The 8 Characteristics Of A Tight Band

With so much music being created with loops and samples, it almost seems like having a group of real musicians play together is becoming a lost art. Because going the electronic route is so easy, many producers or potential bands give up when things don’t sound right, and they don’t know why.

Tight band

The fact of the matter is that a lot of bands are naturally good because of the caliber of the musicians, where their innate talent causes them to automatically do the things needed for band tightness. That’s not always the case though, and sometimes even a band full of great players wonder why a song doesn’t seem as tight as it should be.

Over my years playing live and in the studio, I’ve found that there are 8 characteristics of a tight band. If you concentrate on just one your band will get better; master them all and your band will sound so tight that you won’t believe it.

1. Dynamics are the key. When you play loudly, play as loudly as you can. When you play softly, play as softly as you can, along with a middle level to start. Playing at a single level from start to finish of the song makes you sound like a garage band.

2. Learn where the intensity levels need to be in a song. All songs breathe in intensity. Typically verses will have less intensity that choruses or a bridge. Learn which sections require you to back off in intensity and volume level.

3. Listen to what the other musicians are playing. Keying off the other players is what makes you tight. Learn who to follow for cues, then follow them.

4. Timing is everything. Concentrate on:

  • Starts and stops – Make sure everyone does them at the same time
  • Accents – Again, make sure everyone does them at the same time
  • The groove and the pocket – Every song has one
  • Attack and releases – Releases are often overlooked, but doing these together makes you tight
  • Builds – Is everyone building the same way?
  • Turnarounds – Often overlooked as well, is everyone playing them the same way?

5. Keep the tempo steady. Donʼt speed up or slow down during builds, turnarounds or loud sections.

6. “How are you playing it?” Ask this question of the other players to troubleshoot when things just donʼt sound right.

7. Playing faster does not create more excitement. It usually means that you lose your dynamics and tightness.

8. Play in-tune! Make sure everyone tunes the same way. If it still doesn’t sound in tune, use the same tuner.

If I were choose just one thing from the above list to work on, I would say to concentrate on #1 first – playing with dynamics. The others are important, but playing dynamically will make the most difference in the way an audience can potentially perceive your performance.

You can read more from How To Make Your Band Sound Great and my other books on the excerpt section of

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