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Old 12-25-2012, 11:33 AM   #1
Rocker924
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Are two guitarists really necessary?

tl;dr: I'm the only guitar in my band and we can't find another. Can I get by with one or do we need two?

I'm the guitarist in a Post-hardcore band. We've been looking for a second guitar player for a long time but none that we've tried out have really connected with us. Right now, I've been doing what I can and playing the rhythm chords while adding different notes to those chords to somewhat create a lead effect. This method however gives kind of a muddy sound. So I was wondering, do bands really need to have two guitar players to create a full sound? I've noticed that most bands have two but there are also many that only have one. What's your opinion on this? Would finding another guitarist be the best route or can I get by with what I've been doing? And also, are there maybe some settings on my amp and pedals that can give a bit of a cleaner sound when I play the rhythm and lead parts? I'm using a Fender Pro Junior tube amp and a Line 6 Floor POD Plus.
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Old 12-25-2012, 12:03 PM   #2
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For recording, it doesn't matter. Just do both (or all ten or whatever) guitar parts yourself. Some bands do this and then take a guitarist out on tour with them who is not really a part of the band per se.

For live performances, though, it is really difficult to have your song not sound like there is a big hole in it all of a sudden when you go to the guitar solo, if there is one. The drummer and bass player really need to step in and fill up that sound during the solo to make it work.

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Old 12-25-2012, 12:18 PM   #3
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Seems to me you answered your own question. While it may not always be important for every band to have two or more guitarists, it would seem in your situation that it is.
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Old 12-25-2012, 12:22 PM   #4
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Three is way better than 2, because one is the loneliest number.
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Old 12-25-2012, 12:28 PM   #5
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does your pod have a looper?
If so, you could use that for the rhythm parts temporarily.
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Old 12-25-2012, 01:00 PM   #6
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Honestly if you have a really good bassist you shouldnt need a 2nd guitar unless you plan to do a lot of harmonies or really complex counterpoint. There have been tons of succesful trios (Rush, Green Day, Cream) that have gotten by without a 2nd guitar.

And like axemanchris said, if you do solo, just have the bass and drums fill in the space (i.e. NOT play the same riff as when the guitar was playing) Walk by Pantera is a good example of this. The bass goes all over the place during the solo.
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Old 12-25-2012, 01:49 PM   #7
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Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Van Halen are good examples of bands that don't need two guitarists. Actually, I don't even know what the second guitar would add to the sound. It could of course double the guitar parts but then again you would lose some freedom. In studio of course they do doublings and like Sabbath had many guitar solos played at the same time. But old Van Halen records are pretty much just the three guys playing and David Lee Roth singing. There are few overdubs on their first albums.
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Old 12-25-2012, 02:13 PM   #8
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Two guitar players are awesome for the added sound, the ability for rhythm guitar under solo sections, and also of course for adding in harmonies. All of these relating to a live setting obviously.

My way of getting around the lack of sound onstage is an ABY box splitting my signal into two half stacks, one on each side of the stage. Always works wonders for me.
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Old 12-25-2012, 05:30 PM   #9
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It's not completely necessary, plenty of bands do it. RATM, Zeppelin, etc. The Bass player just has to really step it up.

And on a personal note. As a guitarist, I'm egotistical as hell onstage, I absolutely hated playing with another guitarist in a concert setting. Unless there is some real chemistry between people you can step on toes really easily.
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Old 12-25-2012, 06:15 PM   #10
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The key, in my opinion (which, given that I'm not sure I could identify what "post-hardcore" is, may not be worth that much) is to not try to be that which you aren't.

If you don't have two guitarists, don't try to sound like a band with two guitarists. The result is inevitably going to be disappointing because you're faking it, and faking it invariably sounds bad compared to the real thing.

Instead, look hard at bands that have been successful with one guitarist and see what they do to achieve a full sound. Led Zeppelin, Cream, and Van Halen all leap to mind, although one thing those bands have is incredible virtuosity - they USE the extra space they have by having fewer instruments to give the individual musicians more room to play interesting things (since genres which have descended from punk, which I guess post hardcore is, generally don't put much emphasis on virtuosity, this may be an issue). Green Day is a band with only one guitarist and he's not particularly a virtuoso, although they have a much higher emphasis on songwriting than most bands who can trace their roots to punk music.
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:44 PM   #11
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Most bands I see with two guitarists have both guitarists playing the same part the majority of the time, which renders one guitarist effectively useless. I'm in support of two guitarists if their parts are arranged with unique complementary parts. If the issue is that it sounds empty while you're playing leads, arrange the bass and drums to be more "full" during these sections.
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Old 12-26-2012, 01:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanHB
Most bands I see with two guitarists have both guitarists playing the same part the majority of the time, which renders one guitarist effectively useless. I'm in support of two guitarists if their parts are arranged with unique complementary parts. If the issue is that it sounds empty while you're playing leads, arrange the bass and drums to be more "full" during these sections.

Dude...are you being for real?

My 2 cents...doing a 3 piece thing works in specific situations, but for almost any and all driving, loud stuff you;'re going to need/want two guitarists. You just lose way too much sonic information when you pull out the rhythm guitar and solo - even if the bass and drummer try to fill that space - they're just not going to able to in a way that would be comparable or nearly as effective as just having another guitar player that's there to fill the space.

It's for that specific reason that I've never really been a fan of being the only guitar player in a rock band...
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Last edited by chronowarp : 12-26-2012 at 01:32 AM.
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Old 12-26-2012, 01:36 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by HotspurJr
The key, in my opinion (which, given that I'm not sure I could identify what "post-hardcore" is, may not be worth that much) is to not try to be that which you aren't.

If you don't have two guitarists, don't try to sound like a band with two guitarists. The result is inevitably going to be disappointing because you're faking it, and faking it invariably sounds bad compared to the real thing.

Instead, look hard at bands that have been successful with one guitarist and see what they do to achieve a full sound. Led Zeppelin, Cream, and Van Halen all leap to mind, although one thing those bands have is incredible virtuosity - they USE the extra space they have by having fewer instruments to give the individual musicians more room to play interesting things (since genres which have descended from punk, which I guess post hardcore is, generally don't put much emphasis on virtuosity, this may be an issue). Green Day is a band with only one guitarist and he's not particularly a virtuoso, although they have a much higher emphasis on songwriting than most bands who can trace their roots to punk music.


The reason those groups were successful with one guitar is because the music, stylistically, didn't really call for another guitar. On top of that...none of the guitar players in those bands were anywhere near virtuostic (arguably EVH, but even then mehhhh).

Also, Green day doesn't track their albums like there's one guitar player, and they never really have. They even had their studio guitar guy become a full fledged member.

With something like post-hardcore, it's almost a necessity to have two guitar players. Even if you're playing the same part the doubling is essential in building the guitar density you need for that style of music. The sum of two different amps/guitars playing the same thing stereo panned is immense - and that effect isn't lost live. But that's not always the case. While a lot of post hardcore stuff may involve both players doing identical things, there are going to be sections or counter melodies that the other guitarist is going to be playing over the top.

I mean listen to post hardcore bands like:
show


show


show


The 2nd guitar is playing an integral role in filling out the space and complimenting the main rhythm guitar - even though they might be playing the same thing a lot of the time.

SO TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION OP:
If you can't find anyone else to play guitar in your band (if that's what you want), then don't let that hold you back from starting a band or pursuing a project. You can always add another member later on.
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Last edited by chronowarp : 12-26-2012 at 01:42 AM.
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Old 12-26-2012, 11:56 AM   #14
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Well, you're sort of making my point. If you don't have two guitarists, don't play music that requires two guitarists - because it will sound like crap. I'm not going to dissect whether you could do the music you listed with only one guitarist, but I think it's laughable that you don't think Clapton, Page, and Van Halen are virtuosic.

I'm not even that big a Van Halen fan, but I was listening to "Jump" the other day and it demonstrates the solution problem of keeping the song going during the solo. You see, a lot of people think they key is to have the bassist and drummer play more to try to fill up the space, but listen to that song - the synth, drums, and bass actually cut back when the solo starts.

And it doesn't feel empty. It feels like a stylistic choice.

I think the problem is usually a lack of imagination, a lack of a willingness or ability to think outside the box. "We're a post-hardcore band, we need constant driving all the time," no, actually, you don't. "We need two guitarists playing the same thing and stereo panned" no, you don't, either. (Truth is, in most gigs, the stereo pan is going to get DESTROYED. But if you need it run one guitarist through two different amps out of a Y cable).

As for Green Day, I don't know what they do now, but I do know that when they were discovered they were a three-piece playing little clubs. Somehow they managed.
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Old 12-26-2012, 02:43 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HotspurJr
Well, you're sort of making my point. If you don't have two guitarists, don't play music that requires two guitarists - because it will sound like crap. I'm not going to dissect whether you could do the music you listed with only one guitarist, but I think it's laughable that you don't think Clapton, Page, and Van Halen are virtuosic.


I don't want to get into an argument here, they are no doubt iconic guitarists, however, they clearly don't have the mastery of their instrument that, say, a virtuoso violinist would have, or, indeed, the virtuoso guitars of today have, so it's far from laughable.

I think in Post Hardcore, having two guitarists allows you more control over the dynamic, I've seen several bands where they leave a break between chugs to have one guitarist do a short riff, and then go right back to the chugs, and that's rather effective. I think two guitarists are definitely necessary for Post Hardcore, as, in my experience, it's a very produced, clean sounding genre, and people are used to hearing two guitarists in general nowadays, so it gives you more freedom. However, both can work if you're clever, I've seen several bands where a one guitar setup sounds empty, and several bands where two guitarists seemed crowded, so it is definately how you use them, as others say.
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Old 12-26-2012, 03:00 PM   #16
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Green Day is one of those bands I was referring to who tour with a hired-on guitarist for live shows.

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Old 12-26-2012, 03:37 PM   #17
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You can survive withot a second guitarist, but if you don't have that third banjo player then you are in trouble.


On a serious note, you can survive without a second guitarist if its what you want your band to sound like. If you want to have seperate guitar parts or doubled rhythms or harmonized leads or something like that then you'll need another guitarist.
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Old 12-26-2012, 04:04 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by HotspurJr
Well, you're sort of making my point. If you don't have two guitarists, don't play music that requires two guitarists - because it will sound like crap. I'm not going to dissect whether you could do the music you listed with only one guitarist, but I think it's laughable that you don't think Clapton, Page, and Van Halen are virtuosic.

I'm not even that big a Van Halen fan, but I was listening to "Jump" the other day and it demonstrates the solution problem of keeping the song going during the solo. You see, a lot of people think they key is to have the bassist and drummer play more to try to fill up the space, but listen to that song - the synth, drums, and bass actually cut back when the solo starts.

And it doesn't feel empty. It feels like a stylistic choice.

I think the problem is usually a lack of imagination, a lack of a willingness or ability to think outside the box. "We're a post-hardcore band, we need constant driving all the time," no, actually, you don't. "We need two guitarists playing the same thing and stereo panned" no, you don't, either. (Truth is, in most gigs, the stereo pan is going to get DESTROYED. But if you need it run one guitarist through two different amps out of a Y cable).

As for Green Day, I don't know what they do now, but I do know that when they were discovered they were a three-piece playing little clubs. Somehow they managed.

I'm not making your point at all, dude, and you honestly sound like the kind of person that's never actually played in a band in the way that you're approaching giving this advice. The simple fact is that certain types of music require different instrumentation. You're comparing classic rock bands to modern rock it's apples and oranges.

It's not that I don't think Page/Clapton/EVH as decent guitar players, but it's laughable to call them virtuosos.

It really has nothing to do with a lack of imagination it has to do with overall control of dynamics and density in a way that can't be reconciled if you don't have another guitar player.
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Old 12-26-2012, 06:10 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by chronowarp
Dude...are you being for real?

My 2 cents...doing a 3 piece thing works in specific situations, but for almost any and all driving, loud stuff you;'re going to need/want two guitarists. You just lose way too much sonic information when you pull out the rhythm guitar and solo - even if the bass and drummer try to fill that space - they're just not going to able to in a way that would be comparable or nearly as effective as just having another guitar player that's there to fill the space.

It's for that specific reason that I've never really been a fan of being the only guitar player in a rock band...


Yes I am being for real. I have played lots of loud/driving stuff, the loud driving parts were primarily provided by the drums and bass section of the band. You know, the ones who supply the rhythm.
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Old 12-26-2012, 06:15 PM   #20
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lol
k dude

lol
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