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Is "lead guitar" a lost art?

Discussion in 'Worship Service Players' started by DADGAD, Jun 17, 2013.

  1. DADGAD

    DADGAD Friend of Leo's

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    Our church is merging the adult WT and college age WT together. The adult team has three different bands on rotation and the youth team has four bands. That makes a total of seven bands, each with it's own electric guitarist.

    Being as I will be 60 years old next month, I asked if it might be time to retire from the ministry to make room for someone else to play. I got an unexpected answer. I was told that I should not retire from playing because I was one of only two guitarists at church who can solo. There is just one other lead guitarist who, like me, can solo, vamp, ad lib and throw in a riff when needed. Truthfully, I was surprised.

    Is today's younger church guitarists not learning to play 'lead guitar'?
     
  2. Liamf

    Liamf Tele-Meister

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    Being one of the young guitarists I notice that most aren't good at improv or theory and generally just learn the lead parts straight from the song without knowing how to add their own touch or where else they could play the song in the guitar. Being the youngest guitarist at my church I do like it when the other guitarist are on lead simply because they have had more experience and more knowledge than me with their playing. I think playing lead guitar in church is also about learning when and where to play and being sensitive to what God is doing jn the worship. Playing in a youth group is also quite different to playing in a normal church service which would have a impact on the way they play.
     
  3. TwangBilly

    TwangBilly Tele-Afflicted

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    I think it's partly cultural. What I mean by that is that much of the modern P&W music does not really have much lead playing in it. Leads are being purposely written out of the music. Which goes back to why I don't like much modern P&W, no dynamics. I love the lyrics but the music is lacking dynamics, it's basically just a "wall of sound" as I call it. Most of the younger church players are listening to that stuff and are just not picking up lead playing because they don't hear it.

    Another reason is that most younger players haven't grown up playing in situations where they could or had to improvise.

    We/they need you older more experienced players to teach leads and such in a bad way.
    So you have an opportunity here to pass your knowledge on. Please don't quit, we/they need you!
     
  4. Edwin

    Edwin Banned

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    I don't think lead guitar holds the spotlight in worship in comparison with say a bar band. I think that solos chock off congressional singing. I guess it would be OK for a church concert where group participation isn't required.
     
  5. black_doug

    black_doug Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Church culture I've seen is not generally encouraging to individual expression. I think that's just wrong. There's a fear of it turning into a platform for self exaltation. When our ego is in submission to our spirit there can be the freedom to be creative without showing off.
     
  6. rhoydotp

    rhoydotp Tele-Holic

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    Both are valid points. I think it depends on the congregation on how they take the "creativity" part.

    As far as lead guitar being a lost art, I think it's just the nature of pop music and contemporary worship nowadays. There's really not a whole lot of songs with guitar solos that leaps out and people remember (even sing/hum along).

    I bet if Edge starts breaking out into massive solo, more P&W guitarist will follow suit! Sorry, can't resist :D
     
  7. bawdyli'lmonkey

    bawdyli'lmonkey Tele-Holic

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    Most of today's generation of P&W guitarists, those 20-40 year-olds up on stage, myself included, cut our teeth and honed our chops in the post-80's "don't solo, its so overdone" era, AKA the 90's. Compared to the 70-80's the 90's had much fewer and a drastically different (simpler) approach to solos and lead guitar. So in a way, yes, lead was a lost art that is due for a renaissance.
     
  8. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Good thing no one told JS Bach to knock it off.
     
  9. tjalla

    tjalla Friend of Leo's

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    If kids are coming into a musical environment that prioritises playing parts that serve a whole, their function within a song structure and working as a team - I don't think that's a bad thing at all.

    There's always time to learn improv, scales and solos.

    I hardly think its a lost art, but just that in CCM the development into that capability is something taken on board as a personal exercise rather than a requisite to be part of a team.
     
  10. GuitarGuy43113

    GuitarGuy43113 Tele-Meister

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    Majority of CCM guitarists spend more time worrying about which delay pedal to buy next instead of learning the fundamentals of playing guitar.

    The rest of the CCM guitarist seem to hang out on this forum...
     
  11. soundchaser59

    soundchaser59 Tele-Afflicted

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    I am still surprised at how many guitarists cannot simply pick up their instrument and "jam" something spontaneously. I sat in on worship team auditions recently. I stumped one kid when I asked him to let me hear your "clean sound." He asked what did I mean by that? I said, play a clean sound, turn the distortion off and play something you made up yourself, a song or a chord progression or a catchy solo, anything that comes to mind.

    He was completely stumped by it, had no clue what to play. He could regurgitate something from the latest Hillsong record, but no idea what to play off the top of his head.

    That's going to be the guy who can't solo.

    I don't ask for solos, but if the WL says "this is where you solo" then I'm going to come up with the best, most melodic, catchy, and "singing" solo I can. Sometimes that means being more lyrical or melodic without being intricate or fast. Sometimes that means fast rock licks fit the best. Sometimes in between is best. Sometimes it means my rhythm part is really stronger than anyone else's so I think the other guy should take the solo. Whatever works best for the song and the flow of the music.

    WWJP? What would the Man play if He were the lead guitar player? Would He sit sheepishly in the corner afraid to crank out a catchy, musical singing lead once in a while? Me thinks not....... He would "play skillfully and sing a new song" with His guitar!
     
  12. tjalla

    tjalla Friend of Leo's

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    Why judge the guy ahead of his time? He's a kid. You take on board a few things at a time, and the rest, hopefully in time.

    Worship teams (mine included) have had countless guys who can jam, and can solo - but don't fit in with the team. Either they have ego issues, the need to scratch a musical itch or simply don't have their ears open to what is happening around them. I've been on audition teams that had to turn down 'soloing' players because of one or more reasons above.

    The pursuit of 'the lead guitar' has it's pitfalls as well as it's peaks.
     
  13. mrboson

    mrboson Tele-Afflicted

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    This is a great topic. I too hope that Dadgad stays involved with his new combined team and I can think of two reasons. (1) If I am the MD I am glad to have a resource that I can use to fill "traditional lead guitar" needs, and (2) There is still a knowledge transfer thing going on, just like there always has been with guitar: Newer players being shown things by older players, trading licks, and stuff like that (doesn't that still happen for you guys? It's how I learned a long time ago, and younger players today are still interested in that).

    The great advantage of most modern P&W is also one of its disadvantages: it is easy to play, and it is not too difficult to find players that can fit in. A good leader will fit people into parts that they can handle, at the same time recognizing and using talent where it can serve the sound. Maybe that is hard for some people who are really fast and technically proficient, because they don't have too many chances to show off their double tapping - string skipping arpeggios at 500 bpm. But for those players who can spontaneously hear a spot for something tasteful, and then play to serve the song at that point with a few simple notes (or even a bunch really fast), now we are talking about skill applied appropriately. This is my idea of a good "lead guitarist" in a worship team setting, and it is not easy to do.

    Btw, in most secular live music settings, a misguided solo doesn't do much damage, even if it sucks. The song can recover, and by the next song in the set, its over and forgotten, even "redeemed" by a much better solo in a future song. However, an a worship setting, a badly applied solo (could be technically brilliant, but just doesn't fit the spot) will do more than ruin a song. This is intimidating to most musicians I know. Some guys I know can really rock, but really hold back in worship music out of a fear that they will wreck the song. I, personally, might not have the chops of some of these guys, but as a sometimes MD and WL I have learned to have a feel for the music that gives me confidence to just play when I am on lead. My "solos" will not impress any one if I am playing a bar gig. But they generally serve the song in a worship setting well enough that my shredder friends copy me.
     
  14. JohnSS

    JohnSS Tele-Meister

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    Sounds like more of these younger guitarists need to listen to Phil Keaggy. Robert Randolph, Brad Paisley, Rick Derringer, Dave Mustaine, and other Christian guitar virtuosos outside of the CCR/P&W/Hillsong circle. i think Lincoln Brewster is one of the only ones within who can crank out a solo.
     
  15. tjalla

    tjalla Friend of Leo's

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    The last I checked Keaggy et al aren't regularly leading congregational worship with what they are known best for. Maybe Robert Randolph I dunno. Quite a different comparison there IMO.

    You can be sure most CCM players *can play beyond what gets printed to tape.
     
  16. tjalla

    tjalla Friend of Leo's

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    There you have it. "Lead guitar" in CCM is an art in itself - perhaps a better thread title. To bring your best by way of song/congregation serving and personal expression in a way that is musically suitable, uplifting and engaging, but without being detracting. These are not easy balances to achieve.
     
  17. babalooga

    babalooga Tele-Holic

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    A lot of the songs we do don't always have a solo, but our WL isn't afraid to let me play lead if he feels it will work. He writes a lot of his own songs and lets me play what I want. Then there are the times where he will start vamping on a chord progression and sing from the heart and make up lyrics on the fly. Then he will turn and give me a nod to play a solo, I love it.
     
  18. consumnfire1229

    consumnfire1229 TDPRI Member

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    First, I have to make mention that I find it astonishing that some of you are having "interviews" for band members, have multiple bands that alternate and are considering quitting after many years of service because there are ample musicians to take your place!!! WHAT?!?!?! That is unheard of!!!!

    I am the "worship leader" at my church and currently we are down a drummer and our bass player leaves something to be desired. He is an acoustic rhythm guitar player playing bass to fill the void....You all are blessed! I repeat...You all are blessed!!! Stop quitting!

    To answer this question, I am 26 years old, started playing in 1996. You can do the math. I cut my teeth on a few chords my dad taught me. I took a few lessons. Nothing but chords. Later in life I started reading tabs, riffs and solos from Metallica. Notice the words "tabs"? Thats where younger generations are today. They say, Mom/Dad! I want a guitar! Sure son/daughter. Then they get on the internet and read tabs!!! Is there anything wrong with tabs? From experience, it has hindered my ability to be a fluent guitarist.

    On to lead guitar in Contemporary Worship Music. As a guitarist, solos are great and awesome LOUD guitar is great. I get it!!! However, most often the congregation doesn't! People are there to worship a living God and not the guitar player for his "glorious" ability to make the guitar sing. I will admit that the community I live in hasn't completely warmed up to contemporary worship, but I still make the argument that it isn't a concert for entertainment. Maybe it is a God thing that solos from any instrument aren't common.
     
  19. still_fiddlin

    still_fiddlin Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    I'm not a lead player, but spent a lot of time standing next to one back when. Honestly, there's not a lot place in CCM or most services for "lead guitar." at least not in the traditional R&R sense. If you can copy the key fills and stuff, and follow a chart, that's a better skill than wailing away.

    If anything, my guess is free-form leads are probably discouraged because there are so few musicians that can do them and not simply resort to whatever riffs they learned playing some other style. It's not a good thing in worship to hear echoes of something unrelated to the song being performed - just my personal opinion.

    Now, of course it really helps to know your scales, modes, all the chord inversions, substitutions, etc., so you can do more or less, depending on the instrumentation and the kind of service you have. The vast majority of the time, we are working to engage the congregation in the music and the word. Even instrumental breaks need to stay close to the melody (IMO), so we don't disrupt the "vibe" we are trying to create. I would encourage newer players to study the theory behind the songs, learn how to play the melody, harmonies, etc., and that will be a real value, even if they go on to be a shredder or blues king.
     
  20. Edwin

    Edwin Banned

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    I play behind a lead guitarist and he thinks that memorizing scales and modes are of great importance and when he takes 8 bars to play his leads it's just scales and it sounds that way. No melody no harmony and it's just not musical. When I get to the point I'm leading there will be no showboating no matter how spiritual the player thinks they are. There is no room for it in worship.
     
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