You can have all the gear in the world, the best guitars, the best amps, but if you don’t have musicianship it isn’t worth anything. Gear without musicianship is like a clanging symbol. I’m getting my metaphors mixed up but it is true. Here are 8 powerful tips to master your musicianship.
1. Listen for the silence. One of the traits of a master of musicianship is to know when not to play. Not every part of every song needs a sweet guitar line. I know, it’s shocking. What is not being heard in the song makes what is being heard more powerful. Knowing when not to play will make your next guitar part more meaningful.
2. Sometimes a tasteful guitar lick is the best thing to give the second verse more pop than the first. Remember to aim during the cadence of the vocals. Place your lick in between the singers’ vocals. Don’t fight with the vocals, work with them.
3. Match your sounds with the right part. Don’t ‘tack-on’ an effect to a guitar part. The part should be designed for the sound and vice versa.
4. Know your blind spots. There are times when we think we sound good and times when we don’t. We need to be sensitive and look at our playing critically in order to find these.
5. Listen to other guitar players. When listening to music no matter what genre, listen to how the guitar player is supporting the song. Listening is the first step to learning. The guitar has different roles in different genres and may not be supporting in the same way it does in worship music, but there is something to be learned from just about every genre.
6. A touch of delay goes a long way.
7. Don’t eat the whole pie. Music is like a sonic pie. The drummers have their slice. Bassists have their slice. Keyboardists have their slice. And you have yours. The guitar has the ability to take up a lot of ‘sonic room’ or eat pieces of the pie that don’t belong to it. It’s rude to eat someone else’s piece of the pie, both musically and physically. Hear the other instruments. Listen to what they are doing and don’t eat their piece of the pie. Instead, by making your part more complementary, you drastically improve the quality of music.
8. Know your congregation. Some people react well to guitar solos. Others not so much. Guitar is cool whether it is a solo or a tasteful volume swell. You are there to serve them. If you don’t know them, then you can’t serve them.
More pieces to the puzzle of sounding good.