Choosing the Best Gear to Practice On
Tape Doesn’t Lie:
Or hard disk or DAT or whatever. The best thing that you can do for both your personal and band practise is to record it. You’ll often hear things that you missed during the rehearsal. Its like a sports team watching videos of their game after a match.
Archiving the recording is good too. You’ll be able to hear your playing and sound improve over time. Sometimes you’ll find some magic moments that ‘just happen’ in rehearsal. You’ll be able to incorporate these back into your songs or playing and this will help define your playing style.
Metronomes and Drums machines:
Practise against a Metronome or Drum machine is essential. Everyone needs to be responsible for their own time keeping, not ‘leaning’ on the drummer.
Practise playing accurately first, then work on feel and groove. This may take some time. Until you can play in time and with feel by yourself in the practise-room, you’re not ‘doing your bit’ as a band member.
Play along with albums that you love and record the sound of you and the album together. When you can ‘blend into’ the album that you’re playing with, you’re starting to pick up the groove of the players that you like.
The equipment that you practice on needs to be as responsive to your playing as your gig gear. If its not, you’ll be suddenly surprised when you get on-stage.
Some practise amps have a very limited dynamic range and won’t respond to the nuances of your playing. You won’t notice until its too late that you’ve been striking the instrument inconsistently. You’ll end up playing on some gig equipment and producing nasty tone and wildly varying output volume.
Headphones are great
Practice in headphones. The human brain has a preference for reflected over direct sound. When you practice in headphones you isolate all reflected sound and hear only the direct. You’ll hear exactly what you’re playing without the sound be altered by its echoing in the room. In-ear monitors a re great at gigs if you can organise them too.
Rehearse the band in headphones. Either mic up the amps or use amp simulators direct into a console with a metronome. Try playing everything at half speed (with the drummer) and you’ll be able to hear how everyone is phrasing and you’ll tighten up the band dramatically. Then play without the metronome at full speed.
Do a gig volume rehearsal also:
Quiet rehearsals are great because they allow you to hear what everyone else is doing without going deaf. Rehearsing at gig volume a couple of times before a gig is very important. You’ll be able to pick up any noise issues that you gear is having, listen for feedback problems (sometimes caused by microphonic pick-ups on a guitar) and get a real feel for the the way your instrument will sound and feel at the gig.
As always, if you have any questions, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or head over to our contact page to organise a free, no obligation introductory lesson.