Tone does matter to non-musicians (gigging experience)

cmloeffler

Member
Messages
135
I was blessed with the opportunity to play in a lineup of right bands last Friday and had a few interesting takeaways...

Even though the crowd was at least half musicians, it was obvious non-musicians have good enough ears to know what was and wasn't "good". Guitar players much more technically capable (and in some cases, flat out more musical) than me seemed to be trying to kill the crowd with treble and feedback.

I plugged into the same amp, had gear no better than any other, and took all of 30 seconds to dial in a few sounds and had people who had never picked up a guitar tell me my sound was "amazing".

In addition to tone overriding talent (at least in extreme cases), there seemed to be quite a few people who said I was "an amazing soloist". Again, I'm not that great, but I could hear the room erupting when I bent a note up a half step and slowly picked it back down. The next guy who stands up and plays a million notes a minute? No one seemed to care.

It blew my mind (as I walked into *and out of* the venue knowing we were a weaker link), but I can only attribute our perceived success with the audience to good tone, tasteful playing, and solid songwriting.

Talentless hacks... there is hope, and I am proof!
 

nohjoh

Member
Messages
111
great observation!
I agree. I think Tone is the #1 most important thing in music. period.
Time is #2
 

RDM

Senior Member
Messages
3,713
Nothing against your tone (I've never heard it) I think there's a bit more behind it. I think there are some musicians who can just connect with an audiance, and draw them in. It's not what they play...or even how the play it half the time. It's a combo of what and how...plus the way they present themselves on stage. I've seen some awesome guitar players that only played a few notes for their solos, but how they presented those notes to me made me refer to them as amazing.

But...playing notes that don't make people's ears bleed is always a plus too!

Congrats on the revelation. It's a good feeling.
 

cmloeffler

Member
Messages
135
Nothing against your tone (I've never heard it) I think there's a bit more behind it. I think there are some musicians who can just connect with an audiance, and draw them in. It's not what they play...or even how the play it half the time. It's a combo of what and how...plus the way they present themselves on stage. I've seen some awesome guitar players that only played a few notes for their solos, but how they presented those notes to me made me refer to them as amazing.

But...playing notes that don't make people's ears bleed is always a plus too!

Congrats on the revelation. It's a good feeling.
Well shoot... I'll take that! There was a certain amount of that; kind of like when you can "feel" the difference between a band that is reacting to each other as the music is being played and a band that is each playing their part in a vacuum to the same beat.
 

TimH

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,148
From what you've said there is another element to be thought of here...your songs might be better than the other more technical bands you were playing with. People respond to songs and to emotions...not the frequency of notes.
 

nibus

Member
Messages
3,019
I for one would rather listen to a few tasteful notes than an Em pentatonic scale played at 250 BPM.
 

cmloeffler

Member
Messages
135
From what you've said there is another element to be thought of here...your songs might be better than the other more technical bands you were playing with. People respond to songs and to emotions...not the frequency of notes.
I was actually dreading that factor... most of the other bands were cover bands (which most audiences of non-musical persuasion seem to enjoy over unheard original music). There were certainly many elements at play (we were a bit heavier than most, we probably brought a bit more crowd interaction, etc), but for multiple non-musicians to tell me they "loved my sound" without me going overboard on "look at me" FX... that surprised me!

BTW... this isn't a self-pat on the back. The talent on the floor that night far exceeded our humble group. I was just hoping to be able to "hang" with the other groups, but we must have hit that perfect point of the evening where the audience was liquored up and ready for a change in pace.
 

Miles

Member
Messages
3,967
This is how our band is too. We don't have a lot in the guitar playing techical proficiency department, nor do we have guitar pyrotechnics.

But we do write really well thought out, percussive, driving, emotional, melodic songs that work well, and clubs around here are digging us and having us open on the weekends.
 

re-animator

Senior Member
Messages
8,245
I think a lot of audiences are more affected by tone than they realize.


Once I get my amp dialed in with a little bit of delay/verb and slap on my fuzzface.... all I do sometimes is play one note with some serious fingered vibrato.... and you still get the "wow"s.
 

alnico2

Member
Messages
322
Must have had the three T's working for ya... tone, taste, and the touch. Wouldn't mind catching your band sometime.
 

devnulljp

Member
Messages
1,580
Nice. As an extreme example I saw Brian Robertson playing with Motorhead in the 80s. The whole thing was quite surreal - like he'd wandered into the wrong room by mistake. He was awesome.
 

gerryguitar

Member
Messages
831
I've often told this little story... ;) in 1990 I saw Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Albert King in the same week.... I saw Vai on a Monday, Satriani on the Friday and King on the Sunday..... on the first song Albert played he didn't even touch the guitar until half way through.... when he did he played 2 notes and I swear I was on the floor..... he made Vai and Satriani seem irrelevant.... and I was a fan of these guys..... it's not about technique..... it never was...
 

shredtrash

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
9,844
I don't think many in the audience can tell you what good tone is but they sure can tell you when it's bad. It's the same way with a poor mix. The audience doesn't know why the band sounds terrible, they just know something is very wrong...then they leave...and tell other people how bad the band sucked!
 

djinn1973

Member
Messages
310
From what you've said there is another element to be thought of here...your songs might be better than the other more technical bands you were playing with. People respond to songs and to emotions...not the frequency of notes.
That and maybe you are just flat out better then you give your self credit for...
 

jtwang

Member
Messages
508
My gf is a non-musician and recognized Eric Johnson's tone - over the phone. The intro to Cliffs of Dover was playing in the background and she asked me if it was that guy with the mushroom cloud hair. Pretty good given the fact that her EJ education is overseeing/overhearing a couple of minutes of Total Electric Guitar months ago.
 

Lolaviola

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,500
Audience-interaction is the main thing when playing live--covers, originals, fast, slow. People want to be involved, and you must sell any style of song to an audience.
 




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