What to do when joining a band and 1 member is probably not ready?

Cosmic Cowboy

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I have been asked to join a new band. I really do like the fellas and they are all good players in their own right....except for one player who is supposed to be playin rhythm guitar.

I like the guy too. Nice dude. Fun to hang with. I just dont think he is ready to play out with this ensemble. I have never bought into the 'rhythm' player being the member of the band who is not a capable enough player to be a lead player.

Rhythm is soo important. Everything sounds better when he doesnt play anything. His guitar isnt quite in tune. His chord voicings are sloppy and muddy. His sense of timing isnt quite...well...rhythmic.

Not sure if the other members are really noticing just how much he goobers up the sound.

How should this be handled? Thanks.
 

brookdalebill

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I have been asked to join a new band. I really do like the fellas and they are all good players in their own right....except for one player who is supposed to be playin rhythm guitar.

I like the guy too. Nice dude. Fun to hang with. I just dont think he is ready to play out with this ensemble. I have never bought into the 'rhythm' player being the member of the band who is not a capable enough player to be a lead player.

Rhythm is soo important. Everything sounds better when he doesnt play anything. His guitar isnt quite in tune. His chord voicings are sloppy and muddy. His sense of timing isnt quite...well...rhythmic.

Not sure if the other members are really noticing just how much he goobers up the sound.

How should this be handled? Thanks.
Gotta agree.
If the guy can’t hang, he’s just dead weight.
 

ndcaster

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How should this be handled? Thanks.
Teach him.

If he wants to hang, you have a point of leverage. My experience is that wanting to hang with better musicians means that, with them, I'm highly suggestible, and a little firmness goes a long way.

Example: "Listen, you're rhythm. You must, must, must be rock-solid, or we will fall apart. Listen to just the hi-hat for the pulse and lock in with it."

Even one "No!" accompanied by a band stopping can make a lasting impression.

If he's suggestible, he'll learn. If he doesn't, be polite but cut him. That too will become a learning experience for him.
 

brookdalebill

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Teach him.

If he wants to hang, you have a point of leverage. My experience is that wanting to hang with better musicians means that, with them, I'm highly suggestible, and a little firmness goes a long way.

Example: "Listen, you're rhythm. You must, must, must be rock-solid, or we will fall apart. Listen to just the hi-hat for the pulse and lock in with it."

Even one "No!" accompanied by a band stopping can make a lasting impression.

If he's suggestible, he'll learn. If he doesn't, be polite but cut him. That too will become a learning experience for him.
That would indeed be the kind thing to do.
Hopefully he will accept graciously, and you can move forward.
 

Flat6Driver

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Did they bring you in to also "straighten out" their buddy? Sometimes being the bad guy is hard and the new guy has/gets to do that.

For rhythm especially with a full band, less is so much more. It's hard to learn/hear that, but it's not the same as slamming chords at the open Mike by yourself.
 

Greenmachine

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Hmm. It depends on what your goal is? Know what you want.

Do you want to be in a good band that gigs, or do you want too have fun with the guys?

I play with a couple of guys for fun. I often have to teach the bass player things. He stunk at first. Like really stunk. He's improved over the years. Just know that we only play house gigs for free. We don't want any more than that.

So this means that each time I play with these guys I know that mistakes will be made and we don't always sound good. I'm ok with that because I'm there to have fun and have guy time.
 

billy logan

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Tough question there, OP, and good suggestions above.

He might be offended...but...?
Give him a metronome. Yeah, some folks may be immune to the metronome, but some improve, I'd bet.
Learn to relax and let the beat fall. Maybe suggest songs heavy on the downbeat 1 2 3 4, e.g., "Love Is Strange" Mickey and Sylvia...

Valentine's Day coming up :)
 

Durtdog

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In my experience, forget it. Unless you're all teenagers and just learning to play, it's a waste of time to work with someone who's untalented and unskilled to try to make them into a reasonably good player. IMO, if they haven't gotten it on their own before joining a band, they'll never strive for it.

Maybe a bit harsh, but as I said, in my experience.
 

schmee

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I say give it time, play a couple gigs, if it's bad you are now not a newcomer, speak up then.
I did it years ago. Same situation but he wan't a bad player, I just suggested we dont need a rhythm guitar and a keyboard in a bar band.
A couple months later we fired the leader too. o_O
 

telemnemonics

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Bummer.
I had one band situation where one guy made us sound worse when he played, and better when he stopped.

Maybe if it is touchy interpersonal pretend there is no elephant in the room stuff, record a practice then all listen and discuss what needs fixing?
If nobody can see or mention what is wrong, both options feel bad but make things better.
Leave or point out the problem.
 

stxrus

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I agree with @telemnemonics. Record a rehearsal. That’s what I would do. Play it back for all to hear and ask for input
I say just be honest with the guy. It’s business isn’t it? He should be yearning to learn after he hears a recording.
Yep, been a couple of situations where this was a necessity. It was a real eye opener, to say the least.
 

telel6s

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I'd start with the tuning. Just a simple, "Hey, it sounds like someone is out of tune. Can we all check our instruments?" If he's the only one needing to re-tune maybe he'll catch on after several times.

Chord voicings: maybe a simple, "Can you try playing that Em up on the 7th fret instead of open?" type of thing on several songs. (As an aside, with all the videos on YouTube showing the original artist playing the song I think it's fairly easy these days to get things right, or at least in the ballpark. Just today I sat down to learn The Who's "I Can See for Miles", a song I've jammed to for 40 years. Less than a half hour of multiple Pete Townsend/The Who videos and I can actually play it correctly now.)

Timing and rhythm: If he's amenable to the other suggestions, then over a few practices/jams he may be open to suggestions about that. But I think that'll be the harder part to tackle because it often takes more practice and dedication; and may require the whole band to work with him a few times so he understands where to find the groove.

For all we know, maybe he's waiting for someone to give him help and suggestions and that's why he enjoys playing with this group of more experienced musicians so he can learn more from it. Or maybe he and the rest of the band just don't care -- I've played with those kind of people, too.
 

Killing Floor

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His guitar isnt quite in tune. His chord voicings are sloppy and muddy. His sense of timing isnt quite...well...rhythmic.
This guy?
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teletail

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dog running fast.jpeg


In the other direction, just as fast as you can. I'm not sure where people get the idea that you can just teach this guy; I guess they think that rhythm guitar is easy and not really important so you can probably get him up to speed quickly. Being a crappy rhythm player is easy, being a good rhythm player takes a lot of work and a lot of practice. This guy needs BOTH the awareness that he sucks and the desire to put in the hard work to improve. I'm not saying it NEVER happens, but I've never seen it in a band with adults who have jobs, families and lots of obligations.
 
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