Gig difficulties and advice thread

Electroman67

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I'm disappointed the drummer pictures didn't get more likes...most people didn't read that far, I guess.

I'm done after Halloween, and I explained (politely, this time), why. I also apologized to the other guitar player in front of the whole band and told him that I had expressed my frustration to the others without his knowledge and that I was sorry for that.

My first, behind-the-back email was pretty heated. I either lost some respect or gained a lot of respect for it--not sure which, and don't much care. I think that everything I said was true, but I regret the way I phrased a few things (in anger) and how I chose to express it (by email).

I've got a great Halloween costume, no-one will recognize me, and this time I will set up on the other side of the stage, leaving him alone to crash and burn if it comes to that--I genuinely hope it doesn't, though. He's buying a new guitar (I think a Studio) and hopefully won't pull his instrument cable out this time. I'm just going to try to have as much fun at Halloween as I can, stay in costume so no-one recognizes me, and drink free beer :). Wish me luck...

After that, I'll cool off for a little while and decide if I want to ask the drummer out for dinner or drinks or whatever.

By all means, teach that mofo to run his cable thru the lower or bottom of the guitar strap before plugging it into the jack.
 

mdubya

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Date the drummer. Have the other guitar player play unplugged ALL THE TIME. All problems solved. No charge for service. :wave:
 

Joeydego

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Your first mistake is playing in a band where a member of the band isnt at least as good or better than you are. If you want students, teach. Dont gig. This guy clearly doesnt belong anywhere near live performance until he finds some gear and talent, which if it hasnt happened by 50 time is running out. Your 2nd mistake is going on stage with an act you yourself are not comfortable with. THAT is your fault. At any rate, turn it into a positive, learn from it and quit. Find people more on par with your own ability and have fun. No one should need to babysit someone else come gig time. Thats ridiculous.
 

The_Sentry

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

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.

:hmm:

Someone mentioned that I've been in a band or 2. No lie there.

I think it's all variable on whether or not it's fun. It sounds like it was fun at first, but that went out the window with this other guitar player, and it sounds like because of the way the band is setup, and their involvement with the guy, he's not going anywhere. Is the rest of it worth it?

I honestly think if you want to make it work (and not give the obvious answer of "walk away") consider doing the following:

First, have a straight talk with the other guitar player. Tell him what you're about, and what you want out of this band. Since he's the subject of your ire, then sit down and talk with him. The most important part of the band dyanamic is communication: Let him know about how you feel about his guitar playing. If butthurt commences and it leads to you or him leaving the band, then is this a bad thing if it's already an intolerable situation for you?

Next, offer to HELP him with his issues outside of regular practices. Show him some tips on how to setup and work his own gear. As far as what he can do in the band...stick him on leads primarily, if not exclusively. Sure, a crappy out of tune solo is just that, but it can also be construed as something artsy. Kurt Cobain played horrible solos, but people liked them well enough. Same with Neil Young. The one thing that can't be compromised is rhythm guitar and dynamics which is more important to the material.

So there it is. If it's not fun anymore, and you need to hash it out...hash it out.

You've got nothing to lose at this point other than a project you're getting ready to walk away from, and you might gain something in the process. (and if the guy is as bad as you say, I doubt any of the other members would condemn you for having an honest discussion with him...and trying to help him at the same time.)

Good Luck!
 

TeaForTwo

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Your first mistake is playing in a band where a member of the band isnt at least as good or better than you are. If you want students, teach. Dont gig. This guy clearly doesnt belong anywhere near live performance until he finds some gear and talent, which if it hasnt happened by 50 time is running out. Your 2nd mistake is going on stage with an act you yourself are not comfortable with. THAT is your fault. At any rate, turn it into a positive, learn from it and quit. Find people more on par with your own ability and have fun. No one should need to babysit someone else come gig time. Thats ridiculous.

Yup......View a jam, a band, a gig, a studio gig, all like a business deal,
and you avoid all of the usual bullshit....There's enough to deal with
being a musician anyways......Quality counts....
 

ErictheRed

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Well there's one big thing that I haven't shared because this story was long enough. About three weeks, I realized that I WILL be leaving my current job at the end of the year, no matter what (not happy here, though I've stuck it out the last year or more because of the poor economy and having divorced summer of last year). My work search could take me out of town--hell, possibly out of state, so...all things considered I think the best thing for me to do is leave the band right after Halloween.

That's another reason I've been hesitant to ask the drummer on a date; I'll be here for another 3-4 months I'm sure, but after that, who knows? Still, I'll probably ask her out casually after the Halloween gig. Even if there's no romance, I enjoy being around her.

Again, thanks for listening, and I appreciate the insight from everyone. Sentry, you have an interesting perspective that I'll give some thought to.
 

Joeydego

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nuthin wrong with bangin the drummer and calling it a date, either.
 

ErictheRed

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Yup......View a jam, a band, a gig, a studio gig, all like a business deal,
and you avoid all of the usual bullshit....There's enough to deal with
being a musician anyways......Quality counts....

Yep, my biggest regret is that I didn't sit down with everyone after the first jam and discuss what they expected from me and what I expected from them.

And if the other guitar player had NOT taken a 3-week vacation to Scotland, these issues would have come to light right away, before I was very involved, and I probably would have bowed out 6 weeks ago.

And finally, I have to think about my own personality and how I feel the need to fix and take care of things that really aren't my responsibility. Ah, well--live and learn, and I'm making the best of the situation I created for myself. Which means that I have an awesome Ziggy Stardust costume for Halloween, I will drink free beer, let the drummer paint up my face, and do my damned best to have a good time, regardless of what happens on stage. I've learned that his issues are not my responsibility. When I put that costume on, I will be Ziggy Stardust, and if he has problems, I'm ignoring him and just rocking the song without him--probably at higher volume than I was before :dude:!
 

ErictheRed

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nuthin wrong with bangin the drummer and calling it a date, either.

Ehh, I know a lot of the guys around here might have a hard time understanding this, but...at 34 (drummer's 28) and having been married 6.5 years, that's not really what I want from a woman. I tried it a few times over the last year, and...mehh. I want something serious, or a nice friendship, or nothing.
 

Joeydego

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20 bucks is pretty serious where Im from
 

EricF

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1. You handled yourself pretty well in a highly-frustrating situation. I wouldn't say the other guitar player is completely hopeless (based on what you've said), but he's going to be a big project to get into reasonable gig shape, and it sounds like you're not up for that, which is fine.

2. Help the other guitar player as much as you can (within reason) to have a decent final gig. Avoiding a total trainwreck is always a good thing.

3. IMO, dating the drummer is fine since you're leaving the band anyways. Just be up-front and let her know that you might not be around town for long, and see how things happen. You might have a really fun few months, or your might just gain a good friend. Life is a long and twisted road. Your paths may cross again in the future, and staying connected to people is pretty damn easy these days.
 

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