#1
A little backstory:
I've been playing guitar almost every day for about four years now so id comfortably consider myself an intermediate player. None of my friends play instruments so I've really gotten used to jamming by myself alone for hours (whether over recorded loops backing tracks etc.). I recently jammed with a buddy who's a pretty decent drummer. However i found when we got to jamming i really undersold myself. I ran out of stuff to play very quickly and my lead was all over the place.
Any advise on how to get more out of jam sessions with just a drummer? i suppose i could try practicing over drum loops and such or just learn more heavy riffs. The whole experience was honestly just very discouraging and i am determined to redeem myself! Any advise is appreciated
(this my first time posting on a forum btw sorry if my ideas are all over the place)
#2
I had the same issue when I first practiced with a drummer. Doing more playing over drum loops certainly helped, but also recording rhythm loops and playing over them and drum loops also helped alot. Quite easy to keep the play the rhythm but not so easy to keep the lead / melody in time.

Learning more riffs sounds like a good plan, but playing with a band is better, if you can get some people together at the same level as you, or, preferably a little more experienced.
#3
The problem with jamming with only a drummer is that if you try to play lead, it will easily sound too empty. That's because drums don't give you any harmonic backing, and especially if you play leads in higher register, you will lack all the low frequencies that are required to achieve a full sound. As a guitarist you need to take way different approach to your playing when you are jamming with drums/percussion than when you are jamming with any other instrument. As I said, you are responsible for both melody and harmony, so if you want your playing to sound good, you can't really play your typical leads that you would play over full band backing tracks.

Actually, the drums/guitar combo may work better if you take a pretty rhythmic approach to your playing and try to have some kind of a rhythmic connection with each other. Simplify your note choice, maybe pick a couple of chords or base your jam on a riff and focus on the rhythm instead of individual notes. Single note lines played in high register will most likely sound pretty bad over just a drum groove.

Maybe listen to what some funk guitarists do. Or maybe just play riffs. But unless you can play lead and rhythm at the same time, playing leads will most likely not work well. Jamming with a drummer requires good rhythm guitar skills.

But yeah, it will become much easier if you can find a bassist or a keyboardist or another guitarist, and it will more likely also be more fun that way.

When it comes to jamming, to me that's all about "musical connection", i.e. listening to each other and reacting to each other's playing. You can't really learn to jam if you don't play with other musicians because playing over backing tracks lacks the connection between you and other musicians - you can listen to the backing track and react to what you hear, but the backing track doesn't react to your playing at all. Backing tracks are a good way of trying new licks and stuff like that, but not that great if you want to learn to jam with other musicians.
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#4
MaggaraMarine wrote good advice... I would just add the idea that jamming with just one other instrument means it is a two-way street. As a guitarist playing with just a drummer, you need to provide some structural substance for the drummer.

You know that the drummer "owns the rhythm" but in typical playing he also kind of "owns the structure" of the song. Drummers are so integral to the intros, verse changes, bridge changes, turnarounds, and endings because they signal these upcoming things with their kit - you know how they play one special thing at the end of the first verse, but play something different at the end of the second verse so the rest of the band knows which verse is ending and that if it is the second verse you're all are going into the bridge... drummers typically signal all the structural changes in a song.

The point is that drummers look for and pick up on structure because that is part of their job, so that is what you need to provide when jamming, using a repeating riff or lick/line that goes some predictable length like 8 bars, or a predictable turnaround or bridge that happens every 8 bars... something so the drummer has some "firm markers" where he can properly contribute his own ideas. Once you begin putting little structures into the jam, you're really just a few steps from the beginning of composing a song.
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#5
Quote by MaggaraMarine
The problem with jamming with only a drummer is that if you try to play lead, it will easily sound too empty. That's because drums don't give you any harmonic backing, and especially if you play leads in higher register, you will lack all the low frequencies that are required to achieve a full sound. As a guitarist you need to take way different approach to your playing when you are jamming with drums/percussion than when you are jamming with any other instrument. As I said, you are responsible for both melody and harmony, so if you want your playing to sound good, you can't really play your typical leads that you would play over full band backing tracks.

Actually, the drums/guitar combo may work better if you take a pretty rhythmic approach to your playing and try to have some kind of a rhythmic connection with each other. Simplify your note choice, maybe pick a couple of chords or base your jam on a riff and focus on the rhythm instead of individual notes. Single note lines played in high register will most likely sound pretty bad over just a drum groove.

Maybe listen to what some funk guitarists do. Or maybe just play riffs. But unless you can play lead and rhythm at the same time, playing leads will most likely not work well. Jamming with a drummer requires good rhythm guitar skills.

But yeah, it will become much easier if you can find a bassist or a keyboardist or another guitarist, and it will more likely also be more fun that way.

When it comes to jamming, to me that's all about "musical connection", i.e. listening to each other and reacting to each other's playing. You can't really learn to jam if you don't play with other musicians because playing over backing tracks lacks the connection between you and other musicians - you can listen to the backing track and react to what you hear, but the backing track doesn't react to your playing at all. Backing tracks are a good way of trying new licks and stuff like that, but not that great if you want to learn to jam with other musicians.

Quote by PlusPaul
MaggaraMarine wrote good advice... I would just add the idea that jamming with just one other instrument means it is a two-way street. As a guitarist playing with just a drummer, you need to provide some structural substance for the drummer.

You know that the drummer "owns the rhythm" but in typical playing he also kind of "owns the structure" of the song. Drummers are so integral to the intros, verse changes, bridge changes, turnarounds, and endings because they signal these upcoming things with their kit - you know how they play one special thing at the end of the first verse, but play something different at the end of the second verse so the rest of the band knows which verse is ending and that if it is the second verse you're all are going into the bridge... drummers typically signal all the structural changes in a song.

The point is that drummers look for and pick up on structure because that is part of their job, so that is what you need to provide when jamming, using a repeating riff or lick/line that goes some predictable length like 8 bars, or a predictable turnaround or bridge that happens every 8 bars... something so the drummer has some "firm markers" where he can properly contribute his own ideas. Once you begin putting little structures into the jam, you're really just a few steps from the beginning of composing a song.

thanks guys. all very helpful stuff