Watch the 2 Guitar Players online guitar lesson by Robben Ford from Rhythm Revolution
Playing in anything other than a trio situation, obviously you are finding yourself alongside another guitarist or a keyboard player. Two harmonic instruments, so a lot of people are curious as to how you make that work. I have worked over the last few years, quite a bit with a great guitarist, Mike Landau, with a band we had called Renegade Creation and it was a delight for me. I am rarely in the position to be able to play with another guitar player. Larry Carlton and I have also done some touring and travelling together in that way. I really like working with another guitar player more than a keyboard player. I come from a Buddhist tradition and there's something referred to as Mandala principle. Basically every situation has a center and it has four directions, it has a fringe. So there's a center to every situation so somebody is the king. For instance in the case of our band, Renegade Creation, we have a very strong rhythm section and anybody can shine and come through at any moment. But the way it worked is that Mike wrote his songs, sang his songs and he soloed on his songs. I wrote my songs and sang my songs and soloed on my songs. Every now and then the role of who took a solo would change. So right away something is already established, there is already a center to this Mandala. Somebody's driving the boat here! And if somebody isn't then you should drive the boat. Somebody has to step up at some point, or it's already established. In most situations it's already established, who that center is. You're playing in a band and somebody is singing, so it's all about them. You are about making them sound good. So that being established, it's a listening situation. This is Mike's tune, he's singing it, he's got a riff that he's written and that he's playing, so there you go - bass drums Mike. Bass drums and the guitarist singer and his riff. You fit in and around that. Whatever the bass player is playing is going to have a profound effect on what you are doing, whatever the drummer is playing is going to have a profound effect on what you're doing. You need to have a big mind. You need to have big ears. You're taking in all this information that's already being presented and it's strong. What I used to do is first of all not play and then wonder what the heck I'm going to play. Eventually I just started throwing myself into the situation, you have to step out there, you have to take a chance and start playing something. Eventually you find your seat within the context of whatever that situation is. So you let other people lead and you fit into that situation or if you know that everyone is fishing, step up and play something. It could be anything that you are inspired to play. I guarantee you that people are waiting for that to happen. People love it when someone steps up and presents something because everyone is feeling the same way you do. Trust the situation that you're in, don't be afraid to step forward and do something. Once you've invested yourself into the situation you all start coming together. If you're holding back too much then people are waiting for you. If you're just stepping all over everything then nobody wants to play with you anyway. This is my advice.