When you started gigging, did you feel you were ready?

Wyatt Martin

Member
Messages
2,880
Nope not at all with my first serious band.

But I knew if we didn't get out there after the first 6 weeks of first getting together I knew we probably wouldn't make it. Like so many other bands I was in prior where there was always somebody who pretended they wanted perfection when in reality they were too nervous to actually perform in front of someone. I've known many talented musicians who used that excuse and never played in front of a single soul ever. I guess they never found perfect musicians.

My opinion is the longer you wait the less likely you are to actually play out.
 

The Opera Panther

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,926
I'm curious about opinions on this topic, including:

  • how much did you know about managing sound and setting up for a room?
  • Nothing.
  • did you feel some theory knowledge was required before hitting the stage?
  • What’s this “theory” you speak of?
  • how did you deal with musicians at varying levels of skill? How did you go about finding people at roughly the same skill level?
  • We were all the same in terms of musical ability. Kinda bad.
  • did you work out all solos note for note
  • “Solos”?! Ha!
  • did you have blues jam or open mic experience first?
  • No.

Share your experience, please
 

stratocat63

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,517
We did what the other people did. At first it was two guitars and a hi z mic through an amp in a garage. Eventually you get a PA rig.

Being ready is always relative. When I was trying to get going I was flat out told I wasn't ready when I tried to get an audition for a label band. And I wasn't ready either, the guy was not wrong to tell me straight. But I didn't know I wasn't ready, then.

And how do you know you're ready unless you do it?

Takes more than one try and fail for most people.
 

DrumBob

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
18,326
I didn't really play a guitar gig until 2005 or so, and I wasn't ready at all, in fact, I had a full on panic attack while setting up, and I never have panic attacks. I wanted to leave and go home, but it was too late. The band as a whole wasn't ready and I'm sure it showed, but we made it through the gig and got asked back.
 
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Muddy100

Member
Messages
379
We knew nothing, but we had practiced our a$$es off and we had swagger...and the playing was tight.
We were often the opening act so the main act had sound guys and a sound system...we showed up, plugged in, and played. We trusted the sound would be fine and as long as the crowd was moving, we knew we were doing OK (it was probably just loud...). Eventually we got to know the sound guys and started using them....and as we went along we started to care about the details. But first gigs? Nope...just plug and go!
 

KiddBilly

Member
Messages
647
1. I was fifteen/fourteen years old, and barely knew what the three band EQ on my amp did. So I knew zilch about sound. Luckily, my earliest gigs were showcases with usually a pretty on the ball sound tech present. He polished our musical turd to a chrome sheen.

2. I didn't even know what "music theory" meant at the time. I was just happy to remember my parts and what notes made up the simple pentatonic boxes I'd flail around in during my leads.

3. My first serious group came around from actually joining a rock school program that put kids together into bands. I lived right outside of a big city, so there were plenty of people around to play with. It was getting out and finding them that was the problem. Convincing my parents to drive me anywhere needed a helluva pitch.

4. I adopted the same mentality I have now pretty young: sometimes I improvised them, sometimes I learned them verbatim or close to. Depended on the song and the importance of the original solo. Would people bitch at me for going off or would they not care as long as I played something that fit? Luckily, its usually the second even to this day.

5. My first gig was my first experience of playing live music in front of an audience. Ever. Talk about sink or swim for a kid barely into high school.
 

MrTAteMyBalls

Member
Messages
4,240
I started my first band at age 15. I had just started playing guitar a few months before and one of my friends played keys a bit so he did bass on the keyboard. He later switched to an actual bass. Our other friend had started drum lessons so he joined up. We were all total beginners and didn't know anything about sounding good or playing well haha. This was mid 1990's.

Anyway I immediately started writing songs with the few chords I knew and we progressed together in our learning and knowledge. Although I progressed a lot faster than the others and by the end of high school I was already a pretty good guitarist, singer and drummer.

We learned a lot and had to deal with a lot of cheap and crappy gear as far as PA. We had decent amps(half stacks) that could carry a room and we would just turn the volume knobs until it sounded right on stage and then let it rip with my terrible songs.

The limiting factor was not the sound but the songs....lol. they were pretty cringe. Musically maybe not too bad but the lyrics are rough. I still cant write lyrics so I have a metric crap ton of demos sitting around that I need to find a good singer and lyricist to finish.

I could never imagine gigging that way now but we did the best we could with what we had.

Don't worry about any of that stuff. You will learn by doing and eventually arrive at a good place.

Interestingly, that was the worst band I was ever in but back then a gig was always paid. We actually made enough money to buy new PA gear and fund 6 song EP at a studio. It was in my next band around 2000-2003 where money really stopped be "normal" and we started to get stiffed on verbal agreements.
 
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Dr. Tweedbucket

Deluxe model available !!!11
Messages
48,098
No sound experience and I didn't explore tone as much as I should have in the early days, still a Les Paul custom and Fender amp, delay and OD seemed to work.

No formal training other than 6 years of piano. I also learned to sing pretty well in church choir.

You usually can't pick your bandmates and they do come with various levels of skill. I found that playing with better musicians always pushes you harder and you learn, which is a good thing.

I would try and play the original solo if I could. If not I would usually put something tricky together ahead of time and then improvise on that if needed.

No live experience before so I was nervous. The first gig was at some biker bar ... just some old bar with about 15-20 people in it.
I was actually ok starting out because the other guys had the lead in the songs, then I had lead vocal and the solo in a Tom Petty song. I remember my voice was shaking a bit because I was nervous and my fingers felt like they were glued to the fretboard :cry: After about 3 more songs, I loosened up and started to enjoy the experience. I quickly learned that most people don't care, they just want to dance or eat/drink and the guys in the front staring me down are usually other musicians who wish they were the ones on stage or wish they had a beautiful wine red LP Custom! :red
 
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-BOOGIEMAN-

Senior Member
Messages
343
Hell no!!! I was a young kid playing with other young kids. We were just happy being able to play together regardless of how bad we sucked. But we had lots of fun and that’s what it’s about.
:aok
 

bobcs71

Member
Messages
5,048
I'm curious about opinions on this topic, including:

  • how much did you know about managing sound and setting up for a room?
  • did you feel some theory knowledge was required before hitting the stage?
  • how did you deal with musicians at varying levels of skill? How did you go about finding people at roughly the same skill level?
  • did you work out all solos note for note
  • did you have blues jam or open mic experience first?

Share your experience, please
I was 15.
I knew very little about setting up sound for a room and had no one to mentor me.
I was taking lessons and knew basic theory.
I found people at a similar skill level by answering a guitar wanted flyer in a music store. The ad was posted by Rob Thomas who would go on to win a Grammy. Weird huh?
I did not work out solos note for note. I couldn't play them like that. I did play the riffs note for note on songs from Def Leppard & the rest.
My dad played guitar and I had played a lot of Beach Boys and CCR along with him at home.

If I waited until I was ready I may still be waiting.
This is Rob Thomas & myself (sporting my black Peavey) jamming with some others after our band played at a music store opening.
We sure weren't ready but I got better and he got a whole lot better. At least I can say Carlos Santana, Uncle Larry & I have all played for the same front man!
 
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RL2792

Member
Messages
328
I'm curious about opinions on this topic, including:

  • how much did you know about managing sound and setting up for a room?
  • did you feel some theory knowledge was required before hitting the stage?
  • how did you deal with musicians at varying levels of skill? How did you go about finding people at roughly the same skill level?
  • did you work out all solos note for note
  • did you have blues jam or open mic experience first?

Share your experience, please
I didn't play my first gig until I was 47 or 48 (52 now), so I'm nowhere near as experienced as others in this thread. I had taken guitar lessons for about 3 or 4 years before, but owned a guitar and played off and on for 25 years or so (pathetic that I waited so long!). To answer your questions,

1) I knew nothing about managing sound and setting up for a room. I still struggle with this. I try my best to get a good sound from my amp and not be too loud, but you gotta be able to hear yourself, so don't let a drummer overpower you.

2) From my lessons, I knew a good bit of theory. I don't think it is required, but it does help me learn songs and helps me improvise solos. I do not subscribe to the notion that knowing theory is bad or prevents you from "playing from the heart."

3) This is tricky. As others have said, try and play with people who are better than you, that will make you better. "Personnel matters," as I like to call it, is the hard part of playing music. Some people never practice songs until rehearsal. Some people think learning a song involves nothing more than going to Ultimateguitar.com and looking up a tab. Some people want to play obscure songs that are at 80 bpm. These things will drive you crazy if you get serious about wanting to be in a gigging band. So, try to find people who a) can play their respective instrument well; b) will devote time to actually learning the song (preferably by ear in my opinion); and c) understand that gigging in a cover band is about entertaining an audience who just want to party, and not about playing your favorite deep cut.

4) At first no, but as I have gotten more skilled (and you will get more skilled if you join a band), I do try to work it out note for note. But, remembering all those solos on the gig is something I have not mastered. So, I just try to get "in the ball park" with most when on the gig.

5) No. I had played with friends at home and things like that, and I had rehearsed plenty with other musicians. I was nervous as hell before my first gig because I was the only guitar player and I was singing a few tunes too, but I got through it just fine and guess what, you will as well. Gigging in front of an audience is the best practice, and it is a hell of a lot of fun. I wish I had started when I was 20 instead of my late 40's. Get out and do it!
 

whaler13

Member
Messages
131
I’ve put together 4 bands (Original and Cover) over 40 years. Each have had a good, long run, albeit with changing players where necessary. I’ve always booked a gig about a month or two out from the beginning. Gave us a goal to focus and work toward. We were always solid and had great energy, even if we weren’t perfect. Rock n Roll wasn’t meant to be perfect.
 

Leonc

Wild Gear Hearder
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
18,260
so you and I have had this conversation while driving around LA.

Years ago, when you had your NAMM jams, I went to try out a pedal of @Mark Robinson and a lot of TGP members there had heard the horrid clips I had posted, before I realized (I guess) how bad I sucked. I saw the looks “oh crap, Mike’s about to plug in!”. @Steve Snider flat out told me I sucked one day and I stopped posting, lol.

I’ve never seriously practiced with playing in a band as my goal, I’ve just picked out rhythm parts mostly by ear, found YouTube videos that showed I was playing them, or sorta wrong, but not usually very wrong. It’s fun but only fun.

ive been playing a lot in the last year being home every night, and I’m beginning to focus on making my right hand more accurate and aggressive, and overall relaxing my playing and not forcing things too much. I’ve been working out solos from YouTube as well. But I have no idea what notes I’m playing, or what key I’m in. But I know chord shapes, converting major to minor, relative major and relative minor, octaves, major and minor thirds, inversions. I can I think my vibrato is pretty decent and I can mimic different styles from SRV to Angus to Paul Kossoff. I’m not too far from being able to tie everything together to give me the proper prep to get on stage.

I’d like to get on stage sooner than later, as I’m 57 and I’m in a rut, spiritually, I need something to fill that void and there’s not much that gives me more joy than music. I’m encouraged by the responses, because no one so far has said “I was 100% confident in my abilities on my first gig”, I just want to make sure I don’t embarrass myself, or worse be embarrassment-worthy without being aware of it.
Mike - I'd encourage you to learn some theory along side of teaching yourself things from youtube. Monkey-see/monkey-do is okay for developing some dexterity/technique, but in the long run, you're not doing yourself any favors by not knowing what you're doing, IMO. This isn't to say you need to become a "master of theory" or anything like that...but knowing what works and what won't from a theoretical standpoint will help you become a better player. Most of us were not born with incredible ears and most people can't simply intuit what sounds right and what doesn't.

Sometimes you can get away with this. E.g., some of the soloing on Sweet Home Alabama, for example, is just wrong...if I recall, the guy is playing in D (presumably before the first chord is a D) but the song is really in the key of G. Lots of people love ALL the solos in SHA (IIRC, much of the soloing was in fact "theoretically correct" and quite good, IMO)...but those few errors always made me cringe. Of course we've all heard many more examples of people playing things that were "theoretically incorrect" that were easily identified as wrong and never made it to the radio, let alone the shared the success of SHA, lol. But knowing what you're doing is absolutely a good thing in my book.

Also, getting to know a little theory gives you a couple of aspects of music to work on at the same time. Understanding is both an intellectual exercise and an ear training exercise. Learning the play well is more of a technical or "mechanical" exercise. You can swap your focus back and forth...that's kind of what naturally happens as you excel. IMO, someone who isn't a flat out natural (very rare!) needs to work on both. And there will be a continual "battle" between which aspect of playing is excelling the fastest. And which is most rewarding. And which gets most time/energy. Sometimes, when your technique isn't growing much, your theoretical or ear can be advancing or vice versa. I.e., it gives you multiple parts of your brain and body a workout.

I have a group of friends that I jam with a few times a year. They're almost all decent players. Some know what they're doing but most really don't. I have less fun dealing with the guys who don't know what they're doing because we're so limited in the stuff we can play. It's like trying to have a conversation with a mocking bird. They know how to vocalize but can't really communicate. Interestingly...I know well...virtually no one, who is very knowledgeable in theory and very limited and "sucky" as a player...
 

Phil M

Shapeshifting Member
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
11,673
I was ready; it was the world who wasn’t ready.
 

MikeyG

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,152
Mike - I'd encourage you to learn some theory along side of teaching yourself things from youtube. Monkey-see/monkey-do is okay for developing some dexterity/technique, but in the long run, you're not doing yourself any favors by not knowing what you're doing, IMO. This isn't to say you need to become a "master of theory" or anything like that...but knowing what works and what won't from a theoretical standpoint will help you become a better player. Most of us were not born with incredible ears and most people can't simply intuit what sounds right and what doesn't.

Sometimes you can get away with this. E.g., some of the soloing on Sweet Home Alabama, for example, is just wrong...if I recall, the guy is playing in D (presumably before the first chord is a D) but the song is really in the key of G. Lots of people love ALL the solos in SHA (IIRC, much of the soloing was in fact "theoretically correct" and quite good, IMO)...but those few errors always made me cringe. Of course we've all heard many more examples of people playing things that were "theoretically incorrect" that were easily identified as wrong and never made it to the radio, let alone the shared the success of SHA, lol. But knowing what you're doing is absolutely a good thing in my book.

Also, getting to know a little theory gives you a couple of aspects of music to work on at the same time. Understanding is both an intellectual exercise and an ear training exercise. Learning the play well is more of a technical or "mechanical" exercise. You can swap your focus back and forth...that's kind of what naturally happens as you excel. IMO, someone who isn't a flat out natural (very rare!) needs to work on both. And there will be a continual "battle" between which aspect of playing is excelling the fastest. And which is most rewarding. And which gets most time/energy. Sometimes, when your technique isn't growing much, your theoretical or ear can be advancing or vice versa. I.e., it gives you multiple parts of your brain and body a workout.

I have a group of friends that I jam with a few times a year. They're almost all decent players. Some know what they're doing but most really don't. I have less fun dealing with the guys who don't know what they're doing because we're so limited in the stuff we can play. It's like trying to have a conversation with a mocking bird. They know how to vocalize but can't really communicate. Interestingly...I know well...virtually no one, who is very knowledgeable in theory and very limited and "sucky" as a player...
while I agree with everything you say, for the time being I’m going to adopt the majority opinion and get out and play.

I spend more time learning about modes, the circle of fifths, CAGED, tabs, etc

already located a neighbor to jam with.
 

Victor R

Formerly wstsidela
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
9,805
I was kissed by a pretty girl at my first gig. So, yeah, I guess I was ready.
 

datguytim

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,069
I was about 13 - knew nothing about “sound systems” & P.A.s. I was already playing at bars & around town with a band of my friends. By the time I was 17 I was touring.
 

MikeyG

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,152
So for SHA, I know it’s D, C, G. Can I infer from what youre saying, @Leonc , that the G is the I in a I/IV/V progression, and that’s what determines the key? This is something I need to research.

My ear doesn’t detect anything ‘out of place’ in SHA, which part makes you cringe?
 




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