Playing with Another Guitarist

Playing in a band with another guitarist can be heaven or it can be hell. Simply put, the way you play when you're the only guitarist in the band will not always work when another guitarist is added to the mix.

Typical problems that arise are 1) both guitarists end up playing the same or similar parts, making everything sound muddy, or 2) both guitarists try to fill all the space, crowding one another out in the process.

Here are some tips for avoiding these problems.

1. Communicate - Many trainwrecks can be avoided by a simple conversation with the other guitarist(s) before jumping into a tune. Decide up front who will play each part, who will take any solos, who will fill during the verses, etc. If you have a good idea of what the other guitarist will be doing, you're well on your way to being a great bandmate!

2. Vary your Tone - This is primarily aimed at electric players. If possible, use a different guitar/amp/effects than the other guitarist in the band. Aim for a balance between bright vs dark, wet (heavy delay/reverb/modulation) vs dry, and clean vs dirty. Make adjustments to your gear as needed to complement the tone of your bandmate.

3. Use Different Textures - What do I mean by textures? Arpeggiated parts, power chords, double stops, octaves, bar chords, single note licks, open voiced triads, silence...all are examples of different textures. Mix and match any number of these techniques to create parts that complement what the other guitarist is playing.

4. Play Different Rhythms - If one guitarist is playing a driving eighth note rhythm pattern, you may want to try an accenting part on the 2 and 4 of each bar. Or maybe one guitarist plays a pattern that fills up the first 2 beats of the measure and the other guitarist fills up the end of the measure. The point is that you fill up different places in time with your guitar parts.

Keep these ideas in mind next time you play in a band with multiple guitarists. Before long you'll be the guy all the other guitarists in town want to play with!

As always, leave a comment below if you have a question, a story about playing with another guitarist, or any other additional insight. I'd love to hear from you.


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