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versatile player vs singer/song writer

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Megalomaniac
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i need help in deciding something for myself.
that or to talk this over with other guitar players, but what do you think is more or less better ?
a versatile guitar player, someone who knows many scales all over the fretboard, who can ( hypothetically ofcourse ) play flawlessly in every key, smoothly and is more of a musician in general. he/she can sit in with anyone and catch on quickly and knows what's coming up and where to go next in his/her playing

the other is the singer-songer writer type i think.
the one who has a repertoire of many songs and originals and things. he/she can play in a technical fashion like the other player, but doesnt know as many or just a scale in one position. less theory and more creativity in creating and manipulating songs. but only knows a limited amount of chords the basics, but still has a good performance for people

now i know these arent exact
bur which do you think you're more at?
i'm more or less a technical player, but i think that i'm taking it to far.
because well i dont have any/many songs to play for people but i'm great in the sense that i can easily pick up on a jam and stay in key.
i guess a mix of the two is the best, to be able to play in a technical manner, riffs and things but incorperate it in a song

whoa verbal diahrea
but what're your thoughts ?


   
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Cat
 Cat
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Hmmm...you got my brain squirming over this one!

Me, I write. That's how I pay my income taxes. Sure, I can play the buhgeezus out of a guitar but I know my limitations. There's heaps of guitarists way bettern' me. (Hey, maybe there's only so much brain to fill up?) But this is how GREAT partnerships come along. If a guitarist KNOWS that the songwriter is good at what he does...and acknowledges that "he can't bring the tune off without my own playing"...things are sweet. (Lennon & McCartney/Harrison & Starr???)

It's tough to transcend one's ego. Marriages stand or fall, friendships falter, bands break up. But if all members of the "combo" do get their egos under control...magic happens. That's why it's so IMPORTANT to close off sessions to outsiders...

Underneath it all...guitarists get better working with a good writer...and writers get better working with good guitarists.

We're always learnin'...

Cat

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


   
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jwmartin
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I think you put the two of 'em together, add bass and drums and you'll have a helluva band. :D

I don't think either one is "better", it's more of what you want and where your goals lie. If you want to be the next John Petrucci, you better learn those scales. When I was younger, I wanted to play like Eddie Van Halen and Paul Gilbert, there's no telling how many hours of practice I put in on air guitar. Unfortunately, I didn't practice on a real guitar. I finally got around to really trying to learn guitar at 32 (3+ years ago) and have realized that I just don't have the time to dedicate to learning to play like EVH or Petrucci. I'm learning scales and practicing some lead, but I'm content with the fact that I'll probably always be the rhythm guy. So I'm focusing more on the songwriting and composition side.

I think all the parts are important. A perfect example is my favorite band, Pearl Jam. They've got Stone Gossard, who is an incredible rhythm guitarist and he writes amazing riffs. Most of the riffs on their hits songs were written by Stone, stuff like Alive and Evenflow are all him. Mike McCready is a monster lead player and Eddie Vedder sometimes plays rhythm and writes some of the music. He comes up with beautiful chord progressions and melodies that just fit right into the songs. Take away either one of the 3 and Pearl Jam probably wouldn't have existed or ,if they did, they wouldn't be near as good. Of course, "good" is in the eye of the beholder.

Bass player for Undercover


   
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Vic Lewis VL
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Speaking for myself, hopefully a mixture of the two. I'm fairly good on rhythm (electric and acoustic) guitar, but I can play a little lead, slide in open G open D or standard, I write songs, arrange all the different parts - guitars, bass, keyboards, harmonica - and sing and play all the instruments.

I'll settle for jack-of-all-trades, but I think my rhythm playing and songwriting are my strongest points. One thing I can do, though, is take a song I've written that might have vocals, lead & rhythm guitars, keyboards and bass and do a solo acoustic version of it.

I'm not a master of anything yet - but I've come a long way in four-and-a-half years, when I knew half a dozen chords and everything I wrote was either G Em C and D, or A D and E!

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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Blueline
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First me opinion on versatile v singer/songwriter. You could probably name 1000 very technical versatile guitarists that are excellent songwriters and lyricists. John Petricci (Dream Theater) is the first guy that jumps to my mind. The man is a flawless robot when it comes to playing and composes some of the most intricate songs. His lyrics are often very thought provoking and paint vivid images. There are many, many others out there. That said, I'm not sure there is a thick division between the two. Sure, there are some singer/songwriters that you would not call "guitar gods" but I'd still give my left arm to be able...wait.....my left leg to be able to play like them.

Me? I'd put myself more a as a singer/songwriter. I'd be more than happy to sit with my acoustic and play all night telling stories through my songs. Plus...I'm more of the brooding, frustrated artist type anyways. I paint (not as good as dogbite!), sketch in pencil and graphite. And I'm still reasonably angry enough at the world to have something to say!

Teamwork- A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.


   
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Ness K
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i think a singer songwriter is better

"The Beauty of Music is my Sanity. Without it, I would simply lose my gravity, and blow away with the breeze." - Ness K(Aka Matt Harris)


   
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Vic Lewis VL
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One thing I should have added - if you want to be a singer/songwriter, you're going to have to be decent, at the very least, at rhythm guitar;

1 - you're going to want to be able to recreate the music you hear in your head, and

2 - you're going to want to be able to perform a set of your songs without them all sounding the same.

Either that, or you're going to have to hire a guitarist, a pianist or a band.....and good luck, if you're not well versed on the guitar, trying to explain to them exactly what you want to hear!

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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Wes Inman
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I don't think either is better, the super guitarist usually needs a good singer/songwriter to play with, and the singer/songwriter needs a hired gun to play those great solos. I mean, look at bands, you got Mick Jagger, he's always needed Keith Richards. Bon Jovi needs Richie Sambora. So they are both equal in a sense.

That said, the singer/songwriter will be more famous. I don't care how great you play guitar, the crowd always goes for the singer. The only exception I can think of was The Who, Pete Townshend seemed to get more attention than Roger Daltrey the singer. But Pete wrote the songs and did a lot of the singing as well. But generally the singer will get the most attention. Another exception would be Angus Young. He gets more attention than AC/DC's current singer, although that was not the case when Bon Scott was their singer.

Even more rare is the super guitarist that is also a great songwriter like Jimi Hendrix. He could do it all. :D

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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Cat
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Vic...I agree with you: (quoting)
"Either that, or you're going to have to hire a guitarist, a pianist or a band.....and good luck, if you're not well versed on the guitar, trying to explain to them exactly what you want to hear!"

Some things seem to sort themselves out. Magic is magic...whether that's by playing a didgereedoo or a washboard. Some folks seem to be masters at it!

Still..you HAVE to at LEAST be competent enough to "try to explain to them what you want to hear".

People in this mode of qualifications should realise that...sooner or later (probably later!) you'll get good enough to just shrug your shoulders and DO IT YOURSELF!

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


   
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Ignar Hillström
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Maybe it's just me, but in my not overly humble opinion there is no excuse for a singer/songwriter not to develop the basic skills you grouped as 'versatile player'. Being able to play in every key, understanding the basics of scales and being able to jam with others are really the basics every musician must learn in the first few years. And when you're there, why not write a few song? I cannot think of any real excuse why the songwriter type is excused from learning these basics, nor can I think of any good reason why the 'versatile player' should keep his head up his butt instead of using his/her skills to make music, which is, I guess, the whole point of learning the basics in the first place.

But that's just my two eurocents. (and I know you Americans have to sell your house to get two eurocents but I can't be blamed for that :P)


   
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Megalomaniac
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Maybe it's just me, but in my not overly humble opinion there is no excuse for a singer/songwriter not to develop the basic skills you grouped as 'versatile player'. Being able to play in every key, understanding the basics of scales and being able to jam with others are really the basics every musician must learn in the first few years. And when you're there, why not write a few song? I cannot think of any real excuse why the songwriter type is excused from learning these basics, nor can I think of any good reason why the 'versatile player' should keep his head up his butt instead of using his/her skills to make music, which is, I guess, the whole point of learning the basics in the first place.

But that's just my two eurocents. (and I know you Americans have to sell your house to get two eurocents but I can't be blamed for that :P)
well everyone can easily become one or the other with time and practice, but i felt that this might make an interesting topic as i know several of my friends who dont know what the dominant or tonic is of a particular key and have no clue on how to use anything of the sort. they just play guitar for the sake of playing guitar, and well just noodle around, in, out, above and below keys. they're guitarists rather then musician's.
how i got thinking about all of this in the first place is how i over analyze my attempted songs and they become mush after awhile, as i'm more of a theoretical/has to know what's happening and how, sort of guy


   
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Ignar Hillström
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I don't think they are different types of people, I think they are at different stages. In my little theory there are three stages we all go through, hopefully:

1) We don't know what we're doing but we're trying all the same
2) We dive into theory and over-analyze everything.
3) The theory becomes part of our subconcious, it's there but we use it more naturally.

That's not to say one is objectively better then the others, but you cannot reach the latter stages without going first through the previous one. Guitar is a unique instrument in that learning the basic motoric skills is relatively easy while the basics of theory are pretty vague, compared with learning theory on a piano. That's why relatively more guitarists compared with any other instrument focus on skills rather then knowledge.


   
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Vic Lewis VL
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how i got thinking about all of this in the first place is how i over analyze my attempted songs and they become mush after awhile, as i'm more of a theoretical/has to know what's happening and how, sort of guy

A little introspective self-analysis, or self criticism, isn't going to hurt - but you can, as you put it, over-analyse things to the point where you'll never get anything finished. You've got to find that perfect word or phrase, or that ideal chord change or fill - sometimes it's better to just put your head down and run at the target!

Yeah, I like to know WHY something sounds good - but sometimes, it just DOES! I had a fortunate accident not long ago - I was looking for a chord to get me from F#7 (played 244220) to Amaj7 (x02120), and, inadvertantly putting the Amaj7 on at the wrong fret, came up with x03230...Dm(add9) which sounded just right! I'd never have actually thought of that....

Don't ever stop thinking about what you're doing - but don't over analyse to the point where you'll never get anything done! Sometimes it's good to just do the best that you can for now...

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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Cat
 Cat
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How the &#*&% did I DO that???

Sometimes this thought occurs to me. My fingers just chord the right notes on some rather weirded out fingering without (seemingly) the SLIGHTEST co-ordination between brain and fingers...but it FITS! Perhaps all these years (45) of looking at chords "on the go" as I (or the other guitarist) play 'em...knowing full well that the next cycle I gotta come up with a nice (and instantaneous) single note take off from there...has sort of "hard wired" my noggin'???

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool (but not yet "died"-in-the-wool!) by ear player. Naming a chord means thumbing through a chord book for the weirder fingerings.

Come to think of it...maybe it's time this old dog learned some new tricks.

Yes...I LIKE this site! I'm actually talking to myself less and less!!!!

Ha!

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


   
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Blueline
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I don't think they are different types of people, I think they are at different stages. In my little theory there are three stages we all go through, hopefully:

1) We don't know what we're doing but we're trying all the same
2) We dive into theory and over-analyze everything.
3) The theory becomes part of our subconcious, it's there but we use it more naturally.

That's not to say one is objectively better then the others, but you cannot reach the latter stages without going first through the previous one. Guitar is a unique instrument in that learning the basic motoric skills is relatively easy while the basics of theory are pretty vague, compared with learning theory on a piano. That's why relatively more guitarists compared with any other instrument focus on skills rather then knowledge.

Am I the only one that finds it absolutey the coolest thing that Arjen's avatar has him sitting in the traditional Psychologist's position, on the couch, AND in a silhouette so that he is unseen. 8) If you take those facts and then read his last post, its as if he's got this whole Gestalt Psychology Theory on musical stages. Is it me? Does anyone else see this??? Hello, is this thing on???

Teamwork- A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.


   
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