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I play in my church, and for the Wednesday service, it can be variable. Sometimes it's a full band, with guitar, bass, drums and singer on guitar or keys, but sometimes it's just a singer and me.

I know how to play in a band. I've done it here for around a decade. But playing electric guitar behind just an acoustic guitar is a little bit new to me. I've tried to stick with the low strings and hold notes and chords to contrast the jangly and percussive nature of acoustic guitar, but I'm running out of ideas. Any good suggestions?

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3 Answers 3

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Since you already have the chords and rhythm coming through in the acoustic guitar part you have quite a few options you could explore.

Instead of playing low chords and letting them sustain, try playing higher chords and either letting them sustain or picking through them. You can pick through them in a similar rhythm with the acoustic or experiment with alternate rhythms. Also, explore higher chords played only on three or four strings instead of all six. I've found some really cool sounds like that.

Doubling the melody, creating a harmony part to play with the melody, or just coming up with simple melodic lines that compliment the melody of the song you're playing are all good options. You can do this all the way through the song or intermittently between chords. When using chords in this style of playing it helps to find chord formations or inversions that run smoothly between the melodic lines you've created.

Playing through arpeggios slowly and utilizing unique sounds like harmonics are also good options for interesting, but not flashy, back up guitar parts. I know talking about guitar without any tabs or recordings is kind of abstract. Let me know if this needs any sort of clarification.

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No, I do get you. It's all valid stuff. Thanks. –  VarLogRant Aug 19 '11 at 4:47

Our guitarist uses sparse playing with heavy sustain (but at a low volume). Think of this band's sound..."The Police". We've often given hymns a new twist with a bit o' the reggae that the Police used as well!

-John

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I don't have a good clean with chorus that I could really do that, but I see that. Thanks for the suggestion. –  VarLogRant Aug 19 '11 at 4:44

If you are trying to contrast a jangly acoustic lead, you can try:

  • select neck pickup, and fingerpick chord arpeggios
  • use sustain (as mentioned) or overdrive to allow a fuller sound, but keep the volume down:-)
  • use powerchords with heavy damping to give a strong rhythmic backing

Mess around with it a little- in this scenario it isn't just playing rhythm to an acoustic lead; you have a much wider range of possibilities.

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