Soloing Tone Tips for Single Guitar Bands

Oldskoolrob

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So in a 3 piece band I'm trying to improve our overall sound. One problem is when I go from playing rhythm to soloing it feels like the 'fullness' drops out of the mix. Going from 6 strings to single notes etc. So as a result I usually try to play double stop solos, or 'play less' in the verse etc. Just boosting solo volume seems to actually increase the problem. I'm wondering if a pedal like the TC mimiq, or having a stereo set-up that I can switch on just for solos may be an answer? I use a Tech21 rig straight into the PA, so a stereo rig wouldn't be hard to do (just get another similar pedal etc). I have a DD7 on my board which I think can kind of be a doubler if set right so I guess I could try that...I also have a phaser but that's only good for some songs. I'm not a fan of chorus on guitar much either. Oh, and we play everything from Tommy Dorsey to The Angels so there's a bit of sonic ground to cover.....and I run the mixer as well as playing, singing and tap-dancing on my pedals so simple would be good lol.
What's your advice oh gurus?
 

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Vortex

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(Disclaimer: I'm no guru.) I was also in a 3 piece + singer. Pedals I use to thicken the sound are the Xotic EP Boost and the RCv2. The RC does a good job of that. However I always thought it could be better. I've come to the conclusion that there are no background players in trio's. The other players need to do their job of filling in especially during solos. If you listen to early VH, LZ, ZZ, JoeB (at Rockpalast), John Mayer Trio (Try album) as examples, it's hard to tell who's in the background. Of course the guitar tones are awesome (and the players are pros) but there's a lot more going on in the "background".

@ns2a just summed up what I'm trying to say while typing this. Every time we play I keep telling the bassist I can't hear him and to turn up. Cuz ya know I'm not turning down. :cool2:
 

Matt_Krush

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get another guitarist...
have bassist split his signal, 1 stays clean, the other a light overdrive...
get second guitar player...

the only way to plug a hole...is to plug the hole.
 

mdubya

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As a 3 piece plus lead vocals for most of my playing "career" I wrote pieces specifically with lead guitar in mind. That works if you are playing originals.

Also, we had a couple of different bass players. The best one stuck to the root/bottom end and I could play top end and fills, which opened up our sound from the typical bass doubling power chords sound of or day (the 90's). The other bass player played against me too much and dragged our sound all over the place and it was not good.

As a rhythm player, I laid back and gave the vocalist all the room I could. This meant when the lead came I could roll of the volume or step on a fuzz and cut loose, my turn to sing.

So, I don't think a pedal is going to make the difference, personally.

But back to guitar parts: if you take Free's Mr. Big, the verse riff is sparse and sounds a bit awkward to play lead over, but when you get to the chorus, it sounds freaking great to play lead over. As for Free themselves, they wrote a separate section for the lead that just alternated between open E and D, which opened up the song for Koss to do his thing.

Listen to Free and Jimi and Cream and Sabbath and you get some good ideas for playing lead with no rhythm guitar.

I use my looper pedal non stop, so you could possibly incorporate that in for your lead sections? :dunno: :hmm: Just a thought.
 

tzd

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Work on your vibrato. A good vibrato makes a single note sound big.
 

ARandall

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I think the bass is the key, as @ns2a has said. In a 3-piece you can't provide the only fullness to the overall tone if you are a soloing player. Compared to what it is, the bass can be much more busy, or driving, or full. It has to, on its own, be able to take up the space your rhythm guitar does. You can then just be embellishment on the top.
Alternatively, play softly during the rhythm sections, then really dig in during your solos.

Hendrix did this really well, in both the bands he fronted. Another to look at is U2 - for the tone that Adam Clayton has. It really occupies a lot of territory.
 

Oldskoolrob

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Thanks for the hints on the Bass player - I hadn't really thought of that. So to clarify should I ask him to play more complex parts, throw some overdrive on or go a touch louder/harder as well? He's a great player but sometimes gets 'lost in the moment' so I'm not sure how much I can rely on a consistent response. Another thing I noted (can't remember the artist) but I the drummer used a lot more of the cymbals in the solo which filled the sound out too....
We sometimes have a fourth and it's great - but much more logistically challenging to get together.






So you've all brought on my epiphany that 'solo' is a misleading term and should be replaced with 'instrumental'. It has to be a whole band effort. Thanks! :applause:
 
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screamingdaisy

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FWIW - I’m a bass player and when the rhythm guitar drops out to solo I kick on a dirt pedal to fatten up my midrange. A Rat with the gain fairly low is pretty effective for this.

My current preference is an Ampeg Scrambler. It’s lower gain than a Rat and the tone knob better for bass.
 

VictorB

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In a trio all things must be equal.

As many have eluded to, your bass player needs beef up his tone, and know when to do it and at what times.

He can’t just lay back like he’s in a 5-6 piece band.
 

Bogmonster

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I'd like to add my 2 cents here too. I play guitar and lead vocals in a 3 piece. What I find works for us is when I'm playing rhythm (which will be 90% of the time), I try to hold back on the guitar a little to give the vocals space. I'm still playing but I'd have the volume on the guitar down a bit (usually 7-8 ish) and tone down some too. There's a great thread here on using controls on a LP that I highly recommend reading and I use this mindset on all my guitars. This works a treat. So when it's time to solo you don't need to have a massive volume jump. Just kick on a boost and bring up your volume/tone to get that solo to pop. Sometimes you can leave the volume as is. It all depends on what you're trying to get. I found if you go too loud then the bottom kind of falls out of the song. I was used to this in my old band when I played with a second guitar player with a massive ego. I needed a big volume boost for solos since he never turned down or laid back a bit when it was my turn to take a lead.

Tone and volume controls are your friends and I'm always tweaking as I play. It's become second nature now so I don't even realise I'm doing it. Look at guys like Rory Gallagher, Hendrix, Gary Moore and you see they ride the pots all the time. When there's only 1 guitar, you don't need the massive volume jump you think to fill out a solo. Some reverb and delay can help some too.

Also, another thing that I've seen used to great effect but we haven't tried ourselves is a sub-octave on the bass. Just a slight touch, very subtle can fill out that sound too. Just have the bass player step on it during a solo.

Hope this helps!
 

mdubya

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So you've all brought on my epiphany that 'solo' is a misleading term and should be replaced with 'instrumental'. It has to be a whole band effort. Thanks! :applause:
I never "solo," I shift from rhythm to lead.

Jimi plays lead guitar on this entire track. The bass holds down the bottom.


Ron Wood writes a master class on 3 piece bass playing on Truth.


The bass has 2 registers: the upper register and the cash register.
 

charlie chitlins

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Play smaller rhythm.
Let the bass player do his job and hold down the roots.
Build your solos.
If you come right in with the double stops and filling all the spaces, you have nowhere to go.
Get the bass and drums to take up some of the slack.
Listen to 10 Years After ;)
 

Dazza

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I had a related discussion on this topic recently. As others have stated a lot rides on the bass players style and tone. For eg Maiden would sound quite empty during solos without the 2nd guitar despite Steve Harris driving, percussive bass. Sabbath on the other hand has some of the biggest guitar tone, but when Tony solos there's nothing missing. Old school players like Geezer and John Paul Jones have big, warm tones inspired by original R&B etc bassists. Even when they play higher register the notes have weight, whereas modern bass tone can sound more like a banjo. Great trio bassists are a joy to play with. Its not simply them playing more complex and being busier. As fab as SRV was listen to the rhythm section behind him. Absolutely brilliant.

Daz
 

Classicplayer

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I had the sort of unique position of being in a singing group a long time ago where there were four male voices and just my amp and guitar. I had to think of a way to be full-sounding, yet carry a bass line “pulse”. We performed Gospel styled songs where rhythm was key. I think that's where I started working on a right hand hybrid picking and I did get help from the low bass or baritone singer. Between the verses and choruses was when I played a quick solo line to ease into that transition. Yes, a bass player would have been a godsend, but when no one is available, it causes you to get a little more inventive. Up-tempo pieces were the real challenge.


Classicplayer
 

Dazza

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I just had another discussion along these lines where bass tone / style was brought up. Free ' Alright Now' bass line under the chorus is all upper register. There's plenty of warmth using old tube amps and a Gibson EB bass ! Though I highly doubt you'll convince bassists these days to use either.

Daz
 
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ErictheRed

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Everyone is blaming the bass player, but you can't solo in this situation like you're David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. You might need to reconsider your solos, play more rhythmic arpeggios, almost acoustic-like solo stuff. Let notes ring out with some open strings in addition to fretted notes. You might need to redefine what you think of as soloing. It doesn't need to be flashy or fast, but it needs to fill in the sound with some tasteful melody.
 

ehb

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Wet the guitar with DDL during some solos, maybe rev in others... Don't pour a five gal bucket on it, just enough to thicken.

Bass player can add a shallow chorus to help fatten up and add sparkle...could even wet it a touch....a small touch...
 

ehb

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I am not a fan of bass distortion.... I am NOT referring to SVT fat bottom girl tone....
I am talking stomp box chainsaw-notching-concrete distortion from hell
That usually sounds pretty much like dog shit out front to everybody but the bass player...
 

HogmanA

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Just another perspective on this,
The problem is the rhythm (both mdubya and tonedeaf mentioned this).
It's all contrast, or lack of.
An audience can't miss what was never there.
What you are really lacking without a full time rhythm guitar is full, thick rhythm.
If you set your own personal contrast level between 'rhythm/lead', verse/solo, etc just let the others make of that what they will.
If they remain thin - so be it! It is the new sound of the Band. Nothing wrong with thin, and then thick rhythm will be yet another contrast.
Avoid strumming 6 string chords, in other words! Maybe partial 2 string, 1 string chords.
And hint at rhythm, leave more spaces.
 


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