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Which guitarist to choose?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by sleeplessknight, Jul 7, 2005.

  1. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    So, I have this dilemma. The current guitarist in my jazz band is really effing amazing. He's also a good friend of mine, and I took lessons from him for awhile way back in the day. He's an incredible musician, and is a downright phenominal upright bass player to boot (he plays guitar in my band because he wants "something different") However, he's very popular with other bands too. He misses our gigs for other bands' gigs, but he always gives me a decent (week+) lead time to find a sub, but in the few months that he's been playing with us we've had to get a sub for at least half the gigs. To his credit, he did tell me back in the beginning that he would occasionally have other commitments, but I never thought that "occasionally" would mean "50/50 chance of him playing". Now, one of our frequent subs who is an older but equally awesome guitar player, has offered to step up to the plate and take the original guitarists place "if it ends up not working out". I really like guitarist #2's playing as well (he's been doing jazz and fusion for as long as guitarist 1 and I have both been alive) but I think that all things being equal, guitar #1 is just a bit better. And guitar #1 is a close personal friend to boot. However, my dilemma is, what should I do? On the one hand I've currently got a fan-freaking-tastic lineup with this current guitarist, but like I said he's got a 50/50 chance of actually playing the gig vs. us getting a sub for the night. On the other, we've got another guitarist who is also nasty-awesome, who really wants to play full-time, make it to all the practices, really get into it and stuff, but I don't want to risk alienating our original guitarist at the same time. Would you guys keep the original guy and put up with a bit of hassle, or would you fire him and hire this second guy, who will seem to be much more reliable than the first?
  2. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    I got the bass chair in my band because of a similar situation. The other bass player is the leader's kid, too. He plays real upright, is much more serious about music as a career than I am, and I play EUB well enough to get by I guess. Didn't matter, the band wanted someone who makes every practice and gig commitment on time, no questions asked. I get the other guy to sub for me once in a while, and the leader occasionally books gigs with the other guy in mind, which is fine by me.

    You have another obvious option, no? Ask the first guy to commit to your band as top priority, and send the subs to his other gigs.


  3. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Yeah, I was thinking about "Option #3", but that wouldn't work because his other gigs are as an upright bass player, except for his guitarwork in a popular hippie jam band. He makes his living through playing and doing one-off gigs, and while I make sure my guys get Paid, we usually do the jazz club/restaurant scene, whereas his URB gigs are in the private party/corporate event scene, so I can't compete $$$-wise in that arena. Where I do pay off (I think) is in gig quantity. We play out 8+ times a month, which is pretty good for a local jazz band without a record, I think :D
  4. That's a tough one. I'd lean towards telling him the truth on how you feel: He's a great guy and musician BUT you need someone who is a little more committed timewise. See what he says. You might be surprised. Do the other guys share your opinion on this?

  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Why, exactly, does he need to be more committed time-wise? The deal here in NYC is that if you do the demo (or the audition or were on the gig that the person who is hiring you NOW heard the band on or made all the rehearsals) THAT'S the first call line up. And if somebody says no, or says yes and has to sub it out, then you call whoever you want. If you got PAID to do the demo by whoever the "leader" was, then the "leader" gets to hire whoever the hell they want to.

    I have ended up in a couple of situations by default, mostly because whoever the original bassist was just said "No" to too many gigs AND the rest of the band was amenable to the change AND the leader was upfront to the cat who I was replacing. But I didn't go into the gig saying "you know if Jason can't commit..." cause that's just small time bull****.

    But the reality of the situation is, if you are trying to make a living as a musician, you turn down work that pays less for work that pays more. Or work that means more bookings. You say that he plays "50/50" of your gigs, but how many more gigs is he doing with other folks? If you guys are gigging 4 nights a month, but he's gigging 15 to 20, well you see where I'm going.

    I gotta say, here, you don't have the luxury of keeping a steady band together. You generally end up with a "stable" of players on each instrument that have all hit some reherasals and some gigs on the repertoire, so that on any given night you have a choice of cats who know the book. But you can STILL get hit with a night that just about everybody ion teh stand is new.
  6. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    Isn't that the crux of the biscuit? The original poster would have that luxury if he picked Door #2.
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    If you say so, if Worcester MA has that many jazz gigs maybe we all oughta move there.
  8. This is Worcester not NYC. This guy might make his living playing but Sleepless and the others might not. It seems to me that they just want less of a hassle when it comes to bookings etc. If I assume correctly that the other guys are in this band is for fun and making some mad money I wouldn't want to have to be concerned about having to get a sub 50% of the time.

  9. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I really don't see what the problem is here. You have two people, both capable that you can call on to cover for a gig. Try thinking outside of the all or nothing box for a moment. You eventually may need a third person when both of the other players have something else to do.
  10. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Ed, yes, you've described the situation perfectly. Guitarist #2 does do 20+ gigs a month between Worcester, Boston, and New York, and he makes decent bread on them. He's cancelled other gigs to make mine when they've paid more, and he's had to cancel on us when a $400-a-man banquet came up over our $50-a-man club gig. That in and of itself is cool with me, but my only complaint is that he cancels us so often. (And yes, the Worcester area does have a TON of jazz gigs, if you know where to look)
  11. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    Do you have to pick one at the expense of the other? Can't you let it ride and enjoy the benefits of two quality players at your disposal?

    It sounds like its been working out OK so far, you have 2 potential players and can juggle appropriately enough to meet your needs, right?

    If I were you I'd leave it alone, I don't see the issue. Don't burn a bridge if you don't have too!
  12. Just do what is best for the band, discuss it all together, including the two guitarists on what they themselves would like to do. Maybe they would both like to work together with you and your band at the same time?
  13. alapantera


    Mar 22, 2004
    Sounds like it's time for a band meeting. I personally wouldn't see the problem with this situation, unless your "sub" that wants to play full time would be offended at only being a part-time member and stop playing with you guys alltogether. Just get all the members of your band together (both guitarists included) and discuss your concerns and figure out what they want to do from there.

    i also will go out on a limb here and assume that your friend (guitarist #1) is playing with you guys (even if it is only half of the time) because he's having fun. And isn't that why you're playing with this group? You've made it pretty clear that you guys don't bring in the big money that his other gigs do. Clearly, this guy was honest with you from the start, and if he's making his living as a musician you have to respect the fact that he's doing that.

    You might compare this situation to being in a group where one member's work schedule doesn't mesh well with the group's giging schedule. If you are wanting to become more serious as a group and have a steadier "core" to work with, you might give guitarist #1 the boot in favor of #2. If you are casually gigging you can't expect any member of the band to commit to the band 100% over the job that pays the bills, wether it be another band or 3rd shift at the factory.

    So if this really is a problem for you, you just need to talk it out. be civil about it too, don't burn any bridges.

    edit: I guess a third option i thought of, if guitarist #2 really wants to be full time.... let him. you could always play half of the gigs with 2 gitars and half with one. couldn't you? just a thought.
  14. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    No matter how gifted guitarist #1, and despite your personal friendship, to the extent his playing time with the band is limited, his contribution (and ultimately his value) to the band is also limited. When you're trying to hold together a band, logistical expediency often take precedence over issues of pure artistry...

    First get a firm read on guitarist #2. Find out the extent of his willingness (and ability) to commit. If you're satisfied with what you hear, then have a heart-to-heart talk with guitarist #1. Lay it all out for him, both the pros & the cons of the status quo. If there's nothing he can do (or wants to do) to commit to more playing time with you, then make the change. Keep it positive - and ask him if he'll consider subbing on the gigs that guitarist #2 can't make. If he's as much of a pro as you describe, he'll certainly understand and will not take it personally - it's just business...

    The potential upside is that, by making more of an investment in guitarist #2, you might just inspire him to play even better than he does already. People have a tendency to do things like that when they feel valued and depended upon...

  15. :D
  16. squierplayer120


    Nov 17, 2004
    You know what they say. Guitarists are like port-a-johns. The good ones are taken and the other ones are full of sh-t. Obviously you've got a good one. I'd say ask the eternal bassist question. "Are you really serious about this?" and if yes, then show up at gigs sometimes.