I've been trying to find a lead guitarist for my new band. We just need that final player to turn our slamming trio into a crushing quartet!
But finding the right musician is hard -- hell, finding someone who isn't a complete flake or a complete loon is itself nigh-impossible. I've been posting on Craigslist. The ad is understated and thorough. I list influences, post links to some rehearsal recordings, and explain what we're expecting: someone who doesn't mind learning and doubling existing guitar parts to thicken up our sound, but can also handle lead lines and solos, and if you have material and ideas of your own we'd be happy to incorporate it. To me, this seems very straightforward.
Allow me to share some highlights of my search so far...
Well, there was Nathan. He seemed like a good prospect so I gave him tablature to two of the songs and asked that he learn them before coming in. I had a cold the following week so it was two weeks before we could schedule a night to jam. When I emailed/texted to confirm that he was still coming in, he said
To which I responded:
Two weeks! I'm not asking him to learn "Roundabout" or "Achilles Last Stand." Verse/Bridge/Chorus/Verse/Bridge/Chorus...
Many guitarists reply with varying levels of enthusiasm and then simply disappear when I try to follow-up. Some reply simply because I had mentioned Black Sabbath or The Melvins but they never actually bothered to listen to any of the multiple rehearsal recordings I posted. There was one guy who actually did listen to the music and was willing to learn a couple tunes, but when I emailed again to confirm a time to meet, he responded simply "Sorry, I changed my mind." Okay, that's cool, I said, do you mind my asking what changed your mind? No response.
Sometimes I respond to "guitarist available" ads if they seem appropriate and point them to my "guitarist wanted" ad. Leroy was one such guitarist, and he seemed enthusiastic and responsive. I told him that we're looking for someone who can play some melodic and mournful leads and he said, "That's what I do best is play melodic and mournful leads." We even spoke on the phone! That's when he finally pointed me to his recordings. The first tune he offered was "not finished it needs a Solo and Vocals but I really dig the Riff."
That "riff" turned out to be four uninspired ascending chords played slowly over and over for several minutes. I had to go to a second song to finally hear some very amateurish soloing. Suffice it to say, even Heather chimes in to mention "This guy is not good." That's fine, not everyone can be Buckethead. I took the route that creative professionals take when they break up and want to make a public point of it being amicable: I cited "creative differences":
Don't worry about Leroy, he rebounded. His next "guitarist available" ad showed that he's not a quitter:
So, yes, I've become a bit more wary about "guitarist available" ads. Or maybe I just can't recognize that "It Sound" when I hear it.
I am going to quote in full my email conversation with Kenneth, the most recent guitarist. This one is my favorite.
Look, talking about various guitar tunings is all well and good, but is this going somewhere? Oh, you're "tentatively interested"? It's not like we're asking you to walk in the door with your share of the monthly studio rent in cash and promptly commit to six months of touring. If after three emails you can't even decide if you want to jam then you're not somebody I want to deal with on a weekly basis.
There was one guitarist who actually showed up to jam with us and had even learned (one of) the tunes! Derek was really likable and we enjoyed playing with him, but whereas our style is "thrash slowed down" his was more "slow jam band turned way up." I had to tell him I didn't think it was going to work, but as he and his wife had just recently moved from Baltimore to my neighborhood and knew no one in town, I offered to take him out for hot dogs and pool. How about next Wednesday? He said, "Sounds great!" When I emailed to confirm, he said he had forgotten and that a friend of theirs was in town that night, could we do any other night? I said, sure, no prob, how about Friday?
I have not heard from Derek since.
I've been analyzing the tone and content of my ad and my email replies, atypically self-conscious about whether I might be coming off as demanding or unfriendly, etc. But in this case I really don't think it's me. I think human beings are a flakey, fickle, delusional bunch. And that goes double for guitarists.
I should point out that I've always said, "I play guitar, but I'm not a guitarist." I mean it.
Anyway, I will keep looking. Wish me luck!