How to train a young guitarist?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Matthew_84, Feb 25, 2014.

  1. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    Last friday I jammed with a hip hop group (a couple MC's, a drummer, a guitarist, and myself). It went well and now I've been invited to come back.

    The guitarist is 18 and has only been playing for like 8 months and he's really already quite good as far as playing licks and things. However, he's really into metal, and most of his riffs sounded like they came straight out of a Metallica song. Don't get me wrong, I love metal, but clearly not the right gig. There were times where he'd take a break, and me and the drummer would get a great beat going and the MC's would go nuts and spit some awesome stuff on it, and then the guitarist would come back and play something that not only didn't fit the mood, but was not in the same key at all, and mostly not in time with what we were doing. In that case, I transposed the bassline I was doing a whole tone up to match the riff he was doing better harmonically, and I had to change up my rhythm to match his, and even then I would make sure to play the root loudly on every fourth downbeat to signal to change to the next chord, and he would usually be off, sometimes as far as two beats after the fact. With this going on, it didn't take long for the MC's to lose their inspiration.

    He's a great guy and I like him, but I'd just like it if he used his ear a bit more to know what chords to play, chose riffs that fit with what we were already doing (not ones he already knew and trying to force them in), and work on his timing to change chords at the right time.

    Especially because so far we're only jamming/coming up with new stuff and not working on covers or anything like that, there's really nothing specific for all of us to practice in the off-time.

    So, I'm looking for suggestions in what I could do to help him out. I also feel like a d*ck about this, because I'm the newbie in the group, but I think he'd appreciate it and we'd all benefit.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Being the newest, I'd recommend just riding it for a while before saying anything.
  3. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Sounds like he's not at the right gig.
  4. randyripoff


    Jul 12, 2008
    This +1. Be prepared to record the next jam.

    If he's just learning, then he's playing what he knows. He may be much better next time. Or he may not. If you record the session, you can point out to him what's working and what isn't.

    You might try to do some listening with him as well. If he's only listening to Metallica, then he's not going to understand what's required with other styles so well. Maybe try to turn him on to some early Run-DMC as an example of how a guitar can add something to hip-hop.

    Of course, if he's completely unreceptive to your suggestions and the other guys aren't seeing a problem, then you can only deal with it or quit.
  5. jorby


    Feb 25, 2014
    Prescott, Arizona
    Pretty spot on here. If you have some artists you really like, or that the group aspires to as a whole, suggest that he listen to those. Aside from hip-hop, even getting him on to some old funk music would also help a lot as well. Some funk will have similar guitar to what you might want in a style that is more cohesive to a guitar player. I have had many similar experiences with players and even been in that place myself when learning new styles of music or just creating. In the end, a riff guitarist may not be the person you want for a hip hop group as he will want to play a lot, especially if he is just learning. Time will tell, good luck!
  6. There are lots of groups you can have him listen to if he's into metal. Run DMC is a great suggestion, also I personally like Hollywood Undead. Heck even Kid Rock did it right.
  7. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I usually start with a choke chain. Be gentle, though. Guitarists have fragile throats. I try and coordinate this with some crate training. If he doesn't have the chops, I try and throw him in with a different pack for awhile. The main thing is, you can't always use food as a reward, because he will get fat. This is going to take some time and patience, but if you are consistent, you will end up getting the results you are looking for.

    Just remember who's in charge.
    bassthumpersf likes this.
  8. F-Clef-Jef


    Nov 13, 2006
    Neenah, WI
    Where's that damn "Like" button... :D
  9. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    At least agree on a key before starting a track and then stick to it? It might also sound better if you keep the bass parts repetitive, that way the whole thing will sound coherent even if the guitarist wanders off for a while. That's just generic "dealing with guitarists" advice.

    Some hip-hop gets chromatic in similar ways to what metal might - minor seconds or diminished fifths. So, playing stereotypical metal parts slowly (see Trae's "I'm Fresh" - there's two different versions with different guitar samples) should be a pretty good option. Playing stereotypical metal parts fast can be done, too - Sutter Kain sampled a lot of those, though he wasn't a huge success. 80s hair metal worked for Dama Do Bling in "Gimme Love", shred solo and all. And getting away from metal, well, B.o.B is the obvious guy to look to - start with "Play The Guitar".

    Edit/bonus - but probably my all-time favorite hip-hop track with guitar is this classic from Mongolia - not metal at all but just a great track, and no I don't understand a word of Mongolian either:

    And when all else fails, default to Am-F-C-G chord progressions, that's a safe option for hip-hop.
  10. How to train your guitarist? Feed him treats when he does things right, spray him in the face with water when he's out of line. :D
    Oh, and get him to listen to hip hop.
  11. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    OP here.

    Thanks guys for all your suggestions so far. I realized that last week may have been his first time playing with a bass guitar, and he may have spent his time prior practicing riffs and not playing along to music, so he may not have worked on his timing yet in a band situation.

    Being the new guy, I think I will just give it a few more sessions and see how he improves.

    But I will definitely bring a recorder with me to the next session - as that idea is pure gold. Also, I will recommend some hip hop with guitars in it, Run DMC, etc - Beastie Boys would be a good fit. Funk is a good idea too. I'll try to get him to listen to some of that as well as possibly reggae, ska, and maybe even some jazz fusion - as that could work well.

    I agree that there are a lot of chromatic runs in hip hop, with the minor 2nd and 5th, so I will try to work with those too - all great suggestions. Thank you very much guys.
  12. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    A couple more thoughts... not that I'm a real hip-hop producer or anything, I'm just helping a rapper put together his first mixtape, and I rap in cover bands sometimes.

    If the guitarist is a metal guy, he might be overestimating how many different riffs should be in a track. In a lot of hip-hop you'll have one chord progression throughout the whole track, with an extra layer of melody during the hook and that's pretty much it. He might also be underestimating how much variation there should be between tracks. I mean you could do 70s funk one track, doom metal the next, and a lot of MCs would think both are totally awesome. Though if you sound like the latest Flo Rida single, they'll probably tell you that sucks, haha.
  13. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    Sounds like the rule, not the exception, as far as 18-year-old guitar owners are concerned.

    It may be too soon to tell, but how willing/eager is he to learn? If he wants to learn how to be a real guitar player, there's hope. If he thinks he already knows everything & is some sort of awesome guitar god, there's nothing you can do.
  14. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Yep. Worst thing about being the new guy... you see all the problems they have already gotten used to but you look like an ass if you bring them up. Go figure...
  15. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    He definitely seems like a pretty humble guy to me and I think he'd be willing to learn. I just have a feeling he hasn't been pointed in the right direction yet, but I could tell that he was flustered when he wasn't able to keep playing his riff and make the chord changes. In fact, and a part I forgot about, was that he did slightly change his riff to make it fit in the space better... He still had trouble doing it, but the intent was there.

    Hmm... I completely forgot about that... Now I'm very curious what the next session holds.

    I am friends with the band leader, in fact he was at my wedding (my wife's childhood best friend). Is it too soon to text him with a couple beats I'd like everyone to work on? Was thinking we could do a hip hop version of a Bob Marley song or something like that.
  16. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Doesn't sound like a good fit, and he doesn't sound like he has much talent to begin with, even if it was. Get a guitarist with more experience, they are NOT hard to find, throw a stone and you will hit two people in the head who probably play guitar better than him.
  17. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I am assuming that you already listen to the Pocket Dwellers OP? If not, check them out. I would love to have a band like that, and that is what I think of when I hear a real band with a rapper. Well that and old Josh Martinez.
  18. rust_preacher


    Dec 17, 2009
    Guitarists start with the lower 3 strings and the power chord. Make him try the UPPER 3 strings (treble side) with major, 6th, and 7th chord patterns instead. Even a "maj" shape might work for you. (Whadda I know, I don't know hip hop. Make him listen to disco licks.)
  19. Lobomov


    Aug 2, 2013
    8 months ehh? You have two challenges.

    1. Getting him into something other than metal. That is the easy part.

    2. The timing stuff etc. If he has only been playing 8 months, then he migth just be lacking the ear to play in time and groove and that is not quickly fixed.