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Old 10-15-2013, 08:59 AM   #1
klevieter
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does high-gain distortion cover up mistakes

Hey UG,

I have been playing electric guitar for over 4 years now. Since I am really into heavy metal I like the sound of heavy distortion. As a result, I have practiced most of the time with a high-gain distortion effect.

Recently, I read somewhere that heavy distortion tends to camouflage mistakes you make and therefore it seems that you are a better player than you really are. So I tried lowering the gain and it sounded like crap. A lot of notes became muted and overal it was not very smooth anymore.

Is this common or am I just a sucky player who needs to practice without the gain?
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Old 10-15-2013, 09:35 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klevieter
Hey UG,

I have been playing electric guitar for over 4 years now. Since I am really into heavy metal I like the sound of heavy distortion. As a result, I have practiced most of the time with a high-gain distortion effect.

Recently, I read somewhere that heavy distortion tends to camouflage mistakes you make and therefore it seems that you are a better player than you really are. So I tried lowering the gain and it sounded like crap. A lot of notes became muted and overal it was not very smooth anymore.

Is this common or am I just a sucky player who needs to practice without the gain?


That is the exact reason people say you should practice clean; distortion does indeed cover up those kinds of weaknesses in your playing.

On the other hand distortion makes it blindingly obvious when you need to get better at muting and controlling noise.

The best players practice with both because they realise that each covers mistakes that the other reveals.
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Old 10-15-2013, 09:53 AM   #3
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Practice both. Practice with lower gain (not necessarily clean but low enough that individual notes dont merge together) to clean up and tighten your playing and high gain to get your muting right.
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Old 10-15-2013, 10:12 AM   #4
klevieter
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So I have basically been doing only half the work. Thank you I will go practice now
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Old 10-15-2013, 10:47 AM   #5
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heavy distortion can also camouflage timing mistakes when you play fast. Be weary of this.
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Old 10-15-2013, 11:49 AM   #6
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It can hide some mistakes but a lot of gain also highlights every little touch of the strings. People who say it hides bad playing are usually people who don't play using a lot of gain. It's obviously helpful to play clean at times and if you're going to be playing using a ton of gain it's something you're going to want to practice as well. Like others have said, do both.
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Old 10-15-2013, 12:34 PM   #7
Dreamdancer11
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Yes and no...it depends on the technique...for example for alternate picking gain helps a lot masking your playing weaknesses while for sweep picking for example gain makes things harder cause things ring left and right and you have to reign over huges amounts of distortion and still sound clean and articulate.

So bottom line...practice both and you ll always have a clear view of your playing ....
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Old 10-15-2013, 02:17 PM   #8
hansome21
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You need to practice with both. You should be able to hear all the same notes without your electric plugged in.

That being said, learning to mute with lots of gain/volume is much harder to learn, so when you do play with distortion, it should be a lot, but not until you feel confident playing the song already. I would work on muting last, though it may take the longest.
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Old 10-15-2013, 02:40 PM   #9
Dave_Mc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
That is the exact reason people say you should practice clean; distortion does indeed cover up those kinds of weaknesses in your playing.

On the other hand distortion makes it blindingly obvious when you need to get better at muting and controlling noise.

The best players practice with both because they realise that each covers mistakes that the other reveals.


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Old 10-15-2013, 02:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaaZeus
Practice both. Practice with lower gain (not necessarily clean but low enough that individual notes dont merge together) to clean up and tighten your playing and high gain to get your muting right.


I'd say this. Imo it's much more difficult to play with a very very small amount of gain and make it sound good then a clean tone. Could just be me rig though.
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Old 10-16-2013, 01:15 AM   #11
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Same, I've found I have to do both. I don't practice that much with clean but I have to check in between. Try to listen for the difference in sound and the feel in your fingers when you got a buzz/muted note. You might not have to practice clean too much if you can identify the mistakes on gain.
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Old 10-16-2013, 03:19 AM   #12
atza
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Oh yeas, they do. which is not to say that Satriani needs it. But take Kirk Hammet...Boy without distortion it would be ridicilous i think. Just one man's opinion though
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Old 10-17-2013, 12:47 PM   #13
kian89
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On the contrary it would let your mistakes show even more,
although gain and distortion will perform a different part in elaborating your mistakes ,
but distortion will hurt less .
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