The Guitarist’s Guide to Jam Sessions – Reader Submissions
In the January 2011 issue’s Tuning Up column (“The Guitarist’s Guide to Jam Sessions”), Editorial Director Joe Coffey introduced you to some of the characters you might meet at a jam. But Coffey’s list of 14 characters was just the tip of the iceberg—we asked you to head
online to add to the article, Wiki-style, and create a comprehensive list of jam personalities. PG readers did not disappoint, offering up clever,
insightful, and sometimes hilarious entries that reminded us (as if we need reminding!) why we love you guys so much. Below are some of
the best entries (some of which have been edited for space considerations), and you can still find the original article online at premierguitar.
com/jan2011 to add your own.
The guy who just can’t grasp the idea of silence between notes and
plays every nanosecond of the jam. —astra
The jam host with a rhyme and reason for everyone they invite,
bringing together equally talented people of different styles. You
may walk in the room and think, “What are these other guys doing
here?” but before long you’ll be wishing you were rolling tape.
The Change-Up Artist
The player who feels compelled to change parts for no good reason—and often to a different key or time signature. The Change-Up
Artist will wait until you’re taking a little improv lead break and suddenly, without warning, move from E minor to C# major, effectively
pulling the musical rug right out from under you. —Dan
The guy that spends all his time “practicing” in front of a mirror and
walking around the room with his guitar slung behind his back. Not
surprisingly, once he finally plugs in, The Poser often sucks.
The Compulsive Bender
The guitarist who thinks a stratospheric bend is in order every four
notes, regardless of whether it fits the song. —Christopher
This guy has just spent the last eight months learning “Cliffs of
Dover” and shows up to show you just how much like Eric Johnson
he thinks he sounds. Often playing at full volume with a crazed
smile on his face, he just knows that everyone in the room is digging
his groove. Although quite adept at the one EJ tune, when asked
to play something else he just shakes his head and leaves the stage.
Shreddie Van Halen
A variation on the Strutter, this guy can do one thing and one thing
only: tapping, tapping, and more tapping. —Bill
The player who shows up with an open-tuned axe and thinks everyone else should be able to follow his drone. —Christopher
The One-Band Wonder
A classic character from decades ago, this player shows up and only
knows one band’s songs (Led Zeppelin is a good bet). Expect a short
This person shows up with the lamest gear in the room, but ends up
being the best player of the night. —Sir John
The Ice Pick
This is the dude who believes in stacking distortion upon distortion,
with some overdrive thrown on top. He also believes that Bass and Mid
knobs are vastly overrated, and that there’s no reason to have Volume
less than 10. —Jimm
This player can’t talk and play, but he creates awkward moments by trying to. A Zoner will make eye contact as if he’s about to communicate
something, like an upcoming chord change, but ends up just kind of
staring at you. —D-Rock
The guy who shows up, gets his guitar out, and starts packing a bowl
without worrying about whether the others are cool with that or not.
This person will suggest a more complicated song a week in advance,
then expect all at the jam to play it note-for-note. —Dan
This player knows a zillion songs and all the changes, but for some reason overplays with more notes and sonic hyperbole than the cover of a
tabloid until someone asks him to stop. —Christopher
The Classic-Rock Completist
This (usually) middle-aged guy hasn’t listened to anything past 1970
and hashes through the non-essential bits of Hendrix, Cream, and Zep
at full volume on his $4000 custom shop guitar. —Daniel
Keep It Going!