1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

how many guitars (is too many)?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by the yeti, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. the yeti

    the yeti

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
    i've felt for most of my life that i prefer a single guitar in a band. i know a lot of bands have 2 or sometimes 3 guitars even if there's a keyboard or other instruments. that got me thinking, from a bass perspective how many guitars? how about from a listeners perspective?
  2. gard0300

    gard0300 Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Vandalia, Ohio
    I prefer to play with one, but I prefer to listen to bands that have two. Kind of weird, but that's just my opinion.
  3. cica


    Sep 18, 2012
    It depends how good the guitarist is. When Lyndsey Buckingham didn't want to tour with Fleetwood Mac, it took 2 guitarists to replace him. In my very limited experience, the guitarist in my wife's band believes a bass is more important than a guitar and he'd take a bass over a second guitar any day of the week.
  4. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    If there is one guitar playing rhythm, and one guitar playing lead, I like it a lot. If the guitar players don't know how to make the distinction and play whatever the hell they want to, I'd rather have one.
  5. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Depends on the music. In my Americana band we have one acoustic and sometimes one electric all night. This along with a fiddle, mando, banjo player sounds really great. When the second guitar is not there its cool but we lose out on his cool fills and solo's.

    As for the best feel as a bass player a power trio with good drummer is allot of fun but you work more.:bassist:
  6. Mike in Chicago

    Mike in Chicago Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    Hate to say "depends" too but, rhythm on a ES335 or some semi + 1 dedicated lead is OK...but I prefer 1 with keys. I played 3 piece a lot and don't miss it
  7. Depends on the band, how bass is played, and whether or not there are keys, IMO.

    With a more laid back, basic bass sound and no keys, the lead/rhythm guitar combo makes sense.

    If you have keys to fill that mid range rhythm space and/or a forward bassist who keeps a lot of the rhythmic ideas prominent, than one guitar is often enough.

    From a listening standpoint, more than two guitars, especially with a lot of other instruments, seems to get cluttered, unless handled carefully. Done badly, too many guitars start to sound like a free-for-all.
  8. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    One is more than I want. But I'll endure them since they seem to insist on showing up.
  9. powmetalbassist

    powmetalbassist Supporting Member

    Yeah. It's variable. Back in the day (before I knew anything about bass guitar and its function) Louder was better, so in my youth in a punk/hard rock band 2-3 guitars was fine. When I started playing Metal 2 guitars was the minimum for alot of stuff and 3 guitars was a little overkill, but worked for the situation I was in because the bassist (myself) had learned a few things about cutting through and my role as a bass player in a band.

    For the most part 2 is fine, 3 most the time would be too many and one can work in the right situation.
  10. the yeti

    the yeti

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
    i've almost reached the point where i refuse (i'll stop at "don't want to" though:)) to play with 2 guitars. i think some of the most powerful stuff uses drums, bass, and vocals. all my favorite bands over my life have been 1 guitar bands, maybe it's because the thing that really sells a band to me as a consumer is the drumming. most 1 guitar bands have really good drummers i think.
  11. jordak


    Apr 7, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I wouldn't play in a band with more than two guitarists unless we never had to use a backline and we had a touring soundman. 3 guitars is a soundcheck nightmare; to make it work, you need someone cutting, boosting, compressing, etc...at a rack/mixer who is familiar with each song.

    Iron Maiden can do it, but I've had gigs go sour because one guitarist was feeding back most of the night and the venue's soundman was just sitting there.
  12. how many guitar players did funkadelic have?
    generally, the more musicians with same instruments the better they have to be and the more rehearsal time is needed to make it sound right. also depends on the desired outcome.
    in most cases 1 is sufficient though. or one lead and one rhythm both being very good to not create a mess.
    a p funk band would need at least 5
  13. zazz


    Feb 27, 2004
    An obvious plus for two guitarists is the Rolling Stones .....and the fine art of weaving ...
  14. The more instruments there are in a band, the less each one can play. Or maybe a better way to say it is, the more important it is to work out arrangements so that they don't get in each other's way. This is especially true of chordal instruments like guitar and keyboards. If there's only one guitar and no keyboard, then he can play big fat six-note chords all night. Add a second guitar, a piano, and a synth, and if everyone is playing big fat chords it's going to be a muddy mess.

    It can be done well - watch the "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" DVD and you'll hear a band with 2 guitars, piano, organ, a bunch of horns, and a bunch of singers, and it still sounds tight. But the arrangements have been worked out very carefully to acheive that.
  15. FrenchBassQC

    FrenchBassQC Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Gatineau QC CA
    Two max but I prefer one only me too.
  16. I think if you can't get the sound you want with only 2 guitarists then you either lack skill or your expectations are unrealistic. Most people in the audience can't tell the difference between 2 and 3 guitars in regards to how it sounds. Heck, most don't know the difference between guitar and bass! The only exception I've noted is at church. I have led worship from either acoustic or electric guitar with one of each accompanying in order to allow more people to get involved. I almost instantly lose interest if I see a band with 3 guitarists (except at church).
  17. ShoeManiac


    Jan 19, 2006
    New Jersey
    There are just so many variables here. But it boils down to the material and the musicianship. The material has to be the key determinant in a band lineup. And you need the right musicians who listen and know when to play and when to show restraint.

    A great example of guitar players doing just that? The Motown guitar section. They could have as many as 3 guitar players on a given track, and they were all laying their parts down at the same time. The key was that they were great listeners, they knew how and when to play, and they had a great section arrangement.

    As for my preferences? Two is good by me if the guitarists know how to play in a complimentary fashion. And I could even go to three, if you wanted to have an acoustic rhythm player, electric rhythm player and an electric lead player.
  18. Take a look at OLD Molly Hatchet as an example. 3 guitars, done well, and they switch up playing lead. Done like this is good, otherwise,,,CRAP.

    Plus the added enjoyment of dealing with multiple gui****s.
  19. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    If you have 2 good guitarists you can cover a lot more ground (material).

  20. nobodysfool


    Apr 22, 2010
    Shelby, OH
    For most of my life, I've played in trios, i.e. 1 guitar, 1 bass, and 1 drummer. I did play in a trio with a keyboard player, a drummer, and myself, and occasionally switched to guitar for a few songs, and let the keyboard player cover the bottom end. My current band is 2 guitars, a drummer and me on bass. One of the guitar players also plays keys, which broadens our range of songs, and keeps it from getting cluttered. It helps too in that the two guitarists have been playing together for over 30 years, and have learned how to not clutter things up. I had to back off on my playing some, because I was too busy, being used to a trio format. It was a bit of an adjustment.

    The hardest thing for bands to really get a handle on is the idea of not overplaying. There's nothing worse than 4 players all trying to be funky at the same time, and thinking that their part is the one that supplies the funk. That ain't funk, that's a free-for-all, and it sounds like crap! Me, the over-playing bass player, turned reformed ensemble player, had to teach these guys that less is more. Funk requires air, places where there are no notes, just open space. I had to work with them to get them to understand that each part, on its own, won't be that much, but when it's assembled, the result will be amazing. Each player has their own part to play, and plays only that part. We're all Beatles fans, so I told them to go back and listen to the way the Beatles assembled their music. Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds, is a perfect example. There are 4 distinct parts. None of them double or ghost any of the others. When listened to together, it works without being cluttered. In fact, many of the Beatles tunes are perfect examples of this. I'm guessing that much of that came from the excellent production work of George Martin.

    Anyway, long-enough on that. Multiple guitars can work, if the egos are kept in check, and they're all good players. Will the audience notice? Probably not, they only know "it sounds good" or "it sounds like crap".