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Worship Guitar Advice?

Micah Darwin

Member
Messages
33
Howdy fellow musicians, & happy new year.

I know it's very broad, but I was looking for any advice, tips, do's/don'ts, video tutorials, etc. that you could offer to a guitarist eager to pursue worship electric guitar. I have played guitar for 7 years now, and have new opportunities to play worship guitar at Texas A&M for my church. At the moment I am simply clicking from one Youtube video tutorial to the next, searching for that mythical treasure trove of answers to all the questions that I have about worship guitar. I have included my gear list below, as well as a short list of some MUST PURSUE avenues that i have come across so far in the realm of worship guitar. Thanks again!

Guitar: Epiphone Les Paul Ultra 1
Amp: Blackstar HT 20
Pedalboard: Ernie Ball VP Jr, Polytune 2, Diamond Compressor, TC Electronic Nova Delay, Strymon Blue Sky, EHX nano pog, Bondi Sick As overdrive, Ditto X2 looper

MUST PURSUE:
- guitar swells
- chord inversions
- (yeah, I said short, didn't I)
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,105
Simple voice leading with your highest pitched chord note is important in that style (most styles?). In other words: how you connect things is always important.
 

griggsterr

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,925
Been doing it for a long time, ask away. I assume you are talking the Hillsong variety of stuff?
 

Micah Darwin

Member
Messages
33
Been doing it for a long time, ask away. I assume you are talking the Hillsong variety of stuff?
Wow, sweet, thanks! And yes, I'm talking about more of the Hillsong/Bethel style. Basically, I feel like once I know where to get started, I can move from there and do my own research, but I just don't know where to begin. Any ideas?
 

Micah Darwin

Member
Messages
33
Are you sure just one delay pedal is enough?
It's for a relatively smaller church, so IDK if # of delays would matter that much, but I hope to obtain another one eventually. On that note, any recommendations on good sidekick delays? I don't have the $ right now to go for a Strymon El Cap
 

Micah Darwin

Member
Messages
33
Simple voice leading with your highest pitched chord note is important in that style (most styles?). In other words: how you connect things is always important.
Thanks for the info. Don't know if you can, but would you mind clarifying? Any examples? Again, thanks for your help
 

girded loins

Member
Messages
332
From a strictly musical standpoint P&W guitar requires the same thing as any other kind of guitar style. Be a lover/student of music. Listen to music and try to understand what's going on. Not just worship music. Listen to as much as you can. Radiohead, Julian Lage, Hillsong United, Pearl Jam, Bethel Music, Sojourn Church, Eric Clapton, The Roots, the list goes on and on and on and on and on and on. Listen to how the musicians on the recording you listen to interact with each other musically. It's not just playing notes. It's communication.

Find out what you like about certain guitarist. Pick up different tricks from different places. Don't feel like you have to fit into a certain mold.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,105
Thanks for the info. Don't know if you can, but would you mind clarifying? Any examples? Again, thanks for your help
Do you understand parallel, contrary, and oblique motion? It's very easy stuff. You need to work it out with two voices, then triads. Get an old hymnal and study a Bach piece. Bach didn't use delays but nobody knew more about connecting voices.
 

Micah Darwin

Member
Messages
33
Do you understand parallel, contrary, and oblique motion? It's very easy stuff. You need to work it out with two voices, then triads. Get an old hymnal and study a Bach piece. Bach didn't use delays but nobody knew more about connecting voices.
Wow, thanks for the tip! I had never heard of parallel, contrary, or oblique motion. Looks like there might be some good videos on youtube.
 

GtrWiz

Member
Messages
3,994
Been doing it for a long time as well. I think @guitarjazz idea is a great long term study, you may want to start a little more simply.
The vast majority of the music you will be playing in this setting is in major keys and diatonic. A lot of it is written with the mindset that it will be played by congregation members and not necessarily professionals.
Start by learning the major scale and all it's triads in all keys. Then focus on learning the 1, 6-, 4, 5 chords in each key in all inversions. Look up CAGED. That will get you through A LOT of the music.

As for effects, don't be afraid to crank the mix and repeats/decay on delays and reverb. Dark delays will work better for swells as you don't really want to hear the attack on repeats.
 

adauria

Member
Messages
532
I've been doing worship electric for a while, and the advice given so far is very solid. The biggest challenge I see is that worship music, as we play at my current church, can be quite eclectic in terms of style, genre and tone. What I mean is that you might find yourself doing a countrified hymn, followed by a crunchy modern hard rock thing, followed by a real ephemeral sounding song with lots of swells and sound effects. etc. You need to be comfortable switching genres and have gear that's versatile enough to at least fake it through all kinds of tones.

The other challenge we have in my church is that our leader really likes large ensembles of musicians. This means 2 electric guitars (me plus another), 1 acoustic, bass, piano, keyboard or B3 organ, drums, other percussions, usually 3-4 vocalists, and sometimes we'll have mandolin (usually me), banjo, flute, harp, sax, etc. This means one needs to 1) listen carefully to the recording you are trying to base your version of the song on, and parse out the various instruments and parts, and 2) figuring out how to find your space in the mix, both tonally and (more importantly) with the part you play. There's no need for both electric guitars to be rocking heavy distortion and banging power chords, e.g.

I've found that serving on the worship team has really forced me to up my game in terms of listening, fitting the mix, getting my tone right, nailing timing, learning new genres, etc. It's been a experience that's lead to a lot of growth in my playing.

I'll also add one specific thing that's helped me a lot - I purchased an All Access plan at Truefire.com. I've used it to delved into styles I did not learn in my nearly prior 3 decades of playing experience. It's helped me really round out my playing techniques. e.g., I'm now a much better slide player, thanks to David Hamburger, and I can fake steel guitar sounds when it's called for.

Oh, OK, 1 more thing - swells/pad sounds. The trick is starting with a decent base tone (I like a little distortion from the amp as part of this), then get some delay dialed in (dotted quarters fills it out, if your pedal supports that). I often also add reverb and maybe some modulation like chorus. Then PRACTICE working your volume pedal so you get nice even swells with both single/double note lines and fuller chord shapes. This type of playing comes up in at LEAST 1-3 songs per 6-7 song worship set, with modern worship music.

Have fun!

-Andrew
 

griggsterr

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,925
What a lot of this P&W music has gotten away from is just 6 string barre chords and open chords. Instead you should find yourself playing 2 note (intervals, or partial chords) or 3 note chords.
I wholeheartedly agree with learning music theory and applying it. I'm not the best but I have a better grasp than a lot of guitar players. Learn triads and their inversions and be able to play them in context of songs. In the absence of a strong Pianist in my worship band, I will often play the 3 voices of a triad up within a music passage to give it the feel that a keyboardist would do.
Less is almost always more, and the more players you have the less you play, but the parts need to be orchestrated so that if you have 2 guys on electric guitar, both of you are not often playing the same thing rhythmically or voicing.
There is a lot of space in some of this newer is worship stuff. And the U2 sounding stuff, just learn how to use that delay pedal brother. and pray the drummer can stay with it.
 

Steve Hotra

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,195
@Micah Darwin .. lots of great advice given here.
Like someone else posted, listen to more than just P & W.
You need to bring something different to your musical community.
You may be asked to learn certain specific lead lines, so I would work on learning how to play the
melody of the song. Its harder to do than most people think.
Your lead lines will be more melodic and not just playing a pentatonic major scale.
Less playing is often better at times.
 

griggsterr

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,925
Also it is very common to have more variations of chord voicings than some other genres.
Very common is to have the 3rd of the chord as the bass note.
Example F# as the bass note if you are playing a D major chord.
Also a lot of pedal tones, a lot of them. And the famous A 2 chord or D2 or E2 etc chord. You will see these in charts for modern worship music.
 

Pax

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,681
Congratulations! You might want to hit up a thread in the "Effects" forum entitled "P&W Rigs/Pedalboards #10." It covers a lot more than just fx and has some extremely knowledgable regular contributors.

Your board is fine. Just really learn how to use each of the fx. Learn their capabilities, and don't be afraid to dial in a lot of fx if the song calls for it.

As for style, you'll really start to get a feel for it as you work through various YT tutorials. Your head will spin for awhile, but it's fun.

Above all, remember the purpose of your playing.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,105
Wow, thanks for the tip! I had never heard of parallel, contrary, or oblique motion. Looks like there might be some good videos on youtube.
Parallel-Iron Man
Contrary-beginning of Stairway to Heaven
Oblique (one voice is stationary while the other moves)-Signed, Sealed, Delivered hook.
You don't need a Ph.d in music theory to get it. These voice-leading elements are always present. Good luck.
 

yeatzee

Member
Messages
2,966
Howdy fellow musicians, & happy new year.

I know it's very broad, but I was looking for any advice, tips, do's/don'ts, video tutorials, etc. that you could offer to a guitarist eager to pursue worship electric guitar. I have played guitar for 7 years now, and have new opportunities to play worship guitar at Texas A&M for my church. At the moment I am simply clicking from one Youtube video tutorial to the next, searching for that mythical treasure trove of answers to all the questions that I have about worship guitar. I have included my gear list below, as well as a short list of some MUST PURSUE avenues that i have come across so far in the realm of worship guitar. Thanks again!

Guitar: Epiphone Les Paul Ultra 1
Amp: Blackstar HT 20
Pedalboard: Ernie Ball VP Jr, Polytune 2, Diamond Compressor, TC Electronic Nova Delay, Strymon Blue Sky, EHX nano pog, Bondi Sick As overdrive, Ditto X2 looper

MUST PURSUE:
- guitar swells
- chord inversions
- (yeah, I said short, didn't I)
As noted above post in the P&W rigs/pedalboard thread, its a lot more than the title implies and they (we) will help sort you out on whatever questions you've got a lot quicker than on here. In short the gear is fine, if you have any specific questions about it / things you want to do and are not sure how just post it. As for guitar swells I'd setup the strymon's favorite switch with a giant delay with tons of decay for swells and set a preset on the delay for tons of feedback and a high mix and practice swells with the volume pedal. A good tip to keep swells from getting too muddy is to just play what's red with the white 'x' in the following picture using traditional bar chord shapes as reference.



Either use your fingers to pluck the notes or mute the other strings with your left hand and strum normally (depending on how familiar you are with muting strings).

As for chord inversions I would focus on triads primarily, just learn the common ones (D shape, F shape, E shape, A shape, etc) up and down the neck and practice by calling out chords and finding every triad you can for that chord (i.e. be able to play a G major chord say 10 different ways up and down the neck, and repeat for other common chords).
 






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