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Does the guitar choice affect your songwriting?

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  • Does the guitar choice affect your songwriting?

    I nearly always grab the Strat when I am writing stuff and mess around with tones and chords which usually seeds an idea, which is fine but it leads to an 'instrument sound first' way of working. Lately whilst rearranging the room the 335 has been nearest the chair running clean through a practice amp. I've noticed that that pulls me in a completely different direction with the guitar backing vocal ideas and verse based song structure rather than trying to fit lyrics into an instrumental construct which was not leaving enough 'space' to form a proper song.
    Do any of you guys experience this effect?
    Last edited by Chordite; 03-04-2018, 10:42 AM. Reason: The old affect v effect thing
    .

  • #2
    I don't write at guitar but I do different things on the Carvin than I do on the Dot.
    Strat scale strung real heavy 14, 18, 22, 32 - 52 bottoms. (I like mentioning that although it has obvious negative effects on my current abilities) and the Gibson scale, skinnier neck strung with 12s.
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    • #3
      That's a big plus one from me. I try to write on different guitars (or piano) for exactly that reason. Classical guitar is actually my most common one.

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      • #4
        Mostly, I write on an acoustic guitar, for the basic chord structure and lyrics.

        Once I finish a tune, I'll mess around with other guitars.

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        • #5
          I write everything on my Alvarez beater acoustic but I don't think it would make a difference, at least for me.
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          • #6
            I've written songs before using either electric or acoustic guitar. I don't think it really has that much effect. I've converted acoustic-written songs into songs with distorted guitars and vice versa. I usually grab the acoustic guitar because its more convenient and I don't need to do as much to get it started up, unlike an electric guitar which I need to amp it or DI it. Electric guitar unplugged is okay sometimes, but if you have a loud voice then its not as effective. I think if the foundation of the song is good then it can be interpreted in various ways and still be a good song. If you're starting off with a very intricate instrumental composition and want to add lyrics/vocals to it afterwards then it might be more difficult. Sometimes a busy instrumental can interfere with a lead vocal melody.
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            • #7
              I can write on a guitar, bass or keyboard. The only requirement is, its in tune and has excellent intonation set. Sour notes and old strings can be a real distraction.

              Most of the time, the actual melody and lyrics are one of the last things I come up with. I usually have the verse chorus and bridge, breaks worked out and recorded already and the melody remains this ghost image in the back of my mind which doesn't take shape until I actually try and sing it.

              To me the voice is no different then any other instrument when it comes to coming up with a melody and I can just as easily come up with the same notes playing a lead instrumental on guitar. Having the backing music for lead or vocals simply makes it that much easier. I've always had an ability to draw melodies from the rest of the music.

              Most other songwriters I've worked with come up with the melody very early on and add garnishment to it as they go along. I kind of reverse engineer things and have most of the garnishment in place which acts as a backdrop for creating a melody.

              Of course I have done it the other way plenty times too but the songs wind up being far to predictable and therefore boring. With much of the soundscape and changes in place I can risk being much more daring and pulling things off I'd never dream of attempting otherwise. I do the same for my leads which are usually dead last after the vocals are in place. It makes it much easier to complement things with the vocals in place instead of guessing where they should be.
              Last edited by WRGKMC; 03-05-2018, 06:14 AM.

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              • #8
                Different guitars, different sounds, will pull people in different directions.

                Beside the obvious difference between a strat and, say, a LP, I find amplifiers will be a bigger difference and draw you in very different directions because of how differently they interact with whichever guitar you have in hand.

                Play the same guitar through rectifier, a marshal JCM, a fender deluxe reverb or and Orange AD30......

                The results will be very different.
                Ant the Les Paul Lover!

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                • #9
                  I tend to write more on acoustic guitar than anything else. I occasionally use an electric, or a piano instead. I find I tend to write differently when I use a piano than either of the guitar types, but at the end of the day, I tend to separate the writing and arranging / production aspects, so beyond different chord structures and so forth, or a song possibly being a "piano-featured" or "guitar-featured" song, the instrument the song was written on usually has relatively little effect on the way the final result turns out.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Les Paul Lover View Post
                    Different guitars, different sounds, will pull people in different directions.

                    Beside the obvious difference between a strat and, say, a LP, I find amplifiers will be a bigger difference and draw you in very different directions because of how differently they interact with whichever guitar you have in hand.

                    Play the same guitar through rectifier, a marshal JCM, a fender deluxe reverb or and Orange AD30......

                    The results will be very different.
                    Agreed.

                    Effects can also come into play - especially delay. Sometimes if I get a delay going, it might lead to some rhythmic ideas that get incorporated into the song.

                    **********

                    "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."
                    - George Carlin

                    "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."
                    - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                    "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."
                    - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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                    • #11
                      To me , with an electric guitar thing, to me , effects are more important , well , yes , I believe "important" is an OK description of what effects are and do and stuff , with any electric guitar , to me , actually . What do you think of that ? Effects are more important than a guitar or several electric guitars, or even more than several , actually , to me
                      Last edited by crustoleum; 03-06-2018, 03:32 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by crustoleum View Post
                        Effects are more important than a guitar or several electric guitars, or even more than several , actually , to me
                        I'd want an instrument that is comfortable to play over some piece of junk that wont stay in tune or makes your fingers bleed trying to hold strings down. If you cant play the notes well, effects sure aren't going to help besides cover how bad you actually sound.

                        Once you have the guitar issue worked out, then yes, effects can be the second thing in line followed by an amp for listening or a recorder for saving the ideas you come up with.

                        Rhythmic effects can help inspire you to come up with good ideas.
                        If I had my choice I'd take a drum machine any day of the week however.

                        When you have drums going it not only forces you to work hard and stay within a structure, you can anticipate what is coming up ahead and formulate ideas before you actually have to play them. The white noise drums create seems to make it easier to come up with all kinds of rhythm possibilities which simply aren't heard as often when playing solo with dead air.

                        I learned that after I first started playing with bands. You'd come home after playing out and both your hands and mind are still hearing the echoes of what you played earlier and can come up with ideas you never thought of before.

                        Even a metronome can be enough to force you to maintain a steady rhythm and work yourself long enough to where playing and coming up with ideas is automatic. Think that's a big key to writing. Your body must be free of the labor intensive playing involved so your mind can focus on hearing your inner voice. If all your attention is on your playing you wont be able to hear that voice clearly.

                        When you play to drum patterns you work allot harder and your playing skills get in top shape. Then walking and chewing gum at the same time becomes a breeze. Your mind can listen to the ideas that come up clearly and your hands automatically do what they are told. Even better they may do great things you never expected and you simply incorporate those things into the music too.

                        When you get real good at listening to your inner voice you may experience what I call "thunder"
                        I've had the opportunity to hear glimpses music which is in fact more real then anything I've heard live or played myself. In my case I've had it happen maybe once every couple of years when I was young and its occurred more often when I've gotten older.

                        The glimpse is like being hit by a thunderbolt and maybe consists of a few notes or a few second of an entire band or orchestra playing "Such Music" you are stunned and draw back in fear which is what seems to make that door slam shut. I suppose that's the 1% inspiration people speak of.

                        This should not be confused with any kind of Auditory Hallucination or any other types of schizophrenia, bipolar depression, or any other types of mental diseases or disorders including insomnia, strokes, drugs etc. Many of those can cause people to hear voices or music which are uncontrollable. People who have those hallucinations may start out thinking its an angelic gift and over time the hallucinations become demonic as the illness progresses. Composers like Schumann had this disease in his later life. Of course back in those days they used to burn people at the steak for hearing voices too

                        Auditory Imagery is something very different. Its a healthy skill many musicians and writers develop. Its not much different then hearing your own voice as you read a book. Its said only 14% of the public have this skill, but I suspect the percentage is higher with musicians.

                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auditory_imagery

                        Even that skill isn't the same thing as being given a glimpse at perfection however. I believe some of the great composers like Mozart could open that door and listen for much longer periods. He would then race to write down what he heard in a race to get the work done before that door closed again and he'd collapse in exhaustion. Its also the likely reason why he died at the age of 35. A person cannot endure that kind of pure creative power for long. It will burn you out faster than any thing you can think of.

                        The thing is one glimpse is all it takes to have you hooked for life. When you hear those notes they are both terrifying and enjoyable. At first you might wonder if you are going nuts. You would if you heard it all the time but but you come right back to where you were before you heard it and ask yourself what the heal was that. You even try to hang onto the notes so you don't forget them but they fade every time.

                        After it happens a couple of times you begin to understand it. I often have these events when I'm still half asleep yet my mind is awake enough to remember. I found I do have the ability to manipulate the notes too, as though I'm actually performing them. In essence its your mind still at work after a busy day of hard work, many hours of playing, writing and thinking musically is what unlocks that door.

                        One thing you cannot "storm the gates" as they say to obtain the ability to write music. Anyone who tries this without developing the discipline to get you there and back in one piece will simply hurt themselves trying.

                        Don't know if anyone else here has had musical dreams either, like playing on stage with other great musicians but if you have, that's about as close as it gets to having a waking glimpse of what I'm talking about.

                        Its not unique to music either. There are many disciplines which can open the same door only to reveal other gifts. The event has been given many names, Awakening, the Bardo Thodol, Enlightenment, Voice of God, The Source, Transcendence, and many others. One of the best description I ever hear of it was written by Confucius believe it or not.

                        Like most disciplines music writing is no exception. Its something that needs to be practiced regularly on a nearly daily basis for the skill to improve to the point where you can create ideas on demand and not simply think its magic or wished up. There's always that 1% inspiration that goes along with the 99% perspiration but that 1% wont do a dam thing if you aren't in top shape to provide the that 99% when the 1% comes along to motivate you.
                        Last edited by WRGKMC; 03-07-2018, 11:27 AM.

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                        • #13
                          To add there are ne views on musical writing and performing skills being adopted. One is called Audiation.
                          Audiation is to music what thought is to language. Knowing how the mind reacts to music can shed allot of light on how a
                          musicians can become a useful tool.

                          A man named Edwin Gordon has an excellent theory lf learning music which is far more modern then anything I had as a kid.
                          Back then you were thrown into the complexities of music without being given any basics to build upon. I'd say its about time someone recognized that problem and came up with a better working solution.

                          This is a summary of his method. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon...earning_theory He has a very long detailed paper on the topic which is very well researched too but a bit heavy reading for most.

                          What I've also found on this topic is, there are certain things in music people remember well and long term, and others are extremely weak.
                          Tempo and loudness are two things which most people have the hardest time remembering. Pitch, and lyrics are usually the easiest.
                          (another good reason I advocate using a drum machine or metronome)

                          People who learn to read music have a great advantage over those who don't read. They develop an thing called Notational audiation which allows them to hear music as they read the notes. They can also see the timing of the notes and their durations so much of the timing and rhythm can be recalled as they hear the notes before actually hearing instruments are used.

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                          • #14
                            Can you elaborate?

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                            • #15
                              Not really. I only use one type of guitar and I usually just write whatever I feel like at the moment. Like, right now I am just overwhelmed by recent heartbreak so my emotions translate on paper.

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                              • Phil O'Keefe
                                Phil O'Keefe commented
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                                Sorry to hear that - mojo sent!

                              • AlamoJoe
                                AlamoJoe commented
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                                Sorry as well...I know that doesn't help much.While elucidating, or recording those painful lessons learned..Via music or lyrics, doesn't dull that particular pain...It can help you understand the dynamics..If not now then later....These experiences are the Rosetta Stone of your life
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