Ideal Band Lineup

by Jungreis

“Symphony” gives me the idea of a particular group of musicians, and while that is incorrect, it is still lodged in my head with that definition.  That got me thinking (again) about how I would like to assemble a band.  (This last came up over the summer when a friend whined about me not playing even semi-formally with a blues-rock band, to which I responded that to do what I want to do in order for me to dedicate myself to a real band that rehearses, writes original music (hopefully), and plays (paid) gigs, rather than just jam buddies, I would need to dedicate about 60-80 hours per week, which is not something that I’ll be able to do until I’m about 80.)

What Dave Would Like To Do:

1. Lead singer who can play the guitar while singing, as well as being able to play lead lines

2. Bass guitarist who can provide harmony and backing vocals

3. Drummer who can provide harmony and backing

4. I, of course, will play lead guitar, and I will sing when necessary

(I really like the idea of a power trio, but then guitar harmonies get lost.)

Very few of the bands I like use this kind of lineup, even if I loosen the requirements about the lead guitar ability of the lead singer and the vocal abilities of the members other than the lead singer, leaving a lineup like that used by Metallica.  The common formats are guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, and vocals (e.g. Dream Theater, Symphony X, Nightwish), or guitar 1, guitar 2, bass, drums, vocals (Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Guns N Roses).  All that comes to mind as even satisfying the requirements of the lead singer being really good on the guitar is Megadeth, and then Slayer has the unusual lineup of two guitarists and then the bass player singing, which counts as satisfying my lineup, as the goal is to have a proficient instrumentalist handling the lead vocals, and the instruments being two guitars, a bass, and drums; whether the lead singer plays guitar, bass, or drums is immaterial.

Put aside the classical music for a while.  For a modern band – particularly for those of you who play rock and roll instruments, because there must be other guitarists out there – what do you think forms the best lineup?  I prefer my ideal lineup because it means that everyone has a critical role all the time, even during instrumental songs or long passages with no vocals.  Moreover, just knowing how and what I write, I know better than to include a piano or keyboard.  My plan also gives the ability to have dueling guitar solos and difficult guitar harmonies.

What works for you guys in, say, jazz ensembles?