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Playing with one guitarist vs two guitarists..

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bigwig, Mar 25, 2006.

  1. Bigwig


    Dec 27, 2003
    Currently Im playing in a 4 piece metal band with one guitarist and one singer. Now the problem is, that most of my influences come from bands with two guitarists, (panteras one of the exceptions) and I find that its a whole other ballgame backing up one guitarist, and playing the full role of 'rhythm'.
    When my band covers songs by bands like Lamb of God, although for the most part their songs can sound decent with one guitar and bass, for certain parts it sounds empty, not as full.
    So I guess what I'm really asking, is how did Pantera do it? How did they sound so full, especially live?
    Im planning on bringing some distortion into my tone in the next few weeks, but apart from that, is there any tips you can me?
    My guitarist writes lots of fast riffs, more so then chord progressions, and Im not sure if I should be backing with progressions, or just playing what he plays.
  2. there could be lots of reasons. Some include maybe your parts are fast and you're not letting the bottom ring out. Maybe you guys should mess around with EQ to fill out some more missing parts.
    I dunno, hard to diagnose. What parts of what songs sound 'empty' to you?
  3. Bigwig


    Dec 27, 2003
    Its mainly just the really fast runs hes got. Im just not sure if I should play along with him, or back him up.
    Maybe its something I'll have to decide on myself. And it might sound even more empty with a single guitar playing those runs alone.
  4. Just a few threads down some others have faced the similar issue as to what i mentioned in the post above. I recommend reading thru this thread.
  5. BadB


    May 25, 2005
    Not sure how they do it, but I've always wanted to try an octave up effect to see how it would sound. Just haven't gotten around to it. I know some bands that loop the rhythm guitar riffs while there is a solo in progress.
  6. Shearstown


    Oct 15, 2005
    I've always wanted to play in a trio just so I got more space to come up with more creative lines without cluttering up the music. Take this as a chance to do some good stuff.
  7. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize!

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    You'll have to decide yourself. But, I would not just play along. You need some sort of counterpoint to fill out the sound. Even just playing roots when the guitar is blazing along is better. It gives an anchor to the song.

    Doing a descending pattern when the guitar is accending can be cool too.

    Some other points: Stay down low when possible. When the guitar is soloing make sure you keep the sound going. If the guitar pauses and you pause at the same time, things get too quiet real quick.

    Of course, all rules are ment to be broken.
  8. Well, there is at least an implied chord progression going on when the guitar is riffing, so maybe you can play off of that.

    I don't play metal, but rather in a rock trio, and it takes some effort from the guitar as well to make it work. He cannot play like he would if there were another guitarist, and neither can you. Hard to put into words, but you both do a little more to fill up the space.

    You can also choose NOT to fill up the space, which has advantages, although maybe again that does not fit with metal, or with your style.
  9. BadB


    May 25, 2005
    I was just reading about the Akai Unibass, and it does exactly what I was trying to convey: Adds an octave up, and you can add distortion, a 5th up, a 4th below. That outta fill the gap when the guitarist solos. They ain't cheap. Out of production, you know.
  10. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    I do what feels natural.

    Although I come from a background of multi guitarred harmonies, it's been a learning experience playing with one guitarist.

    What we do when we play live is put one cabinet on each side of the stage, that way it feels like we've got two guitarists who play in unison.

    When it comes to the parts I write, sometimes I stray away from what he plays, sometimes I play exactly what he plays. It all depends on what feels right for the song.

    Go to my band's webpage in my sig. The MP3's should play right away. Get a listen to the two songs that it plays, and then cite examples of what you would think could help you out, if it does help you out that is.

    I'm no virtuoso, by the way, nor do I claim to be. But, I am in your situation, so I do have some experience with it. (believe me, I've tried talking my guitarist into getting another guitarist, but he won't agree. )
  11. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I was gonna say...

    There seems to be this widespread assumption that the more densely you can clutter up the air with notes, the better. No wonder so much hard rock and metal all sounds alike - there's only so far you can push the "more is more" aesthetic...

    Think outside the box. Consciously create more space. Use the rests to your advantage - to your creative advantage...

    The bass in particular is excellent for this approach - for creating dynamic tension by not playing in all the cliche places where the listener expects to hear bass. Makes it all the more effective when the bass does enter...

    I would second the suggestion to play counterpoint. It means you should listen very carefully to the other parts, and compose bass parts that are different, but complementary - rhythmically, harmonically and melodically...

  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You guys who have never played in a 3-piece band but find yourselves in one need to go back to the classics rather than newer music to figure out the secret to playing in a 3 piece band and make it sound full. Listen to live recordings of bands like Cream, Hendrix, Grand Funk, Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc. And you will find that the vast majority of the bassists in those bands did nothing more than play the parts they would have played regardless of the instrumentation.

    The original question is so open-ended that there's no way to answer it. It's all trial and error and instinct.

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