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FDP Forum / Performer's Corner / Doing a "solo" act.

Previous 20 Messages  
Contributing Member

juneau ak.

If you must smoke, please smoke salmon!
Jul 12th, 2017 02:46 PM   Edit   Profile  

I used a drum machine,an Alesis SR18 that has 100's of drum patterns and some passable bass lines to build a few sets off of. I'd have to adapt cover songs quite a bit but it worked. I also had two pedals for it, one was on/off and the other could add fills and/or change up the key of the bass line depending on how the stock pattern had been set up, which could be edited as well but I never got that far. I have to keep it simple or I'll loss track of what I've done.

Contributing Member

The rain sounds like

a round of applause
Jul 12th, 2017 03:18 PM   Edit   Profile  

The vast majority of solo guitarists around these parts (DC, Annapolis, Ball-T-more, etc.) are just guitar and voice.

Generally, the places that have this sort of entertainment have it as incidental music to accompany eatin' drinkin' and hollerin'.

These sorts of audiences don't expect a full-band sound or guitar solos. Best (easiest?) thing to do is guitar and voice. You will not get paid extra for anything else, so why work harder than you have to?

The best thing you can do is be entertaining for those folks that are paying attention (or requesting tunes).

Customize a few tunes for the location or current events, make up a new verse where a solo might go, etc. Don't tell too many jokes unless you're opening for somebody at a comedy club.


What It Was!

Fairly Unbalanced
Jul 12th, 2017 07:01 PM   Edit   Profile  

Voice, guitar and a great song list can't be beat. And a snappy cape.

A local friend that does a solo uses a harmonizer, and forgets to turn it off. Have you ever heard "Thank you" in 3 part harmony? I told him he needs a public tar and feathering.

Contributing Member


numb, yes...comfortable? Not so much
Jul 12th, 2017 08:41 PM   Edit   Profile  

Last weekend I heard a solo act using a vocalizer and he was running it with the guitar through a chorus pedal. More than just a little cringeworthy, especially the "thank you" in 3 part chorused harmony

Contributing Member

San Francisco, CA

Jul 12th, 2017 09:27 PM   Edit   Profile  

Guitar plus Fender Acoustasonic Jr DSP amp and BOSS CH-1, DM-2, RV-3, TR-2.


(This message was last edited by 6L6 at 11:27 PM, Jul 12th, 2017)

Rob Jai

Calif Cap City

"Jai" pronounced "J"
Jul 13th, 2017 09:41 AM   Edit   Profile  

I have never understood the disdain for a solo performer playing to backing tracks but it has to be done really WELL, and it can be.

Sure, it CAN be "cheesy" when the tracks are not of professional quality, not well arranged etc. (for example phony sounding midi tracks etc). It can be especially bad when a backing track has an instrumental solo in it where the singer, or guitar player just sits there looking stupid through the canned solo part. Also not cool is if/when a solo performer stops singing while a second voice or voices do a chorus section while he/ is obviously not taking part. You have to be fully engaged and the backing track needs to be almost transparent.

The bottom line is that the performer has to PERFORM WELL and have the chops whether performing to a live band OR to a backing track. Isn't a live band playing backup to a single singer essentially a "backing track"?

If the solo artist does not have the skills and talent to begin with, he/she won't sound good no matter what. You have to perform well either way and that's all an audience cares about for the most part - do you sound good or do you not?

Of COURSE, the ideal situation is for a solo performer to be able to entertain entirely by himself but I see nothing wrong with performing to a quality backing track either.

Many pro level bands include recorded tracks in their performances to fill out their sound. I've even seen a video of James Taylor playing and singing with vocal harmonies coming from a tape recorder next to him on stage. He even draws attention to it.

Structure your solo act however you feel best works for you and your situation but there shouldn't be an aversion to other solo performers using backing tracks when used correctly and in a professional manner.

Just one person's opinion and I'm sure many (maybe even most) might disagree.

Contributing Member

St. Louis

"Thumbpicks don't slide into soundholes"
Jul 13th, 2017 02:05 PM   Edit   Profile  

Ya gotta have your stuff together either way. I find the looper used to let you solo handy. Harmonizers are cool as well just be careful not to rely on them too much and keep them turned down enough to where they accentuate you vocals not overcome them. The main thing is to have your stuff down cold.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Jul 13th, 2017 03:53 PM   Edit   Profile  

I heartily recommend you emulate the late Jesse Fuller, who sang and played harmonica, 12-string guitar, hi-hat, and fotdella (a foot operated bass which he designed and built) all at the same time. OK, except for the singing and harmonica.

Jesse Fuller

(This message was last edited by Te 52 at 11:39 PM, Jul 13th, 2017)

Contributing Member

South Florida

Jul 13th, 2017 10:05 PM   Edit   Profile  

I like this guys approach to the whole solo thing.....

Seasick Dave

Mick Reid
Contributing Member


American-made in Oz!!
Jul 14th, 2017 02:03 AM   Edit   Profile  

Seasick Steve...

I thought maybe there was a *new* "Seasick"... :^)

Anyway, whatever you do, don't be one of those solo/looper performers that takes 5 minutes to "build" your backing track piece by piece for each song live.

Whilst I've seen some very talented people doing this, it really gives me the sh*t$.

Like others above, I reckon vocals, guitar and a good quality stompbox (like a Bigfoot) can be enough if the chops are there.

There's a reason *I'm* not a solo performer...

Juice Nichols
Contributing Member

Panama City, FL

I'm just a dude, playing a dude...
Jul 14th, 2017 07:35 AM   Edit   Profile  

Peegoo is spot on as usual. :)


LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Jul 14th, 2017 10:41 AM   Edit   Profile  

I've done all of the above. But when I've done looping or backing tracks, it was almost always instrumental and/or original tunes. Hopefully that lessened the cheese/karaoke factor. But have done plenty of solo voice/guitar gigs where I did covers as well as originals. People like it when you do your own acoustic spin on popular tunes they might already know.



England's Sloppiest Guitarist
Jul 14th, 2017 02:55 PM   Edit   Profile  

I quite enjoy seeing solo artists.

Amongst the best I've seen are Brent Best, Maria McKee, John Hiatt, Steve Earle, Jason Ringenberg and Neil Young.

All of the above had one thing in common...... It was just them and an acoustic guitar. ;-)

FDP Data Goon

We all want

our time in hell
Jul 17th, 2017 07:08 PM   Edit   Profile  

When I did it, it was me, electric and the wall of stuff.

But I had enough to make it sound full and right, at least for what I was going for.

Which wasn't your grandfather's 60s rock!

Steve Dallman
Contributing Member

Merrill, Wisconsin

Age is just a number...mine is big
Jul 20th, 2017 06:13 AM   Edit   Profile  

I did a solo act in the early 80's with a modded Harmony (magnetic pickups into pedals and an electric amp, and piezos from a Takamine into the PA), bass pedals (hooked to a lower end Moog) and a high hat.

The Moog is history, so I rewired the pedals into midi, use a similar guitar setup, and added electronic drums (Alesis box) with snare and high hat on a right foot pedal, and triggers on the bass pedals for kick and high hat.

I'm practiced up and play at the old folks home sat. I also use a Digitech harmonizer, and two mikes...one dry and one with harmonies. I have no available feet to hit footswitches.

The muscle memory came back after a couple days' practice. Even with my new knees (March) and over 30 years.

Tony Wright
Contributing Member

Stillwater, OK

I never met a calorie I didn't like.
Jul 20th, 2017 06:26 AM   Edit   Profile  

From my personal perspective, Mike Hosty is the consummate one man band and an outstanding performer.

He is an acquired taste and has long been a favorite of college bars and such. I have hired him twice for our outdoor concert series. He pulls in far more "over 40" than he does "under 30".

What you see in the YouTube below is the typical Mike Hosty performance.

In case you have heard the song and believe it to be a "Stoney LaRue" original, sorry. Mike wrote it and earns copyright fees from Stoney's CDs and live performances. Almost every song Mike does is a Mike Hosty original and the loyal fans can sing every one. He has been performing for at least 30 years in Oklahoma and he currently lives in Norman (home of OU) thus the LARGE collegiate audience.

Mike Hosty, one man band at The Deli - CLASSIC



Thank God for guitars!
Jul 21st, 2017 05:06 PM   Edit   Profile  

You might want to hang out at PG Music forums. Their Band in a Box software allows you to have background tracks with live section and song length modifications. A whole bunch of people on that forum are solo acts.


Here Nor There

51% mofo 49% sob
Jul 28th, 2017 07:30 AM   Edit   Profile  

If you're not a frontman, you quickly learn without going over the top. Definitely brought me out of my shell.

Contributing Member

South Florida

Jul 29th, 2017 09:41 AM   Edit   Profile  

We'e got a guy around these parts that does that.

ben prestage

Contributing Member

South Florida

Jul 29th, 2017 09:41 AM   Edit   Profile  

We'e got a guy around these parts that does that.

ben prestage

(This message was last edited by larryguitar19 at 11:41 AM, Jul 29th, 2017)

Previous 20 Messages  

FDP Forum / Performer's Corner / Doing a "solo" act.

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