Keeping time when no one else is...

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Mike_In_KC

Guest
I have been playing fairly regularly with a buddy of mine who plays lead guitar. We have had a couple of bass players sit in with us but many times it is just the two of us. When we don't have a bass player we'll just jam with a bass backing track we find online or play with songs via youtube - nothing elaborate. The problem I am having is my buddy, while proficient in many areas, does not have a great sense of rhythm, often falling behind or ahead of the beat in the middle of a phrase. Whenever he gets off base it throws me off and I find that I get ahead or behind the beat. How do you guys handle it when the other players are not staying with you? I feel awkward telling him about it - he has been playing guitar for years while I have less than a year of experience.

I suppose if I had a click going it might help but when I play songs I usually like to turn the click off and feel it. I dunno - any suggestions are welcome.

Thanks!

MM
 

opentune

Platinum Member
As said on here once - " after the count-in the whole band keeps time". There is push and pull but somebody should not be consistently dragging. I am guessing its worse when no bassist there.

How you tell him is another matter, but it can be a common issue. Maybe just ask him what he thinks and you say what you 'know' :)

I find guitarists generally OK at this but vocalists are the worst - almost always rushing, and always adamant that a song is dragging.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Yes for sure - the last bass player we had was tight and I think that really helped...
Which is the key. If your time wavers when you hear another player fall out of time, you are enabling that musician to continue to make the same mistake, by following his/her poor rhythm. Obviously, you might make an exception during a live performance, so as not to cause a total train wreck, but for the most part, go ahead and plow through others' bad time with your own super-steady time. As a drummer, you will often find yourself in the company of musicians whose rhythm is not as refined as your own, and you should learn to make those situations as steady as they can be. Your steadiness and confidence will make musicians want to play with you.

You should definitely make your friend aware of the rhythm issue, but be kind, and phrase it positively, i.e. "That was a cool phrase, let's make it steadier." and not "That one part had crappy timing.". Most musicians (and indeed human beings) respond to the former better than the latter.
 

T.Underhill

Pioneer Member
Like Brent said, say it tactfully but by no means let it go or tread too lightly. I always try to keep on the beat (plowing along) regardless of what they're doing and most of the time they realize they're out of sync and adjust or we stop and bring it up for discussion. The bass and you HAVE to be locked in, if they're wavering with the guitarist you have to sidebar and let them know they're wrong ;) The guitarist might be going out on purpose for one reason or another so see what he says.
 

Southpaw99

Senior Member
I have experienced this more times than I can count. It's amazing how some guitarists have an amazing sense of rhythm and others are horrible. As stated, a bass player is often a great remedy for this. Sadly I've found if this keeps happening that it means I can't open up and play the way I enjoy playing..it makes me stay in the pocket the whole song with very few fills. For me this gets old and I usually look for other people to play with.
 

Zickos

Gold Member
I would get a 2x4 and smack him on the head when he does that. Sometimes you have to have tough love.
 

adamosmianski

Senior Member
I feel awkward telling him about it - he has been playing guitar for years while I have less than a year of experience.
You definitely need to bring it up to him. Even if you're certain that it's just him that screwing up the time, put it on both of you. It will take the sting out of it, and he'll probably be more open to working with you to fix it. Say something to the effect of, "Hey man, I notice at this one part you and I always get out of sync. Maybe we should work on it together."
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
your boy has a responsibility just like everyone else in the room behind an instrument

he owes it to you and to himself to learn how to keep time

I've said this many times here but it always bears repeating

once the tune is counted off the time is in the room ... and it is the responsibility of everyone playing anything from piano to kazoo to ride the same wave that you or anyone else is riding

time is elastic .... we ebb and flow with each other... that is what makes music beautiful

but to have a blatant disregard for time.... or the complete ignorance to not improve your time will never fly in my vicinity
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
once the tune is counted off the time is in the room ... and it is the responsibility of everyone playing anything from piano to kazoo to ride the same wave that you or anyone else is riding
It's impossible for me to agree with this more strongly.
 
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Mike_In_KC

Guest
Funny moment - So I decided to bring this subject up a few minutes ago with my guitar playing friend. The approach I used was to bring it up in a "counting" discussion we were revisiting via IM.

I said, "While we are on the subject of counting - when you practice at home do you play with a click?"

To which he quickly replied, "Why dude is my time THAT bad?"

Perhaps he is already aware :)
 

Dave_Major

Silver Member
I agree with tony et al. It is everyone job to play in time. I personally hate having to keep time while the singer pkays the drumless intro ...but need my hi hat clicking away to keep them all together!

I have found that some instruments are worse than others. Guitars and keys players are in my experience really bad at keeping time themselves.

There are exceptions...but mostly those are the players who record/produce.

Dave
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
I agree with tony et al. It is everyone job to play in time. I personally hate having to keep time while the singer pkays the drumless intro ...but need my hi hat clicking away to keep them all together!

Dave
#1 in the famous hand written "T. Monks advice"

'Just because you are not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time'

having to keep time for other musicians during drumless sections is ridiculous and completely irresponsible on their part
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
As many was to deal with this as there are people.

For the kind of music I usually play I definetly approach things as a "we" thing which it is if you have chosen to play together.

I'll just suggest to slow things down to hear things accurately and get it down to counting and knowing the rhythm intellectually. Then there is nothing to argue about. Once you have agreed, then it's either being played correctly or not.

Sometimes someone gets defensive even if we approach it completely as a group thing and practice tightening up certain things. In those cases there's not much to be done in the moment as it's both a skill thing and an ego thing.
 

Dave_Major

Silver Member
I agree with tony et al. It is everyone job to play in time. I personally hate having to keep time while the singer pkays the drumless intro ...but need my hi hat clicking away to keep them all together!

I have found that some instruments are worse than others. Guitars and keys players are in my experience really bad at keeping time themselves.

There are exceptions...but mostly those are the players who record/produce.

Dave
 

moxman

Silver Member
I have a similar issue with a bass player who is always playing behind the beat and not in the pocket. Its like a constant drag.. The 2 guitar players have good time.. And last gig I found if I ignored the bass and synced with the guitars.. He actually started to lock in! But if I listen to him it just throws me off.. unfortunately he's an old friend but a bit of a diletente.. So. I don't think he will change as he's just 'so great'.. As We just don't have time to waste we are going to star shopping for a new player..
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Which is the key. If your time wavers when you hear another player fall out of time, you are enabling that musician to continue to make the same mistake, by following his/her poor rhythm. Obviously, you might make an exception during a live performance, so as not to cause a total train wreck, but for the most part, go ahead and plow through others' bad time with your own super-steady time. As a drummer, you will often find yourself in the company of musicians whose rhythm is not as refined as your own, and you should learn to make those situations as steady as they can be. Your steadiness and confidence will make musicians want to play with you.

You should definitely make your friend aware of the rhythm issue, but be kind, and phrase it positively, i.e. "That was a cool phrase, let's make it steadier." and not "That one part had crappy timing.". Most musicians (and indeed human beings) respond to the former better than the latter.
Agreed on all points. Play with authority. Lead the weakest link, don't be lead by it.

Sure, as noted there may be times when playing live that you've gotta go with the flow to a degree. But the rehearsal room is exactly the place to iron all this stuff out. I've never thought twice about stopping the band, explaining what the problem was and starting again with everyone in focus, if I thought the time wavering was that bad. For mine, that's exactly why we rehearse in the first place.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
A common issue is a riff that is hard or awkward for the player. Many folks will either slow down, rush though it, or hack it up completely out of time. If they get though all the notes, they think they have played it.

A tape recorder (or modern digital equivalent) is in order. Reality check for how well you are actually doing.

Playing alone in Madison Square Basement is the bane of many players. They don't know what it's like to listen to others. Even if they play with backing tracks, they fool themselves into thinking they nailed the lick. The other thing is tone and dynamics. When you are all by yourself, you fall in love with a big fat tone that turns to mud with a whole band, and don't learn to get out of the way when what you're doing isn't the lead sound in the tune.
 

johnnylaw

Senior Member
You have to keep it simple.

Tell him to lock onto your (snare, or hat, or kick, or SOMETHING) just one piece. Snare is good bet for lots of stuff. Just keep reminding him to listen and lock on. He needs to learn to listen first. A lot of "lead guitarists" (hah!) are terrible at this.

Wailing does not a musician make.
 
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