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Negotiating about playing songs that doesn't have any keyboard parts has always been a recurring challenge.
But I am quite happy with the band I'm currently in, as we only have one guitarist and he is not an arcetypical "rock guitarist" but more a "general musician and arranger"-kind-of-type who happens to play guitar. Which means he appreciate the keyboards doing all kinds of cool stuff in the songs and his playing is usually economical and restricted to the most relevant guitar parts in the songs. That's sweet heaven for a keyboard player.


I have only ever left a band out of anger or frustration on two occations:

The first time was a band that was dominated by an old drummer who thought he was a professional musician because he had played on some unknown single record back in the 70's (he was posting the cover of that record on FB on a regular basis, to remind everybody about it...).
He was constantly at odds with our female singer/songwriter/guitarist and I eventually got tired of listening to their frequent quarrels. I don't want to spend my spare time watching grown up people fight over nothing.

The second time was a rock cover band that just wouldn't lift off of the ground. Everytime we were about ready to take jobs, someone left the group (usually the drummer).
After several years of idling in the rehearsal room and after af period where the bass player AND another drummer quit within a couple of months, I finally threw in the towel.
There was something inherently wrong with that band that just couldn't be fixed.
Also, the two guitarist usually made an enormous wall of sound, and the bass player was mostly plucking deep root notes (I don't he ever went above the 7th fret on his bass). I never really understood why they needed me on keys...


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Originally Posted by wineandkeyz
Originally Posted by MuzikReaper
3) Ask me to set up in front of the bass stack or the guitar stack.

I used to play in a band with a 4-piece horn section. At first, I was stuck behind them. Here's the thing about people blowing a horn: For every action, there's an equal but opposite -- and malodorous, in this case -- reaction. I got tired of feeling like I had set up in the middle of the campfire scene from "Blazing Saddles" and asked to switch places so they'd be behind me. That worked a lot better from an olfactory standpoint, but they nearly killed what was left of my hearing.

I've played sax, trumpet, and flute my whole life, and can't ever remember an instance where playing a wind instrument was 'instumental" in causing me to break wind....maybe I should break down and schedule that colonoscopy......

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I dont know if this is the fastest way to LAKBP but it has contributed in my case a couple times, when the band minus me takes a 45 minute weed break in the middle of rehearsal. I could say more but I wont.

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Joined a wedding band...after two weddings, we had a band meeting and guitarist and bass player complain I got paid more for the two gigs.

Um, I played the ceremony and the cocktail hour, arranged the new songs for the reception; damn straight I get paid more.

Too much animosity; on to the next band.

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Originally Posted by Jr. Deluxe
... when the band minus me takes a 45 minute weed break in the middle of rehearsal.
That's not a rehearsal, that's using music as an excuse to get high. Yeah, that would lose me too.

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Originally Posted by El Lobo
Originally Posted by Jr. Deluxe
... when the band minus me takes a 45 minute weed break in the middle of rehearsal.
That's not a rehearsal, that's using music as an excuse to get high. Yeah, that would lose me too.


I'm surprised they resumed playing after the 45 minutes!

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Originally Posted by area51recording
Originally Posted by wineandkeyz
Originally Posted by MuzikReaper
3) Ask me to set up in front of the bass stack or the guitar stack.

I used to play in a band with a 4-piece horn section. At first, I was stuck behind them. Here's the thing about people blowing a horn: For every action, there's an equal but opposite -- and malodorous, in this case -- reaction. I got tired of feeling like I had set up in the middle of the campfire scene from "Blazing Saddles" and asked to switch places so they'd be behind me. That worked a lot better from an olfactory standpoint, but they nearly killed what was left of my hearing.

I've played sax, trumpet, and flute my whole life, and can't ever remember an instance where playing a wind instrument was 'instumental" in causing me to break wind....maybe I should break down and schedule that colonoscopy......

Is this a real thing? I had no idea.... Suddenly I don't feel bad for not taking Band in school. At least the piano don't stink!

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Originally Posted by area51recording
Originally Posted by wineandkeyz
Originally Posted by MuzikReaper
3) Ask me to set up in front of the bass stack or the guitar stack.

I used to play in a band with a 4-piece horn section. At first, I was stuck behind them. Here's the thing about people blowing a horn: For every action, there's an equal but opposite -- and malodorous, in this case -- reaction. I got tired of feeling like I had set up in the middle of the campfire scene from "Blazing Saddles" and asked to switch places so they'd be behind me. That worked a lot better from an olfactory standpoint, but they nearly killed what was left of my hearing.

I've played sax, trumpet, and flute my whole life, and can't ever remember an instance where playing a wind instrument was 'instumental" in causing me to break wind....maybe I should break down and schedule that colonoscopy......

Okay, maybe I over-generalized. All I know is that it was an issue for the guys I played with -- maybe it was a diet thing or something... sick


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My solution is doubling on guitar and keyboards. When I argue with myself, my side always wins smile

But in situations where I play mostly guitar, my problem is finding keyboard players. I'd much rather have a keyboard player than a second guitarist - more textures, more arrangement possibilities, etc. However, I do prefer keyboard players who stand rather than sit. It's easier to interact...and I think audiences prefer to see a band that interacts, as opposed to a collection of solo artists who are on the same stage at the same time.

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Go to a wedding band audition and they have another keyboard player there that was not mentioned. They then had their weed brake and I packed up and left.

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Sell them to the knacker so he can boil them down and make glue...


Tones can't substitute for composition/arrangement but they offer useful suggestions-overt and subliminal. Spices are no substitute for high-quality food, but they do make food taste more interesting.
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Originally Posted by Anderton
My solution is doubling on guitar and keyboards. When I argue with myself, my side always wins smile

But in situations where I play mostly guitar, my problem is finding keyboard players. I'd much rather have a keyboard player than a second guitarist - more textures, more arrangement possibilities, etc. However, I do prefer keyboard players who stand rather than sit. It's easier to interact...and I think audiences prefer to see a band that interacts, as opposed to a collection of solo artists who are on the same stage at the same time.

I like providing the textures with the right guitarist. The last couple of years, my sound design efforts has focused on sounds that can co-exist with guitars without sounding like synths. Working with a southern rock band drove me in that direction. My weapon of mass co-existence is my Alesis Andromeda. Even with the tools from that beast, NOT EASY. The best results have been variations of the Wurlitzer piano patch I built on my Andromeda. Processed sounds, easy. Full bore crunch, forget it. The Oberheim patches add a nice color layered with crunch guitars, but it's basically a pad. Too many expressions and dynamics for a keyboard. Was never happy with attempts to emulate the bark of a distorted tube amp. I have ROMplers with distorted guitar samples and they are worse.

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My feeling about seeing instrumentalists on stage is: I can sorta understand having a musician (keyboardist or otherwise) off stage if they're not a participating band member, if they didn't really write (or record) their own parts, and are just filling in the sound. I'd LIKE to see everyone, but I wouldn't fault it. NOW, if someone worked their butt off and were an active member of the artistic collaboration and then was told to "stay hidden", that's unbelievably wrong. The audience doesn't care, that's ego talking from the other band members. The most understandable situation is where one musician is a multi-instrumentalist and plays/records several instruments, but needs someone to cover for one live. I know more than a few groups where all the keys were played by guitarists (Pete Townshend being a classic example). I can understand that from a show perspective, no one cares about a touring hired gun who never wrote/recorded any parts and is just there to provide support. Now, if the band is flexible and works them in, even better!


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Guitar player tells you not to play more than three notes at a time, cause' it conflicts with his chords.

Lead singer tells you to stop playing jazzy chords like 9ths, cause' it distracts him from his vocals.

Drummer in a three piece says that since the guitar player/lead singer (my wife) are married, we should split pay with him 50/50. When we disagreed, he packs up drums and leaves gig. Shows up next night 30 minutes into the set and is suprised to hear that he has been replaced with a drum machine.

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This thread could go in a lot of different directions but for me most of the time 80% of other musicians don't know what to do with keyboard players. It takes a lot more work to be passable in a band environment than what guitar players have to do to play out. I started my own band 9 years ago so I could control the narrative so to speak. I will always play with another keyboard player in a band whenever possible because you can do more. Things I won't do:

Let some jerk-off band leader try to act like he knows more than me as it pertains to my instrument (yes this has happened)
Be in a band with two guitarists
Have people tell me two keyboard players don't work in any kind of ensemble (this simply isn't true)
Be in any kind of band environment where I have to fight musically with other musicians
Tell me what gear to use
Tell me what parts to play (unless it's crucial to the song or it is someone else's tune)
Play in bands where every song has everyone soloing



It isn't that I don't want to be cooperative but I still find keyboard players bullied in a lot of environments. Look out how even bands write their Craigslist ads in any city looking for us. It also takes a lot to even be on a semi-professional level playing piano/keyboards. If it was easy there would be more of us out there but their aren't. Compare pro keyboard players to almost any other instrumentalist in popular music environments and you'll see what I mean. The Real MC and I have experienced a lot of this first hand over the years. It's better now but I am just very careful with what I do.


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A lot of the content on this thread resonates with me.

I have three projects going. And based on what I have read in this thread I consider myself lucky.

1. A cover band that I put together with a very talented guitar player (who also is a very schooled pianist, but he only plays guitar in the band). We mostly select material that has keyboards. When it doesn't we collaborate on what my part should be (you would be surprised how great the 2nd guitar part to "Highway to Hell" sounds with a distorted Wurli patch). We recently learned "No You Girls" by Franz Ferdinand and I play a funky clav part in the chorus that sounds great (reminds me of "Jeopardy" by Greg Kihn). So the band's set list has been engineered around having keyboards. I also sing lead on 70% of the tunes so some songs I focus on that. We recently got a new bass player and one of the reasons he joined the band is he wanted to be in a band with keyboards (likes the variety of sounds and song possibilities it opens up).

2. A tribute band. Most of the band's songs have prominent keyboard parts and when the band leader put it together he knew he wanted keyboards. My band mates appreciate what I do, and there are a couple of places that I take solos that are not on the original recording. The focus is primarily on the lead singer (which is to be expected) but we also do some covers and are a true "band" (not just backing music for the lead singer).

3. A piano duet act with a very talented female vocalist. So no issue there. Our duet is pretty unique (piano based instead of guitar) and we get a lot of feedback on how we bring something different to the audience.

However, some of the challenges you mention I have experienced:

- Some sound guys are not used to dealing with keyboards (too low in the mix, EQ not right)
- Sound guys assuming I want to be behind the guitars/lead singer and stare at my band mates a$$es for the duration of a gig. I just move the mic/DI box etc. to the front where it belongs and set up my gear.
- I tried joining a friend's band that had two guitar players. After a few rehearsals I just felt there wasn't much point to be being there. Not enough sonic space for me to contribute.
- A Bon Jovi tribute band was interested in me. I looked at the set list, gave a listen and decided there just wasn't enough for me to do (some exceptions like "Runaway" but playing pads all night would suck).
- One member of my cover band (no longer with the band) that consistently wanted to play material with no keyboards. For various reasons he left the band but the songs he picked sent a message.

So I have experienced situations where the keyboard player is treated as some kind of second class citizen, but I would not put up with that treatment from band mates. I play music as a hobby so the pay would never make it worthwhile to put up with crap like that. When joining an established band that didn't have keyboards, I would ask the band members what they think keyboards can do for the band's sound. If the set list was primarily guitar based I would either take a pass or determine if they wanted me on board so they could move in a different direction.

Last edited by Bob L; 01/16/21 06:22 PM.

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Originally Posted by Bob L
Sound guys assuming I want to be behind the guitars/lead singer and stare at my band mates a$$es for the duration of a gig. I just move the mic/DI box etc. to the front where it belongs and set up my gear.

Bob, if you clearly mark your input locations on your stage plot this issue should disappear.

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A bit OT, but I played a gig with a second keyboard player sometime back. No rehearsal, but I exchanged notes on form and part allocation. First track is Marc Cohn's "Walking In Memphis", I'm playing piano. A couple of bars in, I hear a tasty pad - just the right level and tone. As the song builds, I'm keeping the piano going, my opposite number switches to Hammond. Very nice experience!

That's the kind of generous, open-minded musicality I welcome from fellow musicians, whatever instrument they're playing.

Cheers, Mike.


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I once worked with a second keys player. He was a “utility” player - voice, keys, sax, & percussion. I really looked forward to it in the beginning, but it soon showed to be a horrible situation. He turned out to be multi-untalented. Not in the self effacing joke way of Timwat, but truly multi-untalented.


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Originally Posted by stoken6
First track is Marc Cohn's "Walking In Memphis", I'm playing piano. A couple of bars in, I hear a tasty pad - just the right level and tone. As the song builds, I'm keeping the piano going, my opposite number switches to Hammond. Very nice experience!
That's what is awesome about that song, the way it builds in intensity. Brilliant arrangement IMO.


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Originally Posted by Threadslayer
Originally Posted by stoken6
First track is Marc Cohn's "Walking In Memphis", I'm playing piano. A couple of bars in, I hear a tasty pad - just the right level and tone. As the song builds, I'm keeping the piano going, my opposite number switches to Hammond. Very nice experience!
That's what is awesome about that song, the way it builds in intensity. Brilliant arrangement IMO.
Oh it's a great song, vocal performance, arrangement and production.

Our singer completely butchered it. You know how the four-note arpeggios start one quaver (eighth-note) before the beat? He felt it as on the beat. I tried to correct every time, and he felt I was rushing. What can I say - I'm right and you're wrong!

Cheers, Mike.


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