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Old 06-06-2012, 09:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Thicker Sound

I'm in a two piece band. It was, at one point, a five piece. I got tired of having to work my ass off to get people to come to practice though, so we decided to drop them. We tried to find other members, and we found some but they eventually left. So, me and my friend gave up on filling the spots. He's on drums, me guitar and vocals. The problem we are running into, which we really should have expected, is that we sound a bit thin, especially during my guitar solos.

I'm assuming it's my responsibility to thicken the sound, but I'm not sure how to do so. I use double stops during the solos a lot and I'm running through two amps. One of the amps has some naturally enhanced bass while the other has a brighter sound. They sound really thick during the rhythm playing, but when I start doing anything but that it gets rather empty. Any suggestions?
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Old 06-06-2012, 11:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Switch to bass and groove it up. I play drums and my brother plays bass and we occasionally get together to do crazy noise rock/jazz jam sessions. Sounds great, and those lows will fill up the soundscape better than a guitar.
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:04 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Its worth trying I guess, but I can't sing very well and play bass. Idk why. :\
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:46 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Are you still performing the same material that you were when you were a five piece? That could have a lot to do with it. There are more than a handful of successful two-piece rock bands out there, but a lot of their music has been orchestrated for a two person ensemble. Most of them either go the route of no guitar solos at all, rhythm solos,(basically an instrumental bridge), or solos where the drums change up to provide a better groundwork for the solo.The first thing I would recommend is trying some different arrangements for the songs to see if that works better.

On the other hand, I might recommend an EQ pedal set to augment the overall input and some of the frequencies that may sound thin, a chorus pedal with the depth and rate subtly tweaked to augment the body of your tone, or maybe a solid overdrive pedal set up to give a little extra boost without much, if any extra drive when solo time comes.
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I have a decent equalizer. Not much of a clue on how to set it so I just kind of mess with it in my free time. I have an MXR micro amp that I use to bump the volume during solo time. Is that what you mean? And What do you mean by changing up the drum?
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:10 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I have a decent equalizer. Not much of a clue on how to set it so I just kind of mess with it in my free time. I have an MXR micro amp that I use to bump the volume during solo time. Is that what you mean? And What do you mean by changing up the drum?
One of the downsides to soloing without rhythm guitarist or bass player is that there's nothing to really hold down the harmonic progression of the song. If you go for a solo and the drummer is just holding down the dominant beat of the song it tends to sound really monotonous and very, "let's take a break while I satisfy my own musical self-indulgence with a guitar solo". A backing chord progression, or at least a bass player holding down the root makes it sound like the song is actually going somewhere, However, if the drummer switches up the beat for the solo, or your orchestrate some carefully placed fills to coincide with some of the peaks of the solo, it will sound more involved and purposeful.
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:15 AM   #7 (permalink)
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So like play the melody with some flair type deal? Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner kinda thing?
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:35 AM   #8 (permalink)
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So like play the melody with some flair type deal? Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner kinda thing?
Well, I don't know if that's necessarily a great example. Hendrix was completely unaccompanied for that solo, and part of what makes it work, in addition to the flair, is that The Star Spangled Banner is generally sung without any sort of accompaniment, so we're used to hearing it that way.

I'm just trying to figure out if it's really a gear/tone related problem, or if it's a essentially a problem of you trying to pull off playing songs as a two-piece that were written for 5 musicians without really doing anything to change up the arrangement.

I'd suggest seeking out as many two-piece, guitar and drums ensembles as you can, (white Stripes, Japandroids, The Black Keys, Death From Above 1979 et al.) , and listen to what they do and listen to what they don't do as far as both arrangement and tone goes. I think you'll find in most cases that they tend to stray away from single not guitar solos and when they are done the solos are definitely very rhythmic in nature, or drums tend to be more involved in some of the more peak parts of the solos to make it sound as if there is cohesiveness to the sound. To be honest, I really have doubts that the problem stems from your tone.
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:55 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Well I am able to carry the work of 5 musicians the way I have everything set up until the solo. So I haven't bothered with actually changing the arrangements. So I may be trying to play as if there was someone playing. My solos are pretty much improvised except for a few parts. So try and play multi note solos and play more rhythmically? Exactly how do you play a solo rhythmically? I've always made note of the rhythm when I'm playing so as to not go out of time, but I'm a self taught newb who doesn't know what you're talking about lol.
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Old 06-07-2012, 02:22 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Well I am able to carry the work of 5 musicians the way I have everything set up until the solo. So I haven't bothered with actually changing the arrangements. So I may be trying to play as if there was someone playing. My solos are pretty much improvised except for a few parts. So try and play multi note solos and play more rhythmically? Exactly how do you play a solo rhythmically? I've always made note of the rhythm when I'm playing so as to not go out of time, but I'm a self taught newb who doesn't know what you're talking about lol.
Well, there are two ways of answering your question. The first is, You don't, that is, you don't play solos rhythmically. The understanding of a guitar solo, at least in rock and roll culture, is that it's a single-string quasi-improvisation on the dominant melodic theme of the song, so to play a song rhythmically would really be the equivalent of playing a bridge, in other words, instead of playing a single string guitar solo, you're changing up the chord progression for 12-24 bars, but what that basically gives you is more like a bridge than a guitar solo, even though you may not be using it to lead into another part of the song. As an example, check out Memphis, Tennessee by Chuck Berry and see what he does at around 1:20 in this video:



Another answer to you question is, You don't, as in you don't play guitar solos at all, which is what a lot of two-pieces resort to. Guitar solos really only sound good when there's another instrument carrying the harmonic progression of the song, and they sound especially crappy when the guitar solos are improvised, because it makes it sound like the song has absolutely no direction and there isn't any opportunity to for the drummer to lend structure to the song by accenting certain key points of the solo. Improvised guitar solos + two-piece guitar and drums ensembles almost always equals a train wreck. I really don't recommend it. I'd say rearrange your songs to have either, no solos, or preplanned, well defined solos, or bring another musician into the band to play bass, rhythm guitar or keyboards-- anything that can hold down the chord progression, because the recipe that you're going with is almost impossible to make sound good.
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