Imagine a world where there is one of everything: one wheel on each car, one stove burner, one match, one ring to rule them . . . wait a sec, sorry, got off track for a minute. But seriously folks, most tasks in life require duplicates, triplicates, and so forth to accomplish a task at the highest level possible. Four wheels are usually recommended for many vehicles to function properly. In some cases, one wheel is enough for a vehicle (i.e. a unicycle), but most of the time more than one is needed. What am I getting at? Let me explain myself . . .
I will gladly pick on my own kind. As of late, I have been noticing in certain circles, guitarists being one, that many of us do not wish to play nice with our own kind. I’m speaking predominately towards the semi-pro/up-and-comer crowd about the display of outward aggression towards the idea of having to work with another person playing the same instrument. I have seen it happen and it really puzzles me. Why does this exist? There are plenty of highly successful bands with more than one guitarist (i.e. Metallica, Toto, Def Leppard, AC/DC). In fact, in the metal community, it seems to be strange to not have at least two guitarists. So, why in certain circles does this behavior exist? One word: Ego.
Now, you might think, “Well, duh Aaron, I could have told you that!” But let’s analyze this for a second. Does that kind of ego really have any place in a professional environment? If you really are serious about having a band and “making it” so to speak, is this the type of behavior that will help you? I’m going to go ahead and say no. Now, we all have egos (some more fragile than others) and we have to work to keep them in check. But wouldn’t it be even better to leave the egos at the door and work towards making an incredible product to present to the masses?
Leaving one’s ego at the door is easier said than done, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. What do I mean when I say, “leave your ego at the door?” I mean to respect your fellow guitarist(s) (and the rest of your band for that matter), and recognize the product potential in having more than one in a band. That product is the one thing that is greater than any single member in the band. As musicians, it is the master we serve. For us guitar players specifically, this means understanding that two heads can truly be better than one. Most individuals from the metal community will tell you that. Very rarely have I ran across a case where two guitarists was too much, provided they had properly divided the parts. Unfortunately, in many cases, this doesn’t work because someone doesn’t wish to put in the time to make it work or there is just entirely too much ego in the room to even communicate.
How can we apply this? From a band perspective, the solution is simple: work for the music, not yourself. From an all-around perspective, work with the other guy towards the common goal, not against him. Understand that when harnessed correctly, having multiple people with similar skill sets can help to accentuate the product and propel it forward. Putting forth a team effort results in accomplishment and sets the stage for future growth and productivity. It all starts with leaving your ego at the door and respecting the people around you.