Horn Style Comping

Question by Steve
(Graz, Austria)

Hi, Marc!

I’m in a band that contains piano, bass, drum, a singer, and me on guitar. I’d like to spice up my comping (which I do mostly with guide tones) with imitating a horn section!

Do You have some guidelines about how to do it?

Thank You !


M-A’s Answer:

Hello Steve,

In very brief, I would advise you to :

-Keep it simple / repetitive like horn sections do.

-Focus on rhythms (the groovier the better)

-Use only 2 or 3 notes at a time.

You have to keep in mind that even if you work a lot on this “concept”, it will be impossible to sound even a little bit like a horn section. The main disadvantage (I find) of the guitar in comping situation is the lack of sustain.

Horn players can control their individual attacks, decays, swells, shakes/vibrato (etc.) all on their instrument individually. (-:

It’s simply no possible to do that on the guitar!

I hope this helps,


Old Comments for Horn Style Comping

Sep 22, 2011
by: Jim Kipler

When comping, it’s best not to think of 4 beats to the bar, or 3 beats to the bar. It’s far better to syncopate your rhythms by mixing the up-beats of the notes with the down-beats. In other words, you don’t have to play on every beat. Also, use the upper partials of the chord rather than full 5 or 6 string combinations. This makes the chord transitions easier and faster.

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