Worship Band - The Lead Guitar's Job

Adapted from a clinic taught by Jerry Tyson.  jerrytyson@earthlink.net

  • The Lead Electric plays fills, adds color, and often sets the hook for a song
    • The Lead player should be playing a solid body electric with a stratocoaster type of configuration.
    • The function of the Lead Electric is to play little melodies in spaces in the rhythm where there is no vocal going on
    • Adding color may mean adding higher register chords on verse and then driving distortion on the chorus
    • The Lead player is responsible for setting the hook, or musical ID of a song. This should be played verbatim. Guitar solos are are a separate talent/responsibility.
    • The Lead player should be an excellent rhythm player. By understanding rhythm player's function you can better stay out of each other's way.
  • The Lead Electric player's job is to enhance the overall worship experience.
    • The HOW is in the KNOW
      • KNOW your rig
      • KNOW what to play in different styles (better yet what not to play)
      • KNOW how to play to stay out of the way of the vocalists and piano
    • Listen to what is being played around you
  • The Lead Electric must have good time and good feel
    • A metronome or drum machine is a necessary tool to use to help internalize one's time feel
    • A good way to achieve common time feels, and learn better strumming patterns and understand the structure of a good guitar solo is to practice with a drum machine.
  • A Lead Electric must be in tune and groove
    • Always, always use a tuner to correct intonation. Strings change during a performance.
    • Groove means that the rhythm of the music makes the audience want to tap their foot or clap their hands
    • Know what groove to play on certain styles.
  • A Lead Electric should be using a variety of effects.
    • Chorus or reverb - anything to sweeten up the sound, but not detract from the intonation
    • Lead Electric must have chorus and distortion. Other optional effects are delay, phaser, tremelo, and wah etc. 
  • A Lead Electric should be familiar with the notes on the guitar's neck, and be able to play triads and their inversions as well as scales
    • Triads are three note chords, and an inversion is a rearrangement of those three notes
    • Some scales you should know - major, dorian minor, minor pentatonic, major pentatonic, and the blues scale all based off of the 5th and 6th string. 
    • The Lead Electric is the person in the band called on most often for playing solos or improvisational licks. This is not always the lead player's strength. Remember, you can never go wrong playing the melody. Also, blues licks work 90% of the time if you are in the correct key.
  • Good technique is essential for good time and endurance
    • Bad technique can wear a Lead electric player out and when he begins to get tired the riffs time will begin to drag
    • Technique can make a difference in one's time and groove. Bad technique can make something that is relatively easy to play become difficult.
    • Taking a lesson now and again can fix these problems and steer one in the right direction.
  • Good visual communication is key to a Lead Electric player's success
    • If the Lead Electric is not aware of his surroundings, he may miss a cut off or a great musical moment. This can be disastrous.
    • Don't bury your head or stare off into space, watch the Worship Leader for instruction and cues 
  • The Worship Leader has the final say
    • In some cases, the instrumentalists may have more musical experience than the person up front. Learn to be ok with that.
    • Musical perfection is secondary to giving God the Glory he deserves. Much of this comes from attitude and servitude.
    • While input is healthy, and constructive criticism is part of the band dynamic, keep egos in check and realize the weighty responsibility a Worship Leader carries in ushering a congregation into the throne-room of Grace.
  • Don't overplay - LESS IS MORE

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