What are some good traits to have to do a very good job in a function band (i.e., a band that plays at functions like weddings or corporate parties) as a guitarist?

A lot of bands play the songs different than the original, so how do you prepare the tunes you have to learn, so you fit perfectly in the arrangement?

  • 2
    What is a "Function Band"? I think you should edit this question to be more specific. It is too broad and general and may illicit more opinions than answers.
    – user50691
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 20:32
  • will you be playing specifically 1 style of music or many? a good wedding band may need to play in more than one style and be able to mix new songs in to their set rather quickly. what type of cover band you are in may effect the answer.
    – b3ko
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 20:35
  • @b3ko - I'd have thought that a band which was very limited in styles of music offered wouldn't call itself a Function band. Need to be all things to all people.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 7:55
  • We play jailhouse rock, sex on fire and every recognisable tune old or new. Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 11:35
  • I was wondering how you prepare the songs from your set, I only have to learn 30 songs, but is playing all guitar parts that you hear in a song enough, or do you have to know how to adapt to different versions of the song that bands could play? Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 11:37

3 Answers 3


The traits that make one a good guitarist in any kind of band are the same that make a good player of any instrument:

  • Be on time - This means both show up early to rehearsals and gigs, and also play the notes at the right time.
  • Be in tune - Make sure your instrument(s) can hold a tune, that you know how to tune it, and that it's ready to be played.
  • Be prepared - Have all the equipment you need to perform. If you need something to be provided, make sure it will be available long in advance. Know your parts or be able to sight-read effectively. Have backup equipment and instruments ready, along with extra amp fuses, tubes, picks, strings, etc.
  • Be professional - Understand who your customer(s) is/are. The audience is usually some form of customer, but for many gigs, the audience is not directly paying you. You may be hired by a company, venue, show producer, or couple getting married. They are your primary customer(s), and what they say, goes. Understand any relevant ordinances regarding noise, and obey venue stage, parking, load in/out, and all other restrictions and guidelines.
  • Be polite - Show as much kindness as possible to everyone - bandmates, venue staff, other bands and musicians, audience members, etc. When you're at a gig or practice, you're at work, and you should comport yourself as if you are in an office environment. Even though there are lots of musicians out there, it's also a small world, and word of your politeness or rudeness will spread far and wide.
  • Be safe - Electricity and heavy amplifiers and speakers are constant dangers for many musicians. Falling off stages, loading dock robberies, and riotous fans are also hazards. Stay relatively sober (this also goes under being professional and polite). Do not alter the electrical cords of any musical equipment. Do not overload power strips. Make sure your equipment is maintained. Do not lift more than you can handle and lift with your knees. Get a weight belt, gloves, pocket flashlight, and whatever you need to be able to do your job in safety and comfort. Pay attention to possible dangers and protect yourself, bandmates, audience members, and other entertainment professionals. Wear musician's earplugs to preserve your hearing for the life of your career.
  • 4
    Fantastic advice, Todd Wilcox. As a gigging guitar player myself, I would add: * Be upbeat and cheerful to the audience. Smile and make eye contact with the audience members throughout each performance. Spend more time with your eye on the room than on your fretboard. * If you make a mistake, just smile and play right on thru. Don't ever stop and make a disgusted face. Chances are very few people will notice, and will just assume it's "jazz". Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 8:59
  • Is there any famous musician who got electrocuted by his altered equipment? Just beeing morbidly curious^^ Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 12:10
  • @AokiAhishatsu - Keith Relf (Yardbirds) and several others. Usually because of not-well-maintained kit, not necessarily due to altered equipment. Rare these days, due to RCDs and other safety equipment. A must to be checked working and used at all gigs, especially outdoor and marquee gigs. Better safe than sorry! Google 'guitarist electrocuted'. Simple!
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 12:25
  • “Wear musician's earplugs”? Uh, that's a dangerous recommendation to a guitarist... especially since one very important point is missing in your list: don't crank the amp to 11! Commented Jul 31, 2020 at 16:41

Most of the proper function bands I've worked in have pads of several hundred numbers. It's not possible to learn all of them, so being a fair/good reader is of great use. This way, new numbers can be available on a gig to be played at sight as and when needed. This also saves spending (wasting?) a lot of expensive rehearsal time.

Being able to read well means you can play in various styles by doing what the charts say. Having a guitar/s that give a variety of sounds is also useful - pedals, boards, a reliable amp go without saying.

Be prepared for anything: a complete change from what subset you may have expected next. Someone (a guest) asking if they can sing xyz in Eb. Your music and stand being knocked over by someone merrier than yourself - and you do carry on...). Having to suddenly take a lead break when the horn player's mic goes down. Being aware that the bandleader decides to stop a number in mid flow. Being asked to busk a number that you've maybe heard before, in an unfamiliar key.

Looking and acting in a professional and respectable manner is also expected. Don't take problems on yourself at a gig - leave that to the bandleader. Timekeeping (both in being there set up and staying in tempo) are good points. Arriving late for a gig was the last time you'd play with several bands!

Having said all that, your sort of function band may not be anything like the kind I play in...


I've worked with hundreds of function bands and, as has been said above, the key to being a great player isn't necessarily having the chops. In a function band, you're not there to show you've practised your scale, your job is to provide a certain kind of atmosphere or vibe for your customer.

With that in mind my advice would be:

  • Know the music inside out. Don't be a player who relies on others in the band. Thoroughly practice the setlist so when it comes to gigs you can relax and focus on delivering an incredible performance for your client (and for yourself).
  • Communicate in a polite and professional manner. In my experience, the bands who get the most repeat bookings are the ones who make an extra effort to be polite in their emails and calls with customers. It pays to be nice!
  • Be punctual. Even if you're not the best player in the band, if you can be the most reliable - always there for practice, always ready to organise transport to gigs, you'll quickly find you're indispensable.

Hope this helps! Good luck!

  • Hi Dave. If you want to link to the definition or an example of a functional band that's fine, but please do not link to a page to book/hire them. It makes it feel like a spam post.
    – Dom
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 23:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.