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How Playing DRUMS Improves Your Guitar Playing and Makes You a More Well-Rounded Musician

by vaughn skow January 30, 2021 3 min read

Hey again fellow guitar lovers!  Last week I discussed how playing bass has made me a better, more well-rounded guitar player and musician, let's build on that!

Dave Grohl playing drums makes you a better guitar player musician

So again, if we travel back through time, we will see that only a few years after getting my first guitar, I acquired my first drum set; I believe I was about 16 and I used the set to track my own demos in the little studio I had built.The kit was awesome, an old Ludwig kit from the 1960's, and that kit would come with me to Nashville and become the studio kit at my first "real" recording studio.  Many hits were cut on that kit, but NOT with me playing!  Sure, I liked smashing on the drums, but it just didn't feed my ego like being up front in the spotlight.  To be honest, I used to feel the way far too many musicians STILL feel ... that drummers were not "real" musicians.  Ugg, I'm so ashamed of my former self in so many ways. I'm reminded of an article that was framed and on display in Nashville's famous Bluebird Cafe, the headline read:

"4 Musicians and a Drummer Injured In Car Crash"

Ha!  If that don't make ya chuckle, nothin' will!  Anyway, fast forward to about 2016, some of my Nashville buddies were putting a band together and needed a lead singer ... who played drums.  Hummmm ... I really liked these guys and they were great players, so I threw my hat in the ring and got the gig.  Man, being the lead singer from behind the drumset is a serious challenge, and quite a workout, but I figured if Phil Collins and Don Henley could do it, so could I!  So now I feel the need to let y'all in on a little Nashville insider info: ya can't swing a dead cat without hitting a GREAT guitar player in Nashville.  Heck, EVERYONE plays guitar here, and they are ALL probably better than the best guitar player in any given small town in America.  Drummers? Not so much.  And so, I wound up getting a lot of drum gigs ever since, and boy has it put me through SCHOOL! 

What have I learned?

  1. Never complain about your load-in guitar players.  You ain't got nothing to complain about compared to the average drummer, especially if he just happens to be your lead vocalist!
  2. Playing drums is a workout, and it WILL get your lazy butt in better shape.  If it doesn't, ya ain't giving it your all.  Work harder!
  3. Playing drums is easy.  Playing drums well is very, very difficult.  NEVER take a great drummer for granted.  I don't care what music style we're talking about, I'd take NO drummer over a BAD drummer any day!
  4. Holy cow can the drummer make or break a song, or a passage.  Playing drums really teaches you how to be tasteful, and when to NOT play ... or play too much.  Guitar players, take note!
  5. Sweating it out in the background while the folks up front in the lights get most of the attention is another great ego-check, and we guitar players NEED to have our ego put in check on a regular basis.
  6. As already stated, if ya want to get out and play in a band, get a kit and learn to play it well.  Gigs abound for a drummer, everyone wants to play guitar.
  7. While you're back there, pay attention to the folks up front.  You will quickly learn what works and what does NOT work when entertaining a crowd, useful information when it's YOUR turn to be up front entertaining.

Thanks for hearing me out my friends.  Now darn it, get out there, find some real, live musicians, and get together and do what the good Lord intended you do: MAKE MUSIC :-)

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