As a multi-style guitarist, I face an immediate dilemma whenever I pick up the guitar: pick or fingers? That is, do I play rhythm and lead gripping my trusty heavy-gauge plastic triangle between my right-hand thumb and forefinger? Or do I approach the strings with my unadorned right-hand fingers to play classical, Travis picking, and arpeggio stuff? Let's sort out the options.
Guitarists and bass players are often creatures of habit, and once we find a pick we like, we tend to stick with it. But don't overlook the variety of new sounds you can get from something other than what you normally use.
Double-neck, 6+12-string guitars can sure make some cool sounds—but also drain your wallet, and put some serious stress on your shoulders. Fortunately, there’s a workaround that’s not exactly the same thing, but can come pretty close.
Closed-back cabinets give a very different sound compared to open-back types: There tends to be more low end, and a “tighter” response. Both have their uses—particularly in the studio, as you can have two tonal options—but if you have only an open-back combo amp, here’s a technique that’s all about getting a closed-back sound out of the same amp. No woodworking required!
Sometimes tubes fail, and when they do, it's often pretty obvious that it has happened. However, like strings, tubes can gradually wear out and lose some of their tone. It happens slowly over time as the amp is used, but the sound of even the best tube eventually deteriorates. The next time you're struggling with your tone and wondering why it's just not quite "right" anymore, or why it doesn't seem as cool as you remember from days gone by, ask yourself this - when was the last time I changed my tubes?
If your instruments still have the stock strap buttons installed, and you use normal guitar straps and no locks, then sooner or later, you're going to have the uncomfortable and possibly expensive experience of having your strap working its way off the strap buttons, and your treasured and expensive instrument crashing to the floor as you watch helplessly. This can happen at any time, and it's almost always when you're least expecting it, which means that you're not always going to catch it in time. It's a sickening feeling as you pick the instrument up off the floor. Did it get a big ding in it, or even worse, did something get broken? I've seen headstocks break simply because a guitar fell a few feet from the strap to the floor and landed the wrong way, and that's an expensive repair… and one that can easily be avoided.
No one denies the convenience of amp sims; the controversy is always about sound quality. Fortunately, often a few choice edits are all it takes to change an amp sim sound from “okay” to “great.” These tips cover everything from pickup positioning to inserting de-essers in front of amp sims.
If a guitar player hears something that an engineer says is impossible, lay your bets on the guitarist. For example, some guitarists can hear differences between different cords. Although some would ridicule that idea—wire is wire, right?—different cords can affect your sound, and in some cases, the difference can be drastic. This article explains why.
Want a bigger guitar sound? One solution can be as simple as experimenting with string gauges. You may not be able to fly around quite as fast, but some of the advantages are compelling.
Clapton worked closely with Fender and Gibson to re-create two iconic models from rock and roll history: the Fender Stratocaster known as “Brownie” and the Gibson Les Paul known as “Lucy.” Also included in the Crossroads Series are three guitars from Martin’s 000 line, which have been slightly re-worked for the occasion.
Many guitar multieffects have a footpedal that can be assigned to various parameters; for amp sims, you can use general-purpose MIDI control pedals. Although volume and wah tend to be the typical default pedal assignments, a lot of other parameters are well-suited to pedal control—and controlling them can add real-time expressiveness to your playing, and variety to your sound.
There seems to be some confusion when it comes to how "loud" an amplifier can get. When it comes to "volume", many musicians only consider the amplifier's power or wattage rating, and in general, more watts does mean "louder". But while wattage is an important consideration, the efficiency of the speaker(s) that are connected to the amplifier are also an important factor in the loudness equation.
As soon as you split your guitar signal and route it into two or more amplifiers, you're almost certain to run into a noisy problem - namely, hum. This is due to ground loops, which are caused when there's a difference in electrical potential between two or more ground paths. So are you hosed? Not at all. There are plenty of ways to nip ground loops in the bud, as you'll find out by reading this article.
Tone connoisseurs have been experimenting with different brands of tubes for ages in an effort to find the tubes that they like best, and many can argue the relative sonic merits and construction details of various tube brands. But did you know that many of the most popular preamp tubes are interchangeable? In fact, the main difference between many common tubes is their gain factor - so experimenting with different tubes can give different sounds.
Many guitarists, from Eddie Van Halen to Adrian Belew, are masters at dipping and raising their volume pot as the play lead lines, which buries, or masks, the notes’ attack, resulting in a violin-like articulation. A better way to execute the masked-attack technique is with a volume pedal, which doesn’t cause your right hand to contort in strange ways while you try to strike the strings and work the knob. But either way, this delayed swell is a great effect, especially on slower, legato lines.
Recently, a question came up on the Harmony Central Effects forum from a member who was having issues with the reverb on his newly acquired vintage Fender Quad Reverb. The reverb was "too much", and he wanted to back it down, and was asking about ways to do so. Do you just remove one of the springs? Will a shorter tank give you shorter reverb? Actually, there's a bit more to it than that…
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