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Playing louder than the guitar player

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Comrade Momenta, Oct 5, 2013.

  1. Comrade Momenta

    Comrade Momenta

    Oct 5, 2013
    Hi guys this is my first post here so please forgive me if this is out of context, but I'd like your advice on a scenario I'm currently in.

    I'm currently in a cover band with a keyboard guy, guitarist, singer, and myself. We don't have a drummer because we're all in our early 20s and it was hard enough finding young people who play seriously these days and the few drummers who we have been able to talk to lose interest as soon as they see how big the age gap is between us and them (all of them mostly in their 40s for some reason).

    Anyway my issue here is with the guitarist. He is an alright player but he does have some difficulty playing some songs. Solos give him a hard time especially. I think it is more of a time issue more than anything because he works and goes to school. A lot of times as practice it becomes an issue where he'll have to watch me play to get the timing right and such.

    Kicking him out is out of the question and for what it's worth he does play alright. Here is where I need your advice. Would it sound alright if I were to play the volume on the bass louder than the guitar, that way when we play at bars people won't notice the mistakes he makes? When we play like this at practice it sounds alright but IDK I may be bias because I like the bass so much but I'm wondering if it will be a turn off for the bar scene. I'm also open to some suggestions for songs that have a more prevalent bass in them than the guitar. We play a lot of songs from bands like The Fray and soft rock mostly. Thanks for any help in advance guys.
  2. Lobomov


    Aug 2, 2013
    Nah .. you can't ruin the mix just to cover him up.

    Just make it sound good and live with his mistakes .. and if you can't live with his mistakes, then play without him.
  3. Tituscrow

    Tituscrow Banned

    Feb 14, 2011
    NW England
    Terrible idea.

    Sounds like your band needs to learn their chops in the practice room before you even think about performing publicly.

    If he's a good friend, stick by him as he learns his craft and improves. If he's no good and doesn't look like he's going to get better, then brace yourself for having that difficult conversation.
  4. lol

    Just turn his amp off - that will work. To funny. Good luck.
  5. tbz


    Jun 28, 2013
    Based on the other stuff you mention the issue might be more about the guitarist's abilities. It's hard to hide that stuff, and an older musician will spot it immediately and bail.

    Good players your age will recognize lack of ability and duck out as well. So you might want to consider that.

    Not trying to be smarmy, but how exactly is he an alright player if he can't really play?

    Sounds like it's more than just a time issue if he's that deficient. It honestly sounds like music is a lower priority to him than it is to you and the rest of the band. If the rest of you are serious about music, his lack of attention to it will become a problem.

    Personally, I have a full time job, have a son and two step kids and still find time to practice singing and bass playing solo along with two 2 hour band rehearsals a week. It's not impossible to make time for this stuff if you work at it.

    If you really want to make it work, you can stick to stuff that's keyboard and bass heavy, and just turn him down.

    Downside to that is that most of the stuff I know of with guitar, keys and bass, that has prominent bass and key parts, usually has complex guitar noodling on top of it. In some cases that can be played "wrong" and folks won't notice, but that limits your material substantially more than if you just kicked the guy and got a decent guitarist.

    Also, the whole "lack of a drummer" thing will limit your material selections more than anything else. If you had a good drummer you could play Primus material with the keyboardist playing the guitar parts, and the guitarist just turned down doing whatever. They're so rhythm section oriented though that the lack of a drummer just kills that option.

    Most bass heavy bands lean in this direction, with bass and drums contributing substantially to the overall arrangement. So again, the lack of a drummer is really going to restrict you if you try that path.

    It is also really tough to get gigs, and have folks take you remotely seriously without one, unless you're specifically trying to do folk/acoustic style gigs.

    Most of us on these boards, over the age of 30 have dealt with these same issues before at your age. That's where this particular advice is coming from, but as always YMMV.
  6. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    I almost stopped reading after the comment about age but decided to continue.

    If your guitar player cannot handle his parts, neither he nor your band is ready to play gigs. Playing louder than him won't fix it. You can either wait for him to improve or find someone else.

    As far as age is concerned, it is just a number and the sooner you realize that, the better. There are great and bad musicians in all age groups. I was in a band 12 years ago that had a guitar player in his 50s, I was in my 40s, the keyboard player was in his 30s and the drummer was 18. He was a better player and more mature than many players twice his age. Look at videos from many current pop stars. Many of them have musicians who are much older than they are. There are 3 things you should care about: can the person play, do they do their homework, are they easy to get along with.
  7. 1. Turning volume up usually caused more problems than it solves. Usually changing EQ so you stand out better works well, and doesn't drown out the singer or throw a blanket over someone else's sound.

    2. The people in a bar are MUCH more likely to notice there isn't a drummer, than that the guitar made a few mistakes. You are trimming your nails while a 800 pound gorilla is in the room.

    3. The guitar need to BOLDY embrace his mistakes and plow along anyway. You simply cannot be a timid musician. If there is an audience, he needs to pull a punk attitude "F-you! I did THAT on purpose! And here is a little MORE for you all!"

    Lotsa bands have terrible guitarists that are bold enough to ignore their incompetence and just pound out a song anyway.

    Also, how many tunes do you have? Maybe he needs to be introduced to the concept of woodshedding. Maybe he cannot master all the tunes now, but he probably can focus on 3 this week and 3 the next and....
  8. ...or maybe he could start playing drums?

    I don't think I would go see a Keyboard, bass, and timid guitar, combo - but I might go see a drums, keyboard and bass trio if the vocals were good and the band had shaped their sound and song selection around their capability
  9. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    We have a winner!
  10. Nobody (apart from other bass players) ever even listen to the bass. It's just there - supporting the other people's input. If the guitarist is weak, then you either put up with it and maybe change the set to remove ones he has problems with, or replace him.
  11. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    I think we must listen to very different music. And play very different music.

    The bass is an instrument like any other. If it's not contributing as much as the other instruments then that's the instrumentalist's fault.
  12. Tituscrow

    Tituscrow Banned

    Feb 14, 2011
    NW England

    If you know anyone who doesn't recognise that as a bass-line, then they are a chimp.
  13. Tituscrow

    Tituscrow Banned

    Feb 14, 2011
    NW England
    Huh? That's even worse advice than turning the bass up.
  14. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    Play louder than a guitarist? Good luck! Every single one of them is over compensating for a "short coming."
  15. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Not if he stares at certain audience members and licks his lips suggestively.
  16. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    No way, at least it won't scew up the mix.

    If you "look" like it's happening, a large portion of Joe Public will buy it. It's history in a few seconds, and something else is happening.
  17. Comrade Momenta

    Comrade Momenta

    Oct 5, 2013
    Yeah I figured I would get such a response. We have tried getting a drummer before and one guy did play with us who was almost 20 years our age, but he was a step above us (had played at major events before) so going from that to a soft rock cover band probably turned him off to the idea. That plus as someone mentioned before maybe he didn't like the guitarist's skill level. I mean I'm still looking but I've had so many people turn us down because of the age difference and our music selection. I won't give up but for now we have to work with what we have.

    We have only 15 songs under our belt and honestly I don't think any of them are that hard. The only one that I have to actually focus on is Over My Head by The Fray and that may be more because I just started learning this song last week. The guitar parts aren't that difficult either in many on our roster. We're not adding anymore until the songs sounds dead on.

    We're having practice tomorrow so I'm hoping he has improved since I've seen him last.
  18. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    What your song list?

    What type of venues are you playing?

    Your troubles are probably your song choice and skill level.

    If your git player can't practice on his own time and even if he does practice, can't play certain songs, he won't progress and neither will your band. EOS (end of story).

    Seriously, can he play drums?
  19. Lobomov


    Aug 2, 2013
    The guitar -> drums idea isn't a bad one :)
  20. I am really surprised everyone is saying turning up the bass louder than the guitar will screw up the mix. Just how so? I think that's a great idea! :D

    Although not as great and idea as getting a drummer and a better guitarist.

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