How to apprach a potentially awkward subject with other guitarist?

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mark_jwedgemark_jwedge Frets: 165
I have recently joined a new band playing some fairly heavy riff based rock. Think, black stone cherry, clutch, stone temple pilots, funeral for a friend and you have the kind of rough style we play.

overall im really enjoying it, they have some great songs and are a great bunch of lads. There is a bit of tension as the singer/guitarist is in another band and the schedules sometimes clash but otherwise no personality issues.

my problem is with the other guitarists sound. We have played a couple of gigs and at gig volume i think he uses far too much gain and bass. This means the songs/riffs/parts that he plays sound a bit muffed and just become ‘white noise’ in a loud mix. For me clarity is really important especially when you are playing original music that the audience dont know, they need to be able to make out what you are playing. I therefore tend to use the lowest amount of gain and bass i can get away with at gig volume.

I think to be honest he lacks a bit of confidence in his playing and therefore likes the security blanket of lots of gain and bass, it also means he sometimes plays his parts a bit sloppy because the sound he has is very forgiving and he gets away with it.

I want to talk to him about dialling down the bass and gain to improve the clarity of the sound which i think will then almost force him to play his parts more cleanly, again benefitting the sound. Problem is how to approach it as this could be an awkward/delicate situation. Any tips???
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 9584
    Just tell him.

    Just try to phrase it in a “how about this for an idea?” sort of way, so it’s a suggestion to improve the overall band’s sound, rather than “I think your tone is shit”
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 18875
    edited November 8
    About half the time the response is 'yeah but that is my sounds, man'.
    Often those types cannot be convinced and it becomes a major issue- they are better off being replaced.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback

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  • Start with a few beers, that will really help the dialogue flow..... ha ha

    Sounds like he is using the same "awesome" bedroom settings at a live gig, I was once guilty of this too. have you recorded  a live set, even with a single mic out front, if he sounds bad in that or disappears then it will be easier to bring up the subject.

    Honestly though if you are in an original gigging band with the hope of making it, the band need to agree to let one or two people have overall musical control, to make sure the sound is exactly what the band needs and fits the music/mix, same with image. you can't just have everyone doing there own thing.
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  • mark_jwedgemark_jwedge Frets: 165
    I think some of the problem also is that he doesnt recognise the difference between how a guitar sounds on its own and how it sounds in a band. On its own his sound is massive but in a band it just gets swallowed up. Bit like a EHX big muff, sounds massive on its own but easily lost in a band mix.

    He also seems to set his eq with his eyes not his ears. I had a blast through his rig a while ago and adjusted the eq (with his permission). He came back in the room and looked at the dials and said ‘you cant set those there!’ Without even hearing/playing it!
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  • fandangofandango Frets: 1153
    Suggest a guitar swap for a session. Mention you'd like to play through his setup. And invite him to play your guitar through your setup.

    Talk about your influences and why he likes certain guitarists. No preachy stuff. Allow him to discover why/how his tone could improve.

    Wait for the penny to drop.

    Remember, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.


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  • HattigolHattigol Frets: 1415
    Have sex with his girlfriend. He'll soon be gone.
    "Anybody can play. The note is only 20%. The attitude of the motherf*cker who plays it is  80%" - Miles Davis
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  • mark_jwedgemark_jwedge Frets: 165
    fandango said:
    Suggest a guitar swap for a session. Mention you'd like to play through his setup. And invite him to play your guitar through your setup.

    Talk about your influences and why he likes certain guitarists. No preachy stuff. Allow him to discover why/how his tone could improve.

    Wait for the penny to drop.

    Remember, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.


    This is a great idea! Wiz’d
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 3558
    Yeah, you've just got to tell him. That's you leading him to water.

    Then you just see whether he drinks or not.

    When I started out, I always turned the midrange right down because it sounded meaner that way.  :# At the first gig we ever did with a sound man, I was told that I had to turn up the midrange because it just sounded like white noise. I was nervous, insecure, 17 and not very good, and I defensively said "that's my sound". Fucking facepalm.

    But, obviously the sound man was right, it sounded absolutely terrible.

    And having had that pointed out to me, I started learning what characteristics of guitar sounds made sense in the context of a band.

    So, you've got to tell him, and the rest is up to him.
    Captain Horizon (my old band);
    Very (!) Occasional Blog
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  • mark_jwedgemark_jwedge Frets: 165
    Hattigol said:
    Have sex with his girlfriend. He'll soon be gone.
    Actually his wife is gorgeous so...........
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  • JAYJOJAYJO Frets: 878
    Youve recently joined. Hes got a gorgeous wife and been in the band longer than you so you should get your ears syringed .  could be were his heads at.
     I think hes playing by numbers as you say and will take some convincing if the rest of the band are willing to put up with it. 
    Just say "fcknell that sounds muddy how do you do that?. Try this this and this 3 versions of same song lets experiment a bit" 
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  • munckeemunckee Frets: 1888
    Genuine question, if he said "can I have a word I think you should rethink your sound" how would you react?
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  • mudslide73mudslide73 Frets: 1701
    It'll happen bit by bit. The trick is getting him to not consider you as competition.. you're supporting him to be better not saying he doesn't know anything. Play to your respective strengths.. maybe blow some smoke up his arse so he'll take the advice on board too.
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  • VaiaiVaiai Frets: 414
    Don't make it so dramatic as "change your sound" - suggest he play with the rest of the band and then get him to gradually turn the bass down on his EQ and he'll maybe hear it himself and realise that frequency is handled by the actual bass guitar and he needs to clear it. It's something a lot of people don't really realise. 

    I actually used this once "Your amp sounds awesome when you play on your own and you need that bass etc to get that huge sound but have you noticed in the band mix it's not quite so good and rolling back the bass and boosting mids does a better job?"
    Make out it's some big discovery for you too :)

    Was it a one guitar band before? Maybe he thought he had to fill the spaces which he doesn't now - I always find it hard to say anything to the other guitarist but if it comes from the bass player or drummer it' doesn't seem so "know it all" 
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  • thecolourboxthecolourbox Frets: 3324
    I was going to suggest a rig swap idea, ie say to him why don't we play through each other's amps as I've always fancied trying a *whatever* amp. Then you can casually say... Ahhhh too much gain and bass for me, turn them down then wow him with how it sounds

    Water, come drown me, I'm done

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  • fandangofandango Frets: 1153
    Cirrus said:
    Yeah, you've just got to tell him. That's you leading him to water.

    Then you just see whether he drinks or not.

    When I started out, I always turned the midrange right down because it sounded meaner that way.  :# At the first gig we ever did with a sound man, I was told that I had to turn up the midrange because it just sounded like white noise. I was nervous, insecure, 17 and not very good, and I defensively said "that's my sound". Fucking facepalm.

    But, obviously the sound man was right, it sounded absolutely terrible.

    And having had that pointed out to me, I started learning what characteristics of guitar sounds made sense in the context of a band.

    So, you've got to tell him, and the rest is up to him.

    Get someone else (a sound engineer) to tell him. That way, it's not you making life difficult, but someone else bringing their experience to bear on resolving an overly gainy/bassy tone.
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  • vasselmeyervasselmeyer Frets: 2370
    Get him to sign up to The Fretboard. Then we'll wait for a post that says:

    "This new guy just joined my band and he's dropping snide remarks about my sound and making eyes at my wife. How do I tell him to back off?"
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 7296
    Probably a bit passive aggressive but you could find someone with trust worthy ears to listen to the band and give comment. Without a specific agenda just help the band sound better overall. The other side of that approach is that you may not necessarily be right ( in their opinion,etc) but if his sound doesn't fit then they should pick that up. 
    Dum dum dum, dum dum de dum, dum dum dum, dum dummmm.
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  • BlueingreenBlueingreen Frets: 773
    My tip: don’t do it.

    No matter whether you are right or not, the new guy who joins a band with the attitude “this band would be better off people did things my way” is, putting it mildly, unlikely to make himself popular.

    “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wise people so full of doubts.” Bertrand Russell

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  • mark_jwedgemark_jwedge Frets: 165
    My tip: don’t do it.

    No matter whether you are right or not, the new guy who joins a band with the attitude “this band would be better off people did things my way” is, putting it mildly, unlikely to make himself popular.

    I agree with a lot of this, as the new guy im very loathe to go steaming in trying to change this and that and making out like i know it all because i definitely dont. I think the softly softly approach might work!
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  • ESBlondeESBlonde Frets: 2438
    Record the live sound and get everyone to critique thier own sound and suggest ways to improve it for the sake of the band.
    Puts everyone on an even footing and gets the subject broached and out in the open. Don't be the one to say 'that sounds shit', rather what can we do to improve our live sound chaps.

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  • mark_jwedgemark_jwedge Frets: 165
    Was it a one guitar band before? Maybe he thought he had to fill the spaces which he doesn't now - I always find it hard to say anything to the other guitarist but if it comes from the bass player or drummer it' doesn't seem so "know it all" 
    Yes it was and i think this could well be part of the problem. We had these couple of gigs on the cards pretty soon after i joined so i have actually only written one song with them and the rest are their previous 3 piece songs. Interestingly he did say last night that in the song we have written since i joined that he would only play guitar in certain parts and just concentrate on singing in other parts so i do think he is listening and thinking about the sound so the situation might change as we write more stuff as a four piece
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  • I think some of the problem also is that he doesnt recognise the difference between how a guitar sounds on its own and how it sounds in a band. On its own his sound is massive but in a band it just gets swallowed up. Bit like a EHX big muff, sounds massive on its own but easily lost in a band mix.

    He also seems to set his eq with his eyes not his ears. I had a blast through his rig a while ago and adjusted the eq (with his permission). He came back in the room and looked at the dials and said ‘you cant set those there!’ Without even hearing/playing it!
    If he’s setting the amp by sight, can you just not pull the knobs off the bass and gain physically turn them down, and put the knobs back to where they look right for him ? 
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 18875
    Show him this thread...
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback

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  • WeZ84WeZ84 Frets: 5
    Try listening to a recording from a gig or rehearsal together so you can both hear the full band mix.
    Sometimes the full mix that the audience hear is different to what the band can hear on stage

    Or maybe at a rehearsal, do two recordings of the same song - one with his current settings and one with your suggested settings so he can hear the difference
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  • Just tell him he's excess to requirements. And wish him well. 
    There are basically three types of people. The ones who can count.....and the ones who can't.
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  • ShrewsShrews Frets: 216
    ESBlonde said:
    Record the live sound and get everyone to critique thier own sound and suggest ways to improve it for the sake of the band.
    Puts everyone on an even footing and gets the subject broached and out in the open. Don't be the one to say 'that sounds shit', rather what can we do to improve our live sound chaps.

    +1

    Surely, every band (and band member) should be open to constructive criticism if you want to improve as a band.  No nastiness, just helping each other out.

    When I become good enough to be in a band, this is the kind of band I'd like to be in.

    Let's face it, if the band was good enough to sign a record deal, then a whole array of people will be getting involved to give band members constructive criticism.


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  • revsorgrevsorg Frets: 384
    I wonder if you recorded the whole band on separate channels of a DAW then look at the mix and at each instrument through a spectrum analyzer. This should show overlapping frequencies of the various instruments. It might offer you a kind of non judgemental third party perspective that will seem a bit less like criticism.
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  • vizviz Frets: 5029
    Get the drummer to tell him, surely
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 7296
    viz said:
    Get the drummer to tell him, surely
    It would be too much detailed information for a drummer to remember. 
    Dum dum dum, dum dum de dum, dum dum dum, dum dummmm.
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  • Mark1960Mark1960 Frets: 17
    Let it lie, and wait for somebody else to bring it up. If it's that obvious it will soon be spotted. if it's not that obvious then it doesn't really matter in the overall scheme of things. However you bring it up it won't end well.
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