The Electric: Effective Simplicity

In this series I try and address different aspects of the practical side of playing electric guitar in church music. This week we’ll talk about Effective Simplicity looking at the electric guitar part of the song “Jailbreak” by the Vertical Church band.

 

This YouTube clips is from the song “Jailbreak” by the Vertical Church band. It’s a really good song that I’m planning on adding to my repertoire sometime soon. I love the electric guitar part. I love how simple it, but even more, I love how effective it is. Here’s some quick takeaways.

“Someday soon I’m gonna write a whole post on this but for now, let me just make it clear, we are musical servants”

WORKS WITH THE SONG

Everything the guitarist does works with the song. It’s not a song driven by the electric guitar, so the guitarist sits back by and large. He’s not out to play what he wants to play, he’s playing what works for the song. This is something all of us struggle with. I’m the guy who preaches this stuff but if I’m in the band on a Sunday morning, I still need to preach it to myself.

MAKES USE OF THE SPACE

When he does play he makes use of that time. Every chord is very deliberate. When the song really gets going at the 3 min mark he’s all over the place and it really works.

EFFECTIVE USE OF EFFECTS

At first glance you might think he’s just using a Gretsch into a cranked amp or maybe using an Overdrive. But as I listened closer he’s got a reverb going for sure and some kind of modulation. But what he’s doing that worth noting is effectively using the Mix knob so that the modulation is subtle and adding to the tone rather than being the center of attention. For a lot of us who are big on effects pedals, subtly from the mix knob is an art we can all improve on.

OK WITH BOREDOM 

Boredom is something I’m discovering is an issue in church bands, especially ones with mixed backgrounds. If the style of music Vertical Church band plays is your thing then you’ll get why he’s playing as simple as he is and you’ll probably be totally into nailing that sound.  But if this style of music isn’t your thing, it’s really boring to play. Someday soon I’m gonna write a whole post on this but for now, let me just make it clear, we are musical servants. We need to approach how we play as session musicians who are hear to serve the song (and by extension God and his church). We are not hear to play what ever jam band techniques are the most interesting for us to play. This can be incredibly boring musically. But it’s what’s necessary and required of us, and I think the electric guitar part on the clip above gives us a good example of serving the song rather than ourselves. There’s no way that this was the limit of that guitarist’s abilities, but it shows us he strength in restraint and that is the real lesson.

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3 thoughts on “The Electric: Effective Simplicity

  1. So as a worship leader how would you teach your electric players the necessary lesson on humility and playing to the need not the ability? Also on a geekier note what amp are you driving in this video?

    1. hey Sam,

      Thanks for commenting!

      I wish I could say that was me on the video but it’s Tyler from the Vertical Church Band. You can see their Resource page HERE.

      I’m not sure about the amp to be honest, but as to teaching and training electric guitar players I’ll say this: Sometimes you just need to have a sit down conversation. Take them out to lunch and let them know what’s expected and what you are looking for. Hopefully blogs like this one can be a resource you can share with them and start some conversations. Some guys just won’t change. Either they won’t be able to serve or you’ll need to find a new place for them. I had one guy who’s playing amounted to “Free Bird” solos from start to stop, but we found out that he had a real natural touch for modern bass guitar and it was a great fit for him. Who knows?

      Please comment again

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