Could you cut it as a session player?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by hemingway, Mar 20, 2018.

  1. sedandelivery

    sedandelivery Tele-Meister

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    The guitar is just a hobby for me, albeit a very passionate one, but in 2016 I took some lessons in NYC with a guy who makes his living playing guitar. That was pretty much when I realized how good you have to be to do it professionally.

    I also knew a guy a who knows the current guitar player for the SNL band. He told me a little bit about the audition process. Apparently he was given a handful of pieces of music in all different styles and had to sight read them with the band. Definitely no way I could do that. I gotta say that seems like a dream job though.
     
  2. Teleposer

    Teleposer Tele-Holic

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    I'd never make it as a session player.

    Far too many better guitarists out there.

    But are you talking Michael Jackson Eddie Van Halen Beat it type sessions or something else?

    Sometimes people just want people to strum along, maybe add a bit here and there. If so, I did a lot of that, but for free, so not really 'sessions'.


    I feel confident of going in to any session with any band, with any artist, and laying down a great guitar track. It may not be what they want. But I'll give it a go. Obviously, don't get me out of bed if you want Yngwie level shredding, but if you want an old-time to strum along, I'm yer man!

    :)
     
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  3. TeleBrew

    TeleBrew Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Nope. Not even close.
     
  4. jmiles

    jmiles Friend of Leo's

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    Before I retired, I did a lot of demo session work. Played on two cds.Neil Zaza and Tommy Sche'.
    Big advantage? I usually got called to play pedal steel guitar.
     
  5. Doctorbb

    Doctorbb TDPRI Member

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    I’ve done a few acoustic and electric rhythm sessions at a local studio over the years. Blues, Country, Cajun and Folk stuff. Nothing real complicated but I think it’s sometimes tougher laying down a uniform, consistent acoustic track for an entire song than playing a few lead fills or nailing a solo. Now with digital though it’s usually an intro, 1 verse, a chorus, maybe a bridge and outro and a lot of copy and paste.
     
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  6. Teleposer

    Teleposer Tele-Holic

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    I was quite surprised to find out what guitarists had done what sessions on certain albums.

    For example: Marco Pirroni on Sinead O'Connor's album the Lion and the Cobra.

    It was a far stretch from Adam and the Ants, to that.

    Then again, I think he's got a band together today with Mick Jones from The Clash.

    Marco was never a flashy lead guitarist type. Very basic. But he could hold down a beat.

    He had connections and producers would call him in to play.

    All the while, people would laugh at him as this guitarist that could not play.

    Ok, he's not Eddie Van Halen, but he's done pretty good for himself. And it's not like he's done it for money (which he already has). He just does it for kicks.

    I'm sure there are many more session guitarists like him.
     
  7. billgwx

    billgwx Tele-Meister

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    Sight reading aside, session playing requires quite the ear and level of precision. I tracked guitar for all the songs for the record my band is about to release, but if our songwriter didn't like certain performances, to the cutting room floor they went. Very disillusioning at first, enlightening later. I get why even if my ego does not like it...performances are moments lost in time, recordings quite the opposite.
     
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  8. Southpole

    Southpole Tele-Holic

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    Hell no. But I like the idea!

    Studio recording is the most naked experience you will ever have. Suddenly every wart is a mountain.
     
  9. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Friend of Leo's

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    I'm a pretty good guitar player, and I put a lot of pride into the music that my band delivers to an audience.

    That said, I do not read sheet music, and I must consider that a big detractor when it comes to the notion of walking into a recording studio and meeting the expectations of a proper music producer.

    I'm not saying that every studio ace is properly trained, and can read the notes on the staff.
    But everything I have read leads me to believe that you really should be able to do just that if you are going to be regularly employed on the professional studio circuit.
    :(
     
  10. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's

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    Not is the Tommy Tedesco sense--not as a guy you bring in to read the music and play it perfectly in one take, in any style. No way. That's an extremely high level of musicianship and also a certain kind of mentality, willingness to do exactly what's called for and do it exactly right.

    It's interesting because in some ways it's more a trade, like wiring outlets, or being a machinist, than it is an art form. I had a neighbor who was first violin and asst. concertmaster with the NSO. She said it was a great job, but a significant part of it was just "sawing away." She left to take a university teaching job. Barney Kessel was supposedly asked "what's the hardest thing about being a studio musician?"
    and he replied "finding a parking space."


    My hat is totally off to people who can walk in, read the score, and nail the part perfectly, but I think the Kessel quote gets to the tension between music as art and music as craft. You obviously need both, but I'm just not a disciplined enough person to be a studio musician and I'm not willing to put in the sheer work required to play exactly that thing exactly right.
     
  11. KyAnne

    KyAnne Tele-Afflicted

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    Absolutely not! As someone mentioned, I'm barely a bedroom player. The only reason I'm here is I own a Tele and am trying to learn in retirement. Maybe I'll become a late bloomer........a LOT later! :)
     
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  12. Matt G

    Matt G Tele-Afflicted

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    I could add some parts in a low-key friendly recording gig, but making it as a session player? No, never. Not even approximately.

    Then again, I'm a sworn hobbyist. If I manage to make a mighty noise, then - job done.
     
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  13. O- Fender

    O- Fender Tele-Afflicted

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    No.
    As many have said, it's a very specific skill.
    When I worked in radio, I saw a guy who voices commercials. He walked in, chatted a bit with everyone, voiced about a dozen radio spots, collect the cheque then chat up and ask the receptionist out for lunch. All within about 45 minutes.
    And that was just sight reading words.
     
  14. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh Poster Extraordinaire

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    Hell, I can’t make it as a bedroom player...
     
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  15. Hippieway

    Hippieway Tele-Holic

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    Session player? Nope, not me I would have to be the Star and then they would probably replace me with someone with more personality.
     
  16. Allen Peterson

    Allen Peterson Tele-Meister

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    I learned I was not a session musician in the late 1980s, when I was working evenings in a studio. We were recording a demo for a local singer. I laid down the bass, the ching track, and the dobro fills. It took me 16 takes to get the dobro in tune and in time.

    The producer/engineer was a personal friend of Larry Franklin, at that time the fiddle player for Asleep at the Wheel. He was in town and came and put some fiddle on the song. He did it in one take and it was flawless. Then he put a harmony track on that. Then he went out to his car and grabbed his mandolin and put that down in one take. Then he used my Tele to put the lead guitar track in one take. Larry is or was on the A-team in Nashville. What a wonderful musician.

    After that experience, I learned I was not a musician of that caliber. I'm ok in a live situation, where my mistakes are not going to be played back for everyone to hear.
     
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  17. OneHenry

    OneHenry Tele-Holic

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    i used to know some musicians who were session players,one for guitar and bass, one for violin, and one for cello. The violinist used to point out local commercials where she was playing the violin.

    They were all
    Union Members. The violinist was in the Denver Symphony orchestra, and was always busy doing sessions or sitting in on various groups; she also gave lessons The cellist was a very good friend also an amp tech. It seemed that for him, playing cello was just a bobby; he also built electric cellos and violins; his mother used to show up at the shop to test new violins. My friend's shop was an Ibanez dealership and warranty station. A rock violinist who was on a tour in Denver broke something on her Ibanez violin and went to the shop to get it fixed. My friend's mother went to the shop to test The violin after it was repaired. The rock violinist saw one of the violins that my friend had built sitting on his bench. She had to play it,and fell in love with it - but he couldn't sell it in the store due to his Ibanez contract. He gave the violin to his mother, and both ladies went to the symphony hall, where his mother sold The violin.

    The guitarist seemed to have always been busy doing sessions, sometimes in New York and sometimes in CA and other places; he once complained about having to join the CA union because his local Colorado union membership was supposed to be reciprocal.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018
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  18. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Friend of Leo's

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    Probably NOT...not fast enough of a sight reader and I don't adlib fast enough either.
     
  19. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    This was my dream for many years. In 8th grade, a teacher kept me after school for one of my class clowning stunts. I sat in the desk right in front of him, and stared. He finally asked me what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. "Studio musician." Pause. "You can go. Dismissed."

    Being able to sight read notes, play jazz chords, and improvise in different styles stood me in good stead as a gigger. Barely did any recording though.

    I was about 10 years younger than many of the other giggers I played with, and I did not have an easy rapport with them. I literally did not know how to make small talk and be a OK all around good guy. I was a jokester, though, but I tended to be a little sarcastic. When I watch the videos of the Wrecking Crew and other guys at other studios in the country, they seemed to have a really easy familiarity with each other and the demands of the gig. Had I gotten a call for one of those sessions, the regulars would have thought who's this stupid wise-a** kid? My only saving grace would be that I could imitate different styles and read OK.

    I used to go to the Portland Library (Multnomah County?) and check out Beethoven violin sonatas to sight read. I would count it down, then go without stopping or pausing. After a while, it gets easier dropping notes that you feel aren't going to sound good.
     
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  20. Tezuka27

    Tezuka27 Tele-Holic

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    Er...no, nor playing live, either. I'm good enough to write songs and maybe record once I get a studio thing set up.

    jb
     
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