October 2018 Martin Header Leaderboard (HLB)

For Sound Guys

From the Sound Booth: Keep it Simple

October 2018 Martin Header Leaderboard (HLB)

Today I want to talk a little bit about guitar parts and how they sound. Because I’m a front of house guy I get a little bit of a different perspective of how parts work together. This could spawn into a couple different topics but for this one we’re going to talk about the complexity of your parts.

The guitar is a really incredible instrument. Watching, listening, and mixing people who play well is a great experience. Having said that, there is a time and place for shredding, quick fingers, and crazy arpeggiated scales but I would say Sunday morning isn’t really the time. Often times complex parts can be a distraction and that is the last thing we want to do to people in our congregations.

I firmly believe in the mindset that simpler is better. I think simple drum beats sound bigger than intricate beats, simple lead guitar lines cut through a mix and shine much more than the styles I listed above, and key parts that are constantly moving tend to get lost in the background. Yes, this is my personal viewpoint but when you listen to modern worship music it’s the mindset of the musicians we look up to. Sure, there are some complex licks here and there that catch some attention but for the most part modern worship is simple.

Many times you are learning parts that other artists have already written and as I mentioned some of them can be complex but that doesn’t mean you have to replicate it exactly. Could you nail the part if you practiced a lot? Absolutely. Is playing the complex part on stage in front of your congregation different than in your bedroom? Absolutely. Will the congregation know if you played the actual part that’s on the Jesus Culture album? Probably not. It’s okay to simplify some of the complex parts and put your own spin on it. We can’t all be Jeffery Kunde.

One final thought. The more complex a system is the more points of possible failure and the harder it will be to learn. If you have a team of guitarists that rotate Sunday mornings it’s going to be way harder for all of them to learn a complex system. Figure out the best and most effective way to get from point a to point b. Do that and teach it to your team.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Matthew

    October 15, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Stupid article. Encouraging people to be mediocre. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

    • Aaron Lehman

      Aaron Lehman

      October 16, 2017 at 9:57 am

      While I respect your opinion that we should not be encouraging people to be mediocre, I must ask you to be a bit more polite while commenting on our site. We have thousands of readers every month that visit this site, and not all of them are professional sound engineers such as yourself. We welcome constructive criticism and open conversation, but calling an article “Stupid” and saying that a writer should be ashamed of himself will not be tolerated.

      • Rob

        October 28, 2017 at 9:44 am

        Shredding does not equal virtuoso as simple does not mean mediocre….ask Ringo, Paul, John, and the not shredding guy.

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