What Makes a Player a Hack?

tahwnikcufos

Member
Messages
12
Been thinking about this lately after a recent experience...how do YOU define a "Hack" musician in the context of a band or potential bandmate?

List the specific qualities that you find hacky.

I would say...
  • Needs to look at chords to play song
  • Need to read lyrics from a print out to sing song
  • Crap, pawn shop gear when they can afford better, but just don't buy it
  • Has literally no concept of groove or time--what it is or why it matters
  • Dresses like a bum
  • Doesn't know the names of the parts of songs: like what a bridge is
  • Talks of "Touring" when their ability is barely above garage jamming
I would say all of these things, as well as the term itself say much more about the person expressing their importance at any given point, than the person being judged. We've all been "that guy" playing Iron Man and Smoke On the Water with one finger, and we've all been the douche nozzle that just learned how to use his pinky... but it all boils down to the fact, that we don't get better all by ourselves, and certainly not by unnecessarily critiquing the kid in the shallow end doing the doggie paddle. Just like this forum, music, by its very nature is a vast and diverse communal experience... not survival of the fittest.
 

Castiel

Member
Messages
79
Been thinking about this lately after a recent experience...how do YOU define a "Hack" musician in the context of a band or potential bandmate?

List the specific qualities that you find hacky.

I would say...
  • Needs to look at chords to play song
  • Need to read lyrics from a print out to sing song
  • Crap, pawn shop gear when they can afford better, but just don't buy it
  • Has literally no concept of groove or time--what it is or why it matters
  • Dresses like a bum
  • Doesn't know the names of the parts of songs: like what a bridge is
  • Talks of "Touring" when their ability is barely above garage jamming
I agree with some of this. But some of what you listed really isn't attributed to a "hack" in my opinion. Knowing what a bridge or chorus is doesn't mean you are a hack, really that doesn't matter at all, most of these on their own are nothing, only when you combine multiple of your listed offenses can one rise the ranks of hackedness. It's like the debate if you need to know theory or not to be a good musician. In reality, you don't, most of the most respected musicians don't know that much theory, if any. Usually they know a little bit. But to be a good musician I don't think knowing what a bridge is matters. Also, who cares how they dress its their choice. Your specific fondness over apparel doesn't potentiate your musical ability, in afraid. Not having a concept of time however, swiftly will put a bullet in the gullet. Needing to look at a chord sheet to play, well as long as they can play whilst peering at the page will surely get the job complete. Having crappy gear may also grind to a screeching halt but not guarenteed. Deciding if they would like to shell out thousands of dollars on high prices often not worth the money may also not guarantee the rank of a hack, it really depends. It takes awhile usually for people to become a good musician. I learned not to judge i love music and respect others love for it. Of course if people brag about abilities whether or not those abilities are confirmed of course is bothersome. I'm not trying to come across as a left wing protester, I just think some of these factors are really pointless.
 

Castiel

Member
Messages
79
Some people who are good musicians have a hard time remembering certain chords or lyrics, and that's why there are tablets onstage to help, or teleprompters on concert stages. That does not make someone a hack, Mr. Newbie.

Jack Pearson, formerly of The Allman Brothers, plays $129 Squier Strats. Is he a hack? Hardly.

This post is totally condescending and demeaning.
I agree indeed. Yes.
 

Daniel Travis

Supporting Member
Messages
1,827
The pedantry involved in these responses is mind-blowing. It's almost as big of a circle jerk between the "everyone gets a gold star" crowd as the "these durn millenyals play ham fisted wiff too much gain" crowd.
 
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Castiel

Member
Messages
79
Someone who learned the basic Major, Minor and Dom7 open chords shapes and left it there.

Someone who thinks playing the right chord/harmony is over complicating it when C, G and D with a Capo at the 4th will do.

Someone who takes Ultimate Guitar tabs as gospel.

Someone who thinks tuners are a waste of money.

Marty Schwarz.

Someone with a Boss ME80 with one patch with everything on (Dist, Chorus, Delay, Reverb) that is used for every song without compromise... one size fits all.
Marty Schwartz?

As far as learning chord shapes some people like simple music, or play simple music, if that's what they want to do I don't see a problem in that. Some of the greatest music is quite simple and some of the best musicians didn't have an advanced knowing of diatonic chord harmony. That being said, knowing advanced harmony , or advanced concepts in music doesn't make you a good musician, in afraid you can still be a hack. That's the paradox of a music degree, you can have one and study four years or more at a university and still be terrible at your instrument, but good at explaining music theory/ harmony.
 
Messages
4,877
The eternal paradox - good paying cover gigs, etc, or artistically and emotionally satisfying originals bands that rarely get good paying gigs.

*sigh*

I chose the latter. Either way, I find much more in common with players who have put themselves out there and played shows. :dunno
I can mostly grok what you typed. In this thread my posts have been about musicians I've known from playing in cover bands because I have definitely come across some "hacks" or musicians who possessed hack-like tendencies in cover bands. But I have played hundreds of shows and have played lots of original music. It's just not everything I've done. Most of those hundreds of shows were in a situation where I was paid a salary and worked enough that I didn't work during the daytime. I haven't had a daytime job in over twenty years other than the occasional gigs I played during the daytime. A few of the tunes I "wrote", though basically improvised on the spot, and recorded are on rotation on NPR.

I don't really judge folks who choose to play covers or those who choose to play originals. Folks can do whatever they want to do. I choose to just play music. There are elements of some covers gigs that I do at times find artistically pleasing. But it is generally subtle things- interesting chord voicings that I want to hear there, an improvised solo where I played some interesting intervals or made up a melody on the big strings that sounds interesting to me. Although I may learn a tune like the record I do that so I will know the tune well enough that I can improvise something that I find interesting in there. Sometimes it is fun to find places where I can improvise a whole tone line. Diminished lines are fun too. Though I have found that it is much easier to find places to put a diminished line than a whole tone line. But both contain tritones. And tritones are fun. On a particular kind of cover band gig, where I might have to play "Keep Your Hands To Yourself" I like watching how tritones can make the woo hoo girls and jocks twitch.

For me, unless I did the songwriting a lot of the stuff I do on my instrument isn't a whole lot different on an originals gig, or show, than on a cover band gig. One songwriter I worked with wrote country pop tunes about the state of Alabama. Though his Alabama stories were more about Friday night football games, going out for a good time on Saturday, and going to church on Sunday. My vision of Alabama is the old, weird, and creepy Alabama. He longs for the Alabama of his youth. I got the hell out of Alabama the first chance I got. But on the country tunes he wrote I played country guitar parts. When I play a country cover tune I also play country guitar parts. It is artistically satisfying when I get to play some wild honky tonk country lines in there and sound like I sold my soul to the devil, or when the tune has a western swing flavor and I can put some jazz in there and sound like I sold my soul to the devil. The more I know the more stuff I can play. When I channel my inner dark lords I can make either an originals gig or a covers gig interesting.
 

TopJimmy5150

Member
Messages
1,461
Maybe a definition of “hack” should be considered.

I follow comedy, which seemed like an appropriate measure for the music world. In comedy, repeating long established material and adding nothing new is considered hacky. Doing a bit about airplane food in 2020 would probably earn you that label. The comedian might be skilled, have great delivery, and the audience may even laugh...but the comic will get no respect from his peers.
 

T681

Member
Messages
59
That pretty well sums it up. I've played with some guys who thought they were good. Turns out they were hacks. Now Steve Vai would think I was a hack.
 

CCG

Member
Messages
39
What a morally superior person. You should congratulate yourself publicly to let everyone know.

Wait, you just did.
yep because that is what I was doing. :rolleyes:Hit it on the head. :rolleyes:I'm just a little bit more considerate I guess than some of these other people who seem to think awfully high of themselves because you would in order to look that far down your nose at someone else to call them a hack for playing or trying to play music.
 
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59Vampire

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,422
I don't like the term poser. I don't think its fair. I'm the first to admit my gear far exceeds my skills. I would never challenge anyone to show their chops as I know i am not a great player. I would consider myself a hack but i find that to be derogatory. If ones level of skills would be the defining factor to being a member here i would have been thrown out years ago.

The real question is, why do you care OP, and whats it to ya? I will gladly be your punching bag if it makes you feel better. I suck. I know it. And i get tremendous joy out of having great tone butchering whatever i play.

LOL.
 

MaskingApathy

Member
Messages
48
Been thinking about this lately after a recent experience...how do YOU define a "Hack" musician in the context of a band or potential bandmate?

List the specific qualities that you find hacky.

I would say...
  • Needs to look at chords to play song
  • Need to read lyrics from a print out to sing song
  • Crap, pawn shop gear when they can afford better, but just don't buy it
  • Has literally no concept of groove or time--what it is or why it matters
  • Dresses like a bum
  • Doesn't know the names of the parts of songs: like what a bridge is
  • Talks of "Touring" when their ability is barely above garage jamming
I would agree with all of those. Just general amateur behavior for me would put someone in the "hack" category.
 

Guitar Dave T

Member
Messages
10,551
Odds are real good we were all hacks at one time so go easy on these guys. Humility carries the day and they need to learn that from someone if they haven't yet.
 

Daniel Travis

Supporting Member
Messages
1,827
I don't like the term poser. I don't think its fair. I'm the first to admit my gear far exceeds my skills. I would never challenge anyone to show their chops as I know i am not a great player. I would consider myself a hack but i find that to be derogatory. If ones level of skills would be the defining factor to being a member here i would have been thrown out years ago.

The real question is, why do you care OP, and whats it to ya? I will gladly be your punching bag if it makes you feel better. I suck. I know it. And i get tremendous joy out of having great tone butchering whatever i play.

LOL.
You have a good attitude about this, and therefore I think its unfair to call someone like you a "hack," or "poser," when you are obviously self-aware, and just trying to enjoy your hobby. I also am well aware that hobbyists and bedroom players who aren't super skilled are what keeps the gear industry going. Without guys like you, the vast majority of great gear companies wouldn't be in business.

The reason OP and others care, however, is because there are a lot of unskilled and inexperienced players (especially here on TGP) who get a little high on their own perfume because of the expensive gear they own.

It's especially annoying when they pontificate about gear choices, playing, or tone, to those of us who record and (at least pre-covid) gigged regularly.

A common bugaboo is bedroom/hobby players crapping on gear meant for, or that shines in, band situations. "Vintage 30s are harsh!!" or "Plexi style amps suck and are way too trebly" and constantly recommending pedals/gear that has excessive amounts of low end, and therefore sounds better at low volumes because of the fletcher-munson curve.
 

fatztreeboy

Member
Messages
61
a hack musician is an uptight nit picker..... like someone who would think up this thread..... complaining about someones music never looks good.... just keep ur mouth shut n move on... find better players or be a nicer person and work with them..... i would never play with someone so serious to be picking on others...... makes me think about cops....
 




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