The lead guitar vs singing conundrum

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

  1. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    It just makes Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins and Brian Setzer that much more impressive to me.
     
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  2. johnnylaw

    johnnylaw Tele-Afflicted

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    I play in a four-piece band. Four people sing. None of us are "singers", but that makes eight voices. Keeps down the per diem, and really opens up opportunity for arrangements.
    Keep singing. Keep playing.
     
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  3. Axegrinder77

    Axegrinder77 Tele-Holic

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    Thanks everyone.

    Interestingly, on a guitar forum, the consensus seems to be that singing is worthwhile, even at the expense of advancement on "lead" guitar skills.

    I suppose the folks over at the Strat forum might feel different, ha!

    I guess I have felt for a long time that I have some unfinished business regarding my guitar skills. But 20 years flew by and things are different now.

    I'll digest all this. It inspired me to pick up my acoustic and sing a couple ditties a couple hours ago. Fun. And that's what it's all about at this phase in life.

    Thanks for all the input.

    Axe
     
  4. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I personally find it’s harder to do great rhythm and sing... you can alternate between singing and lead phrases but really tight and interesting rhythm is hard! Very tough to practice both at once.
     
  5. loco gringo

    loco gringo Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    George Benson.
     
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  6. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    I relate the most to the comment by @Jakedog above. Not that my gigging path in life has been anywhere near the same. I didn't start gigging until I had an empty nest, in the year 2000.

    I have been playing guitar for 53 years. I'm good enough on guitar to accompany my singing and to get gigs (got one for this Saturday), but I should be way better on guitar by now. :oops:

    But I've always sung. I grew up in a musical family, and we always sang. Dad played and sang, Mom harmonized with him. And I'd join right in. I have an ear for harmony. Though I can't read music, I can hear and sing harmony parts. The most consistent compliments I get are not about my tone or my guitar chops, but on my singing voice. As much as I'd like to be known for guitar playing, I will always be a better singer than guitarist.
     
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  7. Texsunburst59

    Texsunburst59 Friend of Leo's

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    I started out in '80, just playing rhythm and a little lead.

    About 1 yr. in I started singing some harmony.

    About a year after that I started singing a few lead songs a night.

    Then in '88, I switched to country/rock music where I sang a lot of harmony and a few lead songs a night.

    About 10 yrs. later, I was asked to be a the primary lead singer in one of the areas most popular country/rock bands.

    This group played about 60% popular rock and 40% popular country.

    I mainly sang the rock with some country sprinkled in.

    I worked hard over the years to get better at singing and it paid off.

    Becoming a decent singer takes work and time to develop.

    You're only going to be as good as the work you put into it.

    Good luck.
     
  8. Stubee

    Stubee Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    It depends on what you want to do and I can’t tell from the original post. Do you want to learn guitar theory, hone your chops, learn how to do leads and fills that fit in on any song on the fly, play that stuff on your own and with others? Then practice those things. Do you want to learn how to make singing a large part of your performance, learn your vocal range & how to breathe with singing, integrate your guitar playing so that it compliments your voice? Practice those things.

    They are not necessarily mutually exclusive but most players lean one way or the other. IME if you want to impress people who you don’t care to impress and you are not an extraordinary gifted guitar player, then learn to sing and play. Most people like “felt” singing, it speaks to them.
     
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  9. voskarp

    voskarp Tele-Holic

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    I think Jimi Hendrix was one of the best guitar players the world has seen, but I find his singing to be quite average. He worked out a style that "works", but I would definitely not call it great.

    The same goes for Rory Gallagher.

    On the other hand I find Eric Clapton and especially John Fogerty much better singers, with Rory and Clapton being in the same league (all in their different way) playing lead guitar.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2020
  10. Axegrinder77

    Axegrinder77 Tele-Holic

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    You're not alone in that opinion of Jimi, but I think he was a terrific singer. Clapton is one of my favourite guitarists, so gifted melodically, but just ok as a singer imho.

    A couple guys worth mentioning, although not guitarists, are Billy Joel and Elton John. Believe it or not, Billy thinks of himself as a pianist first, singer second.
     
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  11. voskarp

    voskarp Tele-Holic

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    I guess it's just about preference. :)
     
  12. saltyseadog

    saltyseadog Tele-Meister

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    Perhaps in his early years but as he aged and his voice deepened I would opine that he has become a great singer at least since the "From the Cradle"period . In fact he is the consumate musician singer who the OP might look at as someone who sings well and plays lead well often at the same time.
     
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  13. ricardo1912

    ricardo1912 Tele-Afflicted

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    I know they're not the best vocalists but I quite like Gary Moore and Joe Bonamassa, whose voice seems to have improved.

    Billy Gibbons didn't sing brilliantly either but he was an integral part of the ZZ Top sound.

    They all seem to play only part of the rhythm, enough to keep the song intact, but let the rest of the band keep it chugging along.

    Find what works for you with your music and practice loads.
     
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  14. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    We'll just have to have a friendly disagreement there my friend!
     
  15. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

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    As far as singing vs. playing lead guitar:

    What are your goals?
    To play gigs?
    Personal fulfillment?
    A personal challenge to conquer a skill?
    To impress people?

    You can swing a dead cat and hit 468 good guitarists and 10 great guitarists...it’s hard to find a good lead singer.

    If you’re a good lead singer, keep working on your craft as a singer and then as a secondary skill, work on your lead guitar abilities.

    There’s a reason George Strait’s name is known amongst the general public and Brent Mason’s is not—don’t poll guitarists or musicians, poll the general audience (especially the women in the the audience, because they are often the impetus behind the decision whether the couple is going to go see a band or to go to a movie).

    The only reason anybody knew J. Geils’ name was because the band is named after him. Otherwise, it would be known as the Peter Wolf show.
     
  16. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

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    In my personal experience...

    I’ve been singing my whole life—my mom said I’d “sing” when I couldn’t even talk yet. I could easily be solely a singer for a country or a blues band, even if I didn’t play any other instrument...and 95% of the time, people like my singing.

    Likewise, I can play harp (harmonica) very well...and unlike most harp players, I know when to shut up, so both the audience and other band members like to hear me play.

    I’m not bragging—I’m just giving an honest assessment as a performer.

    I’m a good singer, a very good harmonica player and a decent guitarist...but I split my “guitar duties” down three lines; rhythm, slide and lead.

    As a guitarist, I’m probably best at playing slide; partially because fewer people do it (so I get more chances) and partially because I “think” in open tunings (perhaps related to my experience on harmonica).

    I can play a lot of rhythm stuff that people like to hear. I ain’t Guitar George—I don’t know all the chords...but I can more than ably supplement a good rhythm section, or I can play a whole show of basic rhythm lines while singing, and the audience usually digs it.

    And I’ll occasionally knock out a really good lead guitar solo...but that’s my weakest skill.

    But something I noticed over the years...if the singing and rhythm guitar was good, most of the audience didn’t even care if there were no solos.

    (I’m not referring to a “stadium rock” cover band, where people expect the solo from “Hotel California” or “Stairway To Heaven” or “Back in Black”—this is referring to a soul/blues/rock/outlaw country club gig where people are there to hear some good music).

    The guitarists and the occasional music enthusiast in the audience would cheer for a good lead guitar solo, but that only constitutes 10% of your audience on any given night...the other 90% wants to hear a good rhythm (to dance to) or some good lyrics (to laugh/cry/reflect upon)...and if the people are dancing, that means they’re drinking (and that most of the guys are happy because they’re getting to nuzzle up to their girl as a precursor to :oops::rolleyes::twisted:)...and you’ll get booked again.

    That’s why in the last few years, I haven’t felt uncomfortable playing in my band as a duo (drummer and me) or a trio (drummer, bassist and me)—without a hotshot guitarist to play the solos I don’t/can’t play. We’ve had just as many bookings and just as many people enjoying our music.

    I prefer to have a second guitarist—it takes some of the load off of me and also allows me to play more harp (my best instrument), plus I always loved the Stones/Arc Angels/Storyville blueprint of two guitarists intertwining—but it’s not always necessary.

    But unless you’re Joe Pass, a good singer is almost always necessary
     
  17. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

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    But if a person has a pleasing voice—even with a limited range—he or she will generally be more valuable in a band than that hotshot guitarist.

    Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) and Sade both prove that...both have great voices, but limited range (Sade has better range than Alex, but she doesn’t go all over the scale like many other female vocalists).
     
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  18. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    About 30 years ago I had the realization that I am twice the bass player than I am a singer. Then, due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to take 20 years away from music. When I came back, it wasn't with the bass, but rather a partscaster. It was then I realized I wasn't that bad of a singer (not that great, either...) with the guitar, and that my problem rested with trying to play bass & sing. I am still only half the guitarist I would like to be, but somewhere in the rutledge, I found a way to exist with my shortcomings, not beat myself up over it, and still have fun with it.
    I hope you find that same inner peace. And, as the meme goes, I don't play because I am good. I play for the enjoyment.
     
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  19. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

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    The only thing large about Yngwie is his ego and his guitar collection.

    He looks like an unattractive overweight woman dressed up like a pirate...and he also has a bad side.
     
  20. Hatfield92

    Hatfield92 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    IMHO, I’d focus as much on the singing as possible. I’m speaking as someone who’s not naturally gifted vocally, but is striving to get better. There’s definitely a ceiling though.

    If you’re a competent singer, it opens up the option of solo gigs at restaurants, certain bars, that sort of thing. Those types of gigs are plentiful here in the Tampa Bay Area. If I could hone my vocals just a little more, I could make a decent living with just those gigs.

    And, as far as bands... a good vocalist/frontman is much harder to find than a decent lead player. Plus, it’s easier to form and/or LEAD a band if you’re the frontman. The other pieces come into place much easier if you’ve already got a set list in order from the start.

    If I could make my vocals as good as my guitar playing via some sort of satanic trade-off, well... get the pen ready, Debbil.

    Just one man’s practical opinion...
     
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