Hey I'm back with the next installment of "Your Sound And Tone." I was in a big hurry to type up my last articale and din't get into any tone shaping tips. I have all the time I want now so I'm gonna take my time and delve into whatever I think is nescessary.
Common Mistake #3 - What's EQ?. So you've spent some cash on a decent EQ board only to find you don't know what to do with it. Proper EQ'ing can make even a crap guitar and crap amp sound decent so it's a good skill to learn. Here are a few guidelines for you, But First an explaination of what it does. Sound's volume is measured in decibels but the Frequency is measured by the number of Waves in the signal called Hertz. The Higher the hertz the higher the pitch is the opposite is true for the lower # of hertz. Humans can generally Hear from 20 Hertz (extreme Low) to 20,000 Hertz (extreme High). Some exceptional people can hear a few Hz above or below the general range.
Now that the science lesson part is over lets get down to buisness. The Sliding pieces of plastic are called Faders. Each Fader controls a certain range of Frequency (ex.15k-20k). The closer to the bottom of the board the less pronounced the fader's range (say 20-100) will be, the opposite obviously for the closer to the top it is. If you want a nice warm bassy tone fix the amp's settings where you would like them and then move the faders to look like it's going "downhill". If you want a Pins-and-Needles trebely tone like The Minutemen do the opposite make it look like it's going "uphill". A Boosted Mid Tone used by Slayer's Kerry King is how he gets his as he describes it "Nut-shakingly heavy tone" his EQ looks like a half moon or an arch. Dimebag Darrel "scoops" the mids making it look like a gouge was taken out of the board making a Valley on the fader alignment.
Note: Speakers are made of Paper and the lower the sound the slower the speaker vibrates, the higher the sound the faster it vibrates. The speaker cones will tear if pushed past their limit so don't be surprised if after boosting your bass on the amp and the EQ board your Cones rip. A Subwoofer is for low sounds, a mid is for middle tones, and a Tweeter is for high notes. That's why if you put a guitar through a bass amp and rip the Solo from Master of Puppets don't be surprised when it rips the cone. The same is true with bass through a Guitar amp.
Common Mistake #4 - Pedals and Boxes and Modules, Oh my! If you're just starting out resist the urge to buy fifty pedals or a floor workstation to screw around with weird effects. The idea of playing guitar is to be able to sound fairly decent without caking effects onto the sound. Okay I'll admit it I was a moron when I first started out. I bought a delay, a flange, and a terrible terrible workstation, before I could even play Brain Stew by Green Day. Sure a flange mixed with a swell effect sounds wicked cool, but what's the point of having it if you don't even know what the Gmaj chord is? Learn to play with the amp and your guitar ONLY. Preferably with a cord connecting them of course.
Many guitarists play with a guitar, a cord, and an amp, Angus Young, Zakk Wylde, Tony Iommi, Greg Ginn, D. Boone, etc. Just as many use countless effects and tech their stuff to hell, but the point is they learned to play before getting into effects. No matter what you should get a good start and be about at an intermediate level before diving into the crazy, and confusing world of Effects. I think the most fundamental effect anyone should know how to use is not distortion it's reverb. If you ever listen to a demo by a band that recorded straight into a home recorder, wise the recording sounds flat and a bit strange. Why? No reverb to be found. The band sounds like they are two feet away not in a pleasant way either. Most studios use either a direct injection method of recording or they mike an amp.
If you DI (Direct Injection) a guitar, vocal, or bass part then digital reverb is almost always added. Miking an Amp is my preferred way of recording becasue it sounds a bit better to me because you can pick up the natural reverb, but you won't be able to add other effects during recording and have it sound natural. Also Ambient noise can get recorded and while it's not always bad it's particularly annoying when the other band members can be heard; this Is called "Bleeding". If you DI you can add other effects to it and mess with the tone all to hell like what Trent Reznor does. Not always favorable but you can do some interesting things with it.
I suggest you play around with a pedal before buying it, and make sure you try lots of different settings not just a few. Some effects I suggest looking into are Distortion, Flange, Phase-shifting, and Delay. After that I would suggest a Uni-vibe, Fuzz Box, Compression (for solos), and Talk Boxes. Then get into some electic and strange pedals mostly boutique or discontinued.
The Sonic Annihilation pedal sends out strange sounds depending on the pedals that are connected in it and in what order they're in. Sounds are varied and range from jet plane sounds, to bleeps, feedback, and so on. The Space Station by Digitech (I believe) is very strange I have only had the opportunity to play with it once and after a half hour I still didn't know exactly what it does. The Low-Fi Loop Junky is a loop circut similar to a tape delay ut it's grainy noisey and not very clean. According to the creator that's the point to be able to tell what's machine and what's not. Anyway www.buzzbin.com has a fully interactive site with sound clips and programmable "pedals" to hear the sounds the settings you pick result in. Lots of fun.
Well this article should tide you over or further infuriate you take your pick. Until next time.