Hey people, I've got an acoustic solo project and I'm going to start gigging around the place in about a months time, but I have a bit of a problem.

The songs I've written sound very sparse with just me and a guitar in a live setting, sitting at home playing it sounds fine but I found that when I debuted one of my songs live the other day it just didn't have the dynamics that I wanted it to have, there's this bridge section that I want to sound big, almost orchestral, with maybe some strings (just keyboard), drums and bass added to it, but with just guitar it didn't work for me...

...so my problem is this: should I get some people to help me out playing live instruments, or should I just record the stuff and have it on a backing track live? Both have their pros and cons and I can't decide.

Oh and if you want to check out the music to give you a better idea the myspace is myspace.com/oscaraitchison...cheers!
well you could use backing tracks with would allow you not to have to split the pay and also your backing band would never mess up..lol. which are two prety good pros to doing it like that.
then the cons the only one or two i can think of it will probaly take out all of improv jam section but seeing how your on acoustic i dont see that being a big deal. then another one which is more of a hassle than a con you would hve to record all of it which isnt really much of a problem.

but i have done a few gigs like this and they have worked out pretty good. if this is something you would like doing go for it.
Thanks guys...as you say fudger there aren't many cons to having the backing track in that sense, just a few practical issues that I have to sort out...for instance the issue of being a total noob when it comes to having a backing track lol...

Say I want bass, drums and keys coming in for the last minute or so of the song, do I have to invest in something like the Boss Loop Station as captainoid said? It looks like a great little unit, but it seems to me that it's got a few more features than I'm actually going to need if all I'm really doing is playing back a prerecorded track...you said you'd done some gigs like this fudger, could you elaborate abit on how you had your gear set up? If anyone else has used backing tracks in the past could you please do the same?
Last edited by YetAnotherMuso at Oct 7, 2008,
The trouble with backing tracks is that they never seem 'real' and challenging. There's no sense that anything difficult is happening - you might have done a hundred takes to get a perfect backing track. I'd be considerably less impressed by a guy who was playing along to a set of backing tracks than I would be by a group.

Also, if there's a backing track playing, for the period it's playing you need to be perfectly in time with it, because it can't alter tempo to make up for your mistakes. It also makes improvisation a little bit harder, because you're totally restricted in how long to jam for. But if you don't plan to do that at all, I suppose that's not an issue.

I'd advise against it, but it's certainly a better option than the music sounding less than 'right'.
Not to be negative, but I do have to things I think you should consider before using a backing track:
Firstly, it loses some of the live energy. No matter how much effort you put into making the backing track as expressive as you want it to be, it won't be recreated live through a recording. Only in a group of live musicians can that be explored to its full potential - you can't create musical interaction with a recording.
Also, there could be technical problems, but that's just dependant on how good the sound system and/or people running it are, but it could lead to problems such as not hearing the recording, it drowning you out, you drowning it out etc.
Well that's just some advice from personel experience, hopefully it helps you sort things out
EDIT: I also agree with what Samzawadi said, in that the audience would feel more connected and generally be more impressed with a full band.
Also the tempo problem - you'd need a click track or some other method of keeping you in time with the recording.

Last edited by pangui at Oct 7, 2008,
well what i did i recorded that backing tracks on my friends program he has in his little studio(used sonar 7 if that matters). i recorded them exactlly how i want the prformance to be live. it was jsut a acoustic set so i could go buy the books pretty solid and didnt need to vary the songs much. then i use the program to have it set up and queued for playback. so that i could jsut hook up laptop up to the system and it was ready for me to play to.
^ Ahh I see, thanks dude...but if the backing track was playing intermittently you would have to have a click track as pangui pointed out, yes? And I don't want the audience hearing a click track, so that complicates matters a bit.

Anyways, the point that pangui and Samzawadi brought up about being less impressed by a guy with a backing track, I agree, and to think about it every well-known acoustic solo artist that I've seen has had a backing band...the problems are again practical ones, I need the people with the gear, and I then have all the issues associated with having a band, rehearsals, costs associated with the other guys and so forth...but my opinion right now as a result of this thread is that I'll go with a backing track, with a mind to change to a backing band when it becomes more convenient (as I'll be moving to Sydney soon to go to uni so who knows what's going to happen)...

Anyway, thanks for the responses, and anyone who has something else to add please feel free.
Thought I'd my two cents.
If you can get hold of the people to back what your playing, I'd say do it. Partly because like people have said it'd help with the whole live feel to it. Also it would allow for you to improvise slightly, for example if people liked your bridge or a chorus you'd have more chance of telling the rest of the "people in your band" to play for slightly longer, whereas with a backing track you might have to stick to what playing everytime, Which might get a bit tedious (Sp?)