Passing Auditions: A Quick Guide

So you've got the audition coming up, and have no clue what to do? Here's some tips.

Ultimate Guitar
So you're keen to try out for that band eh? Auditions can be a hard process, it's one of the few times that you'll compete directly against other guitarists for that much desired spot in the band. I have been through many, many auditions and I'd like to share some tips with you that I've learnt.

First Contact

I call the contact number in the add, and express my desire to try out. Sometimes they'll call you too, no matter, you'll do as below. They'll ask about what sort of stuff you like to play, band experience etc. If you have no band experience, do not tell them. Say you've played around with some bands, but they never really got anywhere and are really keen to play with some serious musicians. They will either be impressed or flattered, doesn't matter, both is good. Even if those bands that went nowhere were you and your mates jamming in your bedroom. I then enquire about what the set up is, primarily to know what genres would be required and my role in the band (lead, rhythm or only guitarist). Why? Because I know I wouldn't pass as a Death Metal guitarist, so there would be no point in me showing up when I don't have an interest in that genre, or could play it as well as someone who was keen on it. I also ask what role I'd be playing in the band, because they may be seeking a rhythm guitarist, I'd work on some rhythm parts, if they want lead, work on lines that complement (not replicate) the rhythm and if I'm the only guitarist, work on parts that create a "full" sound. I then ask whether they plan to do covers or originals. If they say covers, ask for some covers that you can do at the audition. You learn these songs at home so you are fully prepared to enter the band at the audition. If they say originals, look at some songs in a similar genre, learn and take tips from those. Also create 2-3 riffs that would inspire the band to join in, giving a feel of creating a song around your riff. If they say both, do all of the above.

The Audition

On the audition day, be punctual, bring all your gear and be happy, relaxed and awake. When you walk in, introduce yourself to ALL the other band members immediately, shake their hands. Reliability is a key part of being in a band. Nobody likes a band member who shows up late for practice, misses soundchecks etc. You want to make a good reliable impression from the start. Bring all the gear you need, if you show up without it you will give the impression that you haven't prepared. Be happy, a band is a group of people, people like happy people. Be relaxed so you can ease into the music, and be awake so you can stay on the ball. Introducing yourself also makes a good impression. During the jam, stay on the ball, take note of what others are saying and modify songs as they wish. Keep good eyecontact with the rest of the band so you know when different parts are coming up. Try to develop a comradship with the others, make jokes and be happy. You'll generally get a feeling as to whether it went well or not. Some slip-ups are acceptable, some are not. At the end of the audition, you'll have a quick talk. They'll ask things like how often you'll be able to practice/gig. You should be available at least once a week to practice/gig. If not, you really shouldn't be auditioning for the band in the first place. It's not really that much time out of your week. They say they're going to check out some other guitarists and we'll "let you know either way". Tell them it was fun, and hope to see them around soon, shake each of the guy's hands and leave. That's ok, you'll always be up against guitarists, quite often very skilled ones too. You leave while they talk about you behind your back.

Post Audition

And then you wait. And get the call. Sometimes you're in, sometimes you're out, sometimes it's a split decision between bandmates (in which case you may be called in for a second audition) and sometimes it's unanimous.

Second Audition

Second auditions occur when the band members haven't agreed on which guitarist is the best for them. It usually means you, or the other guy. Treat it like the first audition. You'll want to play better than the first time, again preparation is the key. However, other chances present themselves; At my most recent audition, although a decision hadn't been made, the singer suggested that I join them at an open-mic jam at a local pub. Whilst this may sound like a nice social offer, I could use this to my advantage. I worked on the originals they showed me during the jam, and worked on some of the covers that they had given me. So when I showed up to the pub, again I shook hands with all the band members, met their friends and had a chat. They asked me what songs we should play, I suggested their two originals and two covers, much to their suprise. I suggested the originals because it would demonstrate the role I would play in their prospective band, and how fast I can learn songs. We jumped up on stage with them and performed a 15 min set, it went well. Audience very happy. At the end of this I was told I was in. Easy. And that was because I'd drilled the idea into the band members that I was the RIGHT guitarist, and had already been tested live. I'd been reliable, friendly and already knew their originals, despite only playing them 2 days earlier. So in short; - Be prepared - Be friendly - Be reliable - Play within your limits - Always have fun - Be the right guitarist

35 comments sorted by best / new / date

    indiefanman wrote: What's a 2-3 riff?
    lol are you joking? he said that you've gotta have TWO or THREE riffs that you can build a song around... so that the band knows you have some creative skills, that you're not just some schmuck with fast fingers
    David Blackbird wrote: This seems like common sense, but, then again, a lot of people lack that. Either way, I think it's better to be told rather than figure it out through trial-and-error.
    True that. Common sense ceased to be common a long time ago. Normally i like to figure things out for myself, but i'll make this an exception. Great advice!
    Stoned Alone
    this is bullshit, if i were to audition with people that are this picky, i wouldn't want to be in the band
    Good common-sense article. There are things that you need to 'brush-up on' even when you've been out of the game ...doing other things professionally, so it's good common sense but '...being a good listener" is paramount. Keeping a little spiral bound note pad to make quick references in re chord progressions or specific riffs and gear set-up can help refresh your memory in trying and sometimes tense circumstances. Mmmm... if it helps and 'doesn't offend anyone' take some quick piccies of the gear setup, too. Anything, that will help you 'set the scene' and be prepared foryour next session. :-R
    lol the above and to sound the same as everyone else - good advice personally i wouldnt really audition for a band tho, id rather start one up with friends than join some other random people
    That is pretty good advice right there, Will have to bear this in mind =)
    Some degree of pickiness is vital in making a band. Not in only musical tastes but personality.
    stoned alone.....your fired. Also, do not ask for a ride to an audition, bring gear that works, be straight and not stoned, do not name drop and don't tell them you are from Flin Flon Manitoba Canada. Also, if you sing, mention it right after Hi, I'm a guitar player, and if your a tenor, you will proboably get the job over the phone, unless off course you are not very good and then you still might get the gig if your a good singer. True fact.
    So, just lie in other words? I kid, I kid... This is a good article, it's surprising how the obvious things like this aren't always obvious at first. I don't think I'll ever be auditioning for a band seeing as I'm too much of an autocrat to take orders, but this would no doubt have helped.
    lol are you joking? he said that you've gotta have TWO or THREE riffs that you can build a song around... so that the band knows you have some creative skills, that you're not just some schmuck with fast fingers
    Oh... Now that I read it again, I don't know what I was thinking. I thought it was some kinda lingo that had to do with the time measure or something. Thanks.
    This is excellent but if you want to get in a band start it out with a couple of school/neighbourhood chums, even if you all suck try to jam at least once or twice a week when you dont have school/work its never too early. Peace, Ben
    I'm going to keep this things in mind for the audition to a music class I'll be going to in 2 weeks.
    that was really helpful, im gonna inquire about a band in early summer 09, they need a guitarist
    David Blackbird
    This seems like common sense, but, then again, a lot of people lack that. Either way, I think it's better to be told rather than figure it out through trial-and-error.