Modern worship music tends to land in a pretty clear space these days, where almost every popular song has some of the same characteristics and go-to pieces that bring it together. This helps the listener in the congregation identify quickly with a song, but it may leave some of us players in a little bit of a funk to find new ways to play in the same sandbox. And it can be especially difficult if there is more than one guitarist in the mix of your band! If that’s you, my goal is to help you clear the sonic landscape and find a place to play that both benefits the listener and keeps your leader happy!
I’ve written before about how to keep your parts separate but sometimes mixing it up can bring new life to a song. If you have just one electric player in your worship band, you’ll have to combine melodies and mainstay parts for a part that makes sense and completes the song. But if you have multiple electrics, you can explore some other areas to make your parts really sparkle and stand out.
Playing the same note an octave apart is a fun little exercise in precision and accuracy between guitarists. While an octave pedal can accomplish a similar sound, there’s something unique about two players playing the same part that can really make it stand out. This is especially potent when the two guitars are different types, e.g., a Strat and a Les Paul.
Dime It or Chime It?
Another way to make your dual electric parts stand out is by varying drive levels. One guitar playing clean while the other plays dirty can really bring focus to an otherwise obscure part. While long-buried in the guitarist’s bag of tricks, don’t underestimate the subtle use of chorusing or flange effects to move it along even further.
Why not? If you’ve got two good players and a solid melody line, splitting the part between them can make things fun and interesting for everyone! In the worship context, you don’t want to play it off like dueling guitar solos, but dividing a melody line between players could bring out parts in a special and unique way. Consider one taking the verse melody and the second taking the chorus melody – mix it up!
Words of Warning
While I’ve talked about the opportunity that two guitar players bring to a worship band to take things “out of the box” and beyond the norm, there is definitely a caution that must go along with it: the worship team is there to facilitate the congregation connecting with God in worship of Him, and all your hard work to use the tools at your fingertips to make things interesting may very well go too far and become a distraction. Like any power tip, you have to use the right amount for your situation and what’s appropriate for you. It would be my hope you can find the balance and play on!