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  1. #1

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    I just did another jam last night, that's how I play out these days.

    Anyway... I got called to start the jam after the house band ended--I came early to feel comfortable NOT to sweat bullets.

    A bunch of great players and me... who didn't belong?

    Whew, but there's a silver lining. I now know that I have to work on playing without another horn or a pianist in the band. Handling the melody, the harmony, and making it all sound jumpin' and interesting. Yikes. I think playing Giant Steps with a pianist is easier than that.

    I've never played solo guitar out, that's frightening to me (so I give all you solo guitarists A LOT of credit)

    Just thought I'd share that...eekk!

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Welcome to the club! The guitar, as Segovia said, is a small orchestra, not a tenor sax, and playing the whole instrument is what we should strive to do, so that we can be the fundamental underpinnings for any singer or horn player, as pianists often are. Working on solo versions of favorite jam-session tunes can pay off very nicely in the long run, and don't forget to learn to accompany in the various styles available to us, from Freddy Green straight 4/4 rhythm to George Van Eps moving voices and orchestrations, both pick and finger-style. Having a bassist and drummer certainly make it all easier and more enjoyable, that's my favorite way to play, but having a horn player or singer also exercises the listening part of your musical brain.

  4. #3

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    funny i always liked the guys that wanted to sound like a horn...from charlie christian to jimmy raney to holdsworth! hah

    cheers

  5. #4

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    Yea, in a larger group setting I often sound like a horn when someone else is soloing; as in NO sound at all!

    The point being that comping in a larger group setting is a challenge for me since 90% of the music I play is just with one other person (mostly another guitarist but also a pianist once a week).

  6. #5

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    Finger picking is cheating

  7. #6

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    Practising comping for yourself (I mean play a solo but also include chords as if comping) is a great exercise, I think it gives a lot of benefits. In addition to developing an approach for playing in a trio, it also helps build a method for playing solo guitar, and it probably improves your comping as well.

  8. #7

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    I think the big thing is to get rid of this false binary division between comping and soloing however you do it - imagine a slider that you can position at any point from ‘all chords’ to ‘all single notes’ and experiment with moving it around.

    Simple things like trading with yourself can be really effective.

    Your chords should always have melodies in the top line. The voice leading itself can be a little loose but if you get that melody in the top voice it will make it easier to do this type of thing.

  9. #8

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    Go to a jam session to play solo guitar? Don't sound like my kind of fun.

  10. #9

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    @cosmicgumbo, I think OP is writing about playing guitar trio not solo.

    On that note, to the OP:
    - isn't guitar trio the same thing as pretty much any piano-less (and vibes-less) quartet/quintet when it comes time to solo? Sure sometimes the horns will throw in some guide tones or nifty little melodies over the bridge on extended solos, but mostly it's like trio when soloing...
    - check out Lage Lund who is an absolute master at playing guitar trio!

  11. #10

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    Are we talking about guitar trio or solo guitar?

    If it's a trio, you have the added responsibility to play in time and allow the bassist to keep up. In solo playing, you can always play out of time, throw in a lick or chord or whatever. My favorite solo players play arrangements in perfect time, with no hiccups, but I think they have to work things out in advance and have an impressive mental library of tunes and devices.

    To simplify and de-scarify guitar trio, I'd suggest the following.

    The bassist and drummer know, or should know, that you're under the most pressure. They should let you call the tunes.
    You want to call tunes that you know well and aren't too hard to play.

    At first, don't worry too much about harmony. Play the melody in single notes if you have to. Get the audience used to that sound. If your lines outline the harmony nicely, and the bassist is doing a good job, the harmony will be heard.

    Start sparse. Leave plenty of space in your lines.

    Throw in a double stop -- two strings -- when you can. After the single notes, it will sound like a choir chimed in.

    Then, it's whatever you can do.

    Hit a chord, play a line. Repeat.

    Solo in chord voicings. Make a melody out of the highest note of each chord.

    There are three ways to select two instruments out of three and three ways to select one instrument. Add in the full trio and that's 7 sounds.

    Drummer takes a chorus sometimes. Other times, 8s, 4s or even 2s.

    Look at the drummer and play accented lines. Get him doing the hits with you.

    Quote other tunes in your solo.

    Change the sound of the guitar with pedals.

    etc.

    The idea is to have a repertoire of different ways to present the tune -- all well within your capability.

    Some don'ts:

    Don't play everything at the same volume, tempo, key, style or sound.

    Don't ever screw up the time. Guitarists have a tendency to try to execute lines that they (we) can't quite make.

    Don't look upset.

    And, a controversial one: don't play with a bone dry tone.

  12. #11
    I was talking trio. I just said that playing solo guitar is quite a feat. But at a jam, playing in a trio with bass-drums-and you is also difficult. Especially when the other two players are strangers (usually the case at jam sessions)

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I think the big thing is to get rid of this false binary division between comping and soloing however you do it - imagine a slider that you can position at any point from ‘all chords’ to ‘all single notes’ and experiment with moving it around.

    Simple things like trading with yourself can be really effective.

    Your chords should always have melodies in the top line. The voice leading itself can be a little loose but if you get that melody in the top voice it will make it easier to do this type of thing.
    The above is some sage advice. From a Joe Pass book I learned some of those easy to gab 2 and 3 note chords. During my use-to-be-all-single-note solo I would throw in these chord voicing at very 'set' place (e.g. the 1 or 4). At first it would be only one or two. Yea, that 'slider' didn't move very much but at least it wasn't on zero! Over time I would add more while still keeping a solid rhythm (and when I lost the rhythm, which did happen, I knew I moved that 'slider' a little too much for my current skill\practice level).

  14. #13

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    If you listen to the masters of the modern trio, Jim Hall, Ed Bickert, and Lenny Breau, they were always able to mix harmony and melody in their solos, without compromising their solos at all.