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My approach to lead guitar: never play at 100% of your capabilities.

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by 3-Chord-Genius, Dec 21, 2020.

  1. 421JAM

    421JAM Tele-Meister

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    Surely some of the greatest solos of all time are examples of guitarists pushing beyond what they think their full capabilities are. If everyone played at 85% at all times, there would be fewer trainwrecks, but there'd also be very few solos that are inspired.
     
  2. Lance Morgan

    Lance Morgan TDPRI Member

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    EVH solos got tiresome when Gilmour’s never do. If that’s what you mean, then I get it.

    I do my best for the song, not to show off every lick I can do. Otherwise, I’m at a hundred percent.
     
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  3. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Well in that analogy we could look at the solo as being like the short runway takeoff.
    IF, a song has enough intensity or emotion, AND, the band, audience, and overall music is suited to some pyrotechnics, THEN, at times a little over 100% is the right amount to bring to the solo.

    Fair enough to hold up a jet engine that has a max "rated power", but can safely exceed that for short bursts.

    Apply that the the lead guitarist, and allow that pushing 103% of max capacity up even more for a moment or two, will not kill any passengers, then we can figure that some of us prefer to never push past our own limitations, while others of us just freaking love pushing past our own limitations!
     
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  4. Hpilotman

    Hpilotman Tele-Meister

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    You are very right.
    To borrow from a famous football quote:
    "Timing is not everything ; Its the Only Thing".

    Bad Timing and everything else is a waste of time.
    Drum machines are great for practice because they don't miss a beat. Unfortunately I have to catch my self from becoming too much of a mechanical player due to using a drum machine for practice.
    Best practice is the interaction with other good musicians who have good timing.
     
  5. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yeah the collective "wow how did we do that" thing is generally my goal and the only reason I play music.

    Most of the reality of playing in bands?
    I have no interest in bars or drunk people, no interest in vans full of gear breaking down in distant towns, no interest in playing pop set lists, and little interest in debating with 3-5 other players as we try to keep our s#!t together and act professional.

    But if there is a collective sense of possibility, and a collective willingness to push toward that possibility of going to another place in the music; THAT is really the only reason I play music.

    Now I respect players who love playing in a different way from my way, like maybe singing your heart out is the thing, or being in a working pro band that can go anywhere and fit the bill while making good money without having to answer to some office job etc; there are lots of reasons to choose the life of a musician.

    My reason though is purely the desire to transcend, or create a new moments experience, and to bring strangers along with that or those moments.

    I've had enough experiences when a bar or party audience came in to that experience and responded to the fact that something meaningful was happening (as opposed to background music), that I know it's not all in my head.

    The WE of the performers is also pretty clear and palpable, we know when we are pushing forward, taking risks, trying to elevate the music and fire up the room. I sometimes find myself playing with someone who doesn't approve of that and is maybe so jaded or so stuffy or just afraid of either the unfamiliar or of getting upstaged, that they frown upon any pushing of "their" performance ideals.

    We humans have ideas of heaven and hell.
    For me, playing for years in a polite working cover band where no surprises are tolerated would be hell.

    Not because I think that reality is hell, there is a place for those bands and the musicians work hard and probably put their heart into it.

    For me personally though, my soul or whatever it is inside that drives us to get up every morning and do the due, that job would just kill me.

    I've known and lived among hundreds of visual artists and the reality is a little more distinct.
    Visual art is more oriented toward making your own work, and it can take a lifetime to be able to make money at it, or formost it never happens. So painters and sculptors need side jobs to pay the bills.

    Some choose side jobs in the art world, often to please friends and family or avoid being judged for going to art school then waiting tables for decades.

    My sense is that visual artists who want to make their own art, but choose to work in the art industry making somebody else's stuff, they live in a soul sucking hell, where they go to their art jobs and just hate that they are illustrating magazine ads of polishing some famous sculptors bronzes.

    I've seen this literally hundreds of times starting from early childhood, because my Father was a painter and my Mother was an artist model later turned writer and photographer.

    I concluded that an artist was the one thing I certainly did NOT want to be.

    The thing with music is that we can also choose to BE and entertainer.
    I have that gene too, entertaining can be delightful if we love it, and we can be fine entertainers without being artists.
    The world needs entertainers to get us through the grind of jobs and realities that wear us down.
    Good bar bands are a boon to society, and I'm not sure making art is really beneficial to a good bar band.

    Arty musicians likewise may not be great entertainers.
    Art is more about ME, while it may include the larger YOU.
    Selfish and self indulgent at the risk of never succeeding.

    Entertaining is about the audience, and is a whole art unto itself.
    Fair to say that a great entertainer might best stick to what they know works.

    OK I may be in too deep so I'm getting outta here!
     
  6. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    As a followup to my last post I'd clarify that a musician is both artist and entertainer.

    To what degree we ARE each of those components might be measured and numerically labeled, or we might choose to focus primarily on the entertainer part in one band but focus more on the artist part in another band.
    Even moment by moment we can shift that %, play safe stuff we know works at first then if the band and the room warms up start adding in more of the artist part, taking some risks.

    I also thing here the discussion is about "lead guitar" soloing, and not about the artistry of singer songwriter, where the art part is done mostly in the song writing, and the songwriter is maybe not going to come up with new lyrics in the middle of a performance.

    To some degree, singer songwriter bandleaders can use their choice of lead guitarist as their own personal artistic vision and action.
    Take somebody like Ozzy, Bowie, Zappa, even Michael Jackson, we see that over time they shifted their artistic vision by changing lead guitarists.

    From that perspective we could see the songwriter brings the art they made off stage, while the lead guitarists might also compose all their solos off stage, or they might take risks on stage and create on the spot.

    None of these approaches are wrong, but this does state that it would be wrong for all lead guitarists to follow a rule of only playing at 85-90% of capacity.
    Take somebody like Gilmour, and maybe he does really hold back and play less than his potential, because hsi style is so orchestrated, and his audience has high expectations of pretty familiar Gilmourish lead guitar.
    I'm not sure I can name great examples of Rock players who successfully push their lead playing at every performance and do unexpected stuff at the risk of some mistakes and lesser performances.
    I'm sure they are plentiful though, I'd say in the old days it was pretty standard and we got that from Duane Allman, Clapton, Hendrix etc.
    Maybe arena Rock brought more safe refined orchestrated shows?

    But is it fair to say that musicians are both artist and entertainer, while all have a slightly different ration between those two components?
     
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  7. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Also, I don’t think of risk as a “technique” thing.

    Risk to me is having an idea and reaching for it on the fly. That risk could be harmonic, tone, meter, speed/density, many things.

    Sometimes it may be to use feedback in a sweet song in an unexpected place. No flurry of notes there. But plenty of risk.
     
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  8. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Right, ideas are absolutely risks and boundary pushing while not being technique based, or easily contained in % numbers.

    I think I take both idea risks and technique risks, but technique mistakes disappear better than idea mistakes!

    I hope to give both idea and technique fair attention, but sadly the ideas are harder to come by than the speedy/ flashy/ harder to play technique based risks.
     
  9. basher

    basher Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    The way I push myself when I'm practicing or rehearsing is totally different from how I push myself when I'm just stretching out and blowing. For me it's not a question of percentages; it's more like building a kite vs. taking it out on the beach and letting it soar.

    Of course there's a lot to be said for staying in your comfort zone when you're getting paid. But OTOH, when I'm improvising, I've got no mental space at all for anything other than "Hm, what should I do next? Hey, let's try THAT." I'm certainly not going "Oooh, let's not do that, I might not pull it off." The longer I play this thing, the more convinced I am that real mastery consists in being comfortable with a certain amount of risk and uncertainty. Segovia made mistakes all the time.

    Shrug. My technique is good. I'm not going to flub any notes or play any obvious clams. Beyond that, well, I've been playing guitar for 44 years and I've got no idea how objectively good my soloing is. I like what I do, but if I were famous there would no doubt be a bunch of dorks on the internet saying I was overrated.
     
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  10. Toast

    Toast Tele-Afflicted

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    I was thinking about this a little while ago. Here are some rough thoughts and questions I wrote in my journal.

    All art is in part theater. (Is this true?) If it is true [true to me], then does that mean it is implying or asserting a method for living, perceiving, acting, posturing . . . ? The question then is, when we examine an art work, shouldn’t we question whether these theatrical elements (forms of presentation) are useful? In what way are they useful? Is Andy Warhol’s art as much about theater and fashion as it is about a critique of some aspect of the world? Is Warhol as a person/art figure, taken together with his art work, an example of a kind of posturing or form of presentation? Is his individual projection of a personality or character, taken together with his art, doomed to become dated? Is there a superficiality—a form of fashion—that will fade with it over time? What happens when the art work itself is separated from the artist? Does Warhol’s art have the same or more importance once it is separated from Warhol the person? What happens when we separate Heidegger from his philosophy? Does the philosophy change once it is separated from the person?

    Tangential: The Greek obsession with glory. The human need to be recognized and valued. Hegel’s notion that every desire negates something else—my desire to sing negates silence/tranquility.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2020
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  11. Brett Valentine

    Brett Valentine Tele-Meister

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    I'm viewing the op's message as about overplaying rather than pushing it in general.

    Don't throw in the kitchen sink on every song. Just tell a story, If what you want to add doesn't fit the story you're telling, leave it out. It makes for a better solo, and it gives you somewhere new to go in another solo. If the audience hears your complete repitoire in every solo, all night, they will get ear fatigue, and by the end of the night, know where and when you're going to play "that lick."

    I learned that on gigs where there was another guitarist, I was only given (literally) a couple of solos a gig. I didn't pull out my most complex, flashy, cool sounding stuff (they were getting that all night). I just told a story, played like a human voice speaking/singing, lot's of space, like breathing, built it gradually, and ended somewhere. I took them for a ride, and I usually got applause after my solos not necessarily because I was better, but because I related to the audience. Learned that years ago, been doing it ever since. Pushing it is for jams, and jazz ;-)
     
  12. Brett Valentine

    Brett Valentine Tele-Meister

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    On the other hand, I still sometimes get together with a keyboardist I've been playing with since the 70's (original prog back then). And when we get together, it's usually just go where the music leads you, no limits, no 85%, no expectations.
     
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  13. 39martind18

    39martind18 Friend of Leo's

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    ANY time I try to play lead it's dangerous, makes stomachs rebel, exploration gets lost, and limits push back...:(:rolleyes::p:D
     
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  14. sswoverl

    sswoverl TDPRI Member

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  15. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    The takeaway I get from this is that they both were giving it their 100 percent, but their respective 100 percentages are different. Gilmour has been open about his not being able to play fast, so he decided to play solos in a style that plays to his strength. They are both fantastic guitarists; just different.

    I think this topic is deeper and more complex than just picking a percentage of your ability and going for that margin. It's too subjective. Everyone's 100 percent is different. When I try to play as if I were EVH, I tend to fall apart midway through a solo. If I try to do something more melodic and less technical, it usually turns out better. I can give 100% without trying to sweep pick, two-hand tap, or play 32nd notes at 180bpm, and when I'm wise enough to play to the song, I give the song my 100%, not my ego. That's not to say I don't wish to have all kinds of shred techniques in my toolbox- they are valuable tools to have, and give us more ways to play to the song. I often feel my lack of technical ability being at 100 percent limits my ability to play to the song.

    Also, like some have said here, rock 'n' roll played with abandon, feeling like it's about to go off the rails at any given moment, is some of the best rock 'n' roll there is, and speaking of 100%, Wayne Gretsky once said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Oftentimes it's to our benefit to go for it and miss the mark, than to not go for it at all.
     
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  16. ieatlions

    ieatlions Tele-Holic

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    Audiences respond to someone giving it their all.

    I don’t worry about the people who are scrutinising my playing. I wanna connect with the people that are enjoying the music! Not the pedantic morons that are noticing me not nailing a bend, a sweep or arpeggio.

    I identify more as introvert than extrovert but when I play infront of people I give it everything. So what if you’re edging beyond your skill level. That’s where the magic is! That’s exactly what I admire about Page, Hendrix.. Even Beck. Live, they don’t play it safe. That’s rock n roll.

    And that applies to everyone. There’s a guy who plays in the local open mic. He’s dreadful(technically), but he gets up there and just gives it everything on his SG and Peavey Bandit. Ppl respond more to him than the knob who turns up with his £4000 PRS, Kemper nonsense computer amp and doesn’t play a wrong note all set.

    Just my two cents.
     
  17. panacea

    panacea TDPRI Member

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    It's a balance, it's hard to always be in control and just "play for the song", I'm trying to hold back a bit more, if I ever get to play out again that is......
     
  18. beanluc

    beanluc Tele-Holic

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    Charlie Hunter said to slow it down, because "they're not going to remember you as that guy who couldn't play fast, they'll remember you as that guy who couldn't play."
     
  19. E5RSY

    E5RSY Doctor of Teleocity

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    Y'all are putting way too much thought into this.

    Now, put your time to good use and go practice your arpeggios and inversions...NOW!
     
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  20. stxrus

    stxrus Poster Extraordinaire

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    The EVH/Gilmour comparison, to me, hits the nail on the head for me.

    I can’t think of one David Gilmour solo that I find boring or overdone. I can listen to him over and over again and not get bored.

    I acknowledge the talent of EVH but find a lot of his work boring.
     
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