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Five piece to Four ... advice

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Fletz, May 17, 2011.

  1. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    Hey all -

    We just booted our rhythm guitar player. We are a classic rock cover band (www.RockBoxBand.com) doing Black Crowes, Skynyrd, STP, ZZ Top, etc. We are now a four piece - singer, bass (me!), drums and guitar.

    Any advice on how I should/can fill in the tone now that we are down one guitar. Been playing for 28 years. Been in this situation before, just never gave it thought like I do now as a more seasoned/professional player.

    I couldn't be happier about it, by the way. On a personal and professional level.
  2. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    chords and octaves during the solo's, IME. strategic placement works wonders, of course. gl.
  3. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Cool, you just got a big fat raise on every gig!

    But seriously... some of that material you listed is going to be a challenge to cover with only one guitar. The stock answer of course will be that you as a bassist could/should play more notes to fill the space but when you're dealing with classic rock standards it's always risky to stray too far afield of the recorded versions. So in lieu of filling more of the space with notes, you may want to approach it sonically, i.e., more mids in your bass tone. Your remaining guitarist, also, may want to re-calibrate his tone a bit too but the two of you need to work together so you're not trying to occupy the same sonic space.

    Do you plan on eventually adding a rhythm guitarist back in or are you a 4-piece for the foreseeable future? Also if your singer plays any guitar (or keys) it's time to expand his job description to include that role -- keeping in mind of course that if he plays badly it's better that he doesn't play at all and just sticks to singing. And, that even if he does play competently, it may detract from his capacity as a front person and you as a band need to decide if that tradeoff is worth it.

    Another idea is to take the money you're not paying the 5th guy and use it to upgrade your light show. People hear with their eyes and if you're putting on a great show in that regard some of the "holes" in your sound will be secondary.

    I take it from your closing comment that the 5th guy was the weak link musically... so this may also be an opportunity for you to take the "tightness" of the band to a new level and that can also help. A band that is a well-oiled machine in that regard can get away with not filling in so much of the sound.
  4. 8 or 12-string bass perhaps? Clatter does that with a Waterstone, but then again they're just bass and drums.
  5. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Best thing that ever happened to my band!! I play pretty simple and very fat. You have a lot more space with a four piece, but that doesn't mean you are required to fill every available spot. Let the music breathe! It's fun to just hang out with the drummer and groove while the rest of the band does their thing.
  6. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Exactly what Phalex said. Here's a chance for you and the drummer to really show everyone how tight you are without the constant whine and clatter of two overamped guitars. Sometimes space moves the song along more than sound.

    The other thing this does is gives you a great opportunity to freshen up your song list. Contrary to popular belief, it is entirely possible to not play a single Lynerd Skynard song and still do great business as a cover band. Dump the tired old dogs (Skynard, Stones, Aerosmith, etc.) that require 2 or 3 guitars and replace them with bands/tunes that are more friendly to your current lineup (STP and ZZ Top like you said, being a couple of great examples, also possibly Red Hot Chili Peppers, Spin Doctors, Lenny Kravitz or even a band like Goo Goo Dolls if you can stand that stuff).
  7. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    Thanks all! Me and the drummer have been playing together since I started 28 years ago. I am psyched to showcase our "tightness" - oddly enough, he's the most nervous about it of the four of us.
  8. powderfinger


    Feb 24, 2009
    I love 1 guitar bands as well. You guys should play some Neil Young and Crazy Horse! ZZ Top has so many good songs to chose from too.
  9. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Also of course Cream, Hendrix, and Robin Trower although a lot of that stuff has been done to death and beyond as well. But from an instrumentation standpoint there's a lot of material to mine in those old 70s "power trios".

    If your guitarist is up to it, Stevie Ray Vaughn and his many imitators are also a good source for potential material. Steve Miller Band as well.
  10. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    Feel free to check out www.RockBoxBand.com to see what we do now. You guys are all right on.
  11. butchblack

    butchblack Life is short. Do good. Find and do what you love.

    Jan 25, 2007
    Waltham Massachusetts
    As others have suggested I'd look at the play list and eliminate any songs that aren't going to work well without a rhythm guitar. Your remaining guitarist may have to play more chords when he's not soloing. How good is he at that? Not all good guitarists are good rhythm players. Also, you may have to tweak some of your arrangements to better suit your new line-up.
  12. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    go watch some high paying trios...

    You'll notice more legato bass lines... (less notes longer)

    PM me if you'd like the effects settings I use to fatten it up.. I only play with duos and trios.
  13. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Backing vocals also become more important as the number of instruments declines.

    If the guy you booted also provided those, then you have to recalibrate on that issue as well.
  14. na1lb0hm


    May 17, 2011
    Southern Alberta
    I agree about the guitarist choosing which lines are important and when there needs to be chords played.

    our band lost our second guitarist, which left me playing chords, running a digitech bass driver and switching amps to fill the void during leads or solos. We also rely on our drummer a lot more to toss in fills or rolls to balance out the sound.
  15. sobie18


    May 5, 2002
    Shaw AFB, SC
    Enjoy the sonic space!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  16. When the classic covers band I was in booted the rythm guitarist we became a 3-piece musically. On a few solo's the rythm sounded empty so I used an octave-up with some distortion and blended it with my normal tone. It gave a nice, distorted sound which hinted at guitar tracking the bassline, but still had the deep bassline running so nothing was lost.

    Enjoy :)
  17. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Add keys.
  18. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member


    Went to see a friend's cover band a little while back; power trio + singer, my friend was the (sole) guitarist. What struck me was how he would let substantial stretches of the song run with the bass, drums, and vox, no guitar at all, and then jump in with a hot riff. You never noticed the guitar missing and the songs never felt empty. I think we worry too much about "filling space."
  19. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    This is essentially the same effect as you would get with an 8- or 12-string bass, but at a fraction of the cost of buying and instrument and without having to make technique adjustments (which can be significant).

    This weekend I'm hoping to check out a new local cover band that is a trio and is getting a lot of good buzz including raves from other musicians in town. Especially for their "full, thick" sound. I'll try and take some mental notes and maybe talk to the guys in the band too if I have a chance.
  20. Oh yeah tuning down half a step to Eb will help thicken things up too ;)

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