Tips for the weakest link in band?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by MORE BARN, May 9, 2015.

  1. MORE BARN

    MORE BARN Member

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    Joined this band recently, they are really good. They have shows lined up. They are fully-formed, just needed someone to plug into the open spot. Great bunch of guys, and you can tell it's no b.s., they just show up and rip through it. Fun, no drama, no egos, nothing. Just good times, but with a definite goal. Bands before this were friends first, whatever, but this is different. This is like bandmates that are friendly--but primarily bandmates. I have read on here that some say it is the best situation. I now agree with that.

    I think they asked me to play with them mainly because I play slide. I'm relatively basic in other areas. Slide to me was what I did when I had a finger issue when I first started playing so that is comfortable for me. But in every other area, I just try to hang on. The bassist & drummer are great together, the singer/acoustic player is the definite leader, has the direction and everything. The other guitar player is unbelievable, and is the most humble guy you'd ever meet.

    So I take the advice from here. I show up, keep up, and shut up. It's so much fun, and some days I play stuff I never knew I could. Then I play with some friends here and there, just a jam once a month, and I sound terrible. This band seems to be able to inspire me to play better than I am. Don't know how that happens.

    But sometimes I'm not sure how to approach it. Do I just play my part (slide leads, accents) that I am very comfortable doing, or do I play a little less of that and try to improve what I am weak at? The other guitarist encourages me to do whatever I want, including non-slide stuff, but when it's my turn, I'm in weird territory--but I listen back and can hear I am improving because of him and the band. But with this guy in the band, he's the one you want playing all the lead guitar for the greater overall good.

    My thinking is I do what is best for everyone, so I hesitate to step out of the comfort zone (slide). I'm part of a band, it's not about me. So is it best to just play my part (I love doing that anyway), or do I try and follow the other guitarist once in a while? When we get into it and I don't play slide, I can see he's encouraging me, but occasionally I'll get so into it I'll muff something, etc., but I can hear myself improving in areas that I would like to.

    Any thoughts appreciated, thanks :)
     
  2. Lephty

    Lephty Member

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    Could it be that you play better with this band because it's a better band? It's pretty hard to play well with a mediocre band (especially a mediocre drummer).

    Sounds like you have a great opportunity here...just keep yourself humble and keep working on your own playing.
     
  3. MORE BARN

    MORE BARN Member

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    Yes!

    The drummer & bassist are really good. Don't know how that seems to make the difference, but it is a lesson I definitely learned. It's like with that rhythm so solid, like someone here said, I don't even notice it when we are playing. They said that is the sign of a good drummer. Maybe that's it.

    Playing with a mediocre drummer & bassist, it's a little like driving with a dirty windshield. You don't know how hard you were working until you stop and clean it.
     
  4. Jp2558

    Jp2558 Member

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    A good life lession here. In any endeavor, if you are among those better than you, you will strive to rise to their level. Keep learning.
     
  5. Yer Blues

    Yer Blues Member

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    Sounds like a great situation for you. Playing with others like that really inspires me to play more on my own (practice?!) so when I do play with them I'm really on my game. I think it's always good to get a little out of your comfort zone... how else are you going to get better? Sounds like this band is encouraging you to do that, so I'd take advantage of it and enjoy the ride.
     
  6. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    If given the chance, playing with others who are better is always ideal. Inspiring you to fit into what they are doing is great. I would definitely use this to continue to develop my own playing, and look for those tasteful ways to add to what they are doing, being conscious of overplaying.

    Congrats on finding what sounds like a wonderful situation.
     
  7. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    I seem to have lived my life wishing for a great Drummer and Bassist. You are lucky. When you don't have that, you change your playing, cant just "float on top" with fills as much etc. You feel like you have to keep the basic groove going to keep those two under control.
    I look at famous musicians on stage with their 7-9 players who are all great musicians, playing their 1.5 hours set and dream. You see it a lot, the "side guitarist" keeps the groove in place and the star just sings and plays when he wants to or sings and plays lead. How easy is that!
    Anyway.. my advice is be sure to have backup amp etc, I would imagine they carry one.
     
  8. Tahitijack

    Tahitijack Member

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    Great topic.

    Life lessons. You will never get better at tennis, basketball, golf or any sport for that matter by playing with folks at or below your level.

    I work hard to play my best for my band (team). I don't want to let them down and feel bad when I do (clam).

    In his book Universal Tone, Carlos Santana repeats this same simple concept constantly. He is always listening, watching and learning. One of the most humbling sections of the book deals with his planning "Supernatural". Carlos expected to work with older more familiar artists. Clive Davis said, no we are going to pair you up with younger stars that have hits on the charts today. Carlos objected saying "No, they will turn us down, who would want to record with me?" Clive responded "Everyone I asked said Yes!"

    Keep working with your band, keep listening, learning and play on!
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2015
  9. JeffK

    JeffK Member

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    That sounds like a great situation to be in. I'd stick with those guys as long as you can and still enjoy it. Nothing like performing with talented players to elevate your own game. Always something to learn, every day.
     
  10. stevel

    stevel Member

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  11. snouter

    snouter Member

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    Since they already have guitar, bass and drums, definitely try increase your value by working on backing harmony vocal abilities, keyboard or other instrument. Give them a reason to have you on board when stage space is at a premium.
     
  12. kwicked

    kwicked Supporting Member

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    Sounds like a great situation. I think you can do both. Expand and explore during practice, but make sure they know you are all about the team and that you are fine in whatever role is best for the band during gigs. Communication is key, and it sounds like they are encouraging you to branch out. Count your blessings on a good drummer too, thats been the hardest part of my musical journey. Enjoy!
     
  13. MORE BARN

    MORE BARN Member

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  14. MORE BARN

    MORE BARN Member

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    I think that sounds reasonable--I play first gig with them in three weeks, and we practice three times before that. I have a bit of nervousness but I have played in front of people many times, so I don't think I will be doing to much extra when we play outside of my comfort zone.
     
  15. glazed67

    glazed67 Supporting Member

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  16. lp_bruce

    lp_bruce Member

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    OP > Agreed with most of the above. Keep hanging on. Learn what you can. Contribute in whatever way you can.

    I found myself in a band several years ago that when I started playing, I felt like I was the weakest player. The singer had great pipes, the other guitar player was a wizard, the drummer a beast, and bass was rock solid. But after playing with them for a while, I realized they didn't need another lead player or someone to steal the show. They needed a guitar player who could be part of the rhythm section in a very real way. And I could do that no problem at all. Plus I was the most solid and versatile background singer in the group, which really helped take the band to (I think) another level.

    And playing with the other guitarist for several years (still a great friend) made me a much better guitar player.

    Peace,
     
  17. georgestrings

    georgestrings Senior Member

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    Work hard, be cooperative, and be a good hang - it sounds like a great situation for you...


    - georgestrings
     
  18. Luuc

    Luuc Member

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    If you have a 'calling card' song or instrumental, which fits with this band of course: just suggest to rehearse it. You take the lead then (not on stage, but while rehearsing.) Not to put you in the spotlight but to make a contribution.


     
  19. cosmic_ape

    cosmic_ape Supporting Member

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    I think it was Pat Metheny who said you should always be the worst player in your band.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2015
  20. snouter

    snouter Member

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    :p

    On a serious note, can you perform the songs the band does solo? If not, Houston we have a problem.
     

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