Posted on: 1 June 2016
When it comes to playing the guitar, you can really begin to improve your ability – and have a lot of fun in the process – by jamming with other players. Regardless of your various skill levels and favored musical genres, you can get together and play some basic chord structures and play solos or simply pick a few notes over the top of the chords. Jamming with other players can quickly become addictive, but you want to be sure that you don't annoy those around you to the point that you're not invited back. Here are some jamming etiquette tips to keep in mind before your first jam session.
Take Your Turn
The unwritten rule, regardless of how many guitar players are jamming together, is that everyone gets an equal chance to solo. Few things will aggravate guitar players quicker than someone hogging the solos or soloing too long. Make sure you ask about the jamming structure before you begin to play – unless it's obvious by the rhythm that people should begin to play. You'll typically want to solo between eight and 16 bars, but you should make sure to watch for the solo length of those who go ahead of you to avoid overstaying your welcome.
Keep Your Volume Consistent
No one appreciates someone who insists on playing louder than all the others in the jam, so make sure that your volume is consistent with those around you. This rule holds true whether you're jamming acoustically or electrically; for the latter, you need to resist the urge to step on your boost pedal when it's your turn to take a solo, even if you might enjoy doing so when you're playing alone. If you're new to a jam session, don't be afraid to play a little quieter than those around you. Doing so will show that you're taking your time to fit in and you'll endear yourself to the other players.
Learn Something Different
It's fine to go through your repertoire of solos and guitar licks in your first jam session with the group, but you can count on the fact that the members won't want to hear you simply rehash the same notes and structures during subsequent jams. If you expect to continue playing with the same group, work on learning different solos, building your improvisational chops and more in between sessions. Those who consistently bring something different to the jam session become valued members of the group.
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