Playing live: under play vs over play

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JetfireJetfire Frets: 513
edited October 8 in Live
So our singer in the band is amazing. Like flat out, 100% amazing. She has a hell of a set of pipes on her and kills it everytime. So much So, its made me want to pull up my socks and be as good as she is but just on guitar. We do pop/rock covers and have a wide ranging set list now and id like to add/flourish/show off abit more than I do. I'm conscious of crashing the vocals and always practise what i preach  its important to remembering the bands place as people only realy listen to the drums and singer. That being said, how much do you guys do to add to a song with licks and runs rather than basic cowboy chords and barrechords?
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 8732
    Less is always more.
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  • TheBigDipperTheBigDipper Frets: 520
    Underplay, but always on the money regarding timing, accuracy, tuning and tone. Half the time I'm only playing triads or less, to leave room for everything else. 
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  • rossyamaharossyamaha Frets: 1288
    edited October 5
    Underplay and if you really really really feel you have to play more, it has to be musical and fit in. Two examples at opposite ends spring to mind. Check out Vulfpeck. There is so much space in their music it's not even funny. Then listen to Dave Matthews. Everyone is super busy but it all fits in place and is musical. 

    There are are a few songs I play with different singers where I'm playing pretty much nothing the whole song. One I simply vamp following the kick and play one note the whole song. Another is an octave stab one the 1 and 3, again for the whole song. I just stay out of the way of the bass, keys and vocals. 

    Disclaimer! All views/ comments by me are my opinion and not that of Yamaha Music.

    Just so you know.

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  • impmannimpmann Frets: 5792
    Always underplay.

    Two or three well chosen and phrased notes will always sound better than a flurry of 'clever' stuff 
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  • Under play most of the time but cut loose at least once to keep your self respect!
    www.maltingsaudio.co.uk
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1300
    It varies with the singer and the song. Songs which have that "call and response" feel, with long spaces between vocal lines, provide an opportunity for a couple of notes in the space. That's if the singer isn't one who occupies that space with held notes or mannerisms. Some songs are improved by changing chord inversions from verse to verse, often by moving up the neck and using partials. Others lose their power if you don't stick to power chords.

    There are often opportunities to put in a quick lick between verses, unless the bass player has a nice little run which leads into the next verse, or the drummer has a neat fill. One useful trick is that you agree between you who takes which fill.

    If you want to add a bit of flash to a solo then a common approach is to start a solo the way it's played on the record before going steadily off piste. There are a lot of songs which have a quiet verse after the solo, partly for effect, partly for the guitarist to reset his volume and pedals.
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 5964
    Underplay and if you really really really feel you have to play more, it has to be musical and fit in. Two examples at opposite ends spring to mind. Check out Vulfpeck. There is so much space in their music it's not even funny. Then listen to Dave Matthews. Everyone is super busy but it all fits in place and is musical. 

    There are are a few songs I play with different singers where I'm playing pretty much nothing the whole song. One I simply vamp following the kick and play one note the whole song. Another is an octave stab one the 1 and 3, again for the whole song. I just stay out of the way of the bass, keys and vocals. 
    Tasteful side man stuff like this :wink: 




    I know I go on about this and I'm not saying me or my band are any better but there's part of being a good musician that's about knowing when to underplay and not play at all and the curse of pub level bands is that every song is intro then everybody in until the end. Not keeping your hands busy is quite hard to do but your audience feel the groove and hear the dynamics as much and probably more than they hear the songs. People love a flash guitar solo too, they just don't love them on every song ( obvs dependant on the context). 
    I feel the warm, healing, liquid presence of God’s genuine cold-filtered grace. 
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  • TwinfanTwinfan Frets: 248
    Play as little as possible and if you can take on some backing vocals.  Keeps you busy/interested/having fun when you're not playing solos  ;)
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 130
    Sometimes overplaying can be wonderful.



    But only if you're Clarence White.

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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 2955
    I think it entirely depends on the style of music ... in dance music the guitar is often just a few chord stabs here and there. In rock music covering Van Halen songs and the like it can be a guitar solo after every verse and half a solo after every vocal line ... and that's expected. 

    I like to think from an audience point of view, and although we all think everybody's got to stay on the simple groove .... that's what the audience wants, to just listen to the singer and dance .... that's actually not the case. They will be blokes in the audience who are bored of the singer no matter how good the singer is, they don't want to dance ... these people are looking at all the band. If you can do a few things to keep these people entertained without stomping all over the song then that's a good thing from an entertainment point of view. 
    I also thing that fact that it's "Live" music gives a bit of license to put some extra in .... so it's like the record with some extra garnish rather than just the record. Otherwise all you have is Karaoke. 

    Out of the 5 bands I'm earning in, the biggest earner by far has the most overplaying in it, make of that what you will. 
     
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • JetfireJetfire Frets: 513
    It's a hard line to find. I tend to try and do flashier, really hard rock style solos and fills where I can or sneaky funk stuff. I guess my ego has taken a battering becaise our singer gets all the praise lol 
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  • FloofFloof Frets: 14

    Underplay and if you really really really feel you have to play more, it has to be musical and fit in. Two examples at opposite ends spring to mind. Check out Vulfpeck. There is so much space in their music it's not even funny. Then listen to Dave Matthews. Everyone is super busy but it all fits in place and is musical. 

    There are are a few songs I play with different singers where I'm playing pretty much nothing the whole song. One I simply vamp following the kick and play one note the whole song. Another is an octave stab one the 1 and 3, again for the whole song. I just stay out of the way of the bass, keys and vocals. 
    Nicely put
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  • FloofFloof Frets: 14

    Jetfire said:
    It's a hard line to find. I tend to try and do flashier, really hard rock style solos and fills where I can or sneaky funk stuff. I guess my ego has taken a battering becaise our singer gets all the praise lol 
    Well she wouldn't get noticed so much if the rest of the band were getting in the way - it's a shared compliment. 

    I think there's actually something COOLER about a player who nails his parts unobtrusively then for that one song steps forward and RIPS it, then steps back and gets on with it again. 
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  • kjdowdkjdowd Frets: 600
    There's a lot to be said for learning the guitar lines from the original songs, or the keyboard lines or whatever ornament you can bring that compliments the song and keeps it interesting. As an example I play in an occasional Foo fighters trib, and their songs are a perfect example - getting all the guitar lines in (as opposed to just playing the chords) makes it much more interesting musically but doesn't get in the way of the song. I prob only really play. 1 or 2 actual solos a night, but frankly this prob means that the audience appreciates them rather than finding them tedious...

    i love guitar, but even I struggle to watch blues rock with a solo in every f'ing song...

    ornament good. Endless widdle bad, in summary. 
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  • Flanging_FredFlanging_Fred Frets: 1302
    Every band, song, venue and audience is different.  Once you are rehersed and tight enough as a band an important part of being a musician is to be able to judge the vibe of what is happening around you, adjust yourself and your playing, in real time, to suit the mood and if possible elevate it.  

    The notion of 'underplay' vs 'over play'  is too binary IMO.  Music = emotion and emotions don't really stick to absolutes.
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  • cruxiformcruxiform Frets: 1360
    viz said:
    That made me laugh, he's a lad isn't he? Makes a good point though. It reminded me of this:


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  • newi123newi123 Frets: 218
    Go check out how Jusitn Derrico with Pink and Nuno Bettencourt with Rhianna on YT and see how they approach it. Both top level guitars known for their flashy styles, both playing pop / rock gigs that are 100% female vocal led.

    Interestingly the approach from both singers is to rock up the material live compared to the recorded versions. Both guitar players are the consummate side man for most of the gig, playing the perfect parts to complement and not get in the way of the vocals.

    Both get to cut loose at least a couple of time in the set. Like everything else in life it`s about balance. 


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  • ESBlondeESBlonde Frets: 1955
    Definatly under play and use minimal effects. That way what you do play is a) more noticable rather than a constant drone. b) usually selectivly supports the song and makes the band better.
    Most of the audience only notice the singer anyway.
    Put together a couple if set piece solos where you can shine/be flambouyent and 'stagey' and then step back into the darkness.

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  • bigjonbigjon Frets: 573
    When we do Let Me Entertain You with our female singer I definitely overplay compared to the record - there are lots of squeals & pick scrapes etc on the record but they're all mixed quite low ;-)
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  • TeetonetalTeetonetal Frets: 4637
    I think  problem a lot of pub covers bands is not so much one of over playing, but one of playing the song it's most simplest form, but then trying to overdo it on solo sections. Loads of bands just drone the chords out, but don't nail the rhythm and fills.

    So listen to the tracks, find the its that make it interesting and make sure you nail them. Oh and don't be afraid of not playing anything.


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  • NickBotfieldNickBotfield Frets: 111
    What about the guitar harmonising the vocal line now and again?  Would that work?  I've no idea if it would, but it might be interesting (or shit!)
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  • bbill335bbill335 Frets: 500
    What about the guitar harmonising the vocal line now and again?  Would that work?  I've no idea if it would, but it might be interesting (or shit!)
    Yeah I like to sometimes play the vox line a 3rd above. Sounds a bit wonky sometimes but that can be a good thing.
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  • scrumhalfscrumhalf Frets: 3860
    Go and listen to some Free - Paul Kossoff's playing is a model of restraint, but when he plays he wastes nothing. Carlos Santana once said of someone "he can play all the notes but he can't play the spaces in between the notes".
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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 1191
    The rule I always try and go by is to serve the song, if it requires sparse broken chords etc so be it. When you gig with a keyboard player its always a good idea to break the chords down so you don't crowd the same frequency range and if your singer has a greatest of pipes, the punters will want to hear her tbh. 
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  • vizviz Frets: 4295
    cruxiform said:
    viz said:
    That made me laugh, he's a lad isn't he? Makes a good point though. It reminded me of this:


    Haha
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  • AlexOAlexO Frets: 66
    Never mind your singer!! Go all out, have your moment.

    A Chuck Berry esq duck walk across the stage especially during her big note moments would be perfection...


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  • welshboyowelshboyo Frets: 824
    edited October 5
    I tend to play in context of the song - if its a rockier number (Rebel Yell for instance) there'll be pinch harmonics all over the place but not stepping over what the singer is doing, again keep the solo best as possible to original - there ain't much  time for anything else!!

    Other songs in the set (Brick in the Wall PT2, Purple Rain, Who's Cryin' Now) I get to stretch out a bit but always keep in context with the song - Brick for instance - if I start doing Eddieism's over it all it becomes a wankfest rather than keeping in character of the song and nobody appreciates that no matter how good you executed it..

    If its any consolation, apart from a very few comments about me (and I mean a few!!) people are most complimentary about the band as a whole - without us all it wouldn't be the band that it is - without you playing guitar @Jetfire for T.A then T.A wouldn't be T.A....

    I know for a fact you can play and you are already leagues ahead of a lot of the players around here (its that Bogner Cab!!) so I wouldn't worry about it, just enjoy it, don't overplay and don't give yourself massive hurdles to jump by thinking you could be better..
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  • kjdowdkjdowd Frets: 600
    Do also think that - depending on the music obviously - there is something cathartic, and proportionate - in given yourself one opportunity to widdle a bit of an evening, as it were. 

    Just don't be the sax player in The Commitments
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  • Play for the song, keep the chords accurate (if its a chordy one) and stay tight with the rhythm!
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