Welcome My Fellow Lazy Guitarists

Musical genius doesn't always have to be about theory and technique. After all, music is art. It's about the story it tells, the effect it has on the listener, the things it doesn't tell, the way it makes you feel, and that's usually never covered in a music class. I'm gonna give you tips, tricks, advice, and articles about guitar playing and the modern music world without all the technical bullshit.

So bypass the $25 a week guitar lessons, forget the online instructional videos that take forever to say nothing, and let's just focus on the shit that really matters. This site will cover everything from starting and keeping a band, perfecting that awesome tune you just wrote, choosing cover songs for gigs, and how to write songs beyond power chords without getting lost in a giant chord book.

This site is specifically written for guitarists, so theres no need to interpret lessons that were written for beginners in music theory and not the beginning guitarist. All written just for you...

James The Great

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Starting, and Possibly Keeping, a Band...

So you've been playing guitar for a good year or so, and you think you're ready to take it to the next step. Right? Time to make something of yourself and show the world what you're made of right?

Well whatever, I can't think of some stupid catchy hook to get you interested, so I'm just gonna get to it.

  1. Band Members. When hooking up with other musicians, there are a few ways to go. Now first, you can start your own project with your own material, and in that case, obviously, either look for other solo artists, or put your ad out there and let them come to you. Alternatively, you can join a band which will in most cases already have their own work established. Under those circumstances, you are usually just learning the material, and isn't always a creative project. When that happens, its best to make sure that you're not only committed, but a damn fast learner.

  2. Posting an Ad. Thanks to today's technology, finding other musicians is not only faster, but it also multiplies your possibilities by that much more. So your best bet is to post an ad online. Usually, you can say as much as you want for free, which beats posting flyers and posting ads in newspapers which can cost a lot. But when posting your ad, make sure you're EXTREMELY clear on what you want. Post your age range, your talents, your influences, your goals (like gigging or just jamming), whether or not you can provide transportation and rehearsal space, and the likes. Otherwise, people will flood you with e-mails asking for these details, in which case you'll waste a lot of time answering them just to have them say "oh, sorry, not interested." Ask them to return the same information back to you, and always remember to reply and be polite, even if you're not interested. I think it's called common courtesy or something like that. Post your ads on free sites like forums, craigslist, and myspace.

  3. Breaking the Ice. Hopefully you will have found someone with similar music taste. In that case, the best thing to do before meeting is to agree to learn a song, and upon the first practice, see how you guys mesh. After that, be sure that at least one of you has some original material that you can work on. If not, just play a few more covers. And be open. If you think a riff sucks, you'll be surprised by how different it sounds with some bass, or a second guitar in there. Or even a drum beat.

  4. Have Some Manners. If you're serious about starting a band, make sure that you steer from coming off as a control freak, or worse, a flake. If you say you're gonna be at practice, for god's sake, show the hell up. If not, at least notify the poor guys a day in advance. And unless your band members are complete beginners, don't bark orders to how it should sound like. Instead of saying stuff like "DUDE, NO. WTF ARE YOU DOING!! THATS NOT HOW ITS SUPPOSE TO SOUND" make like suggestions. Maybe say "hey, that was cool, but like what if we tried this....?" I mean I dunno, it just sounds better. Furthermore, don't offer your place up for practice if you don't have adequate space. Be mindful of your neighbors especially when practicing at night, and hey, sometimes it helps the thought process to have some cold beer or pizza around. Just saying...

  5. Firing Members. This issue might come up quite a bit, so its best to asses the issue in a mature and reasonable way. And sometimes your reason to get rid of someone isn't always good enough. For example, a good reason would be that this guy never shows up, has crap equipment, can't keep up with the band, or is just a major ass to everyone else. Bad reason would be something along the lines of "ew he likes that one band" or "omg did you see those pants he was wearing. what a dweeb."... Always, and I mean, ALWAYS discuss it with other members before making a final decision. If you absolutely need a bass player this Friday, it's usually a wise decision not to kick him out till after (total jackass move, I know, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do). If you guys are still in the jamming and creating phase, then there is usually no harm. And remember to always do it as polite as possible. Don't criticize them by saying things like they suck at guitar, but just say that their style just doesn't fit with the direction you guys are going in. Or something like that.

  6. Rehearsal Space. If you're lucky, you or one of your members might have a garage or basement to play in. If not, get the band to pitch in and go for rehearsal space. Often times they will offer some equipment for your use, so most times you will luck out and not even need to lug your stack in there. But if you can't pay the bill, try going half and half with another band. Shop around, sometimes you'll get a really great deal. Sometimes, you'll get screwed, so watch out.

  7. Conflicting Ideas. Sometimes you'll find that your drummer wants to crash symbols and have some crazy double bass in your slowest acoustic songs. Or sometimes you just don't want to play your loser bassists lame ass love song. In these instances, the best advice to take is compromise. Instead of completely shutting down their idea's, just tell them that you think that would sound really awesome with another song you guys are working on, and give them an idea of what you were thinking of. Usually this will work, if not, then go both ways. Try a little of theirs, and yours, and get a third opinion to what sounds better. Get some friends together, and don't tell them whose is whose, play both, and let them decide. But whatever you do, don't force your ideas down their throat. They'll get mad, mess up your songs on purpose, and usually, quit...

  8. Band Names. Obviously, you should use a little democracy in this one. Again, let friends decide. And try to have wide range of choices. Often times, the idea will just come to you. But sometimes its not that easy. In that instance, think about what the band is about. What do you guy's stand for? If it's a cover band, just use a lyric or song title from the band you're covering (e.g. If you're covering The Beatles, try The Yellow Submarines). For a political band, depending on your stance, use a political term and tweak it a bit (e.g. When making fun of politics, try Politically Incorrect, or Social Justice, The Watergate Briagde). Sometimes you can get by with using a really awesome lyric you came up with, or a song title. Band names can seriously be anything, funny, ironic, symbolic, moronic, whatever. But it's not always the most important thing, sometimes it's best to just let it come to you. And when you finally decide, make sure someone else doesn't have it first. The best technique is usually to just search on myspace under music, and if no one has the name yet, you're usually good to go. Remember, people are petty enough to sue over a name, so beware.

  9. Demo. If you don't have your own means of recording, the best thing to do is search craigslist for a local home studio. This is usually your best bet as it will be not only cheaper, but you would be promoting small time talent in a sense. Chances are, if you find a nice enough guy, he might let you slide when it comes to time, whereas you're facing a big business, $150 an hour means you're out the second 59 minutes is up.

  10. Advertising and Gigging. Then, create copies of this demo, add a little album art if you like for pizazz, and hand them out to local cafe's, clubs, and venues. Leave them your info and demo, and move on. Be persistent. And then make yourself a little site if you like. As for logo's and all, I definitely suggest hooking up with a local small time artist for the art. In a sense, helping one another.
The end.

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