The lead guitar vs singing conundrum

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Axegrinder77, May 27, 2020.

  1. Axegrinder77

    Axegrinder77 Tele-Holic

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    Been "struggling" with this for years.

    It seems working on one is to the neglect and detriment of the other. They both require a lot of attention to do well.

    I don't mean a specific song, but rather my identity as a musician in general.

    I enjoy singing and playing chords. I'm a better lead player than singer though. I'm still naive enough to think I can get good at one or the other.

    Overall, I think working on my playing will yield a higher musical return, since I could theoretically become a very good guitarist, given my current level and experience. I just find singing to be more rewarding in the short term, and in some ways more useful. For instance, grabbing my acoustic and playing something, a voice is an important element. When my voice is in shape, it sounds ok to me. Just ok.

    I want to do it all. Just not enough time though.

    I know you can't answer this for me. Just wondering if anyone else has the same dilemma.
     
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  2. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I really like singing. Can sing the notes well, but playing sometimes does interfere. And frankly, my singing doesn't really draw you in well, it's on key but lacks....... character... I guess. On the rare occasion when the band is big enough and I can concentrate on inflection etc singing I'm better, I could be a lot better if that was the situation more often.
    Music is mostly about the vocals for me though, as far as listening.
     
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  3. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    You can practice singing while driving. Can't do that with guitar. So there's at least some time where you can focus on singing without sacrifice.

    Also, decent singing plus whatever your guitar skills are now are likely more interesting to an audience than blow-em-away guitar with no singing.
     
  4. Axegrinder77

    Axegrinder77 Tele-Holic

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    Singing feels good for the soul. I feel almost cursed to have dabbled in it many years ago. My playing could be so good by now!
     
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  5. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    I'm in the same boat exactly. Over the past year I've been working with a woman who really has a great voice, however, (not super powerful, just a good sound and feel, timing, etc.) and it's made me more comfortable and happy with the idea of focusing on lead guitar + harmonies. It's a good role to have and there is plenty for me to work on as her lead guitarist and duet partner. When I was leading (singing and playing) a 50s rock n roll band I always felt that I suffered in one or the other skill in performance, though it was all good for my development.
     
  6. Axegrinder77

    Axegrinder77 Tele-Holic

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    You seldom come across someone great at both. And almost never as a hobbiest.

    A few I can think of:

    Jimi hendrix... Um, is that it?

    To a lessor extent:

    David Gilmour
    Eric Clapton
    John Fogerty
    Neil Young
    Lenny kravitz
    Kurt Cobain

    I'm sure I'm missing a ton.. Nobody take offense please.
     
  7. DavidP

    DavidP Friend of Leo's

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    BB King had the perfect solution...
     
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  8. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    You CAN do it all.
    You have to keep doing it, and try to do it smart.
    I understand that it is akin to serving two masters, but both skills are very important.
    Your audiences usually care more about your singing and “presentation” than your chops.
    Make em’ like you.
    Sing in tune, and work on your articulation and phrasing.
    Singers get to call the tunes, that’s another good reason to be good at it.
    If you already play/solo well, work on the croonin’.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2020
  9. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

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    A singer who plays guitar well is more valuable and valued than a guitar player who doesn't sing or sing much.

    Besides, if you want to be appreciated as a lead guitarist you won't be stepping all over the singer, whether it's you or somebody else.
     
  10. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I’ve always been a singer. Even as a child, before I ever learned to play guitar I sang in front of people.

    I never had any interest in being a “lead guitar player”. I didn’t even want an electric guitar. I was probably the only teenaged kid in the 80’s who wanted to be Jim Croce or Paul Simon.

    But acoustic singer/songwriters couldn’t get much work at all where I was back then. You had to be in a band. And if it wasn’t a country band, you had to play electric. So I did. Then somehow over the years I ended up playing in trios and being forced to solo. The rest is history. You can totally do both. If you do it long enough, you don’t even have to really work on it. It just sort of happens.

    I’m still not nearly as good a “lead” guitar player as I am a singer. But I’m plenty good enough to never be short on gigs. And that’s good enough for me.

    Another tidbit- learn to sing harmony if you haven’t already. Even a half assed player can get great jobs if they sing well. I’ve long since lost count of the guitar jobs I’ve gotten that I had absolutely no business being hired for. Because I was the best (or only) singer at the guitar player audition.
     
  11. Ronzo

    Ronzo Tele-Meister

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    Just ask Yngwie.

    When he was just small.
     
  12. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    He’s still small, in a very, uh, fluffy sort of way.
     
  13. Ebidis

    Ebidis Tele-Afflicted

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    I find it hard to sing and play some things at the same time. I play better than I sing, and my vocal range is limited, so I usually don't sing.
     
  14. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Get up earlier.
    Integrate daily practice into daily activities.
    Go to bed later.

    Short of collecting unemployment or divorce, is there any other way to make more time for the things you want to do?
     
  15. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I have sang since I started playing acoustic guitar. I never had any formal training as a singer, nor did I ever sing in choir. I struggled through the years, because I did voice characterizations. If I played a Dylan song, or a Neil Young song, I would try to emulate their voices.
    Many of my early original tunes have both of these artists written all over them vocally.
    It’s only been in the last 10 years that I am concentrating on finding my own voice.

    I still struggle with it. For example: when I do “Amarillo By Morning”, I don’t want to sound like me, I want that slight George Strait twang.

    There are others though that I have been able to use my own burgeoning voice as on Junior Walker’s “What Does It Take”.

    I think it boils down to the song itself, and what works best for the singer. It’s an ongoing grand experiment.:D

    Oh, in terms of playing lead, I don’t know that I will ever be considered a lead guitarist, but I am currently working on that aspect. As far as me playing a solo note for note though, fuggetaboutit!
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2020
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  16. 41144

    41144 Tele-Afflicted

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    Axegrider77... quite understand the premise you set out.
    You mention "as a hobbyist", so at home - why not try and perfect both.

    fwiw - In a band, personally, I'm quite happy just to do a few backing/support vocals and do my thing on guitar - tbh our singer is infinitely better at it than I am.
    Also, for example, guys like Paul Kossoff never stood up to a mic with Free, but he was every bit as vital to their sound as Rogers.
    Horses for courses imo.
     
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  17. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    Interestingly (and not taking offense) - I don't view any of those guys as great singers, or for the most part, even good singers. Clapton stands out as one of the most mediocre rock singers I can think of. Some of them are great frontmen which is not the same thing at all. All of them, to me, feel like they're doing the best singing they can while still holding down the guitar duties - which is what they were doing!

    Great rock or popular singers are guys like Little Richard and Chris Cornell (or Joan Baez, etc) with phenomenal physical tools and technical shops, and to a lesser extent Sting, Bjork, and other folks like Willie Nelson and Paul Simon with a distinctive vocal style or tone.

    Great singers AND great guitar players?
    Prince, and.....?
     
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  18. bowman

    bowman Friend of Leo's

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    I've been singing for a very long time, and I've found that the only thing that's made me better is - singing for a very long time. And it does make you better, especially if you're investing in the emotional aspect of the songs you're doing. It sounds obvious, but you don't want to sound upbeat if it's a sad song, and vice versa. I've seen many singers - with great voices; better than mine - who just sound the same on every tune.
     
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  19. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    The best combination lead guitar player and vocalist I've seen is Vince Gill.
     
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  20. duzie

    duzie Tele-Meister

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    Rik Emmet?

     
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