat...they just can't ever stay focused on the music vs. the "lifestyle."
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
43,512
I play solo because a) it is great experience when you are the only one, and there is no band to fall back on, b) as mentioned, due to busyness, it is tough to get people together consistently, c) I really enjoy being able to play nonstop for a couple of hours with plenty of material to spare and no music anywhere, just a set list.

Places where they won't hire a band, they may very well hire a solo performer. Also, since it is just one person, is more affordable to have live music when you are paying one rather than a whole band. I occassionally do a duet with a bassist pal of mine.

I love the band I am in, but playing solo is currently my fav.
 

squeally dan

Member
Messages
5,743
I play in a band and play some duo and trio acoustic stuff with a sax and percussionist.

I recently bought a magazine because it advertised a solo guitar arrangement of Georgia On My Mind. It intrigued me. I love that song anyway. It took me 2 weeks to learn it but I am now able to play it. I have to say I am now working on another song and this is the most rewarde dI have felt in a long time. I just like the idea of being able to play songs w/ melody and all & not needing other instruments. Its a cool feeling. I see our keyboard player do this, and I want to be able to do the same. I want to be able to play songs by myself and have other be able to recognize them. This style is totally new for me. Some of the chords are tough but I'm loving it. I'd love to play a gig by myself one day once I know enough songs.
 

Stew

Member
Messages
1,282
I agree with everything that's been said so far. Another thing for me is that I only play songs that I like. I had to play alot of songs I didn't like in a band situation. Plus I learn songs at my own pace. I didn't particularly like having to learn a difficult part, in a short period of time, for a song I didn't like.
 
M

Member 995

I write/record/play solo instrumentals. I've been playing fingerstyle guitar since I was about 16 and get a lot out of it musically. I started out working on other folks' music (Hedges, Gerhard, Bensusan, Simpson, etc.), but eventually found my own voice coming out. I've written a few dozen tunes, put out an album, and am recording one right now. In addition to guitar, I also do solo lap steel songs.

The downside is that solo instrumental work isn't very popular with folks who like to see/hear live music. Most of my gigs in the last year have been weddings. Fortunately, I love to play for myself and find that is enough to keep progressing. I've been doing some music licensing, too, which provides at least some outlet for my music.

I also play in a band and do any other gigs that might come up (backing up singers, playing in guitar ensembles, scoring for TV background music, etc.).

Bryan
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
43,512
The downside is that solo instrumental work isn't very popular with folks who like to see/hear live music. Most of my gigs in the last year have been weddings. Fortunately, I love to play for myself and find that is enough to keep progressing. I've been doing some music licensing, too, which provides at least some outlet for my music. Bryan
Interesting. No doubt, we are sonic wallpaper when we play solo instrumental stuff, but I have people who regularly come to the restaurant where I play, and always ask if I happen to not be there. People seem to positively respond by tipping.

I basically view it as paid practice, as I can experiement with all sorts of things and get away with it, as the audience is not listening intently as they would if there was singing involved.
 
M

Member 995

Interesting. No doubt, we are sonic wallpaper when we play solo instrumental stuff, but I have people who regularly come to the restaurant where I play, and always ask if I happen to not be there. People seem to positively respond by tipping.

I basically view it as paid practice, as I can experiement with all sorts of things and get away with it, as the audience is not listening intently as they would if there was singing involved.
Don't get me wrong, I can line up shows at coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants, art openings, etc. However, like you said, those gigs are all basically background music.

I find it is harder to get people to come out to hear background music than it is to hear a band. And getting folks out to hear the band is a big enough challenge.

Maybe I just haven't found the right audience yet.
 

Jim Soloway

Member
Messages
14,404
I've been playing solo for about 15 years. At first it was because my bass player couldn't stay sober enough to play the third set, but petty quickly I found that I really like it that way.
 

Stew

Member
Messages
1,282
I basically view it as paid practice, as I can experiement with all sorts of things and get away with it, as the audience is not listening intently as they would if there was singing involved.
Even with singing it's hard to get people to pay attention sometimes. At times I find it liberating. All the pressure is off when nobody's listening. I perform better because I loosen up. Sometimes that brings some listeners around.
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
43,512
I've been playing solo for about 15 years. At first it was because my bass player couldn't stay sober enough to play the third set, but petty quickly I found that I really like it that way.
So then either the name Soloway is a very fortuitous name, or your stage name. :D
 

AlChuck

Member
Messages
611
I have had an approach/retreat thing going on for a few years about solo playing. Several years back I decided it might be a good way to get some small paying gigs without needing to worry about other players. I worked on it pretty hard for a while, and also on being the sole accompanist for singers. This is basically jazz standards-type material, the "Great American Songbook" stuff.

I found it really hard for a number of reasons. I couldn't seem to ever really learn and remember enough material to play a whole gig. I cheated by bringing a fakebook and playing just chords of tunes sometimes with some fills and such to make them sound like they were songs, and since it was sonic wallpaper, no one was really aware of it; I also repeated some tunes later, and only I really knew. I also found out how naked it feels to drop it in the middle of a song. In an ensemble the others are playing and you can lose it for a moment but come back in and often no one's the wiser. No can do in a solo situation.

I keep thinking I should just keep working on this, but instead I keep working on general chops and ensemble playing.
 

jimfog

Senior Member
Messages
9,477
Alvis nailed it.

I play in a bunch of different configurations, but my 2-3 solo gigs a week pay my bills. I do guitar/vocals, mostly.......although I do a bunch of instrumental gigs a year, they are less common/lucrative.

To me, it's a trade-off. Since I'm singing and trying to communicate and entertain the audience, my playing definitely is second fiddle in those situations. Last night I had a packed bar, full of college girls and guys there to hang with the "So Co Girls". It was a blast, but a LOT of work and energy.........and I don't think I played a single fingerstyle tune all night. Other times, in a restaurant say, I may do all quieter, more delicate and intricate pieces. It's about being versatile, and knowing your situation.

I enjoy it, but if I didn't do band gigs most weekends, and get to blow it out a little, it would get to be a drag after a while.
 

lhallam

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
17,305
I love being able to play by myself. Jazz, classical and fingerstyle, just wish I could sing.
 

squeally dan

Member
Messages
5,743
I have had an approach/retreat thing going on for a few years about solo playing. Several years back I decided it might be a good way to get some small paying gigs without needing to worry about other players. I worked on it pretty hard for a while, and also on being the sole accompanist for singers. This is basically jazz standards-type material, the "Great American Songbook" stuff.

I found it really hard for a number of reasons. I couldn't seem to ever really learn and remember enough material to play a whole gig. I cheated by bringing a fakebook and playing just chords of tunes sometimes with some fills and such to make them sound like they were songs, and since it was sonic wallpaper, no one was really aware of it; I also repeated some tunes later, and only I really knew. I also found out how naked it feels to drop it in the middle of a song. In an ensemble the others are playing and you can lose it for a moment but come back in and often no one's the wiser. No can do in a solo situation.

I keep thinking I should just keep working on this, but instead I keep working on general chops and ensemble playing.
Thats what I am wondering. Once you get enough songs, how do you remember all of them?
 

authen

Member
Messages
174
Great post because I do the solo acoustic gig thing and I've been thinking about quitting. I did play in a duo but my partner was really concerned with self-promotion so I let it go. I've got about 40 songs from the Beatles to Black Crows that I play and I also sing. I use a looper so I can solo over my own rhythm. I played last night for tips at a coffeehouse - which is what I've been doing to get used to playing on my own and get my name out there. I had about 15 people there last night, mostly people I knew and quite honestly, I was background music and got really frustrated. For instance - I worked hard learning The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin and nobody paid any attention...I don't even think some knew what it was. So...I came home really frustrated and I'm trying to weigh my love for music and my love to perform for an audience. I thought about trying to find a few guys to play with that just want to have fun and do it for the love of playing. Funny - I was going to post something about this today.
 




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