Tue May 22, 2007 7:39 pm
I started an after school guitar/bass jam session thing at my son's high school last year. I wrote out a long list of things I've been through and thought of to discuss with these young'uns: (remarks cont'd below list...)
This will be a free-form class to discuss such topics as (but not limited to):
Guitars & Bass - The basics (care, intonation, tuning, etc..)
Practice (at home & in a band).
Playing out (parties & paying gigs).
Playing lead & rhythm.
Getting that 'sound' from your guitar.
Getting that 'sound' from your amp.
Using (and building) satellite speaker cabs.
Speaker & Cab theory.
Playing fast & slow.
Promoting the band (advertising, etc...)
Band stage (and practice) setup.
Pa systems (and building your own speaker cabs).
Where should the bass player go?
Putting the drummer in the air.
Songwriting & recording.
These topics and more (and any other related topics we can think of) will be discussed.
I'd eventually like to get all participating musicians to bring their equipment to jam with & discuss their good and bad points/opinions about the equipment and how to improve/modify/tweak their setup for optimal sound & playability.
Whether you are interested in learning to play or already know how, all are welcome.
Come by, hang out, swap stories, learn and teach something. Having fun is mandatory!
Not a Guitarist or Bassist? Play a different instrument? If any of these topics interest you, show up!
Guitar & Bass
Tuning (Standard, Open, Slide and how to...)
Intonation (Electric, Acoustic - bridge adjustment)
String types (wound/smooth)
Pickups (Humbuckers & Single coils - clean & distortion grounding the guitar)
Getting rid of ground hum
What to keep in the case (polish cloth, strings, picks, tuner, wrench, business cards)
Types of scales
Improvising lead & rhythm (Jamming)
Playing clean & dirty
Getting that 'sound'
Playing fast & slow
Playing with others - the balance factor.
Body types and sound factors
Singing & playing at the same time
Chords (Practice patterns - playing with a pick & fingers)
Bass (Playing with a pick & fingers)
Picks (What do you use?)
Mistakes (what not to do)
Playing vs. movement
Lead tricks (tapping, whammy's, feedback, etc...)
Strumming techniques (palming, muting, strokes, etc...)
Know your fretboard
Amps & Speaker Cabnets
Safety first (how not to pick up that amp...)
Cables (guitar & speaker)
Grounding out the noise
Wattage (is just being loud enough?)
Types of amps (heads & combos & casters, oh my!)
Types of cabnets (What size is right for you?)
Open vs closed back amps/cabs
Speaker theory (wiring, size, magnets, qty, voice coils, using the right speaker in the amp, etc...)
Amp placement on stage and at practice (Too far or too near?)
Miking the amp
Getting that 'sound'
Playing with channels (lead & rhythm balancing - who's got my footswitch?)
Effects (built in & floor/rack - chaining effects and proper ordering)
Instrument sound placement (mixing the band members, where to put the guitar/bass players)
Satellite speaker cabnets (where to put them and building your own)
Mono vs stereo (can you really tell the difference?)
Getting rid of ground noise/hum
Building a pedal board
Making a case for pedals
Cables (The short & long of it)
Power supplies vs batteries (the noise factor)
Rack units (building a case, cables, power supplies. grounding, etc...)
How effects affect your sound
Start w/clean, Add effects, Lose your tone, Get it back
How to play quietly
Instrument placement (again)
Amp placement on stage and at practice (again)
Cranking up the drummer (that 'other' band member, building a riser, monitoring, etc...)
Who owns the PA rules (an old argument)
Practice space & soundproofing
Miking the band (is this really necessary?)
Singing lead & harmonies (adding your own spice to the mix)
What's in a name (coming up with a name & a logo)
The band leader & booking (it's not always the guy with the PA)
The Bass player really needs to go here... and maybe there too...
What the drummer hears - or not...
Two or more guitarists in the band (who plays what and when, swapping parts, lead harmonies)
Other instruments in the band (the benefits)
Lightshow (building simple spots & trees on a dollar or two...)
Playing vs movement (again)
Stage presence (what the audience wants to see & not... how to play out... balancing stage & PA sound)
Stage advertising (the 'look', backdrop, riser coverings)
Utility case (All those cables & things need a home - what's inside)
CD's & presentation
The WOW factor (leave them wanting more)
The PA System
PA systems (what's not enough & what to do)
Speakers & Monitors
Miking the band
Building speaker cabnets and monitors (front loaded vs folded horns, how much monitor do you need?)
What the audience wants to hear... and not...
Where to start (music or lyrics?)
Hearing instruments you can't play
Bouncing ideas & collaboration
Starting with a title
Starting with a riff
Frosting the cake
Breakdown a song
Old & new hits - a comparison
What makes a good song
How to write out a song
Sheet music & tabs & chord blocks
4, 8, 16, 32 track decks
Noise & sound
Tweak the room
Where to record?
Miking vs direct
Effects (before or after)
Digital vs analog
Mixing (that old balancing act)
Monitors (speakers or headphones)
What kind of tone are you after?
Favorite band sound
Favorite guitar/bass sound
Come up with a lick
Come up with a chord progression
Come up with a bass line
Write a song & sing it
Adding other players - defining parts to play
Coming up with multiple lead harmonies
Adding it all together
Well, I discovered that the few (and then only one to my dismay) that showed up the first few times were only interested in jamming and didn't care about how to actually play. The last one to stick around had possibilities but couldn't play a 3 chord blues prog to save his life, and he's got a band too.
The school has yearly 'battles' where you can go and hear drop D tunings, screaming and all around noise but the biggest point of that evening is when another school band plays AC/DC's 'Big Balls'...
It's great to see these bands with insufficient equipment (30 watt 1-12" bass amp in a 350 seat auditorium anyone?).
I just think to myself "I would have never let my school days rock band out of the cellar playing that bad."
Us old guys in the hall just look at each other and shake our heads in wonderment (sadness really...).
The really sad part is the applause the bands get by the other kids!