Talent level and band option

Nobody wants to be the crappiest musician in the band so I'm still searching for more intermediate-ish level players like myself so I feel more comfortable.
I can't find the quote right now, but Bill Bruford has said that he tries to always play with musicians who are better than he, so he can learn from them.
I think that's a great philosophy.
I don't think I could do it, at least not if the gap is significant.
 

JDFaulky

Well-known member
I can't find the quote right now, but Bill Bruford has said that he tries to always play with musicians who are better than he, so he can learn from them.
I think that's a great philosophy.
I don't think I could do it, at least not if the gap is significant.

Everyone has told me that, so I'm sure I probably made dumb decisions, but I dunno man none of it felt right. I never wanted to be the dude in the band where people point me out and are like "wow their drummer sucks." lol
 
I completely get that. In high school, the first time I ever played with other people, it was a decent guitarist a bit better than me, and an absolutely killer bassist who, although only a few years older, was already part of a successful professional gigging band with his older brothers. They said nice things about my playing and wanted to play with me again, but I was too intimidated and we never get together any other time. I really regret that now, but can still remember the anxiety of playing with someone who was so much better than me, no matter how nice he was.
 

mrfingers

Senior Member
Curious....🤔When is a guitarist better than the drummer? Is it a speed thing, song choice thing, time keeping thing, what? If you can cover Hendrix’ , Page’s, or Clapton’s songs are you,as a drummer, their “equal?”🤔
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
When I’m dissatisfied with the band I’m in, I offer to record our rehearsals for a few sessions. It’s not convenient ‘cuz everyone must come out to my place and hook up gear as if it were a gig. But the results don’t lie and everyone can improve upon hearing themselves.

Years ago, at the start of a rehearsal session, I asked the band what they thought of our previous practice session recordings. Only one fellow had listened to the material (which clearly revealed flat singing, late guitar intros, and messy keys). That’s when I bailed.

If they don’t care enough to listen to themselves and improve, I don’t wanna hang. I hate making lousy music and pretending it’s “cool”.

When is a guitarist better than the drummer?
When they improve the drummer’s playing and his attitude towards the music by:
  1. Knowing a tune’s tempo and locking in, and not lording it over the other bandmates.
  2. Patiently helping the drummer thought intricate sections of a tune.
  3. Knowing the drummer’s limitations and skill set and working within those limits (”You can’t play 13/8? That’s okay, we’ll find another tune.”).
  4. They don’t talk about or mention their level of skill. They simply play very well without fanfare, but don’t hesitate to politely correct others if needed.
 

mrfingers

Senior Member
When I’m dissatisfied with the band I’m in, I offer to record our rehearsals for a few sessions. It’s not convenient ‘cuz everyone must come out to my place and hook up gear as if it were a gig. But the results don’t lie and everyone can improve upon hearing themselves.

Years ago, at the start of a rehearsal session, I asked the band what they thought of our previous practice session recordings. Only one fellow had listened to the material (which clearly revealed flat singing, late guitar intros, and messy keys). That’s when I bailed.

If they don’t care enough to listen to themselves and improve, I don’t wanna hang. I hate making lousy music and pretending it’s “cool”.


When they improve the drummer’s playing and his attitude towards the music by:
  1. Knowing a tune’s tempo and locking in, and not lording it over the other bandmates.
  2. Patiently helping the drummer thought intricate sections of a tune.
  3. Knowing the drummer’s limitations and skill set and working within those limits (”You can’t play 13/8? That’s okay, we’ll find another tune.”).
  4. They don’t talk about or mention their level of skill. They simply play very well without fanfare, but don’t hesitate to politely correct others if needed.
So the answer is when the guitarist can play odd times but the drummer can’t?
Sounds like a song choice/ genre/counting practice thing...especially if the guitarist has been playing odd times as a favorite music choice for a long time and the drummer hasn’t.
But can the guitarist suggest drumming fills? What if the drummer plays a reggae beat and the guitarist can’t get into it? Is the drummer automatically the “better musician?”
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
So the answer is when the guitarist can play odd times but the drummer can’t?
Sounds like a song choice/ genre/counting practice thing...especially if the guitarist has been playing odd times as a favorite music choice for a long time and the drummer hasn’t.
But can the guitarist suggest drumming fills? What if the drummer plays a reggae beat and the guitarist can’t get into it? Is the drummer automatically the “better musician?”
Uh, have you ever played with another musician with talents superior to yours?
 

mrfingers

Senior Member
Uh, guess not: Very good and excellent (but none have requested I use a double pedal to play faster.) I suppose any chart reader would be a”better” musician than I am.🤧
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
It's not just playing ability. I think to be in a band a musician has to:

1) Show up
2) Have equipment in good repair and working order
3) Be able to learn a new song in about a week
4) Remember what key songs are played in most of the time.
5) Have working transportation
6) Have some money so that they can buy things such as food if they need to.
7) Look appropriate on stage.

There is probably more but you get the idea. A working musician is in a business and the business has to work.
 
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boomstick

Silver Member
I was in a band where two of the members had poor timing. Never again.

I agree it's a good idea to play with musicians who are better than we are, and I think drummers have an advantage here. As long as we have solid time, dynamic control, and an overall good attitude, there's tons of skilled musicians who would be happy to jam with us because those are the key qualities they look for in a drummer.
 

A J

Well-known member
It's not just playing ability. I think to be in a band a musician has to:

1) Show up
2) Have equipment in good repair and working order
3) Be able to learn a new song in about a week
4) Remember what key songs are played in most of the time.
5) Have working transportation
6) Have some money so that they can buy things such as food if they need to.
7) Look appropriate on stage.

There is probably more but you get the idea. A working musician is in a business and the business has to work.

Good advice. Oftentimes it's not how good you play but all the other "stuff" that goes along with being a good band guy.

Every town has its share of gifted musicians who can't show up on time, just pawned their equipment, are difficult to work with, etc...
 

Bozozoid

Well-known member
Good advice. Oftentimes it's not how good you play but all the other "stuff" that goes along with being a good band guy.

Every town has its share of gifted musicians who can't show up on time, just pawned their equipment, are difficult to work with, etc...
My town is no different. The gifted difficult..no show..etc guys don't get my time. A possible jam session here and there?..cool. To me the really nice guys that don't play well are a constant irritant on stage. I'm not talking mistakes..i mean weak players..feel is iffy...tone isn't great..their playing lacks strength. This is the situation I'll be a part of. Rehearsals can be ok..but when driving home I'm thinking dear Lord I can't gig with these guys as nice as they are. I hate that feeling. I have the two guys on my shoulder..one saying relax..have fun..your to critical...the other voice says dude..what are you doing..your going to hate every minute on stage being embarrassed to even set up. Will audience members see what I see?..mmm..maybe not..their usually drunk. Can I deal with it?..maybe I don't know myself well enough. I'll give rehearsals a try but the Dr.jeckyl and Mr.hyde comes out at SOME point.
 

moxman

Silver Member
Haven't done this for a long time.. but if you go in for an audition.. you also go in to audition the band. If I find things are 'off' I generally pass.. you have to size up the band - do they look like they are organized to get gigs? How do they find gigs? Are they professional enough to get up on stage and perform - and not be embarrassed about it? How are the singers - tone , pitch and harmonizing? Are they on key..? is the rythmn guitar/keys/bass in sync in terms of timing etc? What's the history and experience level? Do they have a decent practice space (rent-free)... If that's all good and they are good people then I'm in.. otherwise I don't waste my time. Thanks for the jam but no thanks..

When I first started out 5 eons ago, I played in a pretty decent funk-rock band that had a sax player. Never paid much attention to him other than his solos which were always just a bunch of notes.. not that impressive.. but he was a good guy. After several months and gigs.. my girlfriend (who played clarinet) said..'you guys sound great - but the sax player always sounds flat'. So I started listening - and sure enough that thing I couldn't put my finger on was just that.. always flat! So I asked him about it in a polite way.. and he readily admitted that - yes - his mouthpiece wasn't the greatest and he struggled to get the sound most of the time. I was thinking wtf.. he knew he sucked and didn't fix it?? FOrtunately next week he showed up and said he was giving up sax and going back to school! Problem solved! THen we got a guy who was a consumate pro who also sang and played keyboards as well as killer sax - and the band improved overnight and the rest was history.
So as that cartoon character Shrek says 'Change is good donkey!'
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
It's not just playing ability. I think to be in a band a musician has to:

1) Show up
2) Have equipment in good repair and working order
3) Be able to learn a new song in about a week
4) Remember what key songs are played in most of the time.
5) Have working transportation
6) Have some money so that they can buy things such as food if they need to.
7) Look appropriate on stage.

There is probably more but you get the idea. A working musician is in a business and the business has to work.
Jose nailed it. I have played in some bands where I had the time of my life, even if the individual musicians weren't going to set the world on fire, because the work ethic was tight, the expectations were clear, and you could focus on the music and the gigs instead of the crisis/brain fart/meltdown/ego trip of the day.

One of the things I value most in a bandmate is the ability to listen to constructive criticism and to grow (both musically and as a person). In one of my current bands, the guitarist (who also handles lead vocals on half our songs) would speed up often. He took my feedback in stride, worked with a metronome and with me to address problem areas, and the result is a much tighter band.

In the end, whether it's a football team, a department in a business, or a band, it's about working together and everyone doing their part for organizational success. Same skills, same mindset.
 

GeoB

Gold Member
I'm a pretty good drummer, but I'm a much much better electric bassist. And when I'm in a band situation I'm usually on the electric Bass.

There are a lot of drummers that just don't have good time, can't keep time or don't have time at all.

Rock steady bread and butter drums with snap? Most rock bands can work with that.
 

Rotarded

Senior Member
Jose nailed it. I have played in some bands where I had the time of my life, even if the individual musicians weren't going to set the world on fire, because the work ethic was tight, the expectations were clear, and you could focus on the music and the gigs instead of the crisis/brain fart/meltdown/ego trip of the day.

One of the things I value most in a bandmate is the ability to listen to constructive criticism and to grow (both musically and as a person). In one of my current bands, the guitarist (who also handles lead vocals on half our songs) would speed up often. He took my feedback in stride, worked with a metronome and with me to address problem areas, and the result is a much tighter band.

In the end, whether it's a football team, a department in a business, or a band, it's about working together and everyone doing their part for organizational success. Same skills, same mindset.
I agree with what Jose and Al have said.

I played for 10 years with my band, most of whom were far ahead of me as musicians in the beginning. They brought me up to their level with patience, and provided motivation by being positive and constructive.

To me it's not the level of talent around me, it's the level of commitment. All have to match, or at least be close to mine, or it's not going to be a good fit.

The only team struggle in my band was lack of focus and participation from one member, the singer. He was a great singer, but he had his head buried in his phone 95% of practices and rarely contributed to much else other than showing up and singing. He always nailed it at the gigs, but was a frustrating man-child. When I left the band I was at my breaking point with him, but my new job and subsequent move ended it for me.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Try this:

Imagine you're an audience member and you're watching the band with a different drummer.

Would you be saying to yourself, "I'd love to be in this band."?

Your honest answer will shed light on if the band is a good fit for you.

this is pretty much what I do...but I put more weight on whether I can stand to be around them off stage honestly...I will not get into a band situations where drinking and substance use is the #1 thing; I won't get into a band where the quality of playing, the punctuality and organization, and the integrity of the band is negatively affected by the previous mentioned issues.

I turned down a gig years ago that would have had me signed to a major label, and playing across the country because I was told "you better drink and party, or people will not perceive you as legit"

no thanks

I don't mind if people have a drink or two, or use drugs after the show, but I play music to execute as perfect as I can. Professionalism.

I am also not an "adult babysitter" and have turned down band situations where it looked like I would have to be "putting out fires" due to altered states of the band members

in my 3 current bands, I am mostly "middle of the road" as far as ability goes. The guitar players in my country and surf punk bands are theory masters, but I understand phrasing, style/genre history and differences, and arranging a bit more.

I am the guy who will show up on time, with solid gear, and the ability to play most styles, often times without even practicing with the band before hand. I know enough theory to understand harmonic structures and phrase chnages, and also have played bass all my life, so I can gel with many bass players
 
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A J

Well-known member
Timely thread.

Just yesterday I jammed with two guys; a bassist and a guitar player. Craigslist ad. They have been working on about 15 originals for about 4 years. I did my best to drum along with the original stuff, most of which was not-so-good. Most of the 15 tunes they couldn't even perform without a 5 to 10 minute refresher. I asked them to try a cover tune. Between the two of them they couldn't play a single cover tune. Not even Mustang Sally! Very strange.

Despite the obvious frustration, the guitar player and I hit it off well. And... I did have fun. I told them I'd like to jam again but this time with one or two cover tunes thrown in. They followed up today with a thank you text.

I might try again with these guys.
 
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