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Author Topic:  Lead guitar versus Pedal Steel
Billy Murdoch

 

From:
Glasgow, Scotland, U.K.
Post  Posted 10 Mar 2020 11:40 am    
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Groan
Anyone have a diplomatic way of getting a lead guitarist to turn down and play less ?
Our band usually play a split break for a middle eight,The singer will turn to the lead guitarist when it is His turn and then the singer turns round and the pedal steel takes the second portion. When it is not My turn I play quiet rhythm then when I get My turn the Lead player plays as if he is doing the whole solo . I have mentioned this often and He says He is only arpeggiating. Finding another band is not an option there are not many around My area.At our most recent gig when it came to My turn to play I began and since the lead guitarist was still going strong I jus backed off and sat with My hands on the strings,The lead singer gave Me a funny look and then rolled His eyes Any ideas ?
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Pete Burak

 

From:
Portland, OR USA
Post  Posted 10 Mar 2020 11:51 am    
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Hey Man, If you want me to be in this band, you have to completly turn your volume off 50% of the time, and wait until it is your Instruments turn to play again.
You can make it look like you are playing during that time, but please don't make a sound while it's my turn to play.

Then show him a video of a guitar player laying out until it's his turn to play.
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 10 Mar 2020 11:54 am    
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Although anything is possible, I doubt he'll change. He's probably always been doing it, and thinks nothing's wrong. I've played with a few lead players like that, and even after discussions about it (and a few hours of things as they should be), they always reverted to old behaviors.

I feel for you, and wish I could be more positive. But I have to relate based upon my own experiences.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 10 Mar 2020 12:18 pm    
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Tell him, “hey man, I’ll lay out for your solo if you lay out for mine.”
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 10 Mar 2020 12:18 pm    
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I fear that Donny is almost certainly right. This inability to listen to others is probably genetic and immutable.

Our guitarist will shut up if you tell him, but otherwise he insists on playing full chords all the time (because he has good technique and he knows them all) instead of leaving the bass to the bass.

In fairness, he's not been with us long so my project is to determine whether this is just lack of education and therefore maybe fixable.

Musicianship is all about putting yourself in the place of the audience - what do they want it to sound like?
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 10 Mar 2020 12:28 pm    
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Two other things you could do, in the likely event that verbal diplomacy fails:

-Play those same cute little arpeggios during his solo, with your volume pedal floored.
-Keep your VP floored during your solo.

It's not very diplomatic and it's not gonna be pretty, but it sends the message and you should only have to do it once.

To put an exclamation point on what Pete and Ian just said - On a guitar gig I was doing one time, I turned to the highly renowned steel player I was backing and trading solos and fills with and asked him if I was staying out of his way enough. I thought I was being very subtle and tasteful, but he gave me a look I won't forget and said I was all over him. He pointed to the acoustic guitarist, bass player, and drummer and said "that's the rhythm section over there."
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Billy Murdoch

 

From:
Glasgow, Scotland, U.K.
Post  Posted 10 Mar 2020 12:44 pm    
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Thanks for the prompt replies Gents.
I have no wish to start confrontations and possible bad feeling. I wonder if the Jeff Newman story could be implemented.Whist visiting London jeff had been asked to sit in for a little while with a local band and after a couple of songs(Very loud band) the bandleader asked jeff why they could not hear the steel Oh said Jeff I didn't think You wanted Me to play !!
I was thinking about backing off and letting the lead player be heard as top dawg and see If I get any comments.
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Clyde Mattocks

 

From:
Kinston, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 10 Mar 2020 12:57 pm    
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I play steel and lead guitar so I feel like I know what is proper. If I'm playing lead guitar with a steel player, I try to compliment what he is doing, but not be completely silent. I will do tic-tac or chord walks,depending on the style and not nearly in his space volume-wise. It kind of depends on what other instruments are in the band and how much I am needed to just hold it together. Generally, I think there is some role for the lead guitar to play most of the time.
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Joseph Carlson


From:
Grass Valley, California, USA
Post  Posted 10 Mar 2020 1:25 pm    
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Someone posted this video in another thread.

Redd V and Dallas Wayne, not sure who the steel player is, but the interaction between the steel and the guitar is petty much perfect. Both alert, watching each other, playing tastefully, and generally not stepping on each other's toes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG6OMMZVItM

Edited to add the name of the steeler is Mike Bourque. Great playing.
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Dave Hopping


From:
Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 10 Mar 2020 1:31 pm    
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If ya can't play steel,play loud! Winking

EDIT: All seriousness aside,folks; stepping over the other lead voices or instruments is usually a symptom of listening only to one's own playing.Hard habit for six-stringers to break.
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Wayne Franco

 

From:
silverdale, WA. USA
Post  Posted 10 Mar 2020 6:44 pm     I've had some problems being heard out front
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I'm not into self abuse playing loud into my own ears so this is what I've done and it works well for me. I put the amp right by my side up close to the front of the stage. I play as loud as I have to..to stay up with the volume of the band. I'm always heard out front and I am glad to turn down if they have a mind to. If not I can still cope. In fact I will put my amp further back if the do play quiet.
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Larry Bressington


From:
The beautiful sunsets of Nebraska
Post  Posted 10 Mar 2020 7:33 pm    
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Very common problem I’m afraid, it’s a universal issue that’s for sure. All good advice here, but ultimately you will have to tell him to TURN completely OFF, no frills, no fills, no arpeggios, no fretboard drizzle, just OFF!!

Have two people talk in his ear at the same time and ask him what they said? When he sayes whaaa??? Say that’s how it sounds to the listener, garbled garbage.

I’ve also worked with steel players with the same habit, Ching chang all the way through a song, no light no shade, no taste, no thoughtfulness.

A song has to build like a volcano and release at the end, wham bam all the way through is for the birds! 🦅
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 10 Mar 2020 11:47 pm    
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This is NOT a Universal problem and telling another player to turn his instrument OFF is not the answer either. Thats equally as crazy .

This is Musician issue not a Guitar vs Steel thing. In some cases, its the Steel player causing the issue. But of course we all know Steel players never overplay or play too loud !



If someone is out of control, and that includes Steel Players, you gotta be BLUNT. I've played alongside many Steel players who would never shut up, gave concerts in every song.

There are enough POOR Musicians to go around.

IF the Band leader is aware and not correcting the situation then you don't actually have a Band leader.



How about make a phone call ahead of the gigs to discuss some of the songs together verbally. Maybe, just maybe the guitar player is intimidated by the Steel player.

" hey , how ya doin ? lets talk about the gig this weekend "

I play a regular show with another guitar player , he is very good, we sometimes clash, as expected, we are both lead players and have been for decades. We talk a day or two ahead of the shows and discuss songs, breaks, intro's etc. We even try to get together.

Perhaps this is the time to tell him that the arpeggios' and volume bother you and interfere with your playing. Maybe he just doesn't realize whats going on. Maybe he will tell you of some things that are aggravating him. Maybe it's not one-sided.

Everything doesn't turn out perfect musically but it turns out better. My friend ( the other guitar player) we now look at each other and kinda smile when we clash. We grow from it but it takes TWO and some compromise. Ironically, in some instances we find ourselves playing the exact same phrases at the exact same time , Steel and Guitar. Which means we are thinking exactly the same.

Communication, respect and some friendship.

Its worth a shot.

This is not a "Universal" Steel vs Guitar thing, it's a Musician vs Musician thing. To assume that only guitar players are worthy of correction is nuts. I hope thats not the attitude projected on the bandstand.
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Last edited by Tony Prior on 11 Mar 2020 2:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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Dave Campbell

 

From:
Nova Scotia, Canada
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 1:40 am    
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you have to be honest; both with yourself and the other player. you have to tell him how you feel about this situation, but be prepared to have to do it over and over and over again to get a slight improvement.

if you are working on covers, listen to them together and be prepared to know what and when the guitar is playing, as well as your own parts. discuss the plan and criticize when he doesn't follow the plan.

if you are working on originals, you'll need to take a very active role in arranging. discuss the plan and criticize when he doesn't follow the plan.

you need to make this area of your band's music your complete area of inarguable expertise.

i play in a few bands that have the same guitar player. he is a very good and tasteful player, but he sits on his amp, plays too loud and approaches most songs from his perspective, which is rock'n'roll. together we have made a lot of progress in cleaning things up, but there are still times when he plays full chord strumming through 'swinging doors' or tries to fill when i'm filling on ernest tubb tunes. his favourite phrase when criticized is " i was just doing ____", and my reply is "i know, but you're supposed to sit on your hands!".

as big an a hole as i feel like, i'm on him constantly...but every time i force myself to mention things that we did well, and to recognize what a great contribution he's making. equal parts sincere flattery and sincere criticism.

you also i think have to be honest with yourself about how much energy you're willing to expend on this, how many awkward conversations you're willing to have and how much you're willing to get stepped on when you play.

i feel your pain.
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 1:48 am     Re: Lead guitar versus Pedal Steel
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Billy Murdoch wrote:
Groan
Anyone have a diplomatic way of getting a lead guitarist to turn down and play less ?


Put some sheet music in front of him Smile
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 2:41 am    
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I'll say it again.

Maybe he thinks YOU are the problem .

These conversations are better served before the gig, not on the gig when all ego's prevail.

Nothing worse than telling another player on a gig they are annoying you or not doing a good job. Its all downhill from there . Especially if you are NOT the band leader.

How easy is it to always blame another player without actually knowing whats going on. It may have nothing to do with the music.

Fact of the matter, not everyone always gets along musically or socially.
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Larry Bressington


From:
The beautiful sunsets of Nebraska
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 4:25 am    
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And I’ll say it again...it is a universal issue, Billy is from Scotland, I am from the UK, there are guys on here from Australia and New Zealand who complain about the same thing, I worked on three continents over the past 30 years, and believe me it is a universal and common complaint in every corner of the globe 🌎 in every style of music, no culture or nationality is immune from it.

Asking a player to turn off is not crazy, Listen to some of the top notch ex Brent Mason on Alan Jackson’s, believe me he turns off and isent Ching chang through a song, watch him live. What separates the men from the boys, isn’t the ability to blow chops as much as it is your ability to blend in with discretion and tastefulness, and know when playing nothing is the most important thing you can do, removing clutter and clean up is a healthy habit.
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Paul Wade


From:
mundelein,ill
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 5:32 am    
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Larry Bressington wrote:
And I’ll say it again...it is a universal issue, Billy is from Scotland, I am from the UK, there are guys on here from Australia and New Zealand who complain about the same thing, I worked on three continents over the past 30 years, and believe me it is a universal and common complaint in every corner of the globe 🌎 in every style of music, no culture or nationality is immune from it.

Asking a player to turn off is not crazy, Listen to some of the top notch ex Brent Mason on Alan Jackson’s, believe me he turns off and isent Ching chang through a song, watch him live. What separates the men from the boys, isn’t the ability to blow chops as much as it is your ability to blend in with discretion and tastefulness, and know when playing nothing is the most important thing you can do, removing clutter and clean up is a healthy habit.

what Larry said i started out a guitar player before steel. when i first got to play with a very good steel player i got my Ass handed to me by him. i learned when to play and when to not play it's hard for a guitar player that you don't know how he is go inning to react on a gig been ther before ...
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 7:33 am    
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Its a Universal problem . Guitar players all over the world are the problem !

I just think we are too emotional, maybe we should just look at ourselves as part of the issue. We are not exempt even though we may feel we are.

Personalities many times cause bigger problems than the music we try to play together.

I don't much care, get rid of the guitar players, all of them !


Its a musician problem, not an Instrument problem. I guess nobody here ever worked with a novice Harmonica player !
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 7:43 am    
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Larry Bressington wrote:

Asking a player to turn off is not crazy, Listen to some of the top notch ex Brent Mason on Alan Jackson’s, believe me he turns off


What world are you discussing here, the A team recording sessions AKA Alan Jackson records or the Local Armory Dance band ? Many of today's new players are barely familiar with AJ songs.

Like I said way above, we are assuming everyone in the band or every guitar player you work with knows all the exact same arrangements that you do.

I happen to love AJ music, you and I could probably play those songs together with our eyes closed but I also know a good amount of Steel players who SAY they know those AJ songs and try to wing it, and fail miserably as I try to play them (on guitar) like the records.

Maybe I'll ask them to turn their amps off ! Very Happy

So, ask a guitar player to turn his or her amp off, I would be very curious to know what the response was.
Very Happy I'm not asking them ! And I'm also not the band leader.

I hate to be repetitive but its a musician problem not a guitar problem. If you don't like it, then you have to make decision , nothing is going to change overnight, or maybe not at all until you have a conversation, and I don't mean on the bandstand during a gig.

Reach out before the gig. You already know what to expect ON the gig. Or live with it.

Personally, whether I'm on Steel or Guitar, for me, the bigger concern is Bass players and Drummers.
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Bill C. Buntin

 

Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 8:43 am    
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Billy

Anymore, here is what I do, while the other musicians are doing anything at a high volume, I don’t play. I think of it like a group of bird dogs. Good bird dogs always honor another dogs point. So regardless of the player, if they jump on it with anything, fills arpeggios and the like, I honor that.

The mark of true professional is they will reciprocate that same forbearance.

Returning unwanted fills and licks trying to teach them a lesson has never worked for me.

Eventually, someone will get the message that only one lead musician is doing all the work. And it might solve itself. If you are bound to stay with that one band, all I can say is, good luck.

I have packed up and left astonished band members and patrons for this very reason.

But it most certainly is a common problem of lack of professionalism.

I see it often. And my actions are always the same ie Back off and let them have it. Having an amplifier contest has never worked for me either. Not much you can do really but just be professional.

Or, this is my experience fwiw

Bill
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Barry Blackwood


Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 8:43 am    
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Quote:
Generally, I think there is some role for the lead guitar to play most of the time.

Problem #1...
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Jeff Harbour


From:
Western Ohio, USA
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 8:48 am    
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If his "arpeggiated" lines are repeated and fairly predictable, then you could develop a harmony line or counter-melody to compliment them. I have done this in many different bands. In the end it sounded tight... like we spent hours carefully working it out... In reality, it was all just me avoiding an argument!
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Larry Bressington


From:
The beautiful sunsets of Nebraska
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 8:55 am    
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A diplomatic way of putting it is this and I’ve used this many times without hardship.

A machine gun makes lots of noise and keep down lots of heads, a sniper makes one noise and keeps down all heads...say less and stand out when it’s “your” turn. 👍🏻

Tony, I never once said this was a guitar player issue, i’ve ran into the same problem with any instrument, piano players that can’t stop pounding like a greyhound after a rabbit. I agree with you it’s a discipline/human thing, it’s all good brother. 😊


Last edited by Larry Bressington on 11 Mar 2020 9:05 am; edited 3 times in total
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 11 Mar 2020 9:02 am    
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It depends on how thick the other player is. Some people will nod their heads and say they understand, and then follow through with actions that prove they haven't got a clue. I'm all for diplomacy, but when it fails, the blunt instrument must be deployed (figuratively speaking, of course). Even then, the weaker mind will take it as a personal attack instead of an attempt to improve their artistic development and the overall sound of the band.

Tony is right about the clashing of lead player titans being a two-way street. One always has to consider the remote possibility that the problem lies within, not without. I also like the Jeff Newman approach of just sitting out of the tune if you're being drowned out by all the racket. That is a great example of the "blunt instrument".
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