As a guitarist would you always still play the bass notes denote in music if a bass player is present? For example chords like:

D/F#   D/C#   D/G

Would you just strum a D? Or would you always play the F#, C# and G too?

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Not rambled at all Greg, I found this very interesting and totally get your intent.

You obviously have a great talent for playing and your talent should not be kept under a bushel.  You've worked hard to acquire your skills and why shouldn't the full extent of your skills be used for worship music?  In my opinion there should be more instrumental contributions if a musician such as you is equipped to do them and feel sad that you feel the need to self-limit for fear of attention seeking.  I sometimes feel this thing about being humble is overdone and think that if a person is standing there looking pious, intentionally playing three chords then it can be more off putting than anything else.  Also, I think that some of these people can actually only play three chords and make the excuse of being humble.  Sorry to be so blunt, but I strive to play more skilfully and find that in a worship situation I end up resorting to playing it safe and not taking a risk for fear of making a mess of it, so how I admire people like yourself who can actually deliver the goods with such skill.

Practising and repetition etc. is a talent in itself, and a one I don't possess.  That's why you are an accomplished player and I am not : )

One thing to think about though, is that certain chord voicings can affect the way the song or even chord progression itself is intended to sound. For instance, if you have a song like the old David Crowder one, "You Alone," the progression is  G,  G/B,  then  C. Even if the bass is doing that "B" on the second chord in that progression, it may sound a little weird if the guitar/keyboard doesn't make that move as well. Other times it doesn't matter as much, but this is just an example of a time where it is critical for the song structure.

It also doesn't mean you have to muddy up the sound to accent certain notes or chord movements like that. You could even use a voicing where you you emphasize the 3rd of that chord (the B bass note) instead of the G, and use a finger to mute the G note to clean it up to make your G/B.

Also, to allow room to play better sounding voicings, you could consider adjusting the tone itself on your rig if you are an electric player, or EQing some of the clutter out of the bottom end of an acoustic guitar, if you have a bass player. You should generally have the tone and EQ setup to where any note you play is not going to make an unruly or overly fat sounding build up in the mix. That way you're not having to avoid certain notes or voicings as much. I understand you still need to be mindful of how much sound you are adding within the context of a group, and pull back.

But some notes just sound drastically different or tonally out of context if you leave out the bass notes. For example the Jesus Culture song "Burning Ones"-- it goes from   G  to  D/F#  repeating for the verse. For it to work, it needs that dark sound of the D/F# voicing. If you were to play a normal D, especially the standard majory sounding one, it would sound odd.

With all that said though, as an acoustic and an electric player, most of the time I actually purposely leave out the 3rd of the chords I'm playing (unless doing a chord like described above with an alternate bass note) because for modern worship, the voicings sound more pure and don't add as much off color sound. So for instance if I'm making a G chord, I'm going to be making the G note the bass note that stands out, NOT the B note. So i would typically use my index finger to just mute that B note while my middle finger is playing the G note. That way there are not too many bass notes in the chord at once. This is a very common practice on modern piano music as well, leave out that third, especially on the left hand for piano, and then just play the 1st and 5th on your right hand.

As others have said, feel it out and listen song by song. Some X/X notes critically shape the sound or chord progression, and some are optional. At least for more modern worship music, it's important to realize you don't have to be an expert to get good tones and play what is needed, especially on acoustic guitar. Using a capo, you can cover almost any song by just learning the four or five chords in the key of G, C, D, and E, and using a capo. So if you can't play a B/D#, then capo 4 and play G/B instead.

I write our chord charts.  My comments are geared toward the pop/rock worship feel, often times much like the recording.  In fact, I tell the worship team that the recording is the default and the point of reference (unless we've created something different together).

I'm very open to us being creative, but I intentionally craft the chord chart to indicate bass line if different from the root, or yes, I'm a strict slash guy.  But by strict, I mean that I intentionally guide the bass player to play the slash line.  But I don't stop rehearsal and say, 'no, no, no!'.  This, to me is a secondary concern compared with groove.  Bass G and drum lock, baby.  My mantra is that all parts should ride in the groove, and then let individual artistry take over.

Depending on the song, I will still play those bass notes.  Just depends on what is called for and what makes the song groove the best, or whether I need to ride in the groove.  I might choose to play the slash as quarter notes while the bass g hammers eighth notes, for example.  Or I might stay out all together and play a strict strum, making the choice whether or not my strumming needs to help drive the groove or if I need to lay back and be less forward in the mix.

Control freak.  Yah, that's me.

I second this also. I'm right there with you on pretty much everything you said haha!

Steve Cass said:

I write our chord charts.  My comments are geared toward the pop/rock worship feel, often times much like the recording.  In fact, I tell the worship team that the recording is the default and the point of reference (unless we've created something different together).

I'm very open to us being creative, but I intentionally craft the chord chart to indicate bass line if different from the root, or yes, I'm a strict slash guy.  But by strict, I mean that I intentionally guide the bass player to play the slash line.  But I don't stop rehearsal and say, 'no, no, no!'.  This, to me is a secondary concern compared with groove.  Bass G and drum lock, baby.  My mantra is that all parts should ride in the groove, and then let individual artistry take over.

Depending on the song, I will still play those bass notes.  Just depends on what is called for and what makes the song groove the best, or whether I need to ride in the groove.  I might choose to play the slash as quarter notes while the bass g hammers eighth notes, for example.  Or I might stay out all together and play a strict strum, making the choice whether or not my strumming needs to help drive the groove or if I need to lay back and be less forward in the mix.

Control freak.  Yah, that's me.

I guess someone else is actually crazy like me!

David May said:

I second this also. I'm right there with you on pretty much everything you said haha!

Steve Cass said:

I write our chord charts.  My comments are geared toward the pop/rock worship feel, often times much like the recording.  In fact, I tell the worship team that the recording is the default and the point of reference (unless we've created something different together).

I'm very open to us being creative, but I intentionally craft the chord chart to indicate bass line if different from the root, or yes, I'm a strict slash guy.  But by strict, I mean that I intentionally guide the bass player to play the slash line.  But I don't stop rehearsal and say, 'no, no, no!'.  This, to me is a secondary concern compared with groove.  Bass G and drum lock, baby.  My mantra is that all parts should ride in the groove, and then let individual artistry take over.

Depending on the song, I will still play those bass notes.  Just depends on what is called for and what makes the song groove the best, or whether I need to ride in the groove.  I might choose to play the slash as quarter notes while the bass g hammers eighth notes, for example.  Or I might stay out all together and play a strict strum, making the choice whether or not my strumming needs to help drive the groove or if I need to lay back and be less forward in the mix.

Control freak.  Yah, that's me.

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