We have a very close friend in our band who is not up to our standards. We dont want to hurt his feelings by being blunt and telling him he is crap. Also we want to keep him as a friend. Any suggestions?
I would also like to add we all live on the same street and have been close friends for years.
tell him to find another hobby it's as easy as that.
maybe he can be your roadie, anybody's got some talent.
Bro, I've been through it before. My first band had somewhat decent potential, but our third (yes third) guitarist sucked. We knew we needed to get rid if him but no one wanted to tell him this. After awhile our bassist left because of this, and we moved him to bass. He singlehandedly ran our band into the ground. We didn't have the guts to tell him that he sucked.

Moral of the story is: be honest. If he doesn't meet the standards he has to go. It's not the easiest way to go about it, but it's the best.
I heard the best time is after a night of partying, wake them up and just him - or her - "you're out".
A shotgun is the single most effective way to oust a band mate, sadly its illegal in most parts of the world.
Quote by BlazingThrasher
I heard the best time is after a night of partying, wake them up and just him - or her - "you're out".

Remember to buy him a bus ticket to the other side of the continent. This technique is battle-tested and has been established as a very productive system for the musical world.
Do it like they did on School of Rock...just hire the new band member, when the "retired" guy shows up for practice, he'll get the hint
Try having a talk to him about his abilities, tell him he has to meet a certain standard or his position is at stake. This will make him either shape up or if he does fail he will feel more like it was his own fault.

You could go a step further and let it be known that you are looking for a replacement for him unless he shapes up. I wouldn't fire him until you get a replacement unless he really pulls away from practices.