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Thursday, 18 April 2013

How To Sound Well Live

This article is really more on how not to mess up and believe me there are many ways in which you can. My first two or three live gigs were quite a disaster so I know what I'm talking about. The main thing you need to worry about is your tuning. Make sure you have a tuner with you and tune after your warmup just before you go on stage. If your guitar keeps going out of tune you have a problem. It could be fixed by simply replacing your strings as they do wear off. If the problem is not fixed you might have put the new strings on the wrong way. You mightn't have done enough loops and it's too loose. 

If you're playing an acoustic guitar and you have a problem with tuning It might be the type of the strings you're using. I had a problem with this myself. If you buy a classical guitar with nylon strings, you must use nylon strings and not steel as steel will bend the guitar neck slightly over time and your guitar will be in tune in some parts of the neck, and out of tune in others. Luckily I had a very cheap beginner guitar that wasn't very valuable to me so I wasn't too fussed about it.

If you're playing with a band, make sure your volume is right. You can't be too loud because you will sound out of place or too quiet, because you just wont be heard. You've also got to make sure you've got the tone right. Don't let someone else do it for you. Take your time setting it, because it's an important part of your performance. 

Your timing needs to be perfect. The last thing you want is to come in too soon or too late. It will ruin the whole experience. You can improve your timing by playing with a metronome every time you practice. Also, know the people you're playing with. You have no idea how much of a difference it makes when you know exactly how your partners play and what they're likely to do. If you've spent enough hours with your band mates you will know them well enough, that even if they or you wake a mistake, it can be easily fixed because the whole band will speed up or slow down and save the day.

Now the technical things. You absolutely must know the song you're playing thoroughly. Playing it a million times will give you the confidence and will prevent you from getting too nervous. Don't even think about a piece that you struggle with. It will be a lot different live from your what it's like in your bedroom. If you don't have experience with playing in front of a big crowd of people, as soon as you walk on stage your heart rate will increase and your hands will sweat. This makes playing a bit harder and playing a hard piece right practically impossible. You will make mistakes and you will sound horrible. Get someone to record you so you can hear what you sounded like as you think you sound a lot different that you really do. Your mistakes seem a lot less significant.

You can't afford to fail your bends. They are essential and you've got to do them right. Bending too much or too little will ruin your lick or solo. 

So as you see there are many opportunities to fail, but you don't have to mess up on any of them. It requires experience and practice. Your first gig might not be as good as you'd think, but it will definitely be a valuable experience.