Music Blog

Band Practice… The Horror…

Last night we listened to a CD of the band’s February 1st practice. It was disheartening. That practice was the first with our new bass player, Wayne. From what I heard, I’m surprised Wayne wanted to come back. I’m not talking about the rest of the guys. I’m talking myself. Holy shi’ites, I sucked! Not only did my guitar sound terrible, but while I had good moments that I think showed some improvement, my playing was generally sloppy and more of a distraction than an asset.
But a lot of the problem was my guitar sound. I’ve been using my Behringer V-Amp 2 to generate tone, and it sounded pretty good the first couple of times that we practiced. But since then it’s just sounded worse and worse every week, and I don’t know why. I haven’t dramatically changed any settings, but it’s turned into a struggle just to get a decent tone. The same thing happened last Sunday. My guitar sounded bizarre; very thin and mid-rangey. Nothing I did seemed to fix it, so I wound up just unplugging the V-Amp and running straight into my amp (I’m using my Behringer BC300 bass amp combo for amplification). Oddly enough, when I did that I suddenly had a decent guitar sound. I’ve also learned to use my Big Muff pedal for some decent distortion sounds (without sounding like Black Sabbath at full roar), so that helped. Once that little problem was solved, it seemed like everything else went a little better.
But my sound was only part of the problem. When we were listening to the CD, I just shook my head at my guitar playing. It’s no wonder there seemed to be a little tension when we first started playing last Sunday. If Billy and Jeff had already heard what I heard when I got the CD home, it’s amazing they’re still interested in playing with me. It really is time for me to stop saying “I’ll get it” and genuinely “bring it”. I supposed over-all I’ve been taking my time, learning the songs, and mostly trying to do what I always did with bass; learn the structure of the song and then try to soak up the details through an organic, natural process of osmosis. That’s always worked well for me. It’s not going to be enough this time.
What I need to realize and admit to myself is that it’s been 14 years since I played with a band last, and back then I was a bass player, not a guitar player. In the years since I was married and got separated, I spent eight years staring out the window of a tractor-trailer, and I generally put my creativity and ambition in a box. It’s not realistic for me to expect to just waltz out like it’s the day after I last played with a band, switch from bass to lead guitar, and have things go well. I’m going to have to invest a lot more time and energy into getting this up to speed than I have been. My role in the band is an important one. That’s what “lead guitar” means. I’m the guy who’s supposed to be front and center where the guitar sound is concerned. I have to “bring it” for everything else to work well.
I’m going to change up my routine in the next couple of weeks and see if I can generate the dramatic improvement that I think I’m capable of. But if I can’t, I may seriously need to consider dropping out of the band and giving them room to find someone who can actually do this. I admit that my biggest problem right now is that my confidence has taken a beating. But I’m realistic enough to know that whatever the reasons may be that I haven’t been pulling this off, the band doesn’t deserve to have me wasting their time.
All this said, I think practice last Sunday went a lot better than practice on the 1st. The same thing happened with our last bass player. Practice #1 was rough and had me laughing in places. Practice #2 sounded dramatically better. I’m hoping that pattern repeats, because if not, I’m painfully aware of who is weak link in the chain here. Of course, admitting there’s a problem is the first step in correcting it, yes? Hopefully I can soon deliver a lead guitar player to these guys. If not, the time to make a graceful exit and let these guys get on with their lives might be near.

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