Your Tone And Sound. Part 1

This articles covers two basic problems with a guitar tone and sound: too much gain and too much distortion. Read basic guides on how to fix that.

Ultimate Guitar

If you're reading this you may be wondering either "Let's see what this Am has to say" or "Let's see this guy make an ass of himself". This is my first article and please read it with an open mind and don't just flame me at the end of it.

Common Mistake #01: Too loud or too much gain - So you are getting ready to play your set in a club with your first band. You turn on your amp and tune at a low volume then you crank the amp's volume and hit the distortion. The audience shouts and covers their ears as you strum your first chords suffering from painful overloads on their ears.

Solution: First thing to do turn down the volume! You may have a 400 watt half stack but you don't need to use all of it. Especially not in a club that is probably no bigger than a basement. You will drown out everyone but you and the performance will suffer because of it. Not to mention the audience doesn't always enjoy being slammed with a wave of ear-piercing feedback and speakers nearing the tearing point. If the drums can't be heard over you, turn way down. This is what soundchecks are for, get a band member to walk to the end of the hall and based on what he hears either turn up or turn down the Gain, or Volume. Too much volume/gain will cause uncontrollable feedback and no one will enjoy the performance except you. Also for tube amps the gain will be maxed at about 7 or 8, for solid state try and try again to get a good sound.

Common Mistake #2: Distortion Mistakes - You go to an audition for a Metal band and the sounds you get are overdriven tones reminiscent of Sublime. Or you get a british distortion going while trying to audition for a hardcore band. Or during your performance no one can hear that there are two different parts.

Solution: This goes without saying match sound and tone styles with the music. Meaning don't get a grunge tone going for a hard rock song, and don't slam on the ultra channel for a country rhythm. Also if the other guitarist has a British sounding distorion go for a more scooped out sound not too much you don't want to scrape rust off the heating pipes in the building. Of course scooping the sound isn't always the best option try a less gainy sound there are doezens of different ways to change the sound. If you do this then the different distortion will make the riffs sound thicker, and people will know there are two guitarists.

Well this is a couple of basic guidelines for tone and sound characteristics. Of course this is a trial and error part of guitar playing do what works best for you.

25 comments sorted by best / new / date

    ok i suppose but it could be beter if youd added things like rough settings with gain, bass, treble, etc for certain tones like punk, metal, etc apart from that ok
    Not bad man... i agree with the other dude though, you shouldve added the little sections.
    i disagree, the biggest problem with distortion is people using way too much... i play in a worship band and my friend has like a shredmaster and a big muff running at the same time, it's mush.
    this was known, i mean i turn in my amp the way i want my sound. and then it usually aint any problem, cus i dont like have 2 pounds(yeah...) of distortion on my sound all the time.
    Backup Guitar
    Well, you definitely have something here. The title was a bit misleading, though. If you do have any more column ideas, come and submit them through the UG colums forum before actually submitting them.
    Sublime pwnz oh yeah, I've only read up to the 4th paragraph, gonna read the rest of it now..
    Cain 777
    I was in a big rush I typed this in ten minutes I think maybe less . I didn't have time to go into much detail but I'll be getting more technical soon.
    i play shows at sound idea. its really small but the louder and more distortion the more claps you get. this is also true as saying the shitter you play the better the reaction from the crowd is. my friends had a show and they had me fill in on bass. i ended up forgeting half the bass lines cuz i only had one day to practice. the singer couldnt hear so he was just shouting random things. the guitar play was going crazy and the drummer was going crazy as well. it turned out to be an awesome show and sound idea actually asked us to come back.
    That was good, some overlooked common problems, true about big head guitarists trying to overpower with volume or distortion, especially distortion, ahh turn it down so I can hear notes instead of "sshjshfbwubvygurv"
    yer a bit brief on your sound only really talked about distortion and volume though it was well written
    yeah i sort of get what your saying. i play in a band but we have never gigged, but when we rehearse i find that my amp maybea little too overdriven sometimes, it sounds fine before you start a song but then once the whole band kicks in i sometimes stand out too much. the biggest problem i have is i need the volume to get the crunchiness on the rythm sections and to pull off lasting notes on lead sections. I have got a korg ax100g but i dont like it, i have never tried any other pedals out before. has anyone got any tips? my band plays music sort of like erm.....mix the melodies of oasis and the heavier music of someone like hundred reasons.