Playing with my neighbor (long rank - warning!)

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by lark_z, May 9, 2021.

  1. lark_z

    lark_z Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2020
    So, I start playing bass again just over a year ago. With nothing else to do thanks to COVID, I'm practicing at least an hour each morning and afternoon. Really enjoying it. Mostly 80s country, classic rock, and working through some printed instructional material. No delusions here. Mediocre bedroom player. My last time on stage was with my twin playing "Tiptoe through Tulips" on our ukeleles in 5th grade. Just want to have some fun, learn something.

    I know a neighbor of mine is a guitar player. I see him at a (socially distanced) outdoor neighborhood gathering last Xmas. We talk and agree to start playing together. Once we sobered up, we decided to wait until we were vaccinated. We had a chance to discuss material. I would have agreed to most anything reasonable. I hear "early Beatles hits and same for the Eagles".

    I create a playlist of maybe 25 songs. You know what they are. They're the songs of our youth from the 60s and 70s (if you're an old fart). You've heard them all a million times. Taking the "be prepared" motto from the Boy Scouts, I start woodshedding on these songs. Yeah - it's not like it's Jaco/Squire/Lee, but I'm enjoying it. Anyway, with a couple of months waiting on vaccine, I know the material.

    He's playing mostly acoustic and doing the singing.

    Here's what the sessions are like:
    • "I haven't practiced at all since last time" - I hear this EVERY session.
    • "My fingers are hurting" - I hear this after maybe 45 minutes.
    • Stopping after a mistake.
    • Slowing down during parts that aren't just strumming the chords.
    • Skipping bars.
    • Trying to flip pages and play from books. This is especially unnerving on the Eagles songs. He has a TAB book and he's trying to do the lead fills between the verses.
    • Trying to read chord changes from a tablet and bitching that the text is too small.
    I just about laughed out loud last week. We were playing "Hide your Love Away" (Beatles) and he's skipping a bar leading into the chorus. I queued up the mp3 and we played along with it. He was obviously wrong. His comment after that was "That version isn't correct". LOL - it's the only Beatles version I'm aware of. I just dropped it. One bar isn't a big deal, but it's yet another symptom.

    My attempts to steer this to a more useful territory include:
    • Suggesting songs that are just acoustic strumming. This has helped somewhat. We had a nice few minutes with "Best of My Love" ON THE FIRST TRY.
    • Suggesting that he just create a pentatonic fill (or whatever) on the breaks and forget trying to match the original. His response here is to pull out a glob of sheets from his instructor with scales on it.
    The last couple of sessions he doesn't want to play the songs that we'd been (kind of) working on. I suspect he's frustrated. So now I'm suggesting songs that he knows/likes, but can't play yet. Of course, this creates more of the squinting at the tablet.

    Interestingly enough, as soon as we quit and I start packing my gear, the phone comes out and I hear "When's the next session?".

    It kind of feels like a practice session instead of a "let's play together" session. I mean - you either know the material or you don't. If you don't - you say so and move on. Or you play a simpler version that you can get through.

    I'm still enjoying it, oddly enough. I kinda feel like I did in my younger days with girls "She ain't the one, but she's better than nothing". LOL.

    I'm getting the "stink-eye" when I get home and start complaining - "Why are you doing this?" is my spouse's response. I am getting lots of practice - listening and adjusting to unexpected changes.

    Thanks for indulging my rant.
  2. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    best not to complain to your better half. ;)

    in spite of your "rant" stuff it sounds like you're getting something useful out of the "sessions" for yourself. "better than nothing" ---- right!? :thumbsup:

    also: tippling is what got you here...maybe it could keep you going! :laugh:
  3. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    This sounds like what I used to do with my guitar buddy when I was 14. It was OK then because he was my best friend and neither of us had a clue about playing music together and had no one to lead us. We did get better, but it took a while. Now I'd much rather play along to a recording than deal with that stuff.

    Call him before the next session and ask if he's practiced. If he says no, tell him to call you when he has. Putting in personal practice and learning the songs at a rudimentary level is the very least you need to do to not waste other people's time.
  4. joelns


    Mar 10, 2014
    This, but if he hasn't practiced, but aslo tell him he's being inconsiderate of your time. Sounds like his tabs are wrong and he's trying to just use those and not practice with the song.
    DJ Bebop and HolmeBass like this.
  5. Shalto


    Aug 23, 2019
    Tread carefully, you want to remain on good terms with your neighbour.

    I suspect, he simply may not be aware of the norms of it being typical to knowthe song before you show up to play with others. He genuinely might see it as practice. It sounds like he is getting lessons but he may never have grown up in a musical culture to understand this is a faux pas.

    It's reasonably common for weekend warriors (I am one btw, lest anyone think I mean that as a pejorative) to not know this. One if the reasons I deliberately try to say "rehersal" rather than "practice".

    You could either explain that to him (risky, you live next to thus guy), or just does he does and consider it a short 45 session of learning a tune together.
    mikewalker, M0ses, DJ Bebop and 3 others like this.
  6. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Bootlegger guitars : S.I.T. Strings Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Florida USA
    Sounds like you need to start charging for the lessons
    JettBlaq, zenrad, mikewalker and 14 others like this.
  7. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Get a drum app on your phone and/or play the song on a speaker and say "let's play along to see how we're doing". And have a drink before you show up and another when you get there.
    JettBlaq, mikewalker, M0ses and 7 others like this.
  8. This same story happened to me once, OP. Due to that, I learned the hard way to never say to a FRIEND (worse yet), or a neighbor (because you can't avoid them), is "hey, let's form a band", or "hey, you want to start playing together?", or "hey, you want to be my [insert instrument here] player?", just because they describe themselves as worthy in some way.

    ALWAYS, say, "Sure, we can get together and play once, just for fun, but I don't really have time for more than that."

    Then, see how he/she plays/sings. If they're good, change it up and work out a schedule or plan! If not, you already have avoided commitment.

    However, all that is great once you've learned. I lost a casual friend by making this mistake, and you now have a problem with your neighbor for the same mistake.

    All I can say now is - I FEEL FOR YA! Good luck man :)
    JettBlaq, M0ses, Troy Eggen and 6 others like this.
  9. or he just doesn't read tabs very well, or maybe simply isn't very good. You don't stop when you make a mistake unless you don't know what to do next, for example. stopping when you make a mistake is for solo practice. Stopping to ask questions is for group practice.
    J_Bass and BBassBassington like this.
  10. joelns


    Mar 10, 2014
    Good point.

    Maybe the thing to do then is to clarify the point of the sessions. Trying to form a basis for a band? Just getting together to make some noise? Something else?
    Mk90, dkelley, C Stone and 1 other person like this.
  11. HardNHeavy


    Apr 17, 2014
    Milford, PA
    ugh that's gonna get old real fast. I always hoped or assumed people would practice a little at home before actual rehearsal so there's not much time wasted. Luckily your not paying some hourly figure at a rehearsal space. Does he realize he can make the text bigger on his tableto_O
  12. C Stone

    C Stone

    Sep 4, 2020
    Sounds like a practice session.
    Most of the time these days when my friend and neighbor play, the song/s (that particular day) is just somethin that pops up on the radio or a lick one of us played, we jam, work it out together and generally just chill and groove, no pressure no stress, the only way I do it these days... Good luck!
    J_Bass likes this.
  13. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    Sounds like you need to decide if this can be fun or not. Can it? If so, capitulate to his dropped bars and wrong chords and play along with him and make it a thing that he can enjoy. If not, then quit. What's the end game? If the end game is for this to be really good, this ain't it. But if the end game is just for a couple of older guys to have some fun, no need to get too serious.
    RocknRay, jerry, Mr Cheese and 9 others like this.
  14. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    This is true, but some people have only ever done solo practice, so these are their habits, and they have to be taught that practice with others is not practice, but rehearsal.
    dkelley, Max Bogosity, J_Bass and 3 others like this.
  15. Usually when someone says let’s jam, I git.:rollno:
    crobasster likes this.
  16. VolverseLoco

    VolverseLoco Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2018
    Las Vegas
    How much of the Beatles and Eagles can you really take? Just enough to hone your chops and then go put your own thing together? I been playing 5 years come this August, only ever solo, but wanting to do what your doing here, but I dont know, I'd rather play another 5 years alone if all it were is the Eagels or Beetles.
    Loopy3 likes this.
  17. lark_z

    lark_z Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2020
    OP here. Thanks for the advice all. My position at this point....

    I'll keep it up and lower my expectations. We've started sipped a can of suds during the session and that seemed to help him quite a bit.

    I'll continue to look for songs that are mostly acoustic strumming and steer him that direction. I suggested "Sundown" by G. Lightfoot last week and it went pretty well. I already knew my part. No one can sing that like Gordon, but that's not really the point.

    I need to ponder the "what's the end game" question and how to approach it. Really good point, BTW. After our first session, he told me that he knew a singer and asked should he invite him/her. My response was "let's wait a bit". So he may be trying to head somewhere that feels unrealistic given the (almost) zero practice going on. Now add a decent guitarist and him just strumming the chords, that's different.

    LOL - re- larger text on the tablet. There's some issue with his tablet, I need to take mine over there. There's always PRINTING IT OUT!.

    Our spouses are friends and we do mix socially, so I need to tread lightly.

    Finally - the advice to play together ONCE before a commitment is spot-on. Thanks dkelley

    Thanks all.
    mikewalker and J_Bass like this.
  18. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    I never liked the "What do you want to play?"/"I don't know, what do YOU want to play?" part. If I could have found a band to join, I might have been interested in being in one. Well, that and the arguments I saw and heard about- not something I'm interested in.

    I think I'll put on some music- maybe a nice 11 bar Blues......
    J_Bass likes this.
  19. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Kind of what I'm thinking.

    I'd rather play with nobody than someone bad. And someone who doesn't know the songs and isn't man enough to admit he's wrong when you play the song for him is bad.
    legalbass and foolforthecity like this.
  20. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    I can kind of relate. I was 50 when I first started playing with others (that was a basement jam) and 55 when I played my first gig in a gigging band.

    I started playing in a different basement jam a couple of years ago and, except for a break during the pandemic, it's been a weekly thing (we just started back up again recently). Other than the drummer occassionally putting in some time to practice things he's not sure about, I'm the only one who regularly practices them, listens for the little details, adapts my playing to get closer to the recorded version, etc. - and that includes both songs this group was doing long before I started playing with them and new songs we've added since I hooked up with them.

    It's frustrating to have put in the work at home and know where key changes happen, where there's a tempo change, how the backing and harmony vocals go, etc. and yet have a song be the same mass of confusion week after week. And then the host says something like "You, once we tighten that up, that could sound pretty good!". Yeah, of course it could. But what are you doing to make that happen?! :banghead:

    I pull my hair out sometimes, but I've learned to use this group as a practice tool, accept it for what it is (it'll never get out of the basement), and to get out of it what I can. It's hard to get this kind of ear training and experience adapting on the fly while playing at home on your own, so I stick with it - and I can see results from doing that. I don't know how much longer I'll stay with them, but for now the benefits still outweigh the frustration I put up with (sometimes barely :D).

    Thankfully my band is nothing like that. Everyone puts in the practice time at home, makes notes on their charts, and comes to rehearsals prepared. The first time we play most songs, we average about 90% of the way there and just need to smooth over the rough spots to end up with a well played version. If I didn't have that, I'd probably feel very differently about that jam session. :D

    If you haven't done it yet, I'd suggest talking to your neighbor about how these sessions are going. If he wants one thing (such as what you've got going on now) and you want another, see if there are things that can be changed so you're both getting something out of it. If not, then simply say that you're looking for something different and go find it. Or, as you said, stick with it until you find what you're looking for. It is still an opportunity to play and work on skills, at least until you decide you can't take it anymore. Just be up front about what your goals and intentions are - and be adult about it.
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
    Wasnex, MonetBass and Fight4Bottom like this.
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