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  1. #1

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    What are the musical advantages a clean tone jazz guitarist has over a jazz pianist? What comes to my mind is the ability to bend notes.
    Next, I think of instrument portability; then you can easily correct the tuning and you get to play your own personal instrument every time. Pianists are often subjected to terrible instruments with stiff actions, and have no control over the tuning.
    What are some other musical advantages? I can Think of lots of advantages that the jazz pianist has but I can’t think of many advantages that jazz guitar has. I started as a jazz guitarist half a century ago but quickly switched to piano believing it offered less limitations. I love listening to jazz guitar but I prefer working on piano more. I see lots of gigs for solo piano but not much for a solo guitar. It just can’t produce as many parts or notes all at once. Solo piano can almost be like having a whole orchestra at your command, it’s like a one-man band.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2
    dbl post

  4. #3

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    Also guitar can bring percussion in drumless settings with the advantage over drums of having another melodic solo voice.

    of course it quite often did that with a piano; most of the early piano trios seemed to have used guitar not drums.

  5. #4
    Christian also wrote in the other thread this:

    I think with the guitar it’s not so much the advantages as things that work with the instrument. The piano will always dominate in terms of sheer flexibility of harmony, but the guitar does some things that are very, well, guitary for want of a better word, open strings, fingerpicking patterns (especially re-enterent ones), harmonics, strumming, different tone colours and types of right hand attack, and so on and so forth. This is the type of stuff you’ll hear guitarists doing a lot in contemporary jazz bands.

    To my ears the guitarists that have done best with harmony for jazz are those that use the guitar to these natural proclivities and make it work within jazz, rather than sounding like a mediocre jazz pianist (and it takes a lot of application to sound like even a mediocre jazz pianist on guitar - just think of the time it takes to map where the flipping notes are.)

    Jim Hall was wise to this ...

    Peter has certainly achieved this, while also being heavily influenced by Monk in particular. There is quite a guitaristic aspect of Monk, interestingly.

    So I think a guitarist has to embrace their own instrument a bit; and stop trying to always make it a piano. Unless you are Pasquale Grasso of course haha.

    and yea having a degree of control over your instrument is most certainly a plus over the piano, especially when you consider all the sonic options a guitar gives you in terms of pedals etc. But portability has always been the instruments ace in the hole.””

  6. #5

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    Musically the piano has a lot of advantages.

    The musical advantage of guitar is all the articulations a guitarist can do... slides, bends, hammer-ons, pull-offs, scraps, muting, snapping, harmonics, tone differences of flesh vs. pick, tone differences of where on the string you pick, strumming, vibrato, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

    Price and portability also goes to the guitar.

  7. #6

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    This is kind of a bandleader/fixer call. Their preferences.

    (I would also argue that to my ears a guitar is tonally preferable to an electronic piano, so guitar might be a better shout for gigs where there is no piano, but I know many who book gigs don’t see it that way lol.)

    Anyhoo, that aside, it’s really up to the guitarist, in my opinion, to make a case for the instrument in their playing.

    Often a band leader for a contemporary group will have reference points for the guitar too; quite often non-jazz ones haha.

  8. #7
    I agree a jazz guitar which is analog, sounds nicer than any “digital” piano. The only keyboard that comes close is the Fender Rhodes electric piano which does an excellent job in a small jazz ensemble when well amplified. But guitar is still far more expressive in terms of inflection than a Fender Rhodes.

  9. #8

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    I think piano is an extremely limited instrument compared to an orchestra. So I don't find it to be at all like an orchestra, not even a 4 piece band nor even just a guitar and a bass.

    Moreover a single instrument where every note has the same essential timber never sounds as interesting as multiple different instruments. After a short time, solo instruments start giving me ear fatigue, lol.

    In order for a solo concert to sound interesting, something in the composition or the performance must transcend the inherent limitation of a monotone source.

    I think, guitar can approximate homophony of a piano well. Where it'll always fall short is the polyphony.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 05-02-2021 at 04:46 PM.

  10. #9

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    There is also another disadvantage faced by pianists, which is the tendency to play too damn much- because they can easily do so, covering the bass/chords/melody and setting the rhythm/groove.

    There's an interview with Sonny Rollins (I believe- might be Art Farmer) where he talks about preferring to have a guitarist in the band because the guitarist leaves space in which to play whereas a piano tends to dominate.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    I agree a jazz guitar which is analog, sounds nicer than any “digital” piano. The only keyboard that comes close is the Fender Rhodes electric piano which does an excellent job in a small jazz ensemble when well amplified. But guitar is still far more expressive in terms of inflection than a Fender Rhodes.
    I do love a Rhodes! Also very easy to play with for a guitar.

  12. #11

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    The obvious advantage of a guitar over a piano is that one person can carry it wherever they want to go, and have it available.

  13. #12

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    Transposing: advantage guitar.

  14. #13

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    Emotional expression: advantage guitar (even without overdrive)

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I do love a Rhodes! Also very easy to play with for a guitar.
    The one I played with in a band was kinda muddy in the mid and lower register. Guitar+Rhodes+Conga was a recipe for a headache, though the audience didn't seem to think so from what I saw.

  16. #15

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    There is something about touching the vibrating strings directly with your fingers that is satisfying. Piano feels kind of like a toy in that you push buttons and sounds happen. The portability and affordability of a guitar is really nice too.

  17. #16

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    Ultimatedly I think guitar has more advantages but I think one has got to forfeit their own life to play that well

  18. #17
    A similar thread appeared in 2012 with over 30 posts.
    Plenty of piano envy:Jazz Guitar vs Jazz Piano

  19. #18
    The piano is like a full band:


  20. #19
    Two hands playing separate roles:


  21. #20
    I can’t imagine transporting this concept onto the guitar.


  22. #21
    A very hip tour of various blues piano styles, one man band style!


  23. #22

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    Advantages I like of the guitar are the symmetry makes scale and chord shapes the same for any root. I also like that guitar is more versatile, you can rock out or play jazz, or play classical. Piano is more locked into art music imo. People will bring up people rocking out boogie woogie, but that doesn't really do it for me. On piano I love being able to craft your entire harmony. With guitar you'd have to work out new harmonies for days before being able to perform them. On piano, you can just make up whatever you want on the spot. It's also easier to do counterpoint on piano and have a bassline, or accompaniment that grooves and a melody part. Edit: I forgot to mention that on organ you can theoretically have 3 parts going at once if you can hack it: foot bass, left hand, and right hand lol! Hurts your brain but is epic.
    Last edited by Clint 55; 05-03-2021 at 01:25 AM.

  24. #23

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    You can’t take a piano to the beach.

    Piano or Guitar, which has more advantages?-1e01526c-4b13-4734-9aac-427aae11935d-jpeg

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    A very hip tour of various blues piano styles, one man band style!

    any guitarists you particularly like for their harmony, comping etc?

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    The piano is like a full band:

    This doesn't sound like a full band at all. Maybe very poor man's band. Music is more than just quantity of notes.

    You can't get the sonarity and arrangement possibilities of a full band with a piano. Nevermind the interaction between the band members, individual personalities etc.

  27. #26

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    Barry Harris said in a workshop that there was nothing you could do on a piano that you couldn't do on a guitar. I remember thinking, "does he realize that we are not all Pasquale Grasso's".

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Barry Harris said in a workshop that there was nothing you could do on a piano that you couldn't do on a guitar. I remember thinking, "does he realize that we are not all Pasquale Grasso's".
    Tbf he also says that bass players should be able to play anything a sax can

  29. #28
    Well Jimi Hendrix thinks guitar makes good fire but Jerry lee Lewis thinks piano make better fire!!!

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Barry Harris said in a workshop that there was nothing you could do on a piano that you couldn't do on a guitar. I remember thinking, "does he realize that we are not all Pasquale Grasso's".
    Does Barry mean that literally though, or is it a bit of wise old sage "no excuses about your instrument" stuff?

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    I love listening to jazz guitar but I prefer working on piano more. I see lots of gigs for solo piano but not much for a solo guitar. It just can’t produce as many parts or notes all at once. Solo piano can almost be like having a whole orchestra at your command, it’s like a one-man band.
    And there you have it. A pianist IS a one-man band; comping self and soloing the comp.

    In my experience I've found that the pianist, having ' ten shots,'..will tak'em.

    I see Barry Harris references above so I'll add that he has said that it's the 'little things that are pretty.'

    I take that to mean that if he could get most pianists to cut back a bit they would focus more on voice leading.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Does Barry mean that literally though, or is it a bit of wise old sage "no excuses about your instrument" stuff?
    I guess so.
    He even added: "You can probably do more on the guitar." (paraphrasing).
    He was showing some stuff on the piano and wanted guitar players to do them. I think what he meant was, every concept he covered on piano was equally applicable to guitar.

  33. #32

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    It’s a guitar forum so most prefer guitar. I don’t know if the majority here actually have much piano experience. I know there are a few here that do. I prefer piano which I came to at age 35. It was easy to find a jazz instructor. Being single, I lived and breathed it for years, practicing for hours and hours until I became proficient with the instrument. Left hand bass lines while improvising was a challenge until it no longer was. I’ve owned grands, and later an upright. Later migrating to a Yamaha S90ES for its versatility of voices including jazz organ. As to portability, most pianos today are portable and come with soft carry bags. The Nord Stage 3 88 only weighs 41 pounds, and is easily carried on your back in a soft bag.The best imo is the Nord, which is built in Sweden. It’s pricy at $4500, but still very affordable when compared to many guitars.

    Here’s Joey playing a Nord at a gig.

    Last edited by 2bornot2bop; 05-03-2021 at 01:45 PM.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    any guitarists you particularly like for their harmony, comping etc?
    George Van Eps is pretty nuts : o


  35. #34

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    The main advantage guitar has over the piano is the ability to make notes speak in different ways.

    You can squeeze, bend, shake, slide, pull-off, vary pick and picking technique (and thereby sound) in an infinite number of ways. The notes can sustain or not. It all allows for emotional expression in a way that piano isn't so suited for -- although with pitch bending and volume pedals etc, they can cover some of this.

    Of course, jazz guitarists traditionally didn't exploit much of this capability. That came more from blues and rock traditions and, eventually, crossed over.

    OTOH, pianists can play more notes at a time, with closer voicings. And, a pianist can comp for himself or play a bass line while soloing. Solo piano is a lot easier than solo guitar.

  36. #35

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    ^ Piano isn't devoid of expression. It varies vastly depending on the touch. Although there is no pitch changing like guitar or note growth/tone shaping like sax.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2bornot2bop
    Here’s Joey playing a Nord at a gig.
    A Nord on top of a Hammond :P

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bornot2bop
    It’s a guitar forum so most prefer guitar.
    That doesn’t necessarily follow for me.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    That doesn’t necessarily follow for me.
    Really? I had no idea you played piano!

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    You can’t take a piano to the beach.
    Piano or Guitar, which has more advantages?-iu-jpeg

  40. #39

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    Ya, a 500lb piano would stand perfectly on the mud.

    Also, that looks like the geeziest movie ever.
    Last edited by Clint 55; 05-03-2021 at 06:31 PM.

  41. #40

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    That is black sand, on Karekare Beach.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bornot2bop
    Really? I had no idea you played piano!
    Well I wouldn't call what I do to a piano 'playing', exactly; what I mean is I don't think I am particularly biased towards or against guitar in my jazz listening. I like guitar about as much to listen to as other instruments.

  43. #42

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    Let's not forget, both piano and guitar are stringed instruments. I know this is a guitar forum . . . I am a guitarist . . . but to compare piano to guitar . . . the piano must always win for its superior sonorities, its dynamic range, the depth of its potential harmonic capabilities, and being a true orchestra of one. Then, once we begin to talk about the vast piano literature, and the centuries old pedagogy, the piano is the true winner. However, the guitar speaks to me more than a piano and that is why I play guitar. We are drawn to instruments by our personality. And, I don't know that this can really be explained. Do we choose the instrument or does the instrument choose us?
    Play live . . . Marinero

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    Let's not forget, both piano and guitar are stringed instruments. I know this is a guitar forum . . . I am a guitarist . . . but to compare piano to guitar . . . the piano must always win for its superior sonorities, its dynamic range, the depth of its potential harmonic capabilities, and being a true orchestra of one. Then, once we begin to talk about the vast piano literature, and the centuries old pedagogy, the piano is the true winner. However, the guitar speaks to me more than a piano and that is why I play guitar. We are drawn to instruments by our personality. And, I don't know that this can really be explained. Do we choose the instrument or does the instrument choose us?
    Play live . . . Marinero
    My maternal grandparents had an old acoustic guitar in the house - it had some kind of cowboy scene painted on the top. I can remember, as a young child, staring at this object and marveling at how anyone could learn to play this thing. The strings and frets (as I would much later learn to call them) seemed to be just too complicated to deal with. It took me a while to appreciate the guitar's magnificent simplicity. It is the most elegant of engineering solutions to the problem of the greatest range of notes (not to mention tones)* in the smallest space with the least materials producing the most pleasure for the most people in the most places. Stunning, really.

    *Bonus points: "Notes" and "tones" use the same letters! Coincidence?

    Probably.

  45. #44

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    In jazz the biggest difference for me is the minimalistic nature of the guitar. It lends itself to a more sparse, lighter kind of color and rhythm support, compared to the piano. So I feel it's important for guitar players to work into that, cause that's why someone would prefer guitar in their bands rather than piano.

    Another thing is the sound, the blues tradition and all the idioms that are guitar heavy. Certain styles of music, and styles of jazz, translate beautifully to the guitar.

    A third reason is the endless variations a guitar's sound can have. Most jazz piano players share more or less a piano sound. Guitar sounds can be anything from Jim Hall to Metheny, Scofield, Mike Stern, Holdsworth, you get the idea..

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter
    In jazz the biggest difference for me is the minimalistic nature of the guitar. It lends itself to a more sparse, lighter kind of color and rhythm support, compared to the piano. So I feel it's important for guitar players to work into that, cause that's why someone would prefer guitar in their bands rather than piano.

    Another thing is the sound, the blues tradition and all the idioms that are guitar heavy. Certain styles of music, and styles of jazz, translate beautifully to the guitar.

    A third reason is the endless variations a guitar's sound can have. Most jazz piano players share more or less a piano sound. Guitar sounds can be anything from Jim Hall to Metheny, Scofield, Mike Stern, Holdsworth, you get the idea..
    But if a piano sounds the way it does how does that explain its tonal differences in the hands of pro players like Keith Jarrettt, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Ahmad Jamal, on and on and on? Each of these players are easily identified by their individual sound as well. So there’s that.

  47. #46

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    Erroll Garner, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Vince Guaraldi. All have unique sounds. People say what they say cuz they don't play :P

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clint 55
    Erroll Garner, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Vince Guaraldi. All have unique sounds. People say what they say cuz they don't play :P
    I could have gone on. The list is endless. My personal favorite was Jarrett and Gene Harris.

  49. #48
    A pianist has less control over the sound than you might expect, all they can do is press the key at different velocities (dynamics).
    Once the hammer is then thrown and strikes the strings it is beyond their control, all they can do is keep the sustain damper off until they decide to let it down again thus releasing the sustain. If Jarrett throws a hammer at velocity 80 and a monkey throws the same hammer at 80, and for the same duration of course, it will sound the same. What makes them sound different is their phrasing (dynamics, rhythm, accents), their note choices, their concept and influences, how they vary their velocities ("touch", really a part of their dynamics phrasing again) and how they blend their note velocities and harmonize.
    Last edited by rintincop; 05-04-2021 at 10:57 PM.

  50. #49

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    Pianists don't play 1 note at a time. They play several, and so the different timbres created by the different key speeds create a unique overall tone.

  51. #50
    I think that even guitarists should be at least familiar with the piano if only because it's a lot easier to analyse things theoretically on a piano than it is on a guitar.