I know this is a long post, but I'm in need. Those of you have the patience to read it and offer advice will very appreciated.

In a nutshell the scenario I am in is that of a good band with a bad rhythm guitar player who also sings (and is actually a pretty damn good and well taught vocalist) that I believe to have potential. Just how much, I'm not sure, but potential nonetheless. I play bass in an 11-piece original Jam/Funk band. We have an emcee and a DJ, so there's some hip-hop influence, and we do a bit of reggae. Also we do some heavier rock type tunes. Point is there's a wide variety of styles that have to be accommodated for in ones technique. I've been playing with these guys for about two years now, and we've gradually gotten better and started doing a lot more gigs. Consistency and tightness have increased exponentially since we started playing together and we're sounding like a genuinely cohesive group of musicians that know each other's musical personalities. I know this band has the potential to be competitive professionally........

Unfortunately there's one member who is ultimately making it difficult for us to ascend to that level. Our rhythm guitar player. He's just not on board the whole "growing together" experience. He still sounds just as bad as the first time we started playing together two years ago. Whereas the rest of us are constantly improving our crafts and increasing our musical bonds, he still awkwardly bumbles through songs not playing consistent parts (or soloing and noodling over important parts like vocal melodies, solos, and horn parts), makes stupid rookie mistakes which indicate he's just not thinking, ruins the flow of improvisational jams by playing awkward things at awkward times, and what's worst of all is that he can't play a supporting role as rhythm guitarist. And that's what we really need (though his soloing isn't that great either), cause we already have a badass lead player. It also seems that one of his fundamental problems is in his perception of music. In the sense of music being a language, he speaks a different dialect. Playing in a band with him is a lot like a group of people who speak a certain language trying to have a conversation with a single person who is fluent in a completely different language, but can pseudo-understand and speak some of the groups language. It's like he just doesn't "get" it, doesn't understand what we mean when we play something. It also seems like he doesn't understand how to get a decent tone out of a guitar/amp/effects chain. A lot of things I hear coming out of his amp have the wrong tones for the wrong situations, not to mention the quality of the tone is usually bad, sometimes terrible. I think some of the reason for this may simply be in his fingers. But still, it comes back around to him not "getting" it, not understanding how to get good tones and when to utilize them. And I realize a lot of this is personal preference, but there comes a point when a certain tone is just the wrong sound to be injecting.

I become royally confused with this situation, because as a person, he has good common sense about him. And he's an intelligent dude. So what do you guys think? Does it stand to reason that a smart, sensical person would have no musical sense? Also, like I said, he's a really good singer, which is mainly what leads me to believe he has potential as a guitarist. He's fairly well studied in the area of vocal technique, has good tone, and can sing good harmonies effortlessly. Also, he writes good songs, which are a fairly substantial part of my bands repertoire. Is it possible the sensibilities of a guitarist simply elude him? Perhaps it's some psychological mechanism that inhibits logical thought when he starts to play the guitar? Anyone know of any meditational exercises that may change his headspace?

If we can get over this (what I assume to be) "perspective" hump alone, I'll be satisfied. Unfortunately, there's then the problem of his bad physical technique. This isn't nearly as big of an issue to me, seeing as how I can somewhat instruct him on how to improve it. But the one thing that really does bother me is his lack of finesse. I think it may be in his strumming motion, which consists of all elbow movement. Doesn't really work his wrist at all, so he has no articulation. Every chord is bashed and mashed into the ground, and there are hardly any dynamics to his playing. Which is INFURIATING when you're trying to play funk. Or really anything for that matter. So how the hell do I instill finesse and tastefulness into someone that doesn't have it naturally? Haven't been able to make that one work in all the years I've been at this music thing, and I've known a lot of bad musicians. So If you're up to challenge, PLEASE HELP ME UG! I love playing in this band and I want us to be top notch. Quitting isn't an option, and I love all the dudes in the band like family, talent or no. So it's a bit of delicate predicament, but if you have some helpful advice, I will be eternally grateful.
hmm.. I read the whole thing, but could not come up with anything to help you. sorry
Quote by dullsilver_mike
Life is indeed a broken image.

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Talk to the other dudes in the band, if they feel the same way about your rhythm guitarist, then approach him and say: you're a great singer, but not the best guitar player, work your ass off, we'll even help you at it, or you'll be reverted to just singing.

If he doesn't play ball, suggest he becomes just a singer and look for a better rhythm player.

There's really no other way to go at this, in my opinion.
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well. maybe he just needs to practice more, just jam with him over some simpler funk progressions and have him hold the rhythm while your guitarist solos. Also, have him study funk rhythm guitar, thats help alot with my own funk playing. If this doesnt help sorry man, i tried but i hope you guys get your stuff together, and if you guys have some recordings i would love to hear them, rock, reggae, funk and rap mixed sounds REALLY awesome, especially because alot of my music is a mix of rock, funk, reggae, blues and jazz, so there could be some similarities. keep rockin man!!
You have two options which are extremely obvious really.

Talk to him about it.

Don't talk to him about it.

Pick one.
No apologies necessary, jacob. That's good advice, I should have him study some standard funk tunes and learn to play the guitar parts. If you wanna hear us you can go to our website:


There's a four track demo that's not our best work, but it's the only real recording we have right now. Currently working on an album...or trying to between gigs. Hoping to have a break this fall to get work done.

I'd like to hear some of your music also. Do you play it with bands or as a solo thing?
Two years? And you've tried to work with him?

Find a compatible rhythm player and relegate him to vocals....until ya can find a new singer!
Sit down the two guitarists and suggest that part of moving forward is setting up complementary tones. Set it out as a two way exercise, but really just sort his tone out. Tone problem solved.
Technique wise, you need to clamp down on his poor lead playing. If he's the rhythm player, keep him rhythm. There is no space in a band that size for an ego outweighing your position, so you can fairly legitimately tell him to stick to rhythm.
How often does he practice? Is it a good idea to give him homework, ie. suggest he could be tighter on certain parts? Try and get him to jam over any recordings you've done? Or, as bassist, try to work WITH him more. Bass, drums and rhythm guitar need to be tight, so get him to play more to the drums, change chord at a good time etc.
Don't know how helpful any of this is, but in my experience, if somebody doesn't 'get it', you simply need to walk them through what 'it' is. Good luck.
Dude, where's my band?