Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Singers who play lead guitar

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by tfarny, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. bluescaster72

    bluescaster72 Tele-Holic

    Mar 4, 2009
    Also if your playing with someone that is new to the songs you are doing and have stops in it , Make sure you are are able to communicate with the drummer where the stops are . Sometimes they play with their heads down and they miss it From watching other lead singers they can do a stop with just a simple hand gesture I use the neck of my guitar kind of a up and down movement . but if you are going to be the swiss army knife of the group you have to know how to do all these things.
    JustABluesGuy and awasson like this.
  2. fendrguitplayr

    fendrguitplayr Poster Extraordinaire

    Oct 11, 2006
    Greater Boston
    Know your limitations and stay within them.
    ElJay370 likes this.
  3. Phrygian77

    Phrygian77 Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 30, 2016
    Crawfordville, FL
    I was watching Ryan Adams on an Austin City Limits performance recently, and during one song he stumbles and nearly falls while trying to step on a boost or drive.
  4. Fret Wilkes

    Fret Wilkes Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

    Mar 23, 2003
    Harmony, R.I.
    This! I'm the only guitarist in my band and the only singer. Keys, bass, drums, me. Through "doing it" it becomes much easier, and second nature eventually. I have two distortion levels, a chorus, and a delay. For solos it might take stomping on the delay, one of the distortions, or all three. If you miss clicking them off on the way back to the vocal just roll back your vol knob, sing, and click 'em off when you have the opportunity.

    Now that I've been the only guitar player for many years, I really wouldn't have it any other way. I love the space in the band, and the freedom to do what moves me with the guitar.
    JustABluesGuy and awasson like this.
  5. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 2, 2016
    Houston, TX
    I was recently in a situation where I was the only guitar and the vocalist. I was able to play chords and sing, and then take a lead break without thinks falling apart, because the rhythm section was tight.

    When they can really hold the chord progression down, it makes things much easier for the guitarist.

    Another thing I have found pretty difficult to do is playing lead and backing vocals. I’ve found that I can either lay out completely, or just play a simple figure that I can do on autopilot while singing

    I read an interview with BB King where he stated that he never was able to learn how to play and sing at the same time, so he just sings and then plays, in a basic call and response fashion. That has worked pretty well for him.
  6. bluescaster72

    bluescaster72 Tele-Holic

    Mar 4, 2009
    Have a Rhythm Guitar player . Even Stevie Ray Vaughan Hired Derek O Brian for awhile as it was difficult for him to do everything. We all have limitations learn what they are and learn to work with the bounds of them
  7. Random1643

    Random1643 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Mar 11, 2015
    Upper Midwest
    For a duo I'm in now the division of labor is different but still runs risk of similar issues. If I'm understanding the orig post; hope I'm not creating thread drift....

    As a guy who's a long-time fingerpicker/solo performer I hold each song together covering basic bass and rhythm while also adding passing tones & chords, occasional leads and slide, interspersing with some picking, etc depending on the song; I also am the only singer - singing is just not in my buddy's wheelhouse. Overall it's an acoustic over-to electric mix of songs involving ac-el banjo, ac-el and electric guitars in different tunings, My buddy adds some rhythm but is primarily an advanced lead and sonic atmosphere guy, if that makes sense; he plays mandolin, nylon & steel string ac-el guitars, and electric guitars. Blues, swing, folk, rock, early country... We do a lot of jamming on a lot of our songs with the idea that the song is much about structure, content, lyrics as it is about instrumental interpretation. I like this cause performing, e.g., a ballad as a vocal number but also a jam really features both of us - and also differentiates us from other duos, bands in our region.

    Issues & Opportunities- we're really having alota fun, but nothing's perfect:
    • I'd love to get to the point instrumentally where we could switch roles for a song or even verses within a song = my buddy would hold the foundation together while I wear more of a lead hat. This is happening to some extent for our banjo & mandolin songs where we're adding lots of new material, but I think there's potential to take the approach into other inst. mixes we use. Right now I think we're leaning on our strengths, but it could be more musically interesting.
    • We're getting better at not climbing over each other during a song. But that still needs work. I mean the same person handling singing and lead presents one set of problems, and then separating out these roles can generate another set of issues.
    • As the singer/rhythm section I wind up bringing in a lot more of the songs we do. I'd like more of a balance there.
    • What's working with this band setup? I do think >for some gigs< both of us bringing multiple instruments, creating different kinds of sounds is working well for us. I think jamming is helping. Doing an eclectic mix of songs is good for some gigs, but also means we can focus in on one or two genres for other gig types; we did a gig where all the songs were from the USA during the 1920s-30s and we had plenty of material.
    • We talked over the summer to a good standup bass player - he's a standup guy ;)- about joining us. He could also swap lead and harmony vocals with me which would be awesome. That would also back down my "bass" role in the mix leaving me a bit more freedom and of course better support for the bottom end. We've also talked about just adding another vocalist.
    JustABluesGuy likes this.
  8. NJ Deadhead

    NJ Deadhead Tele-Meister

    Jan 25, 2017
    Greenville, SC
    It took me a while, but I've learned if you're going to be the lead vocalist and lead guitarist it is important to make sure that the song doesn't sound weak when you switch from rhythm guitar to lead. I tend to play more bass driven subtle parts of chords while singing, so when I switch to lead it doesn't sound like an instrument just disappeared from the mix.
    JustABluesGuy likes this.
  9. galen

    galen TDPRI Member

    Sep 5, 2016
    Union Hall, Va
  10. ElJay370

    ElJay370 Tele-Meister

    Apr 3, 2018
    Los Angeles, CA
    I did it for a bit. Much like any other aspect of playing music, the more often you do it, the better you'll get at it. After a while my singing/guitar playing took turns being detached from each other and I'd be able to just go without having to look at my left hand much or think about what vocal line came next. If I was one or two frets off my ears would tell me.

    Practice until you don't need lyrics in front of you. Having a music stand holding your lyrics binder (or iPad or iPhone) sitting on the stage looks lame.

    It helps to simplify your rig. One overdrive/distortion, one chorus/flanger or something or other, a delay, and a tuner. That's it. Stuff you can just set and forget and turn on/off at will. Dealing with wah wahs and a bunch of sound shaping pedal combos that you have to tweak constantly is too much of a hassle when you're trying to drive the bus at the same time. Clean/dirty and loud/quiet. Those are the only options you need, really.

    Pick a reliable, versatile guitar that sounds good and use it for your whole set. A Telecaster excels at this. Switching too often kills momentum. Plus it's one less thing to think about.

    If you enjoy adult beverages, two drinks will give you confidence but any more will likely compromise you.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
  11. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Tele-Holic

    I learned the craft from Joe Walsh, who played what he called "lead-rhythm" and Andrew Powell of Wishbone Ash, both of whom started out with one sound and the volume control and have moved up to the tap dance over time. Joe was in a power trio and Andy has always worked with a co-guitarist. If you want a great example to watch, pick up 2015's Wishbone Ash Live in Paris DVD shot at Le Triton club on the Rue de Coq. Watch it analytically to see how Andy (Flying V heard on the right) and Muddy break up their guitar and vocal chores and still do the stomp box dance. There are several clips from the concert on Youtube including this one:

    and this:

  12. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    I love this thread, thanks everybody. This kind of thing is why I stay on TDPRI. Great advice, most of it I agree with except the "get another guitar player" idea - a trio has a certain unique feel to it that I really enjoy for the most part. Plus it's rockin 50s music - if we have a 4th member they need to play sax or piano and be a good backing vocalist.

    I'm very big on simple rhythm playing - stacatto hits on partial chords, taking a chord shape and cruising up and down the neck with, and I'm not afraid of cowboy chords either. Sometimes they are just perfect. The 50s stuff is really great for that too - a lot of the solos are just partial barre shapes farther up the neck with some chromatic sliding around, and there is zero noodling. I am finding it surprisingly tough to approximate Scotty Moore's stuff however.

    I have to be able to spend 75% of my brain on the singing since that's the most important part, so any guitar that gets played has to be pretty automatic. And I fully agree on the 1 guitar thing - if you are using two guitars one had better be an acoustic, or a specific slide setup or something. Three or more and you better have a roadie. I am however going to a two-guitar setup next - an acoustic and a tele. Also, I will only take guitars that definitely stay in tune for a full set. If I have to tune between songs there is something that needs fixing on the guitar.
    awasson likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.