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Do you start most gigs with an instrumental or a vocal?

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  • Do you start most gigs with an instrumental or a vocal?

    I guess I'm a little old school in this. I've been doing it this way for decades and it used to be the standard way to open a gig when I was young.

    I start all my gigs with an instrumental unless it is a special gig that gives me a reason to do otherwise.

    I feel that
    1) It gets the audiences attention gently
    2) It actually gives me a good excuse to play an instrumental

    How about you?

    Bob "Notes" Norton
    Owner, Norton Music
    Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
    The Sophisticats >^. .^< >^. .^<

  • #2
    With the band, we usually start with an instrumental because it gives us a sound check where we can make adjustments (when there is no sound person). As a solo, no, I'm diving right into the deep end
    "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting ', what a ride!'
    "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley


    • #3
      I have jokey BT that play whilst I strap a guitar on it ends with the Thunderbirds countdown and as as "standby for action" rings out I launch it to something upbeat and loud at the moment it's "Oh Boy" by Buddy Holly. I try to get the attention from the get go, immediately after the first song I go into some audience participation so I need them on board.
      Cheers Steve


      • #4
        Sound check. I have to make sure the balance is good between my guitar and backing tracks during the first song. I've had to come up with serveral good upbeat instrumentals to avoid starting with the same song every time. I don't like to start singing if the mix isn't right. I have a good idea on the mic volume because I talk or least say "testes 123" before starting.


        • #5
          We start pretty much every set with a strong uptempo song like "I Got Rhythm" "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" "Undecided" "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing." It's hard for two old people to hold an audience and we do want to catch them and hold them as long as we can. We're a show as long as we can keep the audience fully engaged. Otherwise we're just two old folks playing grampa music--not a problem but not our objective.
          Last edited by pogo97; 05-13-2014, 08:39 PM.
          There is more than one way to do this. Notes Norton


          • #6
            I had been starting with an iinstrumental for a while, mainly because it was traditional for the era when I started out playing. But I've switched over to opening with a vocal, because as others have mentioned it's a better way to get the audience engaged from the start. I'll save the instrumentals for when I need a break vocally.
            Of course, it would all depend on what feels right for the gig.

            - Jimbo

            P.S. Thanks Steve for the Oh Boy suggestion, i'm def going to add that one.
            Last edited by Jimbo_Keys; 05-18-2014, 06:01 AM.


            • #7
              It depends on the gig. Friday (early evening) in this little restaurant, I started with an instrumental version of Love Times Love (Benson) and then Grandma's Hands (Bill Withers), Route 66, then IIRC I did Weekiend In LA (also a Benson instrumental).

              At my second Friday gig though, my duo started with Signed Sealed Delivered into The Harder They Come and then into stuff like Some Kind of Wonderful etc.

              So for restaurant gigs I normally do an instrumental. Usually something sort of smooth Jazz or at least well known. Sometimes I'll do two instrumentals to start. I also do a few during the set as well.

              My duo sometimes starts with an instrumental but it's usually up - Night Train, Chicken Shack - that kind of material. I prefer to start with instrumentals but at pubs, I often have to just jump right in.


              • #8
                Yep, agree with Shaster - it all depends on the gig. Read the crowd and make the decision. I never have any hard and fast procedures. FOr example I usually prepare a setlist for each gig based on my previous shows and what I "think" the crowd will be like. However there have been many times when that was thrown out the window and I just winged it...I do have some "first-sets" pre-programmed for those places I am not sure of. Then again there have been many times where the pre-arranged setlist for the entire night have run exactly as written.

                It really is all about being flexible enough (and having enough tunes) to run with pretty much anything, imo.


                • #9
                  I dont do instrumentals so………………………………...


                  • #10
                    Open with an instrumental, close with an instrumental, and nothing but instrumentals in between. I don't do vocals.

                    (edited) but that's because I regularly play wallpaper, "society" gigs, weddings and wedding rehearsal dinners, wine tastings, art shows etc. A singer/guitarist hires me for other gigs. He usually jumps right in with the vocals but mixes it up with Chet Atkins instrumentals and others.

                    The traditional blues band I played with over 10 years ago was the only group that started with an instrumental- usually a shuffle in G or a fast George Benson tune. My other bands only do instrumentals when the guitar player breaks a string. The drummer finally quit dragging the hell out of Green Onions.
                    Last edited by pinkfloydcramer61; 07-16-2014, 10:27 AM.


                    • #11
                      Depends on the gig, but typically (for solo acoustic gigs) I start out with something contemporary that everyone will most likely recognize. Again, depending on the gig it's either a slower song (like right now it's typically 'Let her go' by Passenger), or something a bit more uptempo (like 'Rude' by MAGIC!).
                      My Bands: Threefold Theory
                      Ten Carp Lie


                      • #12
                        I usually start with an instrumental tune for several reasons. I need to adjust my volume of my tracks and guitar to match the room and prefer an instrumental to do this with. Since I often sing for two to four hours or more on a gig, I like to pace things. I need to be sure the client and audience realize I am performing and if they still have music playing in the background somewhere, it's time to stop that. I'll do "After Hours" by Ronnie Jordan, "Obsession Confession"by Slash, "Scarborough Fare" or an original composition "Angelica,"" written for my wife while I attended GIT in 1983.