Firstly, I am not sure if this is the right sub-forum to post this in. MT seems the most appropriate.

I am wondering how I could go about being a session guitarist. Nothing big, just local stuff. I am not looking to earn a living off of this, just something to get my name out there and make a little money and have fun while doing it.

I understand the facets to this, a few of which are: Being versatile, on-time, having equipment, being likable and easy to work with. I think I have got those facets down at least relatively well according to my area. In fact the music scene here is very much a low murmur. So for someone to even say, "Hey, I'll play guitar for you" is something to catch the interest of other musicians. I do not think there are any other guitarists in my area offering session work.

I would just like some encouragement, wisdom, guidance, and even discouragement if need be. How could I go about this? What other things should I understand? Safety tips?

One thing I definitely need help on is about is payment contracts. No person wants to do their work and leave empty-handed. So of course asking for payment or a portion of it before the work begins is reasonable I think. What about getting law-bound contracts to state that the payment has to happen, provided I met certain expectations or what not? How does that work?

Thanks all. c:
Session work is all about relationships so start jamming with friends, playing live, and get to be the guy everyone wants on their recording. Then start hanging out where musicians with money might see you play. If you got the right stuff, they will find you.

You will probably have to do some free sessions to get in the room and learn the ropes, then you can start asking for paid sessions. Also you can work as an intern in the local studio setting up mics and cleaning up. Eventually you will get an opportunity to jam with other players and show your stuff. Unless you are The Edge or Luke, it is unlikely you will get any advance pay.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Nov 7, 2015,
Contracts are money. Get a good one after speaking to a lawyer. If anything fishy comes up, call a lawyer. Lawyers are your best friends.
^^The above is a Cryptic Metaphor^^

"To know the truth of history is to realize its ultimate myth and its inevitable ambiguity." Everything is made up and the facts don't matter.

Let's assume you can play fairly well in a lot of styles, everything from rock, salsa, reggae, to flamenco. Then it's all about contacts, mostly by being recommended by other producers, studio engineers and other session players.

Get a high quality demo made of your playing in various styles. Sort 20-30 second pieces that show off your leads somewhat but more importantly your rhythm playing. 90% of your session gigs will involve playing rhythm. Make your demo clean and focused, not dense a technical recordings with lots of effects and ditortion. Focus it on your playing and tone.

If you don't already have a variety of guitars you might want to add to your arsenal or at least have access to a variety of guitars through reliable friends. A humbucker sound, a single coil, a hollow body (jazz), an acoustic and possibly a nylon string classical. Be prepared for any request.

Have professional business cards available to pass out 24/7. (Hint: Don't make your business card look like it was done by an art student wanna be looking his next gig, no creative logos or cute stuff. Make it clean and professional.)

Cajundaddy has some very good advice about making sure you start hanging out with like minded players and see if any local studios would like to take on an unpaid intern. It will be a lot of wrapping cords, moving microphone and baffles and picking up coffee cups but in a few months you will have afforded yourself lots of opportunities to rub shoulders with the people you need to get you into the loop and offer you session work. The biggest thing will be seeing 1st hand what you need to do and also what not to do. you'll have access to comments from both sides of the glass and you'll learn a great deal.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Nov 8, 2015,
Quote by Cajundaddy
Session work is all about relationships so start jamming with friends, playing live, and get to be the guy everyone wants on their recording. Then start hanging out where musicians with money might see you play. If you got the right stuff, they will find you.

This is spot on.
A big part of being a session musician is not so much being "good" per se as it is about being consistent. Nobody will care what kind of incredible thing you can pull out... especially if it takes you a dozen tries to get it right.

Recording artists and producers are looking for somebody that can be precise in their playing and get the part recorded in as few takes as possible. Time is money after all (since the artist needs to pay the studio, producer, engineer, etc to be there) and so if it takes you a lot of time to record the parts, you're costing them a lot of money.

Another very important thing is the idea of serving the track. You need to learn to play what is best for the track with little-to-none of your own identity as a musician shining through. The artist or producer isn't hiring you personally to play on the record but rather hiring someone to lay down guitar, bass, drum, etc parts on the track (unless you are like Paul Franklin or Brent Mason... and you're not).

As said above, networking. You want to fall in with the right crowd. Reputation is important. Be courteous to everybody. Nobody will want to hire some overly-negative, loudmouth punkass that goes around talking shit about this, that, and the other thing.

The music business, and especially the local music scene, is a small world where people know each other. If you are constantly late to sessions, difficult to work with, etc, the word will spread and you won't be getting calls to do sessions.

And as said above, professional looking business cards. That's not just session music, but for literally anything you do in life, you should have business cards. Include name, concise descriptions of your services, contact (email, phone, other phone), links to your work online, etc. The key is getting all the right information but not a ton of extra junk.

There are probably a bunch of other things, but those are some of the most important. Remember that as a session musician you are less an artist and more a businessman.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
Good line. "As a session musician you are less an artist and more a businessman." So true.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
I'll second that consistency is key. It doesn't matter what you can do once in a while, but what you can do RIGHT NOW on the first or second try.

I read an interview with a hotshot session dude who recorded with David Lee Roth, and DLR's motto in the studio was that if you don't get it in two takes, it's not going to happen.

It's one thing to record on your own and work up a killer solo one take a time until you get the one you like (when I do this it sometimes takes hours), but it's another to be on someone else's schedule.

Listen to the guitar that you hear in commercials and stuff. Most of it is pretty basic accompaniment that any mediocre guitarist could do, but not necessarily on demand. You have to have all of your basic and intermediate material ready to play and read.