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Beginner help with guitar tone


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  • Beginner help with guitar tone

    First time posting, would like everyone's opinion on getting a crisper, "cutting" distortion tone on a les paul.  I'm using a BOSS ME-50 and I can't say I really understand what I'm doing--I just mess around with it until I give up and settle for a less than satisfying tone... haha!

    The distortion I usually end up with is what I would call "bulky" and heavy, anything but crisp.  I'm wanting a distortion tone that's cutting and electric, almost with a lot of feedback but controlled--I'm not a beginner guitarist but I get a lot of ringing when distortion is turned up.  Almost like as the progression (or whatever I'm playing) goes on, the sound gets too muddled and heavy and I have to totally stop to reset.

    I don't feel like I'm explaining it as best as it could be explained, but maybe someone will understand what I'm saying.  I'm going for a the Strokes or Phantom Planet type distortion--think "1st things 1st" by Phantom Planet.  Can anyone explain how to get that sound, things to do/avoid with my gear, or things that I can improve in my playing to get that sound?  Thanks in advance

  • #2

    try using your bridge pick up, and less distortion.  i think on a les paul the bridge pickup is the called "lead" on the selector.



    • #3

      I listened to a couple of minutes of the Phantom Planet track on YouTube. That's not a very distorted sound, believe it or not. Sounds like they're strumming full barre chords through a cranked amp. 

      Try these settings on your ME-50: (Like goodhonk said, use your lead pickup on your les paul, volume and tone on "10")

      Tone modify - OFF or Tight

      Compressor - OFF

      Overdrive/Distortion - I'd try the GUV, RAT and Scream modes, but experiment. The DRIVE should be set pretty low, maybe around 9 - 10 o'clock. Start with the bottom and tone knobs at noon, then adjust as needed. 

      Modulation & Delay - OFF

      REVERB - adjust to taste, I'd go with a little bit of 'room' reverb here. 

      When you play with distortion, you have to take extra care to not let extra strings rattle or ring out, as you've found, the extra notes turns everything to harmonic mush. Concentrate on playing cleanly... 

      This space left intentionally blank.


      • chrisjnyc
        chrisjnyc commented
        Editing a comment

        Have you tried single stomp boxes... its a lot easier to dial in sounds with just 2 or 3 knobs to change.

        Check out the Danelectro cool cat pedals... drive, OD, fuzz, etc.

      • Folky_Grunge
        Folky_Grunge commented
        Editing a comment

        +1 to using less gain that you think you need. Bands like use use more volume than actual distortion. A good first step to getting that sound is playing with less gain.

    • #4

      Thanks for the replies!  I'm gonna try out these suggestions tonight... I'll report my findings


      • iwillfightu
        iwillfightu commented
        Editing a comment

        Of course "turning up the amp loud" result may vary depending on your amp.