Hello fellow players,
This is Vic Lawson subbing for Bobbe Seymour today.
This is for newer players that are having trouble playing with bands and aren’t sure what to play or how to play. First and foremost, listen to the melody of the song. When you play fills, try to play short, simple melodies in between vocal phrases.
Instead of strictly thinking about a steel guitar sound, think about playing one or two notes because that is sometimes better than trying to play six or seven. By all means “shut up”. Don’t overplay. Everyone has heard of the old saying “less is more” but a lot of players forget that rule and an important rule it is.
In other words, if you fill the verse, after that verse is over, be silent, let somebody else play. The guy that taught me to play in a band was a piano player. I was sixteen and had never played in a band ever.
He asked me, “Have you ever played in a band?”
I answered, “No. Tell me what I need to do.”
He said, “Watch me and I will nod at you when I want you to play. When that verse or chorus is over, take your hands off the guitar. I don’t care if you sit on them. I don’t want to see your hands on the guitar.”
I asked him why and he said, “Because I want to be heard too. It’s my turn to play.”
That really stuck with me. Discipline is very important. You can be a fantastic player and play many hot licks, but if you don’t have discipline a lot of other players won’t want to work with you. You are a member of a band, you’re not a solo artist. Kenny G gets to be the front man, but you don’t.
Did you hear about the drummer who was so despondent over his timing that he threw himself behind a train? Speaking with drummers, with a lot of drummers today playing to click tracks, it never hurts to practice with a metronome.
Working with a metronome will drastically improve your timing and your pocket. The pocket is the groove essentially. It’s being able to get into the feel of a song and make your audience feel it.
Always play from your heart. Try to make your hands an extension of what you’re feeling in your heart. With our instrument, as sad as it can be, if you can make your audience cry with you, then you’ve done your job. Don’t be mechanical. Any computer can generate music without feel. Be human.
If you’re having trouble learning a particular part, you may want to try one of the many learning tools on the market such as the Tascam GB-10 which has the ability to slow a song down to half speed without changing the key and can also loop a lick or solo infinitely. It will make things much easier to learn and it’s easy to use. I use mine extensively and have for years.
Lately, we’ve had a run on volume pedal pots which is good for us, but if you can try to improve your volume pedal technique, your pot is going to last longer. Just try to be more smooth and dynamic instead of like a pump organ.
I think if your practice regimen is two hours a day, at least give twenty minutes of that to volume pedal technique. Not only is it more pleasing to the ear, but it will save you some money.
I think a lot of guys get too caught up in trying to do what somebody else does such as right hand technique, pick blocking versus palm blocking for example. Granted, there’s a right way to do it, but I don’t think what works for one player will work for the other player.
I think it’s a matter of experimenting and seeing what works best for you as a player. There’s a million critics out there, but bottom line is whether you’re playing for recreation or for a living, as long as you’re striving to be better, do it the way you want to do it.
You can’t learn to play with a band by playing alone in your practice room, you have to get out and play with other people. By all means, have fun with it. Don’t take it too seriously. Don’t let players that do take themselves too seriously suck you into their black hole. That’ll make it more enjoyable and easier to learn.
Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Closed Saturday and Sunday