Gig difficulties and advice thread

ErictheRed

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This will be a long story, but I'd like to ask you fellows at MLP for some advice.

First, let me say that I do NOT think that I'm some great guitar player or anything like that. I'm a competent one, though: I play well with others, have good gear and tone, and a pretty good ear. I'm definitely an amateur and have no illusions of grandeur. In a two-guitar lineup, I'm more comfortable being the "rhythm" guy and letting a better guitar player than myself take most of the leads (I'm not going to impress anyone doing a David Gilmour imitation or whatever, not without some serious woodshedding to nail a particular solo--and then that's just one solo). I do great with one-guitar stuff like the Black Keys, REM, White Stripes, etc., as well as folky acoustic stuff.

A bass player I had played with previously said that he was in another band that had started playing out, and that they could use another guitarist (they were currently bassist, drummer, guitarist, and singer). So I went to see them play one evening at a local brewery with a friend.

When I got there, I decided almost immediately that I wouldn't play with them--they just didn't sound very good. The worst thing was that the guitarist was pretty badly out of tune the whole set. I don't mean pretty badly for us musicians; my non-musical friend that had come grab a beer with me noticed it before I said anything. And you know how that kind of thing is--the guitar is out so everything else sounds out, the singer isn't quite sure what note to sing, etc.

After the gig though, I met the group and they were all so nice. Further, the female drummer was extremely cute (warning!). So I figured, maybe they're just having a bad gig; it happens. Why not go jam with them and see how it goes? What have I got to lose?

So I went to jam with them a couple of weeks later and had a lot of fun; they all welcomed me on board immediately. The other guitarist had some pretty lousy equipment and was out of tune a lot, but he kind of just said, "eh, I don't have my 'real' tuner with me and this is just practice, so let's not worry about it now." So I started woodshedding their material (cover band stuff) and hoped for the best.

The other guitarist went on vacation for 2-3 weeks, and in that time I met with the other members, practiced, and got up to speed on most of the material. At that point, I was basically committed to being in the band and playing the next few shows, and was excited. The drummer, bass player, and singer are quite good.

However when the guitar player returned I realized his tuning roblems were not a fluke, and capos really destroyed his tuning. In addition, I found out that he didn't even know what the knobs and switches do on his guitar!! I'm not kidding--he didn't know what the pickup selector switch did and always put his knobs on 10. I gave him a tutorial, linked him to some stickies on this site and some other websites and did my best to help him, but...I was getting a worse and worse feeling about everything.

I talked to him about his intonation/tuning issues, gently, and found that he's only recently (in his 50s) started playing an electric. I offered to do a setup for him, and he agreed--the guitar (an Epiphone Les Paul he said he bought for $200 on Craigslist) was not intonated correctly AT ALL. Now I know that Epiphone makes some good guitars, but when I got it home I was apalled at how poor quality it was. When I took the strings off (that he had never changed since he bought it a year ago!), the nut just fell out. It just came right out. It didn't even pretend to fit in the slot and overhung both sides of the neck--it must have come from another guitar. There were other problems, too--truss rods, frets uneven, action all whacked, etc. I did my best (I work on all my own guitars), but couldn't get it playing very well and could NOT get it to hold a tune. I assume it was because of the nut, but it might have been the saddles, tuners, etc; I'm not a luthier. After I gave it back to him, he immediately broke his high e-string. I haven't broken a string in literally years, and I asked if it had broken at the saddle: yes. So I think his saddles are jagged, etc.

Anyhow he was extremely excited to get his guitar back but I didn't think it sounded much better. The funny thing is that he's not a bad player, just has no experience playing electrics and, apparently, not much of an ear.

As our first gig together neared, I really got serious about his tuning/intonation problems and offered to let him use my Les Paul Traditional for the gig, saying he could borrow it two weeks beforehand to get used to it. He wasn't comfortable with that, and what could I do? I couldn't force him to get a new guitar. Some of the tuning problems had been overcome, though, as I glued the nut in and he got a 'real' chromatic tuner and was checking his tuning before every song at rehearsal. Some of the songs actually sounded pretty good.

Well the gig came...he could not get his guitar in tune to start the set. I finally took it from him and tuned it on my rig--he had been trying to tune the G-string to G# and the E-string to Eb!! After I got it straightened out we played our first set and things actually went pretty well, though I had to keep reminding him which pickup to use on which song, roll off your tone a bit, etc. But things did go pretty well and we were all excited on our set break.

Anyway we started the second set and disaster struck. He uses a capo on the first two songs (I don't) and immediately after playing the tuning problem returned--it was bad. Then, he stepped on his instrument cable and pulled it out of his guitar during the second song! This was one of the few that he wanted to play lead on, so I waited, thinking he would hit the lead riff the next time through the chord progression...nothing. I checked his pickups and knobs and amp while trying to play my own guitar--they all seemed good. At this point I should have stepped up and took over the leads, or we should have halted the song for technical reasons, but we didn't. I finally noticed that his cable had been pulled out; he got it back in but that song was ruined.

Then the capo came off and the tuning issues returned with a vengeance...at one point he accidentally stepped on his tuner and cut his sound mid-song AGAIN!! Aarrgghh. I pointed to his tuner, he got it going again, guitar way out of tune...at the end of that song I had had enough. I took off my Les Paul and gave it to him, then got out my Tele to finish the night with.

He wasn't used to my Les Paul and couldn't control the volume...the rest of the gig was pretty bad, we had all been thrown for a loop. It was pretty embarrassing and I was just wanting to get out of there.

After all that, he said, "Gee, thanks Eric for letting me use your guitar. I think things went pretty well and people didn't seem to notice the technical problems :wow:." Believe me, they did, but there were friends there (none of mine, actually, as this was an out-of-town gig and I had had a bad feeling about it) that wouldn't say anything negative. So the rest of us went home with our tail between our legs.

I found out on the way home that the other guitarist is the singer and drummer's boss at work--crap, that explains a lot. I sent an email out to the rest of the band, not the other guitarist, explaining that I couldn't continue like this. I know that I made much more than my "fair share" of mistakes that night, but I felt responsible for two instruments and I need to concentrate on my own performance, not be a technician and performer at the same time. I know that part of that is my own fault for allowing myself to take on that role and thinking that I could handle it, but I can't.

And finally, a guitarist that doens't know how to use his knobs, tune his guitar, pulls his cable out, and accidentally kills his signal by stepping on a tuner is a deal breaker to me. I'm sorry; at that point it's game over. I mean, you aren't out on the field, dropping the ball, making a few mistakes--you aren't even out on the field at that point, you're in the locker room trying to get your damn chin strap on while the rest of the team is playing without you.

I regret that my email was a bit harsh, and I feel terrible for having sent it behind the other guitarist's back. Initially I had wanted to have a sit-down meeting with everyone, but people's schedules wouldn't allow it. This morning I sent the other guitarist a much more polite email than I sent the others describing my frustrations with his equipment issues, etc; I didn't want to keep everything behind his back (though some of my angrier language I did not repeat).

So anyway...I guess I'm just bitching at this point; thanks for listening. Anyone else been in this kind of situation? I told the rest of the band that I could NOT continue to play under these circumstances, that I've never been in a situation where someone else didn't know how to operate his own equipment. We have another gig at Halloween that the singer is talking about cancelling; I said that I would do my best for that one, offer to let him borrow my Les Paul again, etc., but that after that I would have to go my separate way. There are kind of hurt feelings all around, though I'm not entirely sure why. After the show the singer said she was "mortified," which I understand, but she didn't seem able to realize what the real problems are. Like I said, an out-of-tune or unplugged guitar is a deal breaker, there's no recovering from that, it's not a little mistake that you play through--you're done.

I could post some live clips from a gig they did before I joined that I only heard recently--the guitar is so far out it's terrible. I think there is some sentiment that "everything was OK before Eric got here," but I'm not sure. The singer talked about quitting the band going forward, because "we all practice so hard but it doesn't translate to the stage," which makes me think that she's been frustrated for a while but maybe can't say anything because the other guitarist is her boss!

Thoughts??? I seriously regret getting myself into this situation, and if I'm honest with myself a lot of my reasons for it were because the drummer is extremely cute, charming, fun, etc., and I liked being around her (still do). Oh well.
 

TOMMYTHUNDERS

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i'm printing this up and i'll mail it to any members who wanna take their time reading it. volumes 1-3 will cost $48.34 for shipping, volumes 4-5 are a little lighter and will ship for $21.03. pm for my paypal address.
 

AxeBuilder

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This reminds me of the story of Tech Support telling a caller they were too stupid to own a computer and to send it back!

Tell the guitarist to pick up another hobby......
 

Kamen_Kaiju

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I've never had things go that badly.

The ship is sinking dude, jump off it.

In a couple weeks contact the singer and drummer and see if they want to "jam."

....slowly steal them for yourself.

Congrats. You're now the Leader.
 

So What

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You need to talk to The Sentry.

He has a lot of experience with band problems.

As far as I am concerned, you did what you could, and left at the right time.

I didn't read the e-mail you sent, so I can't comment on that.
 

Paracelsian

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You sir are a gentleman of the highest order. Good on you for not only trying to plug a sinking ship, but for following through with your commitment on playing yet a second gig.
I've only played a handful of gigs, but that sounded fairly similar to some I've witnessed lol. If the guy has no ear and can't tune then its kind of a grenade. You either gotta get the hell away or toss that thing. Does he seem like the type of guy who would take it out on his employees if you give him the toss???
On the cable how come you didn't tell him to run it thru the strap?? Just asking, obviously you were dealing with some other issues at the time lol, so I could see it could slip the mind. Only so many fires you can put out. At once.
 

Rich

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What else can you do? If you're playing for fun and the band situation isn't fun, then it's time to move on.
 

LPG

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i'm printing this up and i'll mail it to any members who wanna take their time reading it. volumes 1-3 will cost $48.34 for shipping, volumes 4-5 are a little lighter and will ship for $21.03. pm for my paypal address.


LMAO....:laugh2:
 

Kamen_Kaiju

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You sir are a gentleman of the highest order. Good on you for not only trying to plug a sinking ship, but for following through with your commitment on playing yet a second gig.

True.

You deserve a pat on that back for that one. Sincerely.

You were very professional when dealing with a really, really crap situation.

:applause::wave::dude:
 

Randy K

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Honestly it sounds like a salvageable situation. Make a tape of the next practice so he can hear it for himself, then have a band meeting with everyone agreeing that he needs a different guitar - one that stays in tune. Teach him how to use it and run his cord through his strap and it seems like most of those problems will be gone.
 

Kamen_Kaiju

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It sounds like the guy is completely tone deaf.

I seriously doubt the OP wants to take him under his wing as a pet project to bring him up to speed and not suck. Which c'mon, by the description this guy sucks.

Bad ears? How are you going to fix that?

Can't tell he stepped on the tuner and killed his signal?

Needs a capo? (personal pet peeve.)

Stepped on his cord and yanked it out? (doesn't know to thread the cord through the strap so this can't happen?)

This guy has bad ears and doesn't know the basics?

Nope. Cut the cable and run.

Excedrin has not yet designed a pill for that kind of migraine.
 

chrisuk

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Simple. :cool:

He just needs 'amp failure' at the beginning of the next gig.

Job done. :thumb:
 

Matt_21

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You keep sayign he is not used to 'electric guitar'?
How well does he play acoustic?
Have him play an acoustic and you play the solos...kinda like Dave Matthews Band...you know?
 

TeaForTwo

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This will be a long story, I'm not kidding--he didn't know what the pickup selector switch did and always put his knobs on 10.

And finally, a guitarist that doens't know how to use his knobs, tune his guitar, pulls his cable out, and accidentally kills his signal by stepping on a tuner is a deal breaker to me. I'm sorry; at that point it's game over. I mean, you aren't out on the field, dropping the ball, making a few mistakes--you aren't even out on the field at that point, you're in the locker room trying to get your damn chin strap on while the rest of the team is playing without you.

I could post some live clips from a gig they did before I joined that I only heard recently--the guitar is so far out it's terrible.

Thoughts??? I seriously regret getting myself into this situation, and if I'm honest with myself a lot of my reasons for it were because the drummer is extremely cute, charming, fun, etc., and I liked being around her (still do). Oh well.

#1; Some guitarists don't have a Kluson.
#2; Do post the vids, it'll keep this thread alive for another day.
#3; Post pics of the drummer, else it didn't happen.
...
 

Zenzeypher

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If it was me, asside from being a bit miffed ~ if his heart is in the right place and his ability to actually keep up and play the songs is there...id spend some time with him ironing out the wrinkles - it would also help as a bonding experience hahah - we've all been in the same position I'm sure.

I would convince him to get shot of his, tell him the truth point blank, don't be too polite and just tell him it's a complete piece of shit... get another Epi LP...and help him find one.

I can't remember if you said he has a proper tuner, our bass wonders out of tune so we use a headstock one and tune it before each song...get him in the habbit.

this sounds like it all came very quickly and there hasn't been enough preperation with the other guitarist - i'm sure your other members have noticed it too.

...step up a little, get these problems ironed out before hand - say it like it is and get him up to speed before taking on further gigs.

if you get him prepared and im sure he'll appreciate it....he's probably scared shitless and feeling completely lost...

something good can come of this, it's just gonna take some effort.
 

FUS44

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I'm sorry. 50 and can't use a tuner?
Really?

BTW, I find that separate emails thing a bit weak.
Either confront and do it in a positive way to fix things, or walk.
I don't think you'll be able to axe the guy w/o real world implications down the road.
 

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