Guitar questions and answers:

Send any questions you have to me at and I'll try to post an answer for you:

I'm a relatively new player and a friend of mine turned me on to this site. I am trying out for a cover band and looking for help on how to duplicate sounds of specific players on specific sounds. i.e., "what guitar/pickup/effects/amp does Elliot Easton use on "Best Friends Girl" by the Cars", etc.

A: Aside from the fact that most players sound the way they do because of their fingers, ears, and mind, the thing to do to cop the 'gear' part of the sound is just to listen and experiment. And make comparisons. One of the tough things is that when listening to a recording a players sound is in the context of the rest of the recording, so it may be impossible to match the sound by comparing your solo sound. Or, when you think you've got it, then go try it in the context of a band setting you may find it's still not right.

Q: I should have clarified my initial post - I have a Variax 500 and a Digitech RP355 so I'm able to "model" just about any sounds, etc.

Where I am running into trouble is trying to achieve certain sounds even after playing with multiple settings. For example, Ric Ocasic seems to have a fairly "clean" sound through but I'm having a tough time replicating.

A: At the risk of sounding like an a-hole, I'd take that modelling stuff and throw it in the trash.

Or at least I wouldn't use it to try to 'model' stuff, but rather I'd use it to get new sounds from it.

Ric Ocasic didn't use a Variax 500 and a Digitech RP355 on those recordings your listening to, so what makes you think you can cop his sounds with that gear? I hope it's not because some manufactures BS ad copy that says it will 'model' any amp and guitar sound.

Time better spent would be to learn how he plays.

Barring that, do some research on what gear he actually used.

Q; Great response. Very much appreciated. I am trying out for a band this weekend and was getting a little spooked - given I am a rhythm guitarist.

A: As far as the upcoming band audition, I don't think they'll care how well you're copying tones from recordings.

I would think a band would look for things like:

1. Can you play? Meaning IN TIME and IN TUNE

2. Do you know the songs and parts you are supposed to know?

3. Does your personality jive with the other cats in the group.

4. Are you responsible enough to show up for gigs and rehearsals?

5. Do you have any other 'bonus' features? Booking ability, own PA gear or transportation, recording gear or facility, your uncle owns Columbia Records, ect...

6. Image

Q: I can play an up four, back 3 (G A B C A B C D B C D E C D E F D E F G , etc.) pattern in the major scale at 80bps without mistakes, but I can't actually count 1-2-3-4 while I do it, at least not while ascending. For some reason, it's easier to count while descending.

Is it normal to play faster than you can consciously count?

A: Use subdivisions when counting, based on what rhythms you're doing.

Eighth notes = 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

Triplets = 1 and a 2 and a 3 and a 4 and a

16th notes = 1 e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a

Q: It's interesting that the main criticism of practicing scales to get faster is not that "it's not worth doing that" but rather that "it will be boring".

A: I think my main criticism of excessive scale practice would not be "it will be boring", but rather that that it won't make you more musical. And by the way, I'm not saying scale practice is bad or that one shouldn't do it. Just don't let it eat up the majority of your training time.

Q: How do I know if I’m good enough to play in a band?

A: There’s not really a “good enough” level. Just go try to do it. Playing with other people will improve your skills in ways you can never do on your own.

Bit of a tangent here, but related to your question:

I always tell my students that guitar is the least important part of the band. If you've got a great singer and rhythm section, with great tunes, then you have a great band. The guitarist, or other lead instrument(s), is just icing on the cake.

A couple other things to remember about playing to live audiences:

1. Many people listen with a preconceived disposition to like or dislike an act. It's pretty difficult to overcome a strong preperceptions, one way or the other.

2. 80% of the crowd (or more) listens with their eyes. As long as the band doesn't fuck up the groove, the more visual band will be perceived as "better" by most people. If you want the average joe to think you're a great player then jump around like a clown, make funny faces, and do all the stupid guitar tricks: play behind your head, behind your back, with your teeth, with one hand, with no hands, use the mic stand for a slide, ect...