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  #1  
Old 09-02-2017, 10:15 AM
Skip Ellis Skip Ellis is offline
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Default Players Who Sing or Singers Who Play

I'm much more interested in guitarists who sing as part of their act than in listening to singers who just happen to strum a guitar to accompany themselves - to me there's a big difference. Ideally, I would only listen to instrumental music which is what interests me the most, probably because I can't/don't/won't sing and don't feel any connection to those who do. When I hear a tune, I never hear or care about the lyrics - only the melody and harmony lines and the possibility of turning it into an instrumental.

But, there are exceptions: Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Norman Blake, Tony Rice, Eric Clapton, Jerry Reed and others, I suppose, who could just play guitar and be very listenable.

I guess I sorta started noticing it this past week while listening to a lot of guitar demo vids on YT and discovered that I'd start a video trying to get a rough idea of how a certain instrument sounded and then the player would start flailing away and attempting to sing some lame cover or even lamer original tune and I'd just have to turn it off.

Anybody else feel this way or am I just the ultimate 'guitar geek' who won't tolerate anything else?
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  #2  
Old 09-02-2017, 10:19 AM
00-28 00-28 is offline
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I vote for the latter.

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  #3  
Old 09-02-2017, 10:30 AM
zombywoof zombywoof is offline
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I would far rather listen to a singer whose voice and songs get my juices flowing than one who is a guitar wizard but whose voice and/or words bore me to tears.
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  #4  
Old 09-02-2017, 10:37 AM
island texan island texan is offline
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I'll take a good guitarist with an 'okay voice' e.g. John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, Dave Van Ronk, etc. over a lovely voice strumming three cowboy chords.
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  #5  
Old 09-02-2017, 10:43 AM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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For me it is all about the emotional expression of the music - whether it has lyrics or not. I am a singer songwriter so for me, it is both the singer and the guitar. The art of good accompaniment is something that takes practice and a lot of musicality.

Nina Gerber is a first rate guitarist and she does a fabulous and tasteful job when accompanying singers.

Martin Simpson is a wonderful guitar player and also does a great job accompanying singers.

If the song calls for a good strong rhythmic strummer playing 3 chords, and if it supports the emotional content of the music, then I have no issue with it. Of course, there are more complex things you can do and I am fine with those as long as they do not interfere with what is being expressed by the singer.

While I can appreciate technical wizardry on the guitar, music for me is about expression and deepening emotions.

Players/Singers who I enjoy: Janis Ian, Bonnie Raitt, Rory Block, Joni Mitchell, Cheryl Wheeler, Patty Larkin, James Taylor, Kelly Jo Phelps, Verlon Thompson, Cliff Eberhardt and Darrell Scott - so many more

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Last edited by jaymarsch; 09-02-2017 at 10:51 AM. Reason: Added content
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  #6  
Old 09-02-2017, 10:52 AM
alien alien is offline
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I'm a singer who plays guitar. But it's the whole package. I think I play pretty well. Also, I play with some others and we play and sing multiple parts.
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  #7  
Old 09-02-2017, 10:56 AM
troystory92 troystory92 is offline
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I think it's very subjective.

I wish I was a guitarist who could sing but alas, I am a singer who plays guitar.


But I dont just play three chords. I'm a barre chord machine and do solo gig for 3-4 hours. Playing mostly reggae/groove rock/classic rock/and rock. Learned a ton of punk rock back in the day but don't pla it out much.

I'm not much of a soloist but can improv if needed. Yet people seem to tell me about my voice first...
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  #8  
Old 09-02-2017, 10:59 AM
cmd612 cmd612 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip Ellis View Post
. . .Ideally, I would only listen to instrumental music which is what interests me the most, probably because I can't/don't/won't sing and don't feel any connection to those who do. When I hear a tune, I never hear or care about the lyrics - only the melody and harmony lines and the possibility of turning it into an instrumental.
. . .

I guess I sorta started noticing it this past week while listening to a lot of guitar demo vids on YT and discovered that I'd start a video trying to get a rough idea of how a certain instrument sounded and then the player would start flailing away and attempting to sing some lame cover or even lamer original tune and I'd just have to turn it off.

Anybody else feel this way or am I just the ultimate 'guitar geek' who won't tolerate anything else?
These are really two different things to me. I love songs, singing, songwriting. Hearing someone give a great performance of a well-crafted song is a one of my favorite things in the world.

But I'm with you when it comes to guitar demo videos. If the purpose of the video is to demonstrate the guitar's sound, singing defeats the purpose, even if it's done well. And if it's not done well, it can be really annoying.
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  #9  
Old 09-02-2017, 11:18 AM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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I learned to play the guitar because I was a singer. But once I learned to play the guitar, I concentrated on learning to play the guitar well.

There are plenty of singers who are excellent guitar players. It's not an either/or thing.

I understand that most guitar players cannot sing well, and so many don't. But I have had some very good instrumental guitar players tell me that if they could sing, they would never have spent so much time learning to play instrumental pieces.

- Glenn
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  #10  
Old 09-02-2017, 11:18 AM
ThermiteTermite ThermiteTermite is offline
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I'm a singer who plays, in terms of listening, I may lean slightly towards players who sing but I like both.
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  #11  
Old 09-02-2017, 11:22 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is online now
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The ONLY reason I put down my drum sticks and became interested in playing acoustic guitar was because I wanted to sing.
Tom rush was the man who changed my directions.


He also played/plays instrumentals pretty well too.

Naturally when I started I had little or no technique, and so focused mainly on simple blues riffs and my vocals were pretty limp, both needed a of of work.
When I got interested in bluegrass, I discovered that vocals (either lead or harmonies) were considered mandatory as was the ability to double on other instruments - which was when dobro, and then mandolin became necessary.

A mixture of blues, country , singer-songwriter and bluegrass style contributed to my humble style - but it is (or has been) secondary to singing the songs.

My immediate reaction to the OP's opinions were, I confess very negative.
Dismissing all singers as "just happen to strum guitar" as somewhat insulting.

I can think a a fair few singers whose guitar skills are limited - Johnny Cash is a good example who, nevertheless were/are great entertainers, but few instrumentalist who offer the whole package of entertaining the audience.

Singing is at least as demanding a skill as playing guitar. Further, holding an audience by telling a story and drawing them in is, if you will, an advanced skill.

Last Friday I was told that I may not get my voice back for one or two years, and possibly not at all, and now I'm questioning the purpose of my guitar skills and acquisitions.

Although -as the following videos will show - both my guitar playing and vocal skills were limited, I have been known over the years to hold a listening audience for a couple of hours.







Sorry about the boring strumming.
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  #12  
Old 09-02-2017, 11:57 AM
Silurian Silurian is offline
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The emotional impact of the song is central. For me voice, lyric and melody are all in the mix, but the virtuosity, or lack of, in the guitar playing is the least important factor for me.

This has been posted plenty of times before on the AGF, but it encapsulates what I'm looking for.

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  #13  
Old 09-02-2017, 11:58 AM
Irish Pennant Irish Pennant is offline
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Like the OP says, I can't hear lyrics, what I hear though are the vocals as an instrument and I prefer a voice that's its oven instrument. As a player that's trying to sing, I realize that my voice will never be an instrument. I have no bias when it comes to players that sing and singers that play, what matters is the music.
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  #14  
Old 09-02-2017, 12:08 PM
Skip Ellis Skip Ellis is offline
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When I got out of the army in '70 and started playing with bands, I did sing (or tried to) for a couple years but discovered that the reason I took up the guitar in the first place (after 8 years of violin) was because I really liked the sound of the guitar and wanted to do that - singing just didn't interest me so I stopped. Plus, playing guitar came VERY easy for me from the beginning - it just made sense. I think I get satisfaction from the mathematical precision of playing a piece correctly and emotion doesn't enter into it for me at all (although, I guess, satisfaction is an emotion). There are a few vocal performances that get my attention but very few.
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  #15  
Old 09-02-2017, 12:16 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip Ellis View Post
When I got out of the army in '70 and started playing with bands, I did sing (or tried to) for a couple years but discovered that the reason I took up the guitar in the first place (after 8 years of violin) was because I really liked the sound of the guitar and wanted to do that - singing just didn't interest me so I stopped. Plus, playing guitar came VERY easy for me from the beginning - it just made sense. I think I get satisfaction from the mathematical precision of playing a piece correctly and emotion doesn't enter into it for me at all (although, I guess, satisfaction is an emotion). There are a few vocal performances that get my attention but very few.
Then with all your experience life and music,surely you will realise that not all of us have the same talents and drives.

I remember once asking my dobro player to back off in certain parts of the song because he was playing over important parts of the story line of the song. He replied "Oh I never listen to vocals" For a fine musician with even more experience than me, I found it bemusing to remind him that all the instruments are there to back up the singer.

I trust that your guitar skills have the sensitivity when playing with your vocalists to augment rather than interfere.
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