Your Tone And Sound. Part 2

This article covers another two problems with a guitar tone and sound with and how to fix them. In this part author descussing proper EQ and pedals/modules usage.

Ultimate Guitar

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 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.

39 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I know he doesn't tell people what to buy, but hes saying not to buy alot of effects right away. If they want to, let them. It doesn't mean they're stupid or anything like he's implying.
    too many effects can mask problems in a players style, say too much reverb can mask accidentally muting strings when playing a chord, therefore the player doesnt correct this problem and when it comes to playing without reverb... they sound shit! same with distortion, chorus flangers phasers and the likes, they improve your sound too much, so yes, only buy effects when your sure your good enough to play without them next-to-perfectly
    im getting a rp300 or a rp400. thats got all those. right?
    a lot of the artists that you said play guitar direct to amp dont. Iommi uses a wah and Wylde uses a bunch of shit. Wah, whammy, overdrive, and a chorus I think.
    silver shade
    LET ME GUESS>>>>> ADDICT you own the shit the article is implying as crap equipment!!!!! UNLUCKYMATE!!!!!
    amps don't cut it. If you're so scared to take a chance and buy pedals, buy a combo like a DigiTech rp50. It's got plenty of built in effects and such for the price of one of those effects (70 US$). If you're interested in making you're own sound, get a pedal. The amp tones ajust don't cut it!
    I think the one important point never mentioned, is that TONE is plain and simply generated by ONE'S FINGERS. That vibrato a player develops in HIS FINGERS will determine HIS TONE and INDIVIDUALITY. Thats what makes a player instantly recognizable! Just ask Clapton, Beck, Page Gilmour, etc.
    rakerbaker Good article; playing with the effects early instead of playing with just the instrument is the same as learning to play piano with the sustain pedal on all the time.Learn the guitar then play out your options
    very good i agree about not buying all hte pedals until you can play decently perhaps you should right an article about how to use the different stuff for the beginneres who dont know how
    I think that if people want to buy pedals, ROCK ON!! i think the effects are WAY better than non. O.k. there are some riffs and stuff that sound better without them, but bieng a Metalhead myself, Distortion is the answer, and a bit of Wah too! No one can tell you what to buy and what not to buy so go ahead and buy all you can, it's worth it!
    I agree that you probably shouldn't go out and buy a bunch of pedals at the start, but some of you guys are implying that you shouldn't buy any pedals at the start. That's ridiculous. The amp I started with had a very grungy distortion to it. It made a really good sound for Nirvana. Unfortunately, I don't really like Nirvana or have any interest in playing it. I wanted to play before I played guitar. So I started learning as soon as I got the basics. Have you ever heard a metal song played through a grunge pedal? Sounds crappy. That's what it sounded like with my amp. After buying a pedal with a decent metal distortion it was alot more enjoyable for me to play cause I could actually sound like the stuff I was playing. A pedal can hide weaknesses in your amp sometimes and if your amp is not suited for the style your playing, but you can't afford a new one, sometimes a pedal is the perfect solution. You should probably purchase whatever you need to get a sound similar to the style you play, maybe not the exact sound, but you don't wanna be playing blazing metal solos through an amp distortion that favours pop-punk. Just my 2 cents.
    I like chorus. The shimmer with my strange amp and pedal settings make me sound very unique. It's goood. :cheers:
    some people are so damn stupid. The guy is givin advice. Good article. Dude, u should spill a bit more on the EQ. Like how u can use the EQ as a volume boost or tone change for solos and stuff. I learnt that from Slash heheh =) Good article though, really brought to light some stuff i was messin with.
    hey i got a distortion and a overdrive within my frist weeks of playing guitar and i only use them when i need them like im play stairway to heaven with a distorion pedal or overdrive but *** offf its my rig you ass
    tyler larsen
    this guy is right. dont go out and buy pedels right away. you dont know how to play...probly dont know what sound the pedels going to produce...dont know when to use the pedel.its a waste of money and if youre a dipshIt youll go buy a pedel youre first week playing like meta-bot here.
    good article altho it didnt really help. it would have great if i read this wen i first started out
    lol pedals suck all i got is my tele my slide and my amp and i can get all the sounds i want out of them
    he doesnt tell people what to buy, your not a rebel, shut up
    I know he doesn't tell people what to buy, but hes saying not to buy alot of effects right away. If they want to, let them. It doesn't mean they're stupid or anything like he's implying.
    You shouldn't tell people what to buy and what not to, it's their rig, not yours.
    he has a good point though... you shouldn't really buy that many pedals when you're starting out since you wouldn't really be that good at picking the ones u need... so i think he made a good point and you Addict didn't...
    Captain Colon
    I know he doesn't tell people what to buy, but hes saying not to buy alot of effects right away. If they want to, let them. It doesn't mean they're stupid or anything like he's implying.
    The point of the article is to give advice, so why shouldn't he tell people to learn to play before they buy effects? Great article, much more detailed than the last, and that link is certainly fun to play with
    good article, I would also suggest buying a wah pedal, it ads alot to your playing if you learn to play it properly
    Nice article. wahs are nice to have, and chorus, but this guy's just drawing from his experiece, so don't slam him for that. I liked it, and It was quite useful