"Option to quit" for guitarists - how to do it tactfully?

Magenta

Platinum Member
When I started my original band two years ago, we couldn't find a guitarist so we roped in a friend who fronts another local band. That other band is always very busy, gigging 2-3 times pretty much every week. At first it didn't matter too much because we were just glad to have somebody, but now it's becoming a real problem. We keep having to turn gigs down because he's already committed. Our second guitarist is in the other band too, and as the rest of us are vocals, bass and me, we are in a pickle.

Our singer and I have decided that we won't be going anywhere with the current lineup, but we love what we do and we don't want the band to fizzle out. We want the guitarists to step aside so we can try to find replacements who will put our band if not first, then at least somewhere on their list of priorities, but I'm very much afraid that this is going to be difficult to achieve, not least because Lead likes to have a monopoly of the local music scene - not that we'd be much competition for him, if indeed any at all.

We can't sack them because not only would we be musical pariahs (Lead would see to that), but we are also very good friends with their wives, and additionally, Second's son is my drum teacher.

So how do we get them to make the decision to leave our band? The best idea I have come up with so far is to invent a well-paid wedding gig that I know they wouldn't be able to play, and then to say "I can't afford to turn down £££, would you mind if we found somebody else?", but (a) I don't like being untruthful and (b) I bet it would go wrong somehow.

Any suggestions? Please!!
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Creating "stories" is a very bad idea. Have a chat to each guitarist, present the issue, & invite them to offer a solution. They'll either offer your band some degree of priority, or see themselves as the issue & exit. I believe it really is that simple, & it's the right thing to do.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Just be honest. Tell them that you, the bassist and singer want to gig and push the band forwards, explain how enthusiastic you all are about where it is going. Tell them you understand the position they are in, that you understand they were already in the other band when this one started up. But, to be fair to everyone they need to committ to one band as trying to juggle two gigging bands is not fair to anyone, especially as they always chose the other band when gigs clash.

We were in the same position earlier in the year. The guitarist decided to stay with us as he enjoyed the music more and liked the personalities in the band. As long as its done in a normal, friendly, conversational way I dont see a problem in talking about the problem. That way everyone remains friends and the door remains open for future projects.
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
Creating "stories" is a very bad idea. Have a chat to each guitarist, present the issue, & invite them to offer a solution. They'll either offer your band some degree of priority, or see themselves as the issue & exit. I believe it really is that simple, & it's the right thing to do.
That is what I want to do, for every reason, but I'm genuinely worried that Lead will intentionally stymie us. He has a track record of hogging. As our singer described him last night: a carp in a goldfish bowl.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
That is what I want to do, for every reason, but I'm genuinely worried that Lead will intentionally stymie us. He has a track record of hogging. As our singer described him last night: a carp in a goldfish bowl.
I think you have your "a" & "r" the wrong way around ;)

It's the only way forward. Just because your guitarist will behave like an arse, doesn't mean you have to go the subterfuge route. Keep control of the high ground, & the rest will be what it will be.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
That is what I want to do, for every reason, but I'm genuinely worried that Lead will intentionally stymie us. He has a track record of hogging. As our singer described him last night: a carp in a goldfish bowl.
Yes, but a band is more than one person. Ask him nicely to make a decision, having a part time band member is not working. If he is going to be an a**e about it do you realy want him in the band anyway?
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
he is going to be an a**e about it do you realy want him in the band anyway?
Mike, you have no idea how much you have hit the nail on the head! See Andy's opinion below:

I think you have your "a" & "r" the wrong way around ;)
I know you are both right. I'm currently drafting a message to send to everybody and I think it might be a good idea to run it past you lot first.
 

ron s

Senior Member
If you do it the right way at least you can sleep at night, and they cannot say anything truthful about your group that is negative.

Sometimes personalities can ruin a good musical situation.

I'm sure everything will work out in the end.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
I was in the exact same situation as you a few years ago. We had a singer who fancied himself the king of the local music scene. We all believed he was as well based on his connections and previous projects. Once his personal life got in the way of the band we canned him and he went on a tirade about how we were done. Funny thing was, everywhere we went guys told that they knew he was an a-hole and were glad we got rid of him. So don't doubt that if "lead" is the person you claim him to be, others know it as well.
 

Headbanger

Senior Member
Does it have to be so formal? Can't you just start up a second band with new guitarists and carry on playing in two bands until one (or both) of them dies?

The first band will probably fade away without any drama once everyone is involved in other projects. Bands disappear very quickly unless somebody is making a special effort to keep on top of the bookings, rehearsals and so on. There's no need to fire anyone if the group is already struggling to maintain its momentum.
 

Icetech

Gold Member
First i would actually talk to them about the issue and hopefully they would come to the decision that maybe they should step aside....
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
If you do it the right way at least you can sleep at night
True, and important.

So don't doubt that if "lead" is the person you claim him to be, others know it as well.
I know more than a few people who don't like him, but equally, he and his band have a considerable fan base.

Does it have to be so formal? Can't you just start up a second band with new guitarists and carry on playing in two bands until one (or both) of them dies?
I thought of that, in the interests of "least said soonest mended", but counter-intuitive as it may sound - considering how infrequently we play out - my band is quite well-known as we have a memorable name and a strong identity, which I want to keep. It would also seem a little underhand to me, in a way, if I wasn't up-front, although I am concerned about the potential pitfalls.

Madge, you know my response is going to be 'arson'.
Yes I do :)

Right, here's my first draft. I've tried not to aim it at anybody in particular but of course that may or may not be a good idea and perhaps I should be less ambiguous; anyway, I'd be grateful for your opinions. After a cheerful greeting, it continues:

I’ve been doing some of that “thinking” stuff, and I would really really like the Slingbacks to get going again as soon as possible. However, all of us have other musical ventures ongoing now and the Slingbacks simply aren’t going to be able to continue unless all of us are able to commit ourselves more, so that we can rehearse regularly and play more than the occasional one-off gig. We can’t carry on as we are, because absolutely nothing is happening, and hasn’t really happened for a while either, has it?

It would be great if we could make the band work, and any brilliant ideas will be gratefully received, but at the same time I wouldn’t want anybody to feel bad about having to call it a day – life’s too short, and friends are too important to lose.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I’ve been doing some of that “thinking” stuff, and I would really really like the Slingbacks to get going again as soon as possible. However, all of us have other musical ventures ongoing now and the Slingbacks simply aren’t going to be able to continue unless all of us are able to commit ourselves more, so that we can rehearse regularly and play more than the occasional one-off gig. We can’t carry on as we are, because absolutely nothing is happening, and hasn’t really happened for a while either, has it?

It would be great if we could make the band work, and any brilliant ideas will be gratefully received, but at the same time I wouldn’t want anybody to feel bad about having to call it a day – life’s too short, and friends are too important to lose.
That is perfect !

But it should be said in person, with all band members present, in a quiet private place while sipping tea.

I'm serious about this. Everyone one in the band needs to be involved in the discussion.
Just like everyone in the band needs to be involved in the songs you play.

When you make music together the band members need to be at peace and free from any drama.


.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
First off, do not make up a story and try and trick them into this (especially if there's evidence in an online forum). That is just a a recipe for disaster.

Is it possible to find subs or alternate players without getting rid of them? There's a western swing band that I play with sometimes and they prefer to have me, but my schedule is usually pretty busy so they often have to get other drummers to fill in. The bass player that I work with in many musical projects is also in the same boat wit that band; they really want us, but we're busy.

We both have several other (higher paying, more musically challenging and satisfying) gigs that we play, but we are friendly with these guys. There have never been any hard feelings though, they just book gigs and find replacements when they can't have one, or both, of us.
 

boomstick

Silver Member
A little off-topic, but I found it interesting that you had trouble finding a guitarist. Used to be if you had a rhythm section and a singer, you were 90% of the way there...since you couldn't walk down the street without tripping over a guitarist. With popular music moving away from guitar-centric songs and the age of the "guitar hero" a distant memory, is there now a dearth of guitarists, or is that just an issue in your particular area?
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
There's nothing more personal than business.

So the two guitar players have put in their share of the work w.r.t. getting the band off the ground. At the same time, their involvement in other projects is hurting your bookings.

Bring in two new guitar players (or just one, if s/he can manage it musically, or maybe one guitarist and one keyboardist) for rehearsals. Offer to keep the original guitar players on in a substitute capacity, and to give them first crack at any new gigs that come up while the new members are auditioning and/or becoming prepared.

Explain that no one is being "kicked out", the band is not "breaking up", and that if roles were reversed, they'd ask the same of you. Everyone can and should remain friends. It's a good idea to have some subs for players who are busy in other projects. Heck, it's a good idea to have subs for everybody, for those moments when real life gets in the way of playing music.

It might be nice to buy a small gift and card for your original guitar player buddies. Something music-related, maybe a gift card for concert tickets? Let them know that you consider them friends, and hopefully they'll return the sentiment.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
There's nothing more personal than business.

So the two guitar players have put in their share of the work w.r.t. getting the band off the ground. At the same time, their involvement in other projects is hurting your bookings.
I guess the question for the OP would be.. Is this a cover band, or an original band?

If the former, then there shouldn't be an issue bring in additional members. I've played in bands with 10 members where only 4 would take the stage. On occasion, I'd actually learn something watching another guitarist play my parts, not that I would admit it at the time ;-)
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I guess the question for the OP would be.. Is this a cover band, or an original band?
In this case, the two original guitarists likely showed up for (presumably unpaid) rehearsals, helped get the music sorted out, and maybe made use of their connections to local venues to book gigs. These are nice things to do, whether cover band or original.
 
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