Solo Guitar Playing Also Known as The Musical Pressure Cooker
In this section on solo guitar playing I want to prepare any of you whom might be thinking of going
into this competitive field and doing your very 1st gig in this area,what you
can expect and problems and situations you might run up against.
Solo instrumental playing for money is without a doubt the most challenging
aspect of playing the guitar..
Well...no #1 you're all alone by yourself on stage you have no band,and no backup.
Kind of like a Steven Seagull movie right?...Oh... I've also heard that Steven is a guitarist
guess that makes him the toughest player in the business.I don”t think anybody
will tell him otherwise.
But anyways this section is for the players out there who have never done this type of gig before.
Now...my fellow musicians I want to state one fact.If you are going to play a paid solo guitar
gig you have to be very accomplished and competent on your instrument. Make absolutely sure you
are ready and prepared.Alot is riding on you to do this job well and properly.
Alot is at stake here including your personal reputation as a solo guitarist and musician.
Remember you don't have a band with 4 other guys to hide behind,it's just you.
The 1 thing to consider before doing a instrumental solo gig is this.
You cannot play any of your songs half-assed,you must be able to play them through
flawlessly.Because since you're playing solo any mistakes made will stick out
like a sore thumb,and if you get lost in the middle of a song and stop playing completely
you'll look like an idiot.
And then you'll have that sinking gut feeling of having your pants pulled down in the middle
of a huge crowd....I hope you remembered to put on underwear....just joking!
So is there pressure on a solo guitar gig? Yes Absolutely! And don't think that you can
fake your way through the gig by playing these songs in a single string melody style.
No Sir Batman....This type of gig calls for some serious solo guitar chord melody work
to make the songs sound good and full.
This means knowing how to play the melodies in jazz chords,so if you're not an
accomplished solo player well versed in diminshed passing chords and jazz chords
you will be way out of your element trying to do this type of gig.
A solo gig is only for seasoned veteran guitarists with many years of experience.
Don't think that after playing for 2 years you'll be able to do it,you're nowhere near
ready at that point with that amout of limited musical experience.
So only you know when you're ready to do your first solo gig.But before you do
it make sure you go and check out your competition extensively. It will amaze you
how good some ot these solo guitarists play.Take careful notice of their song selection,the
way they dress,the way they interact with the crowd etc...
And just remember the musician that was at the hotel gig the week before you and
whom you are following the next week,might be the very best solo guitar player
in the city. So just know what you're up against and whom your competition is.
Here are some of the things you could face on a solo guitar gig.
Lets make up a sceneario here lets assume you have a 4 hour solo guitar gig
at a nice hotel restaurant in the beginning of December.
OK...for starters...can you play a good 2 hours worth of standard Christmas songs?
If you can't answer yes...you're going to be in trouble...I guarantee you the hotel
patrons will be requesting Xmas music.
Listen....it's your job and business as a solo guitarist to be super versatile...you must
be able to play jazz standards,bossa novas,cha chas,xmas tunes,Beatles,TV Themes,
Movie themes,some classical guitar,some country,some soft light rock etc...
Can you play the Theme from “The Godfather”.,New York,New York?”
I can almost guarantee someone there will be celebrating a birthday....you
can play “Happy Birthday to You”...right? And also if there's any young kids
around you should also be able to play a few kids songs...Theme from Barney,
Sesame Street,some kids lullabys etc...
Oh....and forget about playing your 25 min flamenco rendition of “Stairway to Heaven
complete with the super distortion Eddie Van Halen solo in the middle.
Your job is to provide soft background music while the patrons are eating.
If your guitar playing is loud,grating, and offensive,your ass will be fired
and walking out the door....or maybe booted out the door by the manager...ouch!
So don't show up to the gig wheeling in your Double-Marshall Stack amplifier,
or you'll scare the living daylights out of the restaurant manager he might go
into cardiac arrest if he sees something like that coming through his door.
All you need is a small 30 watt amplifier to provide background music.
And the only time you want to draw the attention of the restaurant manager
to yourself is when patrons tell him what a fantastic job you're doing,and how great a
solo guitarist you are.
Here's another important tip....don,t drink alcohol and get loaded on the job.
If somebody is buying you drinks just have a pop or a juice.
If you have 7 rye and cokes on the job don't think that someone won't notice.
That type of information has a funny way of getting back to the manager
through the waitress,bartender...carrier pigeons etc.
And even if you did a fantastic job on the solo guitar gig,you'll never
play there again if you get the reputation of being a drunk.And it could
also affect other potential gigs you may get.
You wouldn't get drunk at your day job would you? Well....maybe you would
if you're an enforcer for the Sopranos or the Mafia or a Hitman....just kidding.
Remember always be a professsional on a solo guitar gig....look sharp wear a suit,
arrive early,convey confidence,be friendly,make your employer happy that he
hired you and give him reason to hire you again,by doing an exceptional
good job for him.