The Naysayers Are Wrong. Part 4: Going Solo

Why you shouldn't worry if all your potential colaborators suck.

Ultimate Guitar

Last time, I talked about what kind of people you should try to form a band alongisde: Friends, family members, mature people who aren't opposed to talking through issues like adults. And considering that I'm trying to keep these articles "fun for all ages," I think it's only fair that I address the demographic who's not so lucky to have those sorts of people in their lives.

It's not the end of the world! I can't tell you guys how many bands I've seen fall apart over a single member. So many people get away with murder, abusing and taking advantage of their bandmates, because said bandmates are too afraid that this douchebag in their midst couldn't be replaced if they were to kick him out. Or, perhaps, you get a talented young group together out of your high school friends, and suddenly realize that none of you can sing! Well, none of you want to play instrumental music. That's not the sound you want. So, you agonize for weeks over where to find a singer, raging at the very sky itself when you realize that none of you even know a singer. And then more time passes. Suddenly you stop practicing together. You drift apart.'re done. All because of the lack of one single member.

But honestly, one-man-bands are becoming more and more viable as technology improves. I would, in fact, argue that for those of you who can't find credible, trustworthy bandmembers, it's the best thing for you.

Programs like EZDrummer or Steven Slate Drums are seeing more and more use on modern productions, so for you guitarists out there who either don't know a drummer or can't afford the gear to get good drum tones, this is all you need, in my not-so-humble opinion. And with the widespread use of triggers and sample replacement, you can generally get great sounds out of even the stock kits.

FL Studio offers a wide array of synthesizer and piano sounds, and assuming you draft your MIDI in a tableture editor like Guitar Pro or Tuxguitar, you can do everything you need with the free demo version.

While tonal purists will argue that there's nothing quite like a screaming tube amp recorded through an SM57 into a $1000 mic pre-amp, your listeners aren't going to hear the difference between that and a DI signal recorded through a $100 M-Audio Fast Track and played through a decent amp sim, unless they've been trained to hear it. So you might get some nitpicking from the elitists over at Andy Sneap's forum, for instance, but as far as your audience is concerned, go for whatever you can afford.

And bass...if you can play/record guitar, you can play/record bass. But if you can't afford, say, a Peavey Millenium, you can always record a DI of your guitar, pitch shift it down an octave, emulate a bass amp, and do some clever EQ'ing to get a similar result. It'll sound a bit wonky, but it's passable.

And as for singing...yeah, that's gonna take some skill, but to be bluntly, brutally honest, it won't take that much in this day and age. There's so much information on, for instance, the Ultimate Guitar singing forum, you can learn the fundamentals in a matter of months, and from there, it's all slight tweaks until you're happy with your voice. And I don't even want to tell you guys how many productions are pitch corrected, whether you hear the robot voice or not. Suffice it to say that the numbers are staggering.

Now, why, you may ask, did I list off all this stuff when you haven't even started gigging yet? Well, simply put, if you can record an album at home and put it out there independently, you've done the hard part already and it's all downhill. And I will go into great detail about that before this series is concluded.

Perhaps even more importantly though, if you have all the pieces of a band recorded convincingly on a track, then you have your backing band for gigs. Yeah, it's not ideal to be the only person on a stage, playing or singing along with a CD, but trust me, the exposure will help you to a) build up your confidence and b) network with fellow musicians who, perhaps, will happily replace some of those artificial instruments on your backing track.

Well I think that wraps up this article. Stay tuned next time for a bit of insight on priorities, and the pecking order of the music industry.

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