While you don’t have to be able to play guitar like Jimmy Hendrix, it makes it a lot easier if you do know a little before going out to conquer the music world with some comrades.
At least you should be able to play in time and what the role of each instrument is in the band. Listening carefully to your favorite musicians is a great practice to find out what the role of the lead guitarist and the roles of the other instruments in the songs are and will help improving your ability to play in time.
Before you think of playing in a band, learn and master to play some cover songs. Even if your goal is to play originals and originals only, you’re going to need some material to practice together with your band while you’re working on material for your future album. Not only does this give you something to practice together, it will also improve your ability to write together as a band. Playing covers teaches a group how to play together and the individual musician’s roles in the group. Once you know how each other plays more intimately it will open up new ideas in your own writing as you are more quickly able to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your band mates.
Select cover songs that are well known with other fans of the genres you’re into. The chances of finding someone who knows the same songs to jam out on in your first get together is greater and you want to get going and get going as soon as possible. Sure, you can pull out the more obscure stuff later, when you have finished learning guitar and can start playing for your own enjoyment.
So now that you your guitar lessons behind you and are able to play guitar pretty well, it’s time to find some bandmates! There are plenty of ways to find potential bandmates for free, countless websites have free Musicians Wanted advertisements. You will also find music classifieds in your local free newspapers or on Craigslist.com, or on the notice board at your music store around the corner.
Who are the right people to jam with? People like yourself will likely be the easiest to get along with, and that comes first when forming a band. If you’re joining an already existing band, have a good talk with as many of the current members as you can to get a feel for the dynamic of the band. Despite what a person might be like as a musician and how much you think you might be able to accommodate them, at the end of the day, being in a band with someone you do not get along with just isn’t fun and inevitably leads to a split.
So you’ve lined up a fellow musician to get this thing off the ground with or you’ve been invited to try out for an existing band. If it’s the latter, find out exactly what the band plays, work out ahead of time what you will play together, and learn and master the material backwards and upside down even before your first jam. Even if it’s just three or four songs, make sure you have them down before you get together for your first jam. It’s better to nail a few songs than to half-ass many. If time is a constraint between finding out the material and your first jam you can explain that you were keen to learn some of the material very well to show that you have the ability to play their stuff and play it well.
If you’re building a band from scratch and you are planning a jam with some others for the first time, communicate with them exactly what you think would be good to try at your first jam. There is nothing worse than getting together for the first time and having nothing to play together properly. Even if it’s just one song, make sure you and anyone else attending the first jam together knows their stuff. After all, jamming with a new bunch of people or even one other person and being able to belt out your favorite tunes straight up, that’s what you’ve been learning guitar for all this time. Progress and expand your repertoire as quickly as possible to get out there and play live. Rehearsal is necessary and there may be a lot of it required before you play out for the first time, but if there is no progression in the rehearsals for an extended period of time and, therefore, the group is no closer to playing out then members quickly get disillusioned.