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Simple electric guitar accompaniment - small church / small team

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  • Simple electric guitar accompaniment - small church / small team

    Our church is small. We planted just a few years ago and now have ~60 regular attendees (maybe 30+ members).

    The worship team is 1 male worship leader who sings and plays acoustic/electric rhythm guitar and 1 female backup singer who sometimes also plays a cajón (drum box).

    Our worship leader has been asking for musician volunteers to join the team to fill out Sunday's worship music. I play guitar, and I own multiple electrics and amps. I have never played in a band or group, though, and I do not own many pedals or other equipment. Our worship leader has also never played in a group prior to now (he is a Godly man who saw a need, and since he played guitar and is a very good singer--my honest opinion--he offered to lead worship for our currently small but growing church).

    He sent me our current worship set, and I began practicing on my own. The songs I practiced all have distinctive lead parts (e.g. This is Amazing Grace, Lead Me to the Cross, etc.) I practiced those lead parts on my own, because I will be playing electric guitar. However, we practiced today, and those parts, for the most part, just didn't seem to "work" when the only other instrument we have is his acoustic/electric rhythm guitar.

    I am REALLY interested in advice from experienced musicians on the best way to use an electric guitar to fill out worship when the only other instrument, essentially, is acoustic rhythm guitar.

    Should I just gently strum single chords to add ambience? Should I try to "fit" some of those lead parts to our situation?

    I am praying that God will help me to be of use during worship and not be a distraction. I am also kind of nervous to play, as I have never played in front of people before. However, I am also confident to play, in a way, since I know I am playing for Jesus, and my notes, however disastrous, will be pleasing to him, as I am a "child" musician.

    Any advice is appreciated! And if anyone has other questions about my situation, please ask!

    Thanks so much!

    God bless.

  • #2
    Welcome aboard

    Electric lead guitar parts when you just have an acoustic guitar and the occasional cajon doesn't really work too well.

    If I was in your shoes, which there have been a few times where half the team was out sick and it was me and a rhythm guitar player (I play electric guitar at church, bass everywhere else), I took the role of adding in the ambiance. There is more to it than just strumming chords. You can do volume swells, background fills and simple lead parts without all the overdrive. One thing I often do is play triads higher up on the neck underneath a rhythm guitar, for example. A little chorus and/or delay goes a long ways.

    The thing it did for my growth as a guitar player is keep me focused on adding to the song, not just playing a bunch of power chords and leads.

    Search YouTube- lots of good resources for using electric guitar for ambiance.

    Hope this helps
    If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

    Comment


    • pianomandan
      pianomandan commented
      Editing a comment
      Great ideas here! I'll add that when the rhythm player is strumming try fingerpicking & vice versa. BUT not for every song... just when it sounds good.

  • #3
    Originally posted by Mike on Bass View Post
    Welcome aboard

    Electric lead guitar parts when you just have an acoustic guitar and the occasional cajon doesn't really work too well.

    If I was in your shoes, which there have been a few times where half the team was out sick and it was me and a rhythm guitar player (I play electric guitar at church, bass everywhere else), I took the role of adding in the ambiance. There is more to it than just strumming chords. You can do volume swells, background fills and simple lead parts without all the overdrive. One thing I often do is play triads higher up on the neck underneath a rhythm guitar, for example. A little chorus and/or delay goes a long ways.

    The thing it did for my growth as a guitar player is keep me focused on adding to the song, not just playing a bunch of power chords and leads.

    Search YouTube- lots of good resources for using electric guitar for ambiance.

    Hope this helps
    This is amazing advice. We practiced last week, and we came to almost the same conclusion! Lead parts just sounded out of place, so adding simple ambience seemed like the best way to add value.

    Thank you, Mike!

    Comment


    • #4
      Hi Brockgl,

      Great advice from Mike. I'm not a guitarist but I've been playing keys and singing in bands for about 20 years, so I can comment on the "playing in a band" side of things.

      Going from playing solo to playing with others is a little like moving to another planet to live. It feels completely different. All the stuff you would normally do, all the little errors in playing that normally don't matter, suddenly take on greater significance with a band, even a small one. I am glad you have come to this forum for input!

      I think the main reason why your usual lead parts don't work in a small band is because they were written and designed to work with a full band. Take This is Amazing Grace, for example. The driving force in that song is the drumbeat, loud and bold. The lead part sits nicely within that and at times soars above it. It works beautifully - when you have the full band to drive the rhythm and groove. Without the full band, drums in particular, the lead part doesn't sit so nicely.

      Mike is right about providing ambience. It means you have to re-imagine the song a little, but it can be done. Try looking for cover versions of songs on YouTube - this will give you aural ideas of ways to do those songs with a more acoustic vibe, rather than the big epicness of the full band.

      Try to get to know your fellow musos. As. keyboardist, the single most important thing I do on stage is listen to the others and adapt my playing to suit them. This doesn't mean I am compromising myself - it means I am playing as part of a team. My job is to make the whole team sound good. This usually means providing rhythm and harmonics, always means keeping out of the acoustic guitarist's range, and, very occasionally, means doing a pretty solo line. Oh yeah, and always listening. I try especially hard to stay attuned to the worship leader. You will find that the better you get to know your worship leader, the more you will be able to anticipate what he will play and therefore plan what you need to play to compliment his playing.

      Worship ministry is about serving first, music second. Approach your playing from a position of serving the worship leader, and the congregation, and you can't go wrong!

      I'm probably telling you what you already know, but it is sometimes worth hearing it afresh. Don't hesitate to seek clarification on any of these points if you wish. :-)

      Steffie.

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