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What to say to guitar player?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by hublocker, Dec 16, 2011.

  1. hublocker


    May 17, 2007
    I'm in a western swing band and we've been playing with a guitarist for nearly six months now who's a bit older than the rest of us (bass, drummer and pedal steel are in our 50s) and I have a dilemma.

    The guitarist is actually a close friend, though he's the newest guy in the band. I basically introduced him to the other guys when our first guitarist quit.

    He's a marvelous rhythm guitarist ,very solid and knows every chord in the book and then some, funny, nice guy, easy to get along with, but there is an issue that's driving the pedal steel player nuts.

    Pedal steel player, let's call him Tex, has this very strong concept where he wants pedal and guitar to frequently do parallel or harmony melodies on intros and in sections of solos.

    The guitarist learns these and can play them pretty good at rehearsals, but by the next week he's forgotten them again. Then Tex has to teach him all over again.

    Guitar player has told me privately that he's "not one of those guys who sits around playing guitar every day" preferring to play live or at rehearsal. We make recordings of practices and send them around so we can work individually if we have time, but I suspect that my friend isn't doing that. I've encouraged him numerous times to do his homework.

    It's not a make or break deal in the band right now, but it's becoming an issue so I'd like to deal with it before it gets worse.

    I don't think I could bear to even stay in the band if he was forced to quit. We're all quite good friends, but the guitar player is the closest to me.

  2. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    Well, I hope you two enjoy the next band that you're in.

    Sorry to be flippant but this is just simply a lazy and unprofessional attitude from the guitarist and it will manifest into a real issue the longer it continues.

    Even though a band may be a hobby and thus not the means by which the members pay their rent, once the decision is made to move out of the garage and perform for an audience every member becomes obligated to bring their A game. Any member who is unable or unwilling to step up becomes a liability.
  3. Marko 1

    Marko 1

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Sounds like all you can do is keep trying to influence him to practice with the recordings.
  4. Marko 1

    Marko 1

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Probably the vaaaast majority of bands have one issue or another to deal with, and finding another band is pretty much trading one issue for another.

    Considering the OP’s band has a lot of good going for them, I think it’s better to try and work things out (or even live with it to a point) before even considering throwing in the towel.

    In this case, maybe “Tex” can compromise some. It’s possible the guitarist doesn’t particularly care for his arrangements, which is why they don't stick... who knows?
  5. mam1862

    mam1862 Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2008
    Northfield, Ohio
    Somebody needs to tell him to practice a little more or he's out. Just went thru the same thing with our drummer who has been in the band longer than me. Guy all of a sudden can't remember critical parts of songs and I was constantly stopping the songs at practice and saying something. It worked as he is paying attention now. It sucks, but somebody has to say something and keep saying something till he gets it, otherwise it's time to dump him. Good luck.
  6. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I don't get why that would be so unbearable to you. Don't confuse loyal friendships with band commitments.
    You've let him know what is expected, gone out of your way to help him, and he's not delivering.

    I suggest embracing the possibility that:
    - The Guitarist gets the boot
    - you stay in the band
    - everybody remains friends.

    I see no reason why that can't happen, assuming everybody communicates mindfully about it.
    If anyone takes the circumstances so personally that it ruins the friendship, I'd call it their problem not yours.
  7. hublocker


    May 17, 2007
    We have played live and have gigs coming up.

    The issue is that the guitarist is used to playing covers "his own way" or originals and hasn't ever really had to play orchestrated twin leads with anyone before.

    Trouble is Tex is meticulous but I agree, maybe he will just have to learn to live with playing some of his leads on his own. Guitar Player can do some easy.

    Guitar player likes and respects Tex too and all in all, as Marko said, we do have a lot going for us. We have three writers with Tex and the guitar player and me, four vocalists, a really good vibe and great cover and original material in the genre.

    Tex and Guitar Player play great solos too.
  8. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    One thing I've learned: You can't make someone else practice. As a player, you either want to do it or you don't. It's irritating when you need to constantly show a person how to play parts over and over. It wastes everyones time. I'd be annoyed too.

    Neither guitarist in my last band practiced on a regular basis, and it showed.
  9. Marko 1

    Marko 1

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    The guy plays wonderfully, just not necessarily what “Tex” wants.

    Maybe “Tex” needs to compromise…
  10. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    I don't care how much my members practice but they better show up to rehearsal and shows with their parts learned. Practice isn't fun sometimes but you have to do it.
  11. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    The question in the title reads like the the set-up to one of those cheesy musician jokes that perennially makes the rounds:

    Q. What do you say to a guitar player?
    A. It doesn't matter. He's not listening anyway... :p

  12. Marko 1

    Marko 1

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Why is the default position automatically what someone hands you to play?

    What if it isn’t necessarily a lack of practice or skill, but that the arrangement doesn’t fall in line with the player’s experience or taste?

    This guitarist is no novice, probably playing for decades and knows what he’s doing, but what’s asked of him doesn’t necessarily fall in line with what he knows, or even wants.

    I’m a go-along-to-get-along kinda guy, but sometimes I have my own way, and I shouldn’t have to concede virtually every part of my soul to accommodate someone else’s whim.
  13. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    If the guy plays well and is easy to get along with then Tex has no business telling him what to play unless he's paying him. If he is, then your guitarist needs to get with the program. If he's not, then Tex needs to stop stepping on toes.
  14. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Honestly, this doesn't seem like it should be a difficult or onerous kind of thing for a good guitarist to learn, especially for someone who's been playing for years and years. In fact, in concept, it sounds very cool; the kind of thing that could add real flair, style and distinction to your arrangements. And who wouldn't want that? :meh:

    If your rhythm guitarist actually disagrees with Tex about playing these kinds of parts, then he needs to step up and make his case - in front of the entire band - for the kind of approach that he thinks would actually work better...from a musical standpoint. Preferably, he should be prepared to offer equally compelling ideas for arrangements that will add an equivalent degree of flair, style and distinction to the band's music.

    Otherwise, the fact that he's been going along with Tex's ideas at rehearsals would seem to indicate that he agrees with them. In which case the actual issue is the guitarist's lack of focus, drive and commitment to practice and learn his parts.

    As is so often the case in these kinds of situations, you guys need to make a decision: If you're collectively determined to make the band sound its absolute best - and your guitarist friend is an obstacle - then it's time for an ultimatum. And most likely, the hunt for a new rhythm guitarist.

    Otherwise, you all need to decide how good is "good enough" - always a slippery slope in my experience - make your compromises with the guitarist...and hope that the standard (such as it is) doesn't erode any further... :eyebrow:

  15. Marko 1

    Marko 1

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    I don’t like to post when I’ve had a drink (or four, but it’s not a work-night and no gig ‘till tomorrow, so)…

    Ya know… there are higher priorities in life than “the music”. The “It’s all about the music” line kinda makes me want to spit.

    I’d like to think that bassists have more soul than the others, but damn, you guys are some heartless m’fers… like you’d ditch your own mothers because they didn’t play their part “as instructed”.

    Maybe the guitarist doesn’t relate to, or even like what he’s asked to play, or his experience (extensive in this case) doesn’t include such riffs.

    A highly-experienced, monster rhythm/lead player, who’s also a great guy and a pleasure to get along with… and you guys are advising dumping him!?

    Are y’all insane!?!? I’d give my left nut to have this guy!

    Dang, I have so much else to say, but I’ll just shaddup for now.
  16. Stumbo

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

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    Tex has his style (strong concept). Guitar player has his.

    If you're doing covers and Tex is adding his "style" to a song, he can't force the guitar to learn his "special" licks.

    IMO, adding additional stuff to cover songs is a waste of time. I would not want to come to rehearsal and be given a list of parts that I have spend a bunch of outside time learning anything beyond what the song requires.

    I mean, if you have a set list of 50 songs and each one requires a few extra parts, the guitar player may have as many as 150 to 200 extra things to learn and keep on tap for future gigs.

    Does Tex run the band?

    IMO, Tex may have his "style" but if your guitar player does everything the band needs other than the special licks, Tex needs to lighten up and/or give up on most of his "special" licks.

    Maybe a few here and there, but anything else would be too much work for a cover band, IMO.
  17. nobodysfool


    Apr 22, 2010
    Shelby, OH
    I'll relate this to my own situation. I work with two guitar players, who have played together for many years. They have distinctive styles, complimentary, yet plainly different. They have worked out some coordinated twin lead stuff, and do it quite well, but they don't do much of it. The one plays very much like Eric Clapton, and also can seemingly channel Hendrix on command. The other is much more in the Jeff Beck mold. He can get really "out there". The first one also has a strong jazz side, which shows up in some of the originals he writes.

    Over the years, they have built a framework that works for them, where they can collaborate and still retain their individuality, and their main motivation seems to be serving the music, in terms of who plays what. It took time to get there, and since I've only been with them for 7 years, it was pretty well in place before I ever stepped in. But, what they have makes it easy for me, I just supply the underpinning and occasional third voice to tie it all together.

    I say all this to say that it takes time for two guitarists to find that common ground, and it sounds like its still pretty early in the process with the guitarist and the steel player. I would say that maybe the steel player needs to find a different approach to gain ground with the guitarist. Sounds like the guitarist is a more laid-back kind of personality, where the steel player is the more forward, in-your-face, direct kind of guy. It almost sounds like maybe a little passive aggression on the guitarist's part. It's not that he can't do it, he resents being TOLD he has to do it. The trick is to get the guitarist to WANT to do it. That means that the steel player needs to change his approach.

    Just my humble opinion....

    Back On Earth Band
  18. When you say he has forgotten them do you mean the songs in general or just the parts that Tex has added? If he knows the songs and he is the great guy you say he is then maybe Tex needs to lighten up. If he has to relearn the songs in general because he doesn't take the time to practice then everyone should be annoyed.

    If the guitar player plays the stuff without complaint in practice it doesn't make sense that he would not be ready to play the same stuff live. A lot of guys learn something once and think they know it which for most people is not the case. It has to be practiced repeatedly to make it "automatic."
  19. hublocker


    May 17, 2007
    "Sounds like the guitarist is a more laid-back kind of personality, where the steel player is the more forward, in-your-face, direct kind of guy. "

    You nailed it.

    "When you say he has forgotten them do you mean the songs in general or just the parts that Tex has added?"

    The parts. And let me be clear, the "parts" in question in the case of covers are there in the original songs, it's just that (for example) Tex has an idea to double them or redo a fiddle intro say from a 1952 rockabilly song with pedal steel and guitar.

    The song that caused the the most serious stress this week was an original western swing style tune that we worked up from some basic chords before guitar player (GP) showed up.

    Tex has composed this neat little intro over the first four bars that is almost a musical composition of its own and that's the one that GP learned, has played in rehearsal before, had to learn it again last practice then had forgotten two hours later. He's been playing since he was a teen in 1959 so as you can imagine, age might have something to do with it. He gets tired after three hours of solid rehearsing.

    I understand that. I mean, I'm 58 and things start to slip my mind after three hours of concentration like that.
  20. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Do you think that everyone else in the band should play the same songs over and over because the guitar player is too lazy to practice his parts?

    To the OP; if the guitar player was really your friend he'd carry his own weight. Part of playing with serious musicians is learning your parts. If he wants to just show up each week and jam, then he should find a band where everyone else wants to do that. It's not like you are kicking him out because he is no good. He has a choice about this; either learn the parts or you'll find someone that will.

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