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Thread: Tips for Live Performance Playing

  1. #1
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Tips for Live Performance Playing

    Having come up through the School of Hard Knocks and being on the cusp of geezerdom I figured it's time to start sharing some tips.


    Things most guitar players learn the hard way:

    It's way more important to be a good bandmate than being the world's greatest guitar player.

    You’re not the star – the song is. You’re just a conduit for it. Play accordingly.

    That “perfect” tone you like alone in your practice space is probably terrible in a live band context.

    No pedal will make you play better.

    When using an OD or Distortion in a live band setting, take the very minimum amount of gain you think you can possibly get by with and then cut that in half.

    A smaller amp will usually sound better than a larger one.

    Practice with the record, when you can no longer hear yourself, you’ve got it.

    NEVER practice at performance tempo without a metronome, click or drum loop.

    Take the amp reverb off, you don’t need it and it adds mud. If you really need the depth add in subtly mixed delay, start at about 15%.

    Compressors are the one pedal you may actually need, especially with single coils or a wireless.

    You’re allowed to have 10 pedals in your chain, but if you use more than two at once chances are you’re burying yourself in the mix.

    Too much effects is the number one reason for playing too loud.

    You don’t need to memorize every scale and mode but you do need to know where the flat 3 and flat 7 are for the position you’re playing in. Get those right and everything else is cake to fake.

    Listen to the entire band, not yourself. If you’re listening to the entire band the solo will just “happen” and have a lot more space to it.

    When improvised soloing: Slow the heck down! Don’t go past a 16th note unless you have a Super Trouper on you in a packed stadium and your rehearsed, blocked and look good in Spandex with long curly hair. And only for a little bit, not the whole solo.

    Playing too many notes removes syncopation and hence – the groove. Never lose the groove. One well-placed triplet or a dotted eighth can render 12 bars of meedly-meedly irrelevant.

    Always be making eye contact with the rest of your band.

    If you need more than two guitars you need someone to wrangle them for you. Nothing kills a hot set faster than timeouts for equipment swaps and tuning. BTW, always tune in silent mode.

    If you hit a clam and then do the old reach for the tuning pegs like it wasn’t your fault, you’re not fooling anyone – and now your guitar is out of tune.

    During a set, don’t use the mic for anything else but vocals. No jokes, shoutouts or “we’re here all week, try the veal”. It’s OK to thank the audience, pimp the band or hawk some CDs after the set is over - but be brief.

    Have Fun! Don’t take yourself too seriously and take time during the gig to just soak it in and enjoy it.
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  2. #2
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Tips for Live Performance Playing

    Good stuff! I'd add one more: Ignore anything Gravity Jim says...
    Striving to be ordinary

    Proud to be a TFF Dumbass!

  3. #3
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
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    Re: Tips for Live Performance Playing

    Amen to tips I, III and VI

    I’ll add mine:


    Make sure you check the power schematics, outlets and grounding of the venue before soundcheck. Electricity is no joke.


    Be professional and don’t drink before the gig. The after party is the right thing.


    Don’t be stupid: watch your gear and don’t let it get stolen.


    If you use your own amp to hear yourself, don’t forget that what you hear is NOT what is being cast to the audience by the PA

  4. #4
    Forum Member Tele-Bob's Avatar
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    Re: Tips for Live Performance Playing

    When you think you're volume level is perfect in the mix, turn it down a little. Especially if you're over 50.

    If you think your tone is perfect in the mix, turn the treble down a little, especially if you're over 50.

    It's always better to be asked to "turn your guitar up" rather than being asked to turn it down.

    You are not the center of the universe. If you doubt that, hold a light bulb in a socket. If it automatically threads into the socket, then the world really does revolve around you. But it won't.

    ALWAYS be in tune, and play in time. Or no one will want to play with you. If you're not sure, practice...

    Always support your fellow players. Even if they have man buns.
    If you're bored, you're not groovin'.

  5. #5
    Forum Member blackonblack's Avatar
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    Re: Tips for Live Performance Playing

    Remember with EQ (as well as volume) always work in subtracting outliers vs boosting what’s desired.
    Mark

  6. #6
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: Tips for Live Performance Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Tele-Bob View Post

    Always support your fellow players. Even if they have man buns.
    Whoa! We have standards here. They're low, but we have them.
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

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