So three guitarists...

Discussion in 'Live Performance & Stage Sound' started by RHEX-7, Jul 30, 2016.

  1. RHEX-7

    RHEX-7 SS.org Regular

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    my band wants to try out the 3 guitarist set up. how would we set this up live? 2 rhythms and a lead guitar in the middle or one rhythm guitar in the middle with two leads on the sides?...feels like this would be better done if we started out with three instead of adding a 3rd later on.
     
  2. ConnorGilks

    ConnorGilks Still can't play.

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    Are you talking about where people stand on stage or writing? Write the music you want to write, don't decide that things have to be a certain way before-hand. You can all play the same thing, or you can all play different things, or one lead and two rhythms, or vice versa. It's about what works creatively.
     
  3. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    Talk about the rationale for the 3 guitars. I'm familiar with one and two, but what do you like about the 3? Probably some cool stuff is possible, but I'd love to hear what you guys have in mind.
     
  4. Chokey Chicken

    Chokey Chicken mouth breather

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    We have three. One is rhythm, two are leads so we can do harmonies without losing the rhythm playing. If there's nothing fancy going on, we default to rhythm playing.

    It doesn't matter where you stand on stage, and having doubled rhythm doesn't have the same effect as in the studio. Just do whatever is comfortable. Try it all out and see what works.
     
  5. fuzz0r

    fuzz0r SS.org Regular

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  6. wheresthefbomb

    wheresthefbomb SS.org Regular

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    hey, this is really cool! really sweet guitar tones and tight playing.

    ISIS, Cult of Luna, Year of No Light come to mind as bands that make great less-than-conventional use of three guitar players.

    Iron Maiden has three as well and I think they used them as described above, to play harmonies and still have the rhythm going.
     
  7. fuzz0r

    fuzz0r SS.org Regular

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    Thanks!
    Hopefully I'll be getting my Regius 8 soon and it shall allow us to experiment further. :shred:
     
  8. Science_Penguin

    Science_Penguin SS.org Regular

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    That's why.

    In fact, that was always the big complaint about Dragonforce's live shows even after they bounced back from that one awful Graspop show. They really should hire a third to play rhythm, cos, I'm sorry, Fred is a good bassist, but he doesn't have that Steve Harris punch. And Vadim's keys usually take up the higher string-patch end of things, so that's not compensating much.

    They lose a LOT of power when they delve into the harmonized solos. It just sounds empty.
     
  9. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    As long as you find people who get along with each other and can contribute something musically, more power to you.

    My problem has always boiled down to people not getting along with each other. Even when it seems to be a slam dunk - A) a guy who really likes the music we play and wants to add an extra guitar line that's not too complicated, but the guy ends up turning into a complete douche every time he talks to the drummer (for no apparent reason), so out he goes. B) a lifelong friend of the drummer who can add some nice smokin' leads, and seems like a really great dude, until he misses three practices and responds by being a douche to the same drummer, so out he goes. C) a guy who says he can play keyboards and wants to "fill in the sound a little" during solos and whatnot, and ends up coming to his first gig with the band without bringing his keyboard, instead bringing a flute, which doesn't fit the music at all, and, most importantly, was never rehearsed with the band, so, awkwardly in the middle of a gig, out he goes. D) a guy who wants to lay down some rhythm guitar, seems to know how to play and seems to know how get along with everybody, but, unfortunately, and oddly, does not know how to tune his guitar, so he has one of the other guitarists tune his guitar for him, until, time for a show and suddenly the other guitarist inexplicably doesn't want to tune his guitar for him, and before the primary guitarist can step in to save the day, the other two guitarists are swinging fists, so ... out he goes. E) new guy expresses interest, has limited experience in a band, but knows everybody in the band and gets on well with everybody, shows oodles of improvement at rehearsal and thickens up the sound of the band, then, at first gig with the band, activates built-in drum machine on keyboard and pisses of drummer - apologizes, but does it again at second gig, multiple times, and ... out he goes.

    Can you tell that I've never had luck with the third guitar player/keyboard player new guy strategy? Something about having fun relaxing, playing music together, that seems to bring out the worst in some people. Often times the new guy is not the problem, but somehow gets one of the established band members to turn into a butthead, and then the band leader is in the awkward position of either firing non-necessary nice guy new guy or necessary asshole old guy from the band. In my experience, that usually ends up with the entire band calling it a day.

    So, TL;DR - I'm always very skeptical of adding a "new guy," especially if his instrument is redundant. YMMV.
     
  10. TonyFlyingSquirrel

    TonyFlyingSquirrel Cherokee Warrior

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    I think setting sonic goals can be a good thing.
    You can define roles for parts of songs, but I wouldn't be so rigid as to say that each time "this type of part" comes up, this person plays it" but rather make those decisions on a song by song basis so that each guitar player gets fair turns at playing primary rhythm, secondary rhythm, lead, or textures. It gives each player a chance to relax someone from some parts, while stretching on others.

    I know for myself, being in a 2 guitar band gives me a break to play rhythm only on one song right after playing some very difficult lead parts so that I get a bit of a rest.

    Periphery actually have this down quite well. They all do everything at different times.
     
  11. Bodes

    Bodes SS.org Regular

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    Why can't you go between 2 leads with one rhythm and one lead and 2 rhythms when necessary?

    If you want to only really want to add an extra layer to leads every couple of songs, it may not be worth it.

    You have to have a serious discussion with your band mate about how much will the extra guitarist add to your sound?
     
  12. estabon37

    estabon37 Melodica Attack!

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    Two of my favourite bands are Radiohead and Pearl Jam, both of which frequently use the 3 guitar setup. Add Oceansize and recent Foo Fighters to the list.

    Most songs I write feature three guitar parts, and I very very rarely have two or more playing the same thing. Three guitars works well if you write for it, particularly if you want to fill the soundscape, as mentioned above.

    I've not had to 'deal' with this as a live setup, but the way I've always imagined the setup for me would be to have my single rhythmic guitar in the centre and my two riffing / lead guitars left and right. If you use two rhythm guitars, I'd move them to left and right, and move the lead guitar to the centre. Keep in mind that you're moving an amplifier, not necessarily a musician. If your vocalist is also a rhythm player, and you like having them in the centre of the stage, but want their guitar off to the side, just shift the amps where the sound fits. If you're mic-ing or connecting your amps to a sound board, then it doesn't matter as much where you place the amps, because whoever is working the mixing desk will take care of the sound placement.

    I've heard a lot of people claim that three guitars gets too muddled, but I think that's only if you've got three people trying to play the same thing at the same time. Most albums you'd listen to would feature four or more guitar parts to build the 'wall of sound' effectively, and I'm pretty sure Billy Corgan rather infamously recorded up to 40 guitar parts on various songs on 'Siamese Dream', so I tend to think having another guitar in the mix only hurts things if you're not spending any time thinking about what each guitar part should add to the mix.
     
  13. buriedoutback

    buriedoutback SS.org Regular

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    I had discounted having 3 guitar players because the 1 or 2 bands I listened to that did it, did it poorly (IMO). It seemed to me they were all just playing the same riff, and it seemed redundant to have 3 guitar players.
    Having said that, my band is now on the cusp of going with 3 guitar players and having bass as a backing track.
    We would do 2 rhythm and 1 lead. The 2 rhythm guitars would plays riffs that compliment each other, or harmonize each other, and the lead guy can wank till the cows come home. The lead guitar would be in the center, the rhythms on the left and right side.
    Before with 1 lead and 1 rhythm, I found myself wishing I had a stereo rhythm rig to fill in the sound once the leads started.
    We are just writing new material for a new album, so we haven't actually done 3 guitar players yet, but I'm excited to try it.
     
  14. brutalwizard

    brutalwizard Pretty Your Petunia

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    I would rather play a stripped down version of a song or too a backing track hen add another ego/mouth to feed lol.
     
  15. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I've recently done a couple o jams with 3 guitarists and it worked out pretty good. It's not a permanent thing though- I'm going to be filling in for one of the guitarists for a few shows, so both of us are playing the same parts until I've got them down (in same cases, he'll stick to rhythm so I can properly rehears the leads). If you can find 3 guys who are reliable and get along, and you can find musical/sonic space for everyone, I don't see why it couldn't work.

    Sort of related- having three differently voiced amps going at the same time sounds pretty cool. We had a Recto, a Mark, and an Engl going at the same time. :shred: No sonic space was un-filled with guitar goodness.
     
  16. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    If all you want a third guitarist for is to play harmonies on some lead parts, just buy a pitch shifter...?
     
  17. Semi-pro

    Semi-pro SS.org Regular

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    ^ pitch shifter/harmonizer is basically good for only Iron Maiden style double-lead stuff where the harmonized line is structurally identical. But if you wanna do non-linear harmony lines or syncopated rhythms, 3 guitars is a valid option.
     
  18. cwhitey2

    cwhitey2 BlackendCrust Metalâ„¢

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    I played in a band a couple of years ago that had 3 guitarists. We did the 2 rhythm 1 lead setup most of the time or we would play different octaves from each other.

    All in all I probably would not go down the 3 guitarist route again unless it was like 'studio work' :lol: To many opinions involved and as stated 'another mouth to feed'. And frankly at this point in my music career I want complete control over everything :lol: :fawk:
     
  19. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I've noticed a trend lately of heavy bands having no bass player. With a duo or trio, I see how it works, but I've seen five and six piece bands with no bass player, and instead playing three, or even four, guitars. You know what, though? It works. As much as I hate the idea of my own band not having a bass player, I've done it before myself (out of necessity, though), and it's not the end of the world.

    The bass player, in traditional rock context, is the laid back guy in the band who gets along with everybody and plays really tight to the rhythm of the song. He might be a better guitarist than the guitarist, but he still doesn't take much of the limelight. In classic rock bands (thinking Led Zep, the Who, Rush, etc.), he often plays keyboards as well.

    So, in metal, there are a few things going on. #1 Guitars tuned down to drop Z don't leave as much room for bass to exist in its own space. Bass can play in unison with guitar for a different timbre texture, but we all know where that discussion eventually goes (why not just play another guitar?). #2 The rhythm guitar provides tight rhythms. Think rock and roll rhythm guitar - it's usually some sort of up down down up down strumming pattern over a four chord progression. Think metal rhythm guitar - "Pickuh-pukah Puckah Puckah Uh-pick-up-a-pancake I-pick-up-a-pancake Uh picka picka Pickuh-pukah Puckah PWAHHH Up-a-pancake I-pick-up-a-pancake" #3 Metal bands don't have the personality demographics of rock bands. Where a rock band has the serious guy, the quiet mysterious weird guy, the laid back guy, and the over-the-top party animal guy, metal bands are usually a group of laid back guys who take things not-too-seriously.

    All three of those things mean less of a distinct role for bass.

    Don't read me wrong, though, I still go with the formula bass+guitar+drums = :hbang:

    And I've also said in other threads that, at least in my experience, the "extra dude" in the band nearly always stirs up some sort of drama, even if he does absolutely nothing to directly contribute to it.
     
  20. Science_Penguin

    Science_Penguin SS.org Regular

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    If you can find a bassist who's passionate about playing bass, and knows how to do more than just follow the guitarist, they'll add something to the music even in low tunings.

    Of course, the lowest I ever tune is Drop A, which at this point, some might say "Pfft... that ain't that low..."
     

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