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Perceived value of 4-piece vs. 3-piece

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  • Perceived value of 4-piece vs. 3-piece

    I was talking with the bandleader of one of the more successful local bands yesterday. His lead singer had to move to another state a few months ago and they are having trouble trying to find a replacement for him. In the meantime, the drummer has stepped it up and is doing a lot of the lead singing now as well as still drumming (love those headset mics). He's a great singer and sang some songs before the singer left so it isn't like he never did any before.



    During our conversation, I asked him if they got any flak from club owners now that they are a quartet instead of a quintet (plus sound/light man). He said that other than a few inquiries as to what happened to their lead singer/frontman, they're still getting booked and still getting paid as usual.



    I remarked that some bar owners might say something like "I thought I was paying for a four-piece" when a trio shows up (because one of the guys can't make it or something). He said that it might be different instrumentwise, but since he was a frontman that just sang, the band still *sounds* the same musically with two guitars, bass and drums.



    I thought that was an interesting topic of discussion. Has anyone here found a different attitude towards their band when they lost a bandmember? And do you think it would be more significant to lose a singer/frontman or lose a 2nd guitarist?



    I wonder myself because my own band went from a four-piece to a trio. A lot of the same clubs still hire us and a lot of the crowds we play for seem to think we sound just fine, but I wonder if there is an overall perception that we may be 'lesser' now that we 'only' have three people in the band.
    (This is my Non-Signature.)

  • #2
    I have a 3-piece band and I have to say that generally, I have not had anyone really even take issue with it. I actually get comments most of the time where people can't believe that we can put out that much music for just the 3 of us.



    Having said that, I have one nightclub that has a "rule" that in order to play there, you must have at least 4 people in the band. ????? I am in the process of trying to get them to give our 3 piece a shot. I will let you know if we get the chance !



    So for me personally, I have not really seen it become much of an issue.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well imagine a 4 piece that has guitar, KB player which also dubbed as rhythm guitar, bassist, and drummer then you lose the KB/rhythm who also shared lead vocal duties. Then continue on as 3 piece after revamping the song list. I've seen this happen to classic rock band after losing their KB/rhythm player.



      IMO they just don't sound the same and don't have the impact they once had, it's if they lost half their sound.

      I dug them way better as a 4 piece then a 3 piece not that they suck as 3 piece but the KB's really filled up a lot of space and same when the KB player dubbed on rhythm guitar.

      Comment


      • #4






        Quote Originally Posted by 55fmj
        View Post

        I have a 3-piece band and I have to say that generally, I have not had anyone really even take issue with it. I actually get comments most of the time where people can't believe that we can put out that much music for just the 3 of us.




        I have heard that comment as well, with my band in 2010-2011 (also a trio) and my current group. There must be some amount of people out there that perceive a three piece to be more 'bare' sounding for it to come up as often as it does. Either that, or they have heard trios before that did sound kind of empty.








        Having said that, I have one nightclub that has a "rule" that in order to play there, you must have at least 4 people in the band. ????? I am in the process of trying to get them to give our 3 piece a shot. I will let you know if we get the chance !



        Get a hot chick to play some tambourine and throw her a $20 at the end of the night.









        Quote Originally Posted by twostone
        View Post

        Well imagine a 4 piece that has guitar, KB player which also dubbed as rhythm guitar, bassist, and drummer then you lose the KB/rhythm who also shared lead vocal duties. Then continue on as 3 piece after revamping the song list. I've seen this happen to classic rock band after losing their KB/rhythm player.



        IMO they just don't sound the same and don't have the impact they once had, it's if they lost half their sound.

        I dug them way better as a 4 piece then a 3 piece not that they suck as 3 piece but the KB's really filled up a lot of space and same when the KB player dubbed on rhythm guitar.




        Heh, funny you should mention that situation. It's almost exactly what happened to our band. We started out with me on lead vocals/lead guitar, another lead guitarist that sang a small amount of songs, a bass player that also sang a small amount and a drummer. Then I started to bring my keyboards into the mix, so I would switch off on those on various songs. Then we got a female bassist with a pretty good voice, so we gave her more songs to sing than the previous bassist had, but it also changed the sound of the band quite a bit (mellowed us out too much). We did a great job on songs like The Motels' "Only The Lonely."



        Then we fired her, the other guitarist switched to bass, he started acting up, fired HIM, then I got my cousin to play bass guitar and sing harmony (and about 1/4 to 1/3 of the lead vocals). We have had that lineup for 7 months now, since the end of February.



        I would love to have him on lead guitar where he belongs and have a kickass "real" bass guitarist that could also sing great harmony vocals. If we had that, I could switch off on guitar and keyboards again, but until that time comes (if ever), we're probably going to stay a trio.
        (This is my Non-Signature.)

        Comment


        • #5
          Speaking of keyboards, something else just came to mind. There is a band in town that has been around for 30+ years as a trio. The guitarist and bassist both switch off on vocals equally and both harmonize with each other when the other person is singing lead. A few years back (I think around 2004-2005), the guitarist brought his then-girlfriend into the band on keyboards. It expanded the sound of the band and they were able to accurately do songs like The Doors' "Riders On The Storm," I. Ron Butterfly's () "In A Gadda Da Vida," Modern English's "I Melt With You" and my favorite, "Let's Go" by The Cars. Eventually, she added lead vocals to the mix, which expanded their repertoire even more.



          She left the band about a year ago because her and the guitarist were about to have a baby. Now they are back to a trio, although they did play one wedding gig recently with her in the band again.



          I wonder if a lot of people were disappointed when they saw that she wasn't playing with them anymore. Conversely, I wonder if people that always knew the band as a trio before were hesitant to accept the keyboard version of the group.
          (This is my Non-Signature.)

          Comment


          • #6






            Quote Originally Posted by tim_7string
            View Post

            I have heard that comment as well, with my band in 2010-2011 (also a trio) and my current group. There must be some amount of people out there that perceive a three piece to be more 'bare' sounding for it to come up as often as it does. Either that, or they have heard trios before that did sound kind of empty.







            Get a hot chick to play some tambourine and throw her a $20 at the end of the night.







            Heh, funny you should mention that situation. It's almost exactly what happened to our band. We started out with me on lead vocals/lead guitar, another lead guitarist that sang a small amount of songs, a bass player that also sang a small amount and a drummer. Then I started to bring my keyboards into the mix, so I would switch off on those on various songs. Then we got a female bassist with a pretty good voice, so we gave her more songs to sing than the previous bassist had, but it also changed the sound of the band quite a bit (mellowed us out too much). We did a great job on songs like The Motels' "Only The Lonely."



            Then we fired her, the other guitarist switched to bass, he started acting up, fired HIM, then I got my cousin to play bass guitar and sing harmony (and about 1/4 to 1/3 of the lead vocals). We have had that lineup for 7 months now, since the end of February.



            I would love to have him on lead guitar where he belongs and have a kickass "real" bass guitarist that could also sing great harmony vocals. If we had that, I could switch off on guitar and keyboards again, but until that time comes (if ever), we're probably going to stay a trio.




            Why not a use a Roland PK6 controller hooked up through midi port of your KB's sure you can't do leads but could do layered KB chords.

            Something I always wanted to do while playing bass but just don't know much about KB playing.

            Comment


            • #7
              The question seems to be framed in the context of reformatting a band when you reduce the lineup from three to four, but what if you increase the size from four to five? One hopes that people are listening with the ears, not their eyes, and if the music "works", it shouldn't matter how many are on stage. A singing drummer left a fairly successful quartet to work with me as a duo years ago. We did quite well. I've also played in a fairly low watt eight piece a couple years ago, so it's not about numbers, at least in my experience.



              Does the band sound good or not?

              Comment


              • #8
                Are there seriously club owners who think like that? The only thought ANY bar owner I've EVER worked with would have in a reduction in line-up is "well, that's one less person drinking my draft beer."
                Music, music, I hear music
                Fitch Drums - The Blog for the Aspiring Non-Professional Drummer

                Comment


                • #9






                  Quote Originally Posted by SeniorBlues
                  View Post

                  The question seems to be framed in the context of reformatting a band when you reduce the lineup from three to four, but what if you increase the size from four to five?




                  I've been that 'fifth' member a couple of times as the keyboardist. In both cases, according to some of the guys' memories, it was worth the additional share because my keyboards and harmony vocals added a more 'professional' sound to the group.








                  Does the band sound good or not?



                  Well, we're getting re-booked and played both a New Year's Eve show and a street dance as a trio, which were situations I had some trepidation about ("could use a 4th guy right now..."). We sounded just fine, so I guess we're doing good with what we have. I would prefer to have the perfect 4th or even 5th member, but it's easier to coordinate three people and the money goes a lot further.
                  (This is my Non-Signature.)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I guess it depends on what kind of music you play, but the last two formats I've been involved with are my favorite - for very different reasons. Keys/bass, drums, guitar works great if you can finds guys who can hold their own musically and vocally. My current lineup is kind of unwieldy - trying to get all eight to show up for rehearsals is a challenge - but it sounds great, which is still my highest priority. I've never been pushed so hard musically. Oddly enough, the upside financially may be greater than it would have been for the trio. We'll see.

                    Comment


                    • #11






                      Quote Originally Posted by SeniorBlues
                      View Post

                      I guess it depends on what kind of music you play, but the last two formats I've been involved with are my favorite - for very different reasons. Keys/bass, drums, guitar works great if you can finds guys who can hold their own musically and vocally. My current lineup is kind of unwieldy - trying to get all eight to show up for rehearsals is a challenge - but it sounds great, which is still my highest priority. I've never been pushed so hard musically. Oddly enough, the upside financially may be greater than it would have been for the trio. We'll see.




                      I love the sound of a bigger band when it's working well and everyone is on the same page. I hope it works out for you.



                      Getting that right personality to fit in with the three of us is going to be the biggest challenge. I know people that can do the job musically, but they would be an ill fit in other ways.



                      I considered forming a band that was similar to your trio with me on keys/bass, a guitarist and a drummer. I would be singing most of the songs too, so it would be kind of like The Doors that time that Jim passed out onstage during a show and Ray Manzarek had to take over. I did it before in a band years ago, doing songs like "My Best Friend's Girl" and "Taking Care Of Business." It can certainly sound a lot fuller than the standard guitar/bass/drums trio when done well.
                      (This is my Non-Signature.)

                      Comment


                      • #12






                        Quote Originally Posted by tim_7string
                        View Post

                        I love the sound of a bigger band when it's working well and everyone is on the same page. I hope it works out for you.



                        Getting that right personality to fit in with the three of us is going to be the biggest challenge. I know people that can do the job musically, but they would be an ill fit in other ways.



                        I considered forming a band that was similar to your trio with me on keys/bass, a guitarist and a drummer. I would be singing most of the songs too, so it would be kind of like The Doors that time that Jim passed out onstage during a show and Ray Manzarek had to take over. I did it before in a band years ago, doing songs like "My Best Friend's Girl" and "Taking Care Of Business." It can certainly sound a lot fuller than the standard guitar/bass/drums trio when done well.




                        Adding lead vocal to keys/bass would be a challenge. I guess Lee Michaels and Steve Winwood pulled it off, although with their feet instead of LH. You'd have to put a lot of thought into repertoire to see what works. I doubt my voice would support a full night.



                        The large band is the first time it's never occurred to me voice a negative opinion about adding a song to the list. Everyone else will make it sound good. It's my job to make sure I don't let them down. Simple, really, once you get the vocals right.

                        Comment


                        • #13






                          Quote Originally Posted by tim_7string
                          View Post

                          I was talking with the bandleader of one of the more successful local bands yesterday. His lead singer had to move to another state a few months ago and they are having trouble trying to find a replacement for him. In the meantime, the drummer has stepped it up and is doing a lot of the lead singing now as well as still drumming (love those headset mics). He's a great singer and sang some songs before the singer left so it isn't like he never did any before.



                          During our conversation, I asked him if they got any flak from club owners now that they are a quartet instead of a quintet (plus sound/light man). He said that other than a few inquiries as to what happened to their lead singer/frontman, they're still getting booked and still getting paid as usual.



                          I remarked that some bar owners might say something like "I thought I was paying for a four-piece" when a trio shows up (because one of the guys can't make it or something). He said that it might be different instrumentwise, but since he was a frontman that just sang, the band still *sounds* the same musically with two guitars, bass and drums.



                          I thought that was an interesting topic of discussion. Has anyone here found a different attitude towards their band when they lost a bandmember? And do you think it would be more significant to lose a singer/frontman or lose a 2nd guitarist?



                          I wonder myself because my own band went from a four-piece to a trio. A lot of the same clubs still hire us and a lot of the crowds we play for seem to think we sound just fine, but I wonder if there is an overall perception that we may be 'lesser' now that we 'only' have three people in the band.




                          Hmmmm as a spectator of a band when I saw them once and see them a second time and they suck I ask what happened. I think that's where the inquiries are coming from; the band sounds/looks different than what the listeners previously heard/saw.



                          Or if the bar ownermanager has a personal relationship, i.e., knows the members personally that could be why there asking as well.

                          Comment


                          • #14






                            Quote Originally Posted by SeniorBlues
                            View Post

                            My current lineup is kind of unwieldy - trying to get all eight to show up for rehearsals is a challenge - but it sounds great, which is still my highest priority ..... Oddly enough, the upside financially may be greater than it would have been for the trio.




                            Personally - I love working with larger groups. While I have heard trios that have impressed me - and fully appreciate the benefits of a trio when it's time to split the take at the end of a typical bar gig - I simply haven't heard a trio that could command my attention for a whole night. Granted trios have impressed me for a song or two - there's just not enough musical variety there to NOT start sounding samey-same after a set or so.



                            I like the musical variety of a larger band. One of my current projects started out as a 6 piece (bass, drums, guitar, keys, sax and a female vocalist). The project has swelled to 9 pieces - having added a second guitar, a trombone player and a trumpet/flugel horn player. The two guitar thing started when the original guitar player ran into stretch of limited availability as a result illness in the family. We brought in a good friend to cover during that period. Back during that time - we played a gig where both were present. The two guitar players got along so well that night - we've been working that way ever since.



                            The band's objective is to work the higher dollar private event / wedding / corporate gigs. We recognized that the vast majority of the bands working those types of gigs in our area are all larger formats - and typically include a horn section. So ... with that in mind we're developing a horn section. We've taken a room that we're playing frequently - and have decided we'll play this room with the big group - and view it as an investment in "product development".



                            Getting used to playing with so many on stage has required that each of us adjust a little bit. The first couple of gigs were a little "cluttered" ... but it has quickly started to come around. With so many voices available to help out on the vocals - and a real horn section - songs that used to be sort meh are quickly turning into events in their own right. With four gigs under our belt with the big band - we're starting to hit our stride in terms of each of us finding our niche in the big group's sound.



                            It feels like it's starting to pay off (albeit it not monetarily....yet!). We played with the big group last night - and absolutely rocked the place. We've been seeing a steadily increase in crowd size each time we've played there - with last night's crowd being the best yet (the bar added 2nd bartender and two waitri for last night). It was standing room only for much of the night. While we had dancers all night long - what surprised us was the response we got from the non-dancers. It almost had a concert feel with the room bursting into applause and cheering after almost every solo and at the end of every song. While I don't know the local music scene all that well (I live in another town 50+ minutes away) - the drummer (bandleader) does know the scene - and explained that our crowd last night included a number of local musician and agent types. Last night's crowd certainly made us feel like we're turning a few heads and starting to get noticed.



                            I gotta admit - it felt real good last night!
                            The SpaceNorman

                            www.facebook.com/SuperstarsOfRock
                            www.souldoutrocks.com

                            Keyboards and Tone Generators: Yamaha CP300, Kronos 88, Roland AX Synth, Motif ES Rack
                            Keyboard Rack: Samson SM10 Line Mixer, Motu MIDIExpressXT MIDI Interface, Shure PSM200 IEM system, M-Audio Wireless MIDI, Live Wires IEM ear buds, iPad wOnSong.
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                            • #15
                              The club owner sounds clueless about having an obsession on band size. I don't understand why the owner would care as long as the band brought in a crowd that was well-mannered and bought large quantities of booze. Rush, SRV, and many other successful bands did "okay" without four or more members. If your crowds continue to increase, this inept club owner will find out about it and waive this silly "rule".
                              Everybody is terminally ill.

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