One or Two Guitars for R&B/Pop?

Baseball 100

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Hi,

I'm starting an R & B/Pop type band which will cover Bill Withers, Michael Jackson, Abba, Bee Gees, Culture Club, softer stuff you can dance to. Much different from the distortion-based rock I've always covered or played originals in.

I'm the only guitarist and I like that because it's just easier to learn the songs that way. One of the band members has a friend who'd like to play second guitar. The only time I've played in two guitar bands is when we cover two guitar bands.

This new thing has one guitar, keyboard, sax, bass - and of course drums and vocals. Do you think we need a second guitarist?
 

TokyoPortrait

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Hi.

Do you think we need a second guitarist?

I dunno. "Need," probably not, as @uriah1 points out above.

But, it could come down to what works best for the band / songs. As in, how you interact. It could make a difference, or not. Maybe you'll work / mesh great together. Or not.

I suspect the only way to know is to try, but that entails the politics of band stuff. So then you're into two things, the sound and the social dance.

Personally, I'm thinking another guitar would mean seven noise makers, which is getting up there, both for organising the sounds / parts and the people.

Pax/
Dean
 

brookdalebill

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Nope.
You can handle it.
It will be fun, and challenging.
R&B is generally not guitar-centric.
The singer(s) are the main attraction.
Remember that, and listen to the masters.
Listen to the Motown guys, Cornell DuPree, Reggie Young, Eric Gale, Steve Cropper, and Nile Rogers.
Les is more.
Play simple, melodic stuff, sliding double stops.
Good luck!
 

Chiogtr4x

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Nope,
if you are confident playing lead and rhythm ( same with the keyboard player) you can play/cover anything- plus the added angle of the sax player ( that could play 'guitar parts' too)

One less person to pay out too!
Edit- also less volume generated
 

danielpsmart

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One guitar should be fine. If the person who is hoping to play 2nd guitar brings something else to the table besides just playing guitar than it might be worth thinking about. Can they sing, play keys, other instruments, etc.??
 

KeithDavies 100

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Need, no. And for all the reasons other have given, perhaps no to "want" as well.

However, though a lot of that music isn't guitar-centric, as someone above put it, there are layers in the original recordings. I love working with a second guitarist and finding those layers. It does require some maturity and discipline - you would both have to play less - much less! - for this to work without becoming cluttered or cacophonous, but if you get it right the rewards are there.

That might all depend on everyone's ambition and skill level. The above scenario might simply be harder work than anyone wants to both with!
 

pbenn

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No, because each of you would bring a Strat.

Looking at the OP's list of song ideas, I think Strat.

And two Strats are very hard to differentiate onstage.
 

2HBStrat

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Hi,

I'm starting an R & B/Pop type band which will cover Bill Withers, Michael Jackson, Abba, Bee Gees, Culture Club, softer stuff you can dance to. Much different from the distortion-based rock I've always covered or played originals in.

I'm the only guitarist and I like that because it's just easier to learn the songs that way. One of the band members has a friend who'd like to play second guitar. The only time I've played in two guitar bands is when we cover two guitar bands.

This new thing has one guitar, keyboard, sax, bass - and of course drums and vocals. Do you think we need a second guitarist?
No, you don't "need" a second guitarist. That said, most R&B and pop songs have two guitar parts, and the Motown studio band, The Funk Brothers, had two guitarists.
 

billy logan

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If there's only one guitar it helps if the keyboardist has good left hand versus right hand independence.
For example, she/he could play the two main guitar parts of "Clean Up Woman" leaving to the guitar only the swoopy double stops.

Beware block chords in the keyboard left hand, though - band'll sound muddy

Though I agree, since you got keys, no, you don't "need" a second guitarist ...

... however great 2 interlocking guitars can be !

Why doesn't she free him from that prison? Why?
 
Last edited:

Kandinskyesque

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Only if either of the two of you can do decent backing vocals, add percussion whether 'natural instruments' or one of those electronic pads, and occasionally use an acoustic for a percussive feel.

The focus is all in the vocals and just as importantly the drums/percussion if you want to get folks onto the dancefloor.

But, Yeah, well, that's just like my opinion man!
 

nojazzhere

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Hi,

I'm starting an R & B/Pop type band which will cover Bill Withers, Michael Jackson, Abba, Bee Gees, Culture Club, softer stuff you can dance to. Much different from the distortion-based rock I've always covered or played originals in.

I'm the only guitarist and I like that because it's just easier to learn the songs that way. One of the band members has a friend who'd like to play second guitar. The only time I've played in two guitar bands is when we cover two guitar bands.

This new thing has one guitar, keyboard, sax, bass - and of course drums and vocals. Do you think we need a second guitarist?
I have to echo what others have said.....you don't NEED another guitarist. But.....what does your bandmate's friend bring to the table? Is he "just" a guitarist, or does he sing, do great horn arrangements, promote and book gigs, double on keyboards, (many R&B hits have both piano and organ) etc. Most of all, is he a "team player"? Does he know how to lay back when needed?
Without knowing a few more details, it's hard to say. He "could" be a fifth wheel.....or he could provide the magic spark that makes a huge difference. Good luck. ;)
 

jrblue

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If you want the textbook instrumentation, one-guitar ensembles dominate those styles (with exceptiuons, of course... there are always exceptions) because two guitars can fill up the sound in a way that works against the clean, crisp effect you want. If you have two guitarist who can play actual parts (rather than strumming or overplaying by creating some kind of sound all the time) it could be just fine, but 99% of the players I know put out as much stuff as they can every second of every song, and that's the reverse of what you want for this music. Do either of you have the discipline to play one eighth note triad every measure?
 

rawgerpaper

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Hiii! I love R&B, soul, neo-soul and funk and I play for lowkey R&B artists as hobby/side job.

It depends on what song you guys are gonna play, you contextualize if the song needs a single coil guitar (clean, articulate, chunky) or a humbucker guitar (fuller, warmer, or for overdriven solos) or does it need both. The question is not "do we need an another guitarist", the better question is does the song we play need two guitars? Usually old school funk/disco only had one guitar part which the synths/piano and horn section fill the rhythm of the song. However, some R&B/soul have two guitar parts.

For example:


One funk guitar definitely, most likely a strat for this one while the moog synthesizer (oof that's so clean) carries most of the rhythm.


Disco/funk usually (I think mostly) has one guitar part and all Nile Rodgers song have that one guitar part, and yes his signature Hitmaker strat on this one.

But hey there are no rules if you play a non-strat such as /tele/humbucker for funk rhythm. Prince used a Tele. Some humbuckers have low output that can do funk.


In this one, there are two parts. The Bee Gees had an acoustic part and an electric part and a thick orchestra section for the rhythm.


Here you can see Bill Withers playing an acoustic alongside his guitarist.


Bee Gees uses only one guitar layer with a two-three synth parts, an orchestra section. Contextually you can play that song with one guitarist alone. But shockingly Gibb played rhythm for that song along with Alan Kendall in recording that song probably for filling some frequency or for fuller sound (Source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_Deep_Is_Your_Love_(Bee_Gees_song)#Personnel).



You should as well consider what to play in live or studio. In studio, definitely you can play alone. But in live, it's more better to play two so that one could play rhythm while lead the other and vice-versa. And it's better to play both with a single coil (Strat or Tele) and a humbucker (335 or Les Paul) for versatility.


And lastly, it really depends on your band if you want two players. But hey it's a fun to have two and an excellent learning experience for the both of you. And why would you reject him immediately not even hearing you guys play. Personally, I think you guys should let him observe you play and you guys as well observe him/her playing along the band, work it out and see if it works. Have fun!
 

String Tree

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Hi,

I'm starting an R & B/Pop type band which will cover Bill Withers, Michael Jackson, Abba, Bee Gees, Culture Club, softer stuff you can dance to. Much different from the distortion-based rock I've always covered or played originals in.

I'm the only guitarist and I like that because it's just easier to learn the songs that way. One of the band members has a friend who'd like to play second guitar. The only time I've played in two guitar bands is when we cover two guitar bands.

This new thing has one guitar, keyboard, sax, bass - and of course drums and vocals. Do you think we need a second guitarist?
I vote No on the second Guitarist unless, he or she can add a dimension that makes said person really worth it.
Far easier to book a smaller band.
The same goes for the logistics of practice and, travel.
 




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