Archives For guitar

9Vs-processed

Through high school I worked at a music store, mostly in the guitar department. I can’t tell you how many times a client would bring in a relatively new acoustic guitar, complaining that it was distorting or had no sound coming out. A familiar call and answer would then ensue:

Me: “did you check the battery?”

Customer:  “it has a battery?!”

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Blog - Sonic Range 1

When playing together in a band context, by now, I think we would all agree that the sonic range I’m playing in (the octave I’m singing or playing my instrument in) is just as important as the rhythms I’m playing, right? Knowing this importance is one thing, but working it out in rehearsal can be very challenging and time consuming.

If there’s one instrument that runs the highest risk of eating the whole pie (100%) in the sonic plane, it’s the keyboard. The lowest note on the keyboard is an A – two semi-tones lower than the low B on a 5-string bass guitar. If your bassist is playing a 4 string, the piano has a whole 5th below the low E on the bass. No one in the band can possibly play those notes in the low A-E range except the piano player. You might think, “Great!  Sonic room for me to play without worrying about anyone else running into me.” Well, let me put it this way, if there’s a bass guitar player in your band, let them live up to their name and actually be the bass player in the band. Keyboardists, let the bassists have their range and take that left hand and bring it up the keyboard.  I know, that’s almost two whole octaves chopped off of the low end of the keyboard. There is an exception to almost every rule, but when it comes to the keyboardist’s left hand, I wouldn’t have it playing much lower than the C that is one octave below middle C. When keyboard players get their left hand away from what the bass player is playing, the sound will significantly tidy itself up and the listener will feel more depth to the overall sound.

There is an exception to almost every rule, but when it comes to the keyboardist’s left hand, I wouldn’t have it playing much lower than the C that is one octave below middle C.

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Sonic Range Photo

Whoever could have guessed that musicians had to think so much when they jumped into a band context? If I’m a great player of my instrument, I should be able to step into any setting and sound good! Unfortunately, without experience as a band member, this is likely not the case.

We’ve been talking about the horizontal “rhythmic” plane (as we call it) of playing together within the 100% rule.  If you don’t know what I mean, go back and read “Playing Together as a Band: Rhythm Playing“.  We know that there is so much more to talk about in each of these areas, but for the sake of keeping everyone’s interest, let’s move onto the vertical plane of sonic ranges.

Imagine this … Continue Reading…

Part 6 of 8 in the series Taking It Apart

Acoustic-closeup

Sonically speaking, acoustic guitars have a bit of a split personality – a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. There’s the way it sounds, and then there’s the way it sounds plugged in.

The rich, full bodied tone emanating from a quality guitar often bears no resemblance to the thin, choked sound that flows out of its electronic connection. It’s impractical to mic an acoustic guitar with a drummer ten feet away, so we plug it in! With mixed results. And sometimes, working with an acoustic guitar ends up being more of a salvage operation than a musical experience! Continue Reading…

Part 5 of 8 in the series Taking It Apart

Les Paul blur

Since the middle of the 20th century, the guitar has been one of the most popular instruments in the world, and it’s not hard to see why! It’s relatively easy to learn, it’s not too expensive, and it can find a home in just about any musical genre. One important reason behind the guitar’s popularity is that it excels not only at playing chords but also at single-note expression.

What’s so special about that? Continue Reading…