Fretboard Geek

How To Make Playing In The Studio Easier

You walk into the studio, pull out your cheat sheet and are about to rehearse with your band or record a new song. This article will help you get the best out of your newly purchased cheat sheet when it is most needed! Whether you’re a beginner playing in a garage band or a seasoned player going to a big studio, a cheat sheet always proves helpful.

Why is playing in the studio harder?

Playing in the studio, especially with other musicians is much harder than playing in your bedroom.  

Sometimes our ideas seem to evaporate the moment the click track starts or the drummer counts in the time. This happens to everyone, even the most seasoned pros sometimes don’t deliver 100% of what they do when they are just jamming with others. Some of the main reasons, apart from lack of general practice, are 

  • The pressure of playing with other musician or of being recorded
  • Not being able to play on time
  • Not knowing chords shapes/inversions and intervals
  • Not knowing your scales and how the relate to chords

The first two issues can be fixed by practicing with a metronome, recording your playing at home and playing with other people as much as you can. A good practice routine will fix most of the issues and in a few months time you will notice massive improvements. If you’re stuck in a rut then our guide on how to get out of it is probably what will help you most 

The cheat sheets and poster can get you out of a tight situation in the studio by making the complex thinking on chords, scales and modes for you! 

Even if you know the shapes and everything in the cheat sheet is clear to you, having all the info in front of you makes everything easy. After all, even the session pros usually keep a chord sheet in front of them! 

If you need to improvise a killer guitar solo over a song having the scales shapes and triad shapes in front of you solves half your problem. If you are soloing on Am pentatonic or A dorian, all the shapes of these scales, along with the highlighted chord tones are laid out nicely so you don’t have to think.  A cheat sheet gives the freedom you always wanted and assurance that you won’t hit a bad note. If you’re into complex genres that have tricky chord progression, it definitely is necessary.

What if you’re playing rhythm guitar and need to come up with a more interesting part? Sometimes the usual cowboy chords or bar chords are not enough, especially if you want to make the jump from an ok guitarist to a great one. Having all the shapes in front of you makes everything easier, you just need to play the fingering and not think about it.

How does a cheat sheet compare to a phone app?

Phone apps are incredibly useful for finding shapes and functions and most of the time are free to use. However there’s a downside. You need to manually search the chords and scroll the phone while playing to have all the chords and scales laid out.

A physical cheat sheet can just be laid in front of you as a normal music sheet. Also, you won’t be the guy using your phone in rehearsal! Nobody likes that and it makes you look like you’re not paying attention to the other musicians.

For less than $10 for a cheat sheet, you could purchase them all for less than the price of a guitar strap and use them for life!

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