Note-for-Note, or close enuff?

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by Teledriver, Mar 9, 2021.


Cover songs/solos?

  1. Note-for-Note.

    12 vote(s)
  2. Close enuff for gov't work. The audience is impressed, that's all that matters.

    67 vote(s)
  3. Just the vibe- only the chords then it's all mine.

    31 vote(s)
  4. Don't care, I only do originals.

    12 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. This has gone back and forth for ever. I have been guilty of saying we do the song our way, but as time went by, it meant we couldn’t do it the original way. There is a lot to say for the dedication some cover baNds put into a song to get it just right. Most small local bands do just enough to pass. I wish i could pull things off like records, but i dont have the practice technique or discipline, until COVID. Now when i practice, be it mostly originals, i take the time to come up with creative parts that fit in. I then work them until i got them down. note for note, each time. So in practice i say note for note. In front of people you get what you get as things can go wrong. But the better rehearsed, the closer it is. Its a slower process of learning for me, but i have the satisfaction of knowing I tried and succeeded. I’m pretty sure tommy Emanuel is note for note. Yes, he has skills beyond most, but he also practiced like 8 hours a day. I am done with local act as that say its good enough. My experience is it rarely is. No one wants to admit they cant do it, or Putin the time to do it. I keep telling my son, who is working on trombone in school, virtually, its practice time. Practice is not nessarily fun time, its work time. Repeating things you keep getting wrong. Reapproaching until you get it right. Then there is satisfaction. If you practice by just playing what you know, the same way each time, its not practice, its a solo jam.

    Rant over.

    And 5 more posts until 10000. Better wait until i have a something happy to say.
    ooglybong, Maxadur and MrWookiee like this.
  2. OzzPocket

    OzzPocket Synchromatic

    Aug 11, 2020
    For me, it depends.....I've found if playing out, or even just playing for your friends.....most want to hear it like they expect to hear like the recording..... and some songs just kind of call for that....and when I'm learning a song...I kind of want to be able to do it "like the record" boosts my ego when I can get it

    Other songs aren't quite as important to get exact as they have a more "jammy" feel...maybe that's the wrong term..."Free" might be more accurate....most songs or solos have certain key areas that are VERY recognizable, and therefore important to the I would try to get certain sections "right".

    Now, my best friend and collaborator in college was very adamant it was note for note.... (unless it was a song he didn't like....then "free" was

    My current collaborator (another friend from college) is more about doing his own thing while trying to keep the feel for most of it, but at times doing a complete 180 degrees and doing things that really don't seem to fit, but somehow they do....

    This was a really cool question.
    ooglybong and MrWookiee like this.
  3. GVDobler

    GVDobler Synchromatic

    May 15, 2011
    Las Vegas
    If you are playing to an audience, 99% of them are not musicians. So if it doesn't sound like the original song that they know, they will just think you are ruining a song.

    The reason most local bands stay local is because they never have a national hit song. They can be great, but people want to hear what they are familiar with. Covers should sound like the original and your originals should be your own sound. If every song a band does sounds the same as their originals, how is an audience going to know which is which?
  4. mbkri

    mbkri Country Gent

    Sep 22, 2012
    I avoid them like the plague and most of the bands i like dont have them.
    But when i do a cover version of a song i want to do a rearrangement, a revamp. An interpretation. But, that said, ive never been in a cover band and sometimes i think it would be fun to form a band to do FooFighters stuff....
  5. Rusty Silver

    Rusty Silver Gretschie

    Usually I don't play note for note, just because I find simpler play a similar riff or solo, aniway, I have care to play in the same moodb of the original. The only solos I've learned note for note are masterpieces like Johnny be goode, Dust my broom, Apache ... there I feel the need to learn the "authentic thing".
    manunk likes this.
  6. manunk

    manunk Gretschie

    Bangalore, Italy USA, Canada etc...great diversity on this forum !
    bhatta likes this.
  7. Highroller

    Highroller Country Gent

    Jun 11, 2015
    Portland, OR
    There's a lot of Beatles songs like that - And Your Bird Can Sing is another.

    Yeah, there's a difference between rearranging a song to fit your style and just getting it downright wrong! I love that song, been playing it for 50 years. It's definitely a B minor. That'd be hard to stomach for me, too.

    One thought I’ll add, and that being that from a practical standpoint, sometimes it’s close to impossible to really do a note-by-note copy. I’m thinking of those situations where you’re trying to recreate something originally recorded as several guitar parts, but you’ve only got one. Time to do some rearranging. And then there’s the issue of fitting a song to your singer’s vocal range. That can require key changes that force you to relearn an entire song.

    I got nothing against doing it as a practice exercise. And I do think it’s important to learn a song’s initial structure before you start stamping your own creative spin on it, but as an end unto itself it seems kind of pointless. What I try to do is make music my audience can enjoy, carbon copies aren’t really needed for that.
    JC higgy and Gretschtim1 like this.
  8. S.R.Cash

    S.R.Cash Gretschie

    Aug 29, 2019
    Ontario, Canada
    Or ... do two covers at once and make it your own?!
  9. MrWookiee

    MrWookiee Synchromatic

    Jun 17, 2020
    SoCal, USA
    That is most excellent! I loves me a well-done mashup or unexpected transition to a different tune (as long as they are made to fit). Dread Zeppelin comes to mind, though some consider their work a crime against Nature.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
    S.R.Cash, SAguitar and Highroller like this.
  10. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    Very good point. It was a struggle to try to play a lot of The Rolling Stones songs after say 1967. Mainly because there were so many guitar parts overdubbed on those songs. Sometimes 5 & 6 tracks. Me and the other guitarist in my band would learn the parts and then blend the best/most important parts together. It was funny when we went to see the Stones and they played those songs how they left out some of the licks that we thought were important to the song...:D. Oh well it's Keith's song so he can do what ever he wants...:).
    manunk, ooglybong and MrWookiee like this.
  11. Back in Black

    Back in Black Country Gent

    Jun 22, 2020
    Ontario Canada

    ''Close Enough'' is the best I'm able to muster, so it has to be ''good enough''

    I'm really good if it's a single cord strummer.

    I used to tell folks, I could play as good as John Lennon, when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show.

    Now I tell folks, I play as well as Eddie Vanhalen...when he was four!

    doc538 likes this.
  12. SAguitar

    SAguitar Synchromatic

    Jan 17, 2020
    Jack Plate, Oregon
    A friend of mine worked on Little Feat's road tours for a couple of years, and he told me that night after night they could start songs and he would have no idea what song it was until the lyrics started in. They weren't even playing their own songs the same way, let alone note-for-note. And then there were bands like Journey, that played the same tunes every night, as carbon copies of the night before. Personally, I would go crazy if I had to play the exact same notes every night. I would prefer somewhere in between those two extremes.
    MrWookiee likes this.
  13. AllenK

    AllenK Gretschie

    When learning a song (and playing along in practice), I'll study the notes and try to do as good a job as I can in order to capture the feel of the song. However, since I am not playing in a tribute band I don't get too hung up if I deviate a bit either accidentally or because my style/gap in talent (delete as applicable) can't quite get it.

    I'm also not sure exactly what note for note is. Listening to Beatles recordings and live versions of some of their songs, George's solo is slightly different every time. If George doesn't play them note for note ...

    I saw Elton John live once. Some of the best pieces he played included different and/or extended versions of the solos from the original record. That's what made them interesting and the joy of experiencing live performance.
    ooglybong and MrWookiee like this.
  14. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Country Gent

    Feb 17, 2020
    As a fan I like to hear songs played just like they are on the recording. Someone worked really hard to put those notes together in that sequence and sound and it usually can't be improved upon IMO.

    In the '80s I ran sound for a southern rock cover band that was excellent with 5 really talented musicians (3 guitars, bass, drums). Every song was note for note and their talent impressed everyone who heard them. They played the best live Skynyrd I've ever heard. And if anyone missed one note we all heard it.

    In the early '70s I saw the Stones at the Rubber Bowl in Akron, Ohio. Keith was so sloppy and lazy that he ruined the whole show for me. It was fun being in the crowd at a Stones concert but musically they realllllllllly sucked, disappointed my friends and I and weren't worth the money. Next tour tell Keith to stay home, LOL!

    I've seen a few Eagles concerts on video and they have that guitarist at the far right who plays many of the complicated leads perfectly. All bands should do that, if they can't play the tough stuff anymore hire someone who can.

    I saw Buddy Guy in a small theatre in Cleveland about 8 years ago. Great show but when you watched him it was obvious that the other guitarist was actually playing the hard leads. Perfectly OK with me as Buddy is well beyond the age of fast fingers and just being at his show was an honor.

    Led Zeppelin is famous for improvising every concert but I just don't care for it that much. I own a few of their concert DVDs and the later versions are never better than the original songs, IMO.
    I've seen ZOSO, the excellent Led Zep tribute band and really love their show as they play it note for note.
    Maxadur likes this.
  15. Londoner

    Londoner Gretschie

    Dec 18, 2020
    dunno about four, but I wish I could play as good as this six year old! =
    new6659 and MrWookiee like this.
  16. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Dont the Stones manage it live? I assume they don't have extra guitar players or backing tracks.

    To me the difficult part of playing Stones music is mostlly the rhythm stuff as I think Keith often uses an alternate tuning, something I personally have a lot of trouble with.
  17. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Country Gent

    Feb 17, 2020
    I love Gimme Shelter, one of the best Stones songs and world-changing when it came out. One of the reasons why they were called one of the best bands ever back then.
    In the original I love the guitar opening and every guitar part all through the song.

    But this live version (40+ years later) is terrible. No opening lead part, just jumbled, unorganized guitar snippets through the whole song. Hints of the great leads and solos of the original, not even played (or mixed) well.
    The vocals hold the song together and the female singer makes it memorable.
    The Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter the best version ever - YouTube

    Otherwise they are ancient rock gods living on their past successes.
    Maxadur likes this.
  18. dmunson

    dmunson Gretschie

    Dec 19, 2015
    Charlotte, NC
    It's a personal challenge for me. I may never perform a solo "note for note", but learning it that way often teaches me a new way to form a phrase. That may be the only way to get into the player's head, and who knows how you may come out?
    ooglybong, bhatta and MrWookiee like this.
  19. Jelly Roll Horton

    Jelly Roll Horton Country Gent

    Nov 10, 2017
    Portland, OR
    Note for note is a relative term. You can find many examples of Setzer playing different versions of his songs; Dylan too. I’m sure there are others. It’s a creative medium and a personal response process. If I can play a solo that increases my musical growth and doesn’t either insult the original or embarrass me to tears, I’ll play what the song suggests to me, or demands of me.
  20. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    Keith is an awesome guitar player but live he often lets me down because he leaves out important parts. That intro to Gimme Shelter should always be played like the record because it catches your ear in a few seconds. What he plays live doesn't even come close. Keith uses open G a lot. It's very easy to tune to open G and when you do those guitar parts become a whole lot easier to play.
    Maxadur and Henry like this.
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