Better good rhythm than bad lead!

Every now and then (or abt 1-2 times a year), I audition electric guitarists for my church's youth music ministry. Some focus too much on playing the lead parts without basic rhythm foundations. Common mistakes include getting the tempo wrong, using too much distortion, and the ever common 'rock star' syndrome where the guitarist solos too much. Many guitarists also neglect getting good clean parts; another common mistake is to ignore the dynamics of the song.

I recall an auditionee who couldn't play the lead parts for the songs, but was awarded a higher score as his rhythm foundations were great. Hence, get your rhythm basics right before attempting the lead parts; always choose good rhythm parts of bad lead ones!

Here's a rather exaggerated compilation of common lead (and some rhythm) mistakes - have a laugh, but watch out for your own playing!

23 comments:

Stephen said...

Great video, I think this applys to most people not just the electric guitarists. Dynamics make or break a group, if you can't build a song, or you play it super loud all the time ( or if you shred all the time), it sound horrible.

Also a huge point is getting the right effect on your guitar, it's hard to do and takes a lot of experimenting but the guys here are more than willing to tell you what they use, just a week ago Kenny and I were having a conversation about Break Free's lead guitar effect on the instrumentation.

Rhythm I think is huge, and to be honest if you can't get the timing right keep playing it over and over again until its memorized and you never mess it up again.

HSK11 said...

I agree...I have a drummer and he really thinks he knows what he's doing.
He makes up his own rhythm that messes up. It's not the proper one. I really prefer rhythm because with rhythm, you understand how the lead stuff fits in because that's how you learn.

Kenny, this is a good video to show what Christian musicians should focus on. It's not about us showing off what we can do, it's about a group, a team working together to bring have an unified worship

Chris said...

my situation is more of the reverse, with a background and preference for rhythm guitar, I have been thrust into the lead guitar position as I had the time to practice and some effects to express myself differently from the rest of the guitars (though effects are NOT needed for lead).

it was, and is still difficult for me to play lead effectively, since I have next to no experience with scales, and I often find myself playing the rhythm/acoustic parts (the team I am in has 3 guitarists, lead rhythm and acoustic). most of the time I just play chords on the higher register, pluck for the slower songs, and play some riffs I've memorised.

I know for certain that the next step for me is getting those scales down, but it all seems so overwhelming that you don't know where to start, which kinda puts you off from learning them.

schadenfreude91@gmail.com said...

brilliant. all i have to say. God bless. rock on

Joshua said...

Very true, experience and maturity compliment a musician. No offense to anyone when I say maturity, what I mean is the experience to hold back on the solo's or dynamics for the sake of making the worship tight.My friend and worship leader tells us this when he finds some of us are doing too much fill ins,"Less is more and more is less" as the saying goes.:) Also "a good musician knows how to play,but a great musician knows when not to," really helped me mature as a musician.Great article Kenny, I think its something we all have to learn in order to grow and mature as musicians and as worshipers.

Brian Ford said...

Chris, I was in the same boat a few years ago. Scales are great, but you can also do a lot with fragments of chords that you already know. The "Electric Guitar" DVD in Paul Baloche's series (www.leadworship.com) was a big help for getting me started on lead.

timcooke said...

very helpful article...im working on guitar for church as well and I'll remember some of these tips...thanks!

Romka said...

sounds like my version of hosanna :D
good stuff

Jam said...

lol

Jackson said...

Awesome, but i dont get how the volume build up is undesirable.
Could you explain more on that?
thanks

kenny said...

oh.. its meant to be a positive example.. meaning u shld do the volume build up..

Guitar_man32@yahoo.it said...

Wow cool video, I remember the old me whatching this video... haha

Tnxs K!, I learn a lot on your teaching.... GBU

Jerome

Tyler said...

awesome, great video.

tristan said...

I applaud you Kenny for having to butcher that song to make a point. I bet it was hard for you wasn't it? Then again the point is...erratic egotistical guitar playing is like wearing a big dorky costume suit to a party.

Dan said...

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=7N_-f1TqvGc


Lakeland... that guitarist goes against all the rules :P

edwinsagun said...

great video and its definitely a gud guideline... but... everyone should remember that just because some of the examples were wrong, it doesn't mean u aren't allowed to use it. Sure there was exaggeration to make it look so horrible... But never overlook the possibility.

I say be a good judge of what u play and respect the song. Be all ears. Don't play rash and remember what you are doing this for. Maybe you might use metal riffs or blus or jazz. But use it when its appropriate. This is not a showdown to get an opportunity to showoff your skills. this is music.

caliFRAGi said...

nice one! I wonder if you have similar video for pianist. the pianist on my team have this common mistake, off tempo, soloing too much, etc.

thanks!

defcon888 said...

My playing will be better now. I didn't break to many things Kenny was showing, but there are a few I cringed at (Heavy Metal riffing is a big one). I don't abuse it...I just do it sometimes. My problem is that our sound guys are good, but need a little work at times and when i want to use an accoustic sound, it isn't loud enough. I am direct into the board with my POD

loboehs said...

So I have been playing for 2 years and I use this site a lot. Thanks. I like this but I see that a couple of these I am at fault with. I play lead for my youth. I am the only one who really puts heart into it. I have skill that I trained myself to know. Our worship leader Is talented and he is fantastic at acoustic and vox.

I am writing cause I want to know how do I get better at lead. I am reading and watching as much as possible. I am getting better through time. But on some songs I still do barred chords like the acoustic is open. Can you give suggestions to me as to help sound a little better till I actually become better?

Marco said...

Hei' thanks a lot for this video I understand that I'm not the only musician in the band. I'm always doing some riff even in verse line that I totally block the vocalist, and now I'm sorry for that. And thanks I've that I had to use triads when there is another guitarist! Thanks a lot, God bless to all member!! ^_______________^

jam81 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dm said...

What do you do when you're the only guitarist playing with a keyboard that covers all the other ground?

The only way I can ever be heard is to play lead because it's the only way that the guitar can "Participate" in the music. But I wind up sounding like the guy in that "Lakeland" video...

If I play rhythm I get trampled by the keyboards.

thanks,
Dm

slim_blues_boy said...

I learned about all those parts from Edge U2. on one of his interview, he said that his job is to help Bono sing the song as good as possible because Bono is the front man not him.