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Keys or Rhythm Guitarist?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by sandman357, Mar 30, 2014.

  1. Hi,
    Our lead singer/rhythm guitarist/harp player is leaving the band. (on good terms, new baby on the way, job promotion, longer commute, needs more time at home)

    Needless to say we have some big shoes we need to fill. We are your typical bar band that does classic rock, southern rock and country.

    I am thinking of looking for a Keyboard player with vocals. This would give us drums, bass, lead and keys. Our lead player can do most vocals, and can play harp as well.

    So would you rather have a keyboard player or another guitar player for this type of music?
  2. kikstand454

    kikstand454 Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2012
    Keys definitely. Rhythm guitar is awesome and certainly has a place in that genre .....a very strong place!

    But keys open up so many options...its crazy. Especially in the bar band circuit.

    Want to really up our game? Get a FEMALE key player who can sing lead....NOW you can do anything!
  3. +2. Definitely keys, and preferably female too.
  4. ShoeManiac


    Jan 19, 2006
    New Jersey
    How good is your guitarist as a vocalist? That seems to be a significant question. Some people can sing. But can they front a band? That's something that should be a primary concern.

    So find a great singer, first and foremost. After that? Then look at what any prospective singers can bring to the table in terms of instrumental capabilities. I would prefer a keyboard player who is a great singer. But over the years I've found that good keyboard players are often in short supply. So if the new singer plays guitar instead of keys, I wouldn't look on that as so much of a loss.
  5. sm49341


    May 12, 2013
    Keys. Rhythm guitar is indeed very awesome, but if had to choose one then keys. It sets you part. Majority of bands around me don't have keys/piano. We do. Lets you sound different, open up options. If we really need rhythm guitar in a song, I have our keys guy play bass and I jump on rhythm .
  6. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    Rhythm guitarist who can also play keys.
    Some songs just don't need keys, and some just don't need a 2nd guitar, but could use keys.

    But as a rhythm guitarist myself--I like 2 guitars in a band--and for the music you mention it would be good to have one, but if you can find one who also play keys you can have whichever one best fits the song.

    Back when I was trying to put bands together the idea of someone who just played keys wasn't that attractive to me.
    Ideally (for me) the band would consist of 2 guitars, bas & drums--and most of the members, if not all-can double on keys.
    And at least one of those--preferably at least 2-can do lead vocals.
  7. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Keys, absolutely, though keys aren't easy to find, especially for a rock band.
  8. EddiePlaysBass


    Feb 26, 2009
    Truth be told, having done both configurations I would prefer 2 guitars. But only if they work well together and both are very capable rhythm players. In such a case you could really make up for the lack of keys.
  9. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    What you probably will find as I have found-
    Keys are the most difficult of ANY instrument to find someone good- Keys with vocals, harder still, keys with female and vocals- next to impossible.
    The reason being if you can play keys and sing- usually you can load your keyboard up and go play ALL kinds of solo gigs and make the same or more money than having to compete with a band volume.

    I have done the two guitar, drums, bass, vocals typical bands and am now glad to be in a power trio, and don't think I would ever go back- because you can actually hear the cool basslines I play now- before a lot of what I played was blended with the rhythm guitarist and both gui****s were too loud. (which they tend to do more when you get more than one of them in the wild).
    I don't miss that once in a while cool guitar part that is missing from some songs- certainly not enough to not even hear half of what I am playing! ;-)
  10. devinp17

    devinp17 Guest

    If I were you, I would go for the Rhythm Guitarist... I'm the kinda guy who likes a pure, raw rock n' roll band. To me anyway, it's always seemed like the keys are just an addition that doesn't need to be there and that they make the band less rock n' roll and more like pop... I have nothing against keyboard players, but I would go for the Rhythm Guitarist in a rock band.
  11. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    ...and then if you get a heavy left handed keyboardist- you will either kill them or quit the band.
    I had that once- he literally tried to double EVERY bass part- Sounded so bad because his time was alway a little off- so you had this "echo" bass line.
    Never again.
  12. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    Keys. Much more variety
  13. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    This. Can your guitarist really front the band? If not, I'd be looking for a killer singer who can front. If you're lucky enough to have your pick, in your shoes I'd definitely add a female. (Draws better and, considering you already have a male lead vocalist in the band, opens up a lot of bookable repertoire.)

    Standing at keyboards tends to be a charisma-killer, and female singers who can charismatically front a band while playing keys are pretty rare. So, if you find one, hold on tightly with both hands—heck, wrap your legs around her, too. You might have to marry her and get a prenup to make sure she doesn't go anywhere. (I hope you and the current Mrs. are willing to make this commitment for the sake of your cover band.)

    If in your market these sweet-voiced, keyboard playing, dynamic band-fronting beauties are a bit thin on the ground, you might instead need to settle for a gorgeous, charismatic female singer who plays guitar. If so, try to keep your disappointment under wraps.
  14. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Ha, that's gotta be one of the wisest things ever posted on TB.
  15. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Keys all the way.
  16. I agree that the first consideration should be getting an excellent vocalist without worrying too much about whether he/she plays guitar or keys. Too many bands limp along with weak singers.
  17. N.F.A.


    Jun 25, 2009
    In a blue funk
    Keys for sure! And that is coming from someone who used to be a rhythm guitar player before I learned to play bass.
  18. The more important question is- do you have a frontman? Or frontwoman, which is even better.
  19. hard to argue with that.....
  20. how are keys any less pure rock?...assuming there is such a thing....as far back a jerry lee lewis keys have been integral part of rock....probably before him....lots of things don't "need" to be in a rock band,and that includes rhythm guitars....

    deep purple,elp,the doors,procol harum,allman bros and a host of others,would be totally different without keys and none of them would be considered "pop"...besides ina pinch a good keys guy can left hnd a bass line while the bass player fills in on rhythm geetar:D