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Is it time to expand?

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Is it time to expand?

Postby blinddrew » Thu May 19, 2016 7:59 pm

I've been playing in a three-piece for the last couple of years (nothing serious, just for our enjoyment) but listening to some recent recordings we've done (both acoustic and electric line-ups) I'm wondering if we need to think about a fourth player. It feels to me like the songs could do with a little extra something to bring them alive a bit - if I was recording it I'd be thinking about the little bits of ear-candy that keep a track interesting.
You can hear some recordings here: https://soundcloud.com/the-southern-wild
I'd really appreciate any suggestions from the folks here - do you hear a space for another instrument? Do we just need to do more with what we have?* Do the arrangements just need more work?
All opinions welcome! :)

P.S. there are obvious advantages to playing in a three-piece but I'm wondering if we've reached our limit there.

* Could be tricky, I'm not much of a guitarist!
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Re: Is it time to expand?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu May 19, 2016 8:59 pm

There's always a compromise working as a trio, to my ears you do a great job but if you feel another instrument would add something then go for it. Guitar/banjo/mandolin/fiddle maybe (i.e. one player with any two of those) or keyboards, or accordion maybe. Anything that adds different textures.

We do it by having lots of different percussion, plus the bass player and drummer (cajon and percussion) both play guitar on a couple of tunes and I double on guitar and mandolin. We're only playing covers but the upside is that we can include some unusual arrangements of well know songs. I don't think we achieve your level of polish (we're an 'occasional band' doing 8-10 gigs a year and mixing acoustic and electric trio gigs with one-offs with additional players like last weekend's 5 piece country rock set) but it all helps to keep it interesting.
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Re: Is it time to expand?

Postby blinddrew » Thu May 19, 2016 11:15 pm

Cheers Sam - I'm not convinced by the need yet but having got to where we are I'm now thinking that it's fine for five or six songs as a support act but I'm beginning to think it's not good enough for a full set. We do mix in electric stuff as well (and I have a b-9 organ pedal to try and fill out some of the chorus parts) but I wonder that it's not quite enough.
I've put the question to the drummer and bassist and doubtless we'll ruminate on it for a while before being too lazy to do anything serious about it... ;)
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Re: Is it time to expand?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu May 19, 2016 11:44 pm

For me the priority is to keep your enthusiasm for playing. If the money matters (and it doesn't for me) then a duo/trio make sense. If not then adding an occasional extra member can keep things interesting. It also adds the potential problem of getting four (or five in my recent endeavour) together to rehearse.....

Whatever just keep on playing :)

I do solo, duo, trio and bigger ensemble gigs, and different genes (electric rock, country rock, acoustic americana, english folk, gypsy jazz and pure cheese (with the duo)) so it's always fresh and a challenge. I'll never be really good at it but but I'll never get bored :)
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Re: Is it time to expand?

Postby Dynamic Mike » Fri May 20, 2016 12:20 am

It's fine as it is, but maybe a lap steel guitar would help to add a bit of interest & help the transition between sections? Just icing on the cake really, like you say ear candy, but without altering the basic character of the songs too much.
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Re: Is it time to expand?

Postby BJG145 » Fri May 20, 2016 9:27 am

Sam Spoons wrote:fiddle...or keyboards


Those would be my first choices. Fiddle definitely. If they can also sing or play another instrument that would be a bonus. I think it could add an interesting lift in places.

I tend to play with fairly flexible lineups these days where folks might drop in and out. Nice tracks though; I'll come do some EWI sometime if you like. ;)
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Re: Is it time to expand?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri May 20, 2016 9:35 am

I think the only problem you might have is finding somebody suitable, a multi instrumentalist would be favourite but often in these cases it comes down to who you know that may be interested. Do you know a lap steel player?
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Re: Is it time to expand?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Fri May 20, 2016 12:31 pm

There's always space for another instrument. And there's always space for dropping one out :-)

This doesn't seem to be a commercial venture, so splitting the money 4 ways instead of 3 isn't an issue? But if it IS a fun project, the main question is "who do you know who WANTS to join?"
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Re: Is it time to expand?

Postby Wonks » Fri May 20, 2016 1:04 pm

I'd disagree that there's 'always' room for another instrument. Friends of mine had a superb 4-piece guitar band back in the '80s. And then they found a talented sax and keys player, and added him on every song they did. And for me it simply took all the energy and life out of the band.

Obviously it can work very well indeed, but whatever it is, it needs to be sympathetic to your existing style or else you need a proper re-working of songs, dropping ones that don't work in the new format and bringing in ones that do.
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Re: Is it time to expand?

Postby BJG145 » Fri May 20, 2016 2:08 pm

Wonks wrote:Friends of mine had a superb 4-piece guitar band back in the '80s. And then they found a talented sax and keys player, and added him on every song they did. And for me it simply took all the energy and life out of the band.


Reminded me of rehearsal last night; singer complained about the keyboard player they'd just met all the way back. Good musician too - but keyboard players definitely need to be kept on a tight leash.
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Re: Is it time to expand?

Postby Wonks » Fri May 20, 2016 2:37 pm

Only if you let them out of their dark cupboard.
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Re: Is it time to expand?

Postby blinddrew » Fri May 20, 2016 9:21 pm

Cheers folks,
It's definitely not a commercial venture, bugger all split four ways isn't noticeably different to being divided by three :)
As a number of you suggest, a multi-instrumentalist would be nice because it would give us a bit more flexibility when dropping other instruments out. When there's only three of you there's only so many different variations of playing or non-playing instruments :)
The main thing is keeping it fun obviously, so as our drummer said "the most important thing is that they aren't a [email]tw@t"[/email] :D
So if we do decide to do this then the first step (as suggested above) is sounding out people we know who might want to be involved.
Plenty of food for thought, thank you all.
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Re: Is it time to expand?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat May 21, 2016 12:39 pm

I'll stand by my opinion that there's always room for another player. But you'll have to MAKE musical room for him. Not just layer him on top of exactly what you were doing before.
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Re: Is it time to expand?

Postby blinddrew » Sat May 21, 2016 1:11 pm

True dat.
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