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Things to Know...


fenderbender9

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We all have a different way of looking at things and different things we have found through the years that are helpful things to know while you're out gigging. So here it is.

 

I thought it would be useful to have a thread where we share the things we've learned and found helpful so, for all us still young players, what are some things to know?

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1. Get and keep the name + number/email of everyone you meet for the rest of your life.

 

2. If you're shy, then you're in the wrong business. Go be an accountant.

 

3. The band belongs to whoever is working the hardest. You want to be the driver? Fine, you pay the insurance and change the oil! I don't care how talented you are.

 

4. Don't get butthurt about your ideas being rejected. Music is a collaborative medium. If you're actually the genius you think you are, you'll come up with another idea in a few minutes anyway Mozart!

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Playing music is like a physical relationship in a lot of ways. Don't look to playing music in public to fulfill you. It's fun, rewarding, even at times profitable, certainly. But if you're looking for it to fill some hole in your life, it won't. Be a whole person with other interests and music will treat you kindly. Put all your eggs in that basket and you will forever be disappointed and end up bitter.

 

 

And your instrument is like your woman: you can't ignore it all week and expect it to put out on the weekend.

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A couple of things:

 

Keep things in perspective. We're not solving world crisis, we're making music. I find that so many things from stage fright to frustration to fights, etc. all stem from people taking this stuff way too seriously.

 

Music ain't a competition. Sure you may compete for gigs, etc. but when it comes to your playing, you can only be the best player you can be.

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When writing, have the instruments play around the vocals, not over them.

 

Know what a "Dream Merchant" is. And avoid pay-to-play venues and submission-based festivals. If they are charging you to play, it ain't going anywhere.

 

Check out other local bands, watch what they do and read the crowd on what works and what doesn't. Even more importantly, think about what they aren't doing, such as dressing the parts, putting on a "show" that is relevant to their music, and how you might separate your band from "everyone else".

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- Electronic equipment carries a live current and, used improperly, can electrocute you. Get a ground checker ($5) and use it before you plug in at a new place. Never hack off/defeat a ground lug.

 

http://www.guitarnuts.com/technical/electrical/safety/index.php

 

- A guitar amp is a poor, and potentially very costly, beer/drink table.

 

- Bodies stop sound. Mic your amps or elevate them.

 

- A guitar that won't stay in tune or intonate properly is defective.

 

- Excepting for the handful of guitar players in the room, nobody is interested in hearing more than a brief example of your blistering guitar skills.

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Manage your stage volume.

 

Don't piss off the sound man.

 

Don't leave gear that you care about unattended.

 

Drink only in moderation.

 

Save band drama for rehearsal. Be professional in public (that includes the venue parking lot).

 

Be courteous to the wait staff.

 

etc. etc. etc.

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It doesn't matter if there is 1 or 1000 people in the audience, be professional and deliver!

 

Get to know your gear before you go play out in public.

 

Make sure the venue owner knows what kind of music you play BEFORE you book the gig.

 

Make sure you know who is paying you and how much it is agreed upon BEFORE you play the whole night!

 

Great thread!

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Be nice to people who come up to you after a show (if they are nice to you!). Thank them if they said they liked it. If they say You are great, thank them. Do not go "Hell ya think so? Well, jeez, to be honest I had an off-night and I messed this up and that went wrong". This makes people feel dumb, and then wonder if you are any good at all.

 

Play it like you mean it (and have fun, as said above.) Smile onstage, unless you are a death metal or emo type band.

 

Try not to be a raging a-hole because you are good at what you do. Not many people get away with that. Playing shows and getting bookings is a business, and like everything, needs people skills. Young people are often very cocky. When you get older you will probably see that is not so good (IMO).

 

Bring spares of "consumables" (plectrums). Bring spares of things that might break (valves, strings). Bring a towel to wipe the hard earned sweat away.

 

Don't engage in "volume wars". It pisses everyone off.

 

Accept that you are not the best player in the world. You may of course be the best in your region, if so, well done. There is no best player in the world. And someone you do not know will probably school your ass if you "went against them" onstage.

 

Know your limits and push 'em, musically.

 

Accept that you will always be learning, if you are serious about your instrument.

 

Don't be afraid to be spontaneous, and then if it works, be spontaneous in the same way the next night.

 

Know how your instrument works and how to fix it if it goes wrong. So many people cannot solder. This is bad. What happens when a wire breaks on your input jack?

 

Your instrument is also your amp. Learn how to fix that, and how to get a good sound.

 

A good sound usually involves having some mids on your amp. The electric guitar is a mid heavy instrument. Mids are your friend. Often mids and not volume will be what you need to be heard.

 

Theory will not hinder you. It will make your more thoughtful, more rounded and better at guitar. You will play and "hear" better.

 

If you want to improvise well, you must hear in your head very loudly what it is you want to play. Dizzy Gillespe said it must almost sound like shouting. The key to being a tasteful soloist lies in this skill. To help this, try singing what you want to play. Very quickly you will move out of your familiar patterns. To get better at this, do what Christophe Godin says and sing harmony with your guitar, or fill notes in unfinished chords with your voice.

 

Remember you are there to entertain. As said above, 10 minute show-off guitar wank fests are very very boring. Even though I love it personally. You can be technically amazing but very very boring to watch.

 

So put some heart and soul in what you do, because it shows. And be a good person whilst you do it.

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Disagree man, if you sound great while you're sucking, you're halfway there!


:thu:

 

Forgive me, but that's a guitar player mentality. I'd rather listen to a great player on an out-of-tune Trasch & Junkett piano than a boring player on a beautifully prepped instrument. . . . and I've heard lots of both.

 

Of course that could be a uniquely keyboard mentality, since tone is largely beyond their control.

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Forgive me, but that's a guitar player mentality. I'd rather listen to a great player on an out-of-tune Trasch & Junkett piano than a boring player on a beautifully prepped instrument. . . . and I've heard lots of both.


Of course that could be a uniquely keyboard mentality, since tone is largely beyond their control.

 

 

Well I think all musicians care about what their instruments sound like. But only guitarists seem to be so obsessed with "tone". I've never heard a keyboard player or drummer even use that term.

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One of the biggest pieces of advice I give to people is that to play steadily in bars, nightclubs, and even some festivals.. how good you are on the instrument is secondary to how willing you are to entertain a crowd.

 

There are TONS of mediocre musicians that are great entertainers and have succeeded. The number of successful phenominal musicians that are horrible entertainers is far less.

 

Of course, then you've got people that excel at both... but I still say being an entertainer gets your further in the music business than being a great musician..

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