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ScubaMarket

Keeping time

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Guys I have never played in a band. Only got to sing because I sounded like Bon Scott when I was 18 many years ago....1980

However, many of my friends play and I have many opportunities to do so too. BUT I cant keep in time anymore. :):P Whats the best way to do this. No tomatoes or beer bottles please. Just a cry for help here. :P

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Hey great question!

I have real timing problems too especially when it comes to playing guitar solos and half-time tunes like what Motley Crue and Van Halen likes to do (ie: like timing in-between beats).

I have trouble with "loose" solos like what Slash sometimes does ... where the playing doesn't really seem to follow any perfect timing (I come from a classical paino background as a kid).

What has helped me with tricky solos (ie: long fast runs) and rhythms is to listen to the tune like close your eyes, listen to the tune 20 times in a row while nodding your head, tapping your feet on the floor, tapping your hands to your lap all at the same time. Get a feel for where the lick starts and ends (usually lasts a few bars at the most). Instead of trying to time every single note perfectly, I just know where it starts and where it ends and time the start point and end point perfectly and just feel my way through the middle. Otherwise, I feel like I'm doing the piano thing and chanting "one-n-and-a-two-n-and-a-three-n-and etc..."

I really doubt that our favorite rock stars actually write songs by sitting down and drawing dots on a piece of lined music paper to 4:4 time. I'm pretty sure that most of them write their music while jamming with their band / buddies so timing is more about trying to get the feel of the song.

Looking forward to hearing what others have to say.

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Best thing you can do is listen and learn when bars of 4 or or 8 or 16 are coming. Most music is written in groups like this, so when you do a solo it is usually for 4, 8 or 16 bars. You need to be able to feel this once you do your playing will improve.

Play solo lead guitar with a drum machine and listen to where you drift, for me it's when I think I'm doing this cool long run. What happens is the phrasing gets off somewhere down the line, you need to catch this location and either break the lick into two or change the phrasing in order to make it fit.

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Best thing you can do is listen and learn when bars of 4 or or 8 or 16 are coming. Most music is written in groups like this, so when you do a solo it is usually for 4, 8 or 16 bars. You need to be able to feel this once you do your playing will improve.

Play solo lead guitar with a drum machine and listen to where you drift, for me it's when I think I'm doing this cool long run. What happens is the phrasing gets off somewhere down the line, you need to catch this location and either break the lick into two or change the phrasing in order to make it fit.

Thats the problem for me I get caught up in doing my own thing and loose track. Im scarred to death of playing with the other guys and they will all be stopped looking at me wondering what the hell is going on when I get into the mode.

Who sets the rhytm? The rhythm guitarist or the drummer. Sorry for all the stupid questions but playing with other folks is HARD at least for me since I've been hacking for 30 years.

Thanks

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Play along with drum tracks. Its more fun than metronomes.

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Play along with drum tracks. Its more fun than metronomes.

Where do you get these? Is it a machine you hook to the stereo?

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Thats the problem for me I get caught up in doing my own thing and loose track. Im scarred to death of playing with the other guys and they will all be stopped looking at me wondering what the hell is going on when I get into the mode.

Who sets the rhytm? The rhythm guitarist or the drummer. Sorry for all the stupid questions but playing with other folks is HARD at least for me since I've been hacking for 30 years.

Thanks

Scuba, a couple of ideas for you since I suffer the same thing. I was a strummer mostly, but the past two years after many years of not playing at all, my kids drafted me into a band at church. Now I am the lead guitarist and generally the guy that has to figure out all the songs. So not only have I had to learn to play lead guitar, but my tin ear has had to learn to pick out all the instrument parts and tab/chart/notate them!

Playing lead guitar to someone else's solo is tough. Playing my own variation on it, or better yet my own solo, is a lot easier. Timing is one of the hardest things to get right on other people's solos.

So my first recommendation is that whenever possible just play your own thing and not try to copy someone else.

Secondly, just play! If other people stop, just look at them and say "Hey, I wasn't done yet! Keep going.". Good comping means being generous. The guys playing rhythm for you should just keep going until you finish. Then it's their turn to improvise while you comp for them.

Thirdly, if you don't screw up, you aren't trying hard enough. Or, to put it in skiing terms, if you aren't falling you aren't challenging yourself enough (doesn't apply to old guys like me any more!). Don't avoid jams out of fear of screwing up. You'll learn pretty fast when playing with others, and screwing up is part of the learning process.

Read Clapton's autobiography some time. Your library probably has it. He talks about as a teen how he would jam with other guitarists and they would harass each other if they hit a bad note. He learned fast what notes where good and what were bad! But he had to screw up to learn.

Fourth, one of the best hints ever was a recent Guitar World magazine column by Michael Angelo Batio (I think it was him) who said "Know where 1 is". Basically, know where the first beat of each measure is. He demonstrated playing some shred and emphasized the first beat of each measure. His point was that you have to convince the audience that you know where 1 is, or they get lost and then think you are lost. So, learn to hear 1. For me, this made an immediate and significant improvement in my solos.

Fifth, many multieffects boxes have built in beat-boxes. The Pandora PX-4 has one that you can just jam to. But, even more fun is a looper such as the Boss RC-2. It's a stomp box device with memory. You can turn on the built in drum track and set the tempo and time signature, then jam away. You can layer a rhythm track of chords and then the looper will play back that track with the drum track endlessly. It is great fun and great learning. And that is just the tip of the iceberg with loopers! They are tremendously fun to work with.

Sixth, you always trust the drummer unless he sucks. The drummer is the backbone of the song, so follow him. The bass player should also be following the drummer's tempo. The other instruments are just providing the harmonic fabric upon which you decorating when you play lead.

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Practice, practice, practice.

The drummer is ultimately responsible for the timing in a band situation. A drummer who looks to other band members for timing is not a drummer you want to play with. Been there/done that.

For me playing bass many years ago when I practiced a lot I found that counting out loud , nodding my head, or even tapping my foot in time was able to help me lock in with the correct beat. Even if my counting was not in perfect time it still forced me to be more aware of where my timing had to be.

You should be able to find some kind of used old 80's drum machines fairly cheap. You can get one to just hit kick and snare with a little high hat. If you keep it very simple you will be able to follow along.

Some of the guitar trainers that are coming out today have preprogrammed drum beats to play with. I have a BOSS Micro BR that has some rhthym tracks built in.

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Metronomes and drum machines are good, but very boring. There are a million 'jam track' CDs out there, which are basically rhythm tracks designed for you to solo over. Find some in the style you like or want to play, and have at it. It will give you some confidence, and save you a little pimping for your jam-mates as well.

As good as Clapton is, even he gets lost. Check out the solo on Crossroads (live). He admitted to losing it, but still landed on his feet (in spectacular fashion I might add).

And in a live situation, the kick drum is your friend. My monitor has the kick cranked, and voices a distant 2nd. If your drummer can keep time, you're all set.

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All good advice to try, but playing along with a jam track or at least drum machine is a must.

So, I recommend checking out the Fender GDEC practice amp. I use mine all the time...it has half decent tweakable presets with effects, amps, etc, as well as easily selectable drum rhythms, and you set the tempo. You can also set the key for some fairly lame but serviceable bass accompaniment. It loops so you can put down your own rhythm tracks, or it has inputs to connect an ipod or cd player and you're playing along to recorded tunes. All without leaving your seat.

I'd be very surprised if practicing with the GDEC doesn't help you alot.

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Great info in this thread!

I'm really getting a lot out of this.

(And finally one about playing!)

One thing is certain though, nailing the timing of a song is extremely important. The first few years of playing (roughly started in grade 9 or 10, whenever Welcome came out haha) I ignored timing because it made learning licks and riffs that much slower. It wasn't until a few years later that I realized that without paying attention to timing, nothing I play really sounded like how it's supposed to.

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Bob:

If you get the chance to play with other players/a band, that will help out a lot too. If you can scare up a few other guys to jam with in a non-judgemental, but fun scenario, that might also help you get over the jitters of blowing the dust off after a few decades. Something comfortable and informal, like with friends or at a party/garage jam might help.

If you feel better woodshedding or resetting your internal clock, try a metronome or playing with backing tracks (LickLibrary online or various DVDs should help). Also, focus on the music you like and center in on counting out the "ones", as mentioned above. Get familiar where the beats fall in each measure and/or phrase.

You'll be on it in no time with some dedicated practice.

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I remember well my first guitar teacher telling me and drawing on my notebook "TAP YOUR FOOT" - it was the best lesson i ever had and he was sooo right.

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Play along with drum tracks. Its more fun than metronomes.

Where do you get these? Is it a machine you hook to the stereo?

Go pick up a used digitech rp80. I paid like $20 for one last week. It has a built in drummer and you can change the timing and the style. I have a BP150 or 250 or something like that. It's been keeping me in time for years now. I'm sure there are also some computer programs that do the same thing.

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Also, just try to enjoy the whole band. Listen to the whole band. Relax & don't try to show off.

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Play along with drum tracks. Its more fun than metronomes.

Where do you get these? Is it a machine you hook to the stereo?

I do this in garageband. I bought the drums on demand loops and I can pick and choose to create a drum track of my own. Also garage band has a "MagicGarage band" feature that lets you pick a style of music and choose which parts and instruments you want then you can play along with it. I'll post a blues version without a lead, and without a rhythm track.

01_Blues_for_scuba_no_lead.mp3

01_Bluesfor_scuba_no_rythym.mp3

I have some of these in rock, jazz and slow blues styles. Garageband also has funk, raggae, roots rock, and country and slow blues.

If you want a different style I don't mind posting a few more. only takes a minute.

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Aw man, I got work to do too. MAB is dead on. Know where 1 is. :)

Thanks for ALL this info. :P

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Take a couple months and play along with bass lines.

It's all about timing... and tone, and space, blah, blah, blah.

Seriously, bass lines (should) follow the song structure closely, it may help you mentally map out where things are going in a song.

Otherwise, work on your listening skills when you're playing.

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Thanks My brothers! This is the best darn forum in the world!

If any of you want to learn to scuba dive ITS FREE AND ON ME

Thanks

Bob

Cleaned up my cussin' mom may be checkin' out the forum :)

Gotta learn not to post after too much tequila

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Thats the problem for me I get caught up in doing my own thing and loose track. Im scarred to death of playing with the other guys and they will all be stopped looking at me wondering what the hell is going on when I get into the mode.

Who sets the rhytm? The rhythm guitarist or the drummer. Sorry for all the stupid questions but playing with other folks is HARD at least for me since I've been hacking for 30 years.

Thanks

Everyone is the time keeper, it's never the sole responsibility of the drummer, anyone who thinks that is terribly misinformed. The drummer sets the cadence but that does not mean you can disregard the time and where you are in the tune...it's not the drummers responsibilty to hold your hand. What a good drummer will do however is listen enough to the tune so that when verses change to choruses they will accent just before the change. You need to be constantly listening and catch this cue, he may not hit you over the head with the cue...it could be very subtle.

Try counting bars while playing any rhythm part you are involved in, count it off as 1,2,3,4...2,2,3,4 until you get to 4 bars. You need to feel this length. Once you feel groups of 4 bars extend this 8 and 16. Most music as I said earlier flows like this...not everything of course, but many tunes do.

Finally, when listening to cd's count off how long the solo is, just keep track, you don't even need a guitar for this, just count. Doing stuff like will make you more aware of cues that drummers play. Once you start to hear this on a regular basis the rest will be easy. Probably what is happening now is you are not even aware of this activity taking place as your are playing, it's time to get started. Good Luck with it.

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Thats the problem for me I get caught up in doing my own thing and loose track. Im scarred to death of playing with the other guys and they will all be stopped looking at me wondering what the hell is going on when I get into the mode.

Who sets the rhytm? The rhythm guitarist or the drummer. Sorry for all the stupid questions but playing with other folks is HARD at least for me since I've been hacking for 30 years.

Thanks

Everyone is the time keeper, it's never the sole responsibility of the drummer, anyone who thinks that is terribly misinformed. The drummer sets the cadence but that does not mean you can disregard the time and where you are in the tune...it's not the drummers responsibilty to hold your hand. What a good drummer will do however is listen enough to the tune so that when verses change to choruses they will accent just before the change. You need to be constantly listening and catch this cue, he may not hit you over the head with the cue...it could be very subtle.

Try counting bars while playing any rhythm part you are involved in, count it off as 1,2,3,4...2,2,3,4 until you get to 4 bars. You need to feel this length. Once you feel groups of 4 bars extend this 8 and 16. Most music as I said earlier flows like this...not everything of course, but many tunes do.

Finally, when listening to cd's count off how long the solo is, just keep track, you don't even need a guitar for this, just count. Doing stuff like will make you more aware of cues that drummers play. Once you start to hear this on a regular basis the rest will be easy. Probably what is happening now is you are not even aware of this activity taking place as your are playing, it's time to get started. Good Luck with it.

Your right I've been kinda "jumping in" then after a while I get off track. The music I play... I've been listening to for 30 years so its not like I dont know every lick. Keeping time with others aint as easy as i thought. Got a lot of work to do.. This has all gave me some good food for thought.

Thanks again

Bob

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