Transitioning from originals to covers and sit in gigs advice

scott757

Member
Messages
2,344
I've been playing guitar for 20 years. For most of that I've been playing in punk/indie rock bands. Almost all originals. Over the past 2 years I've really fallen in love with playing and want to branch out to be able to play in cover bands and sit in with sing song writers. Some questions off the top of my head:
  1. How do you remember all the songs when playing for 3 hours a night (is it OK to have an iPad mini on stage with just some reminders about Song 1 version D G C ...etc)?
  2. I have limited amount of time each day to practice, what is the most beneficial thing to study?
  3. How often do cover bands generally practice?
  4. What are some other things I can do to stand out as a reliable person to call when people need a fill in guitarist for a gig?
 

FwLineberry

Senior Member
Messages
381
I've been playing guitar for 20 years. For most of that I've been playing in punk/indie rock bands. Almost all originals. Over the past 2 years I've really fallen in love with playing and want to branch out to be able to play in cover bands and sit in with sing song writers. Some questions off the top of my head:
  1. How do you remember all the songs when playing for 3 hours a night (is it OK to have an iPad mini on stage with just some reminders about Song 1 version D G C ...etc)?
  2. I have limited amount of time each day to practice, what is the most beneficial thing to study?
  3. How often do cover bands generally practice?
  4. What are some other things I can do to stand out as a reliable person to call when people need a fill in guitarist for a gig?

I can only speak from my own experience, of course.

Remembering songs - Every cover band I've been in has had about 50 or 60 core songs and then a bunch of songs we never played/rehearsed enough to be worth counting. Then you add in the songs that are classics (johnny B. Goode, Takin' Care of Business, Sweet Home Alabama, etc) that everybody knows well enough to fake if you get a request or somebody's drunk brother-in-law wants to come up and sing a song. This was always done from memory. For me, knowing enough theory to look at a song and see what key it's in, which chords from the key are being used, basic song structure, what scale to use for the intro or solo, etc. helped with memorization. I don't know how somebody who has to memorize every single note separately does it.

Rehearsal - This has been everything from every night to not at all. If you're playing steady and not learning any new material, there's no need to rehearse. When I've been in bands that traveled, we only rehearsed during down-time in the schedule. Then we'd take the opportunity to work up some new songs. When I've played in bands that had members living in separate towns, we would rehearse once a week and everybody was responsible for having 3 to 5 songs ready for the next rehearsal. If everybody is married, has kids, and is working a day job, getting rehearsals in during the week and playing gigs on the weekends is a lot to ask.

Personal practice - It makes sense to work on anything and everything that's giving you trouble. There's nothing worse than standing on stage fumbling around trying to play something you should have practiced. One thing that's, maybe, not obvious is playing each song from beginning to end without stopping.

Filling in - This probably has more to do with interpersonal relationships, networking, social skills and the like. Probably the biggest asset a musician can have is don't be a flake. Be reliable. Show up on time. Have your %$^%$ together... even if it appears that every other musician you know is exactly the opposite.

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