Your Tone And Sound. Part 3

In this article we are dealing with another 2 common problems - the lack of original (your own!) songs and the lack of a wide musical tastes and a one-music-style addictness. Creating a tone and sound fitting your style.

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Welcome to the next fury inducing or happily recieved article. This will most likely be my last column on the common mistakes of people this will either evoke cheers or sighs, I'm hoping for sighs. I've decided to not add any tips or suggestions on what you should have has equipment or amp levels because I say experiment.

Find what works for you, don't limit yourself to sounding generic. Look at most death metal bands most sound very similar and the vocals are usually unintelligible. Opeth has Progressive music and acoustic sections of songs thus separating themselves from the pack. They did this by doing their own thing, not what everyone else is doing. Of course you shouldn't book shows at the local metal/hardcore venue if your band sounds like Good Charlotte no matter how spiky your guitarist's hair is.

Common Mistake #5 - I can play "insert band here" perfectly!

Audition for guitarist: "okay just play what you want." "okay, [starts playing And Justice For All]" "No something of your own" "Um...[thinks hard] well I can play any Metallica song including the solos perfectly" "No can you play original stuff?" "Hm [starts to play Back In Black] I've never had to" "Can you write a song?" "No...but I can play Stairway To Heaven just like the recording"

Been on either side of this convo? If it does you have had an encounter with the dreaded Copycat guitarist. The kid who spends his/her entire summer vacation learning to play entire albums and not writing any material of his/her own. This guitarist is a band's worst nightmare because he would rather sit in a corner and strum "The Drapery Falls"'s acoustic section than play your band's new song. Or worse yet not come up with even an original riff in a month.

The copycat guitarist is a close relative to the Add guitarist. The guy who will screw off all practice or god forbid stop in the middle of a song. Both guitarists can kill a band or even a friendly jam session. Learning a few covers is fun and helps save a gig if your band is limping. For example if your playing to a bunch of college kids pick covers that will go over well like Pavement's Summer Babe, or if you're feeling adventurous Sonic Youth's Teenage Riot (only if you have the properly tuned guitar of course).

There are always exceptions, but generally if your band is dying onstage pick a song that most people at the concert know and then try to save some dignity. If you play Isis's "Weight" to a bunch of high school students don't expect them to recognize it. Also if you play a Metal crowd don't break out an Sublime song, you're liable to get you ass kicked or given plenty of trouble as you pack your gear up. Only learn a few covers if you learn too many you run the risk of subconsciously copying riffs. A very good way to land you in court by the way.

Common Mistake #6 - I only listen to [insert genre of music]. Limiting your musical tastes is one of the worst things you can do for your playing. Whether you play guitar, drums, bass, or vocals, it will benefit your playing if you vary your selections. If you listen to only black metal then you will be stuck in a rut of playing just black metal sounding riffs with no creativity. I myself cover a fairly wide spectrum of music. From Pink Floyd to The Locust to Nine Inch Nails to Shadows Fall to Nirvana to Slayer to Dead Kennedys to Most Precious Blood to Dillinger Escape Plan to Mogwai to Joe Satriani to Sonic Youth to Pavement to The Velvet Underground to The Beatles and so on and so forth.

All that mixing has an interesting effect I can draw from all these different styles and use it to my advantage. How many fans of Grindcore do you know that adore Pink Floyd and Mogwai? I harness the almighty power chord, the energy of punk, the density of noise rock, the melody of The Beatles and the intensity of metal, and throw it into a blender. What comes out is unique I must say, but sadly since I am a complete idiot and cannot figure out how to use a 4 track recorder you won't be hearing my stuff anytime soon.

You must know your roots, if you listen to a band that was influenced by Metallica you forget that one of James Hetfield's favorite albums is The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds". Also any band that incorporates more than two time changes a song in been influenced by classical music either directly or indirectly. and no band would have been anything but pop without The Velvet Underground. The Creators of alternative music. In the sixties the Velvet Underground sang about being addicted to heroin, waiting for a drug dealer, a woman who sleeps around, and this was too ectreme and scary for the hippies. To date their debut album has sold less than two hundred thousand copies.

You don't have to like jazz but without it dissonance would have never been implemented as much as it was. I'm not saying you have to like so and so, I'm just saying respect your elders and at least give some of it a listen.

35 comments sorted by best / new / date

    NovaHawk
    First post. Oh yeah, great points on the creativity, being stuck in a rut makes new guitarists quit.
    Cain 777
    Tyler Larsen, most death metal is repetetive becasue of three things 1. no progression 2. vocals that sound like a dog's biting the mike 3. guitarists that pound their guitars tuned down to drop C and half of the song is just blasting Death metal isn't always repetetive look at Opeth, Arch Enemy, and even Amorphis. Granted they are melodic but a death metal band sounds boring as hell to me when all they do is blast. They need to slow down and get into a groove sometimes otherwise the music doesn't sound as hard hitting. Heavyhenning, this as much more to do with sound than tone I moronicly labeled it as "tone and sound". I continued to do so simply for continuity. Knowing musical theory is great, but I don't see a point in learning it. Improv is great too, Hendrix did a lot with stretching wrong notes into crazy extended improv parts of songs. Writing isn't that impressive I'm sure that most people here can write a song. Writing a good song is what is key. I pick on those who have no originality like most death metal bands who praise Cannibal Corpse and then set out to sound like a basement demo tape of said band because it's "extreme". You want extreme music listen to Masonna, Old Man Gloom, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Merzbow or Zeni Geva. I simply repeat it becasue some people haven't gotten the message yet. I even said that this article will either infuritate or help you. Obviously you dont like my writings or my attempts to try and get people to make their own AngusYoung4ever, I see your point but I'm saying just give music you don't normally listen to a try. You may get some ideas about how to approach something differently. I never even attempted writing in strange time signatures until I listened to Dillinger Escape Plan's "43% Burnt" you don't like my stuff deal with it I'm gonna continue to write either way.
    Cannon00
    Tone and style are two different things. Listening to different bands may influence your style but not your tone, how can it, tone is warmth or depth to a sound. Unless you meant listening to a different band just makes you change your amp settings, but then you wouldn't be being creative, you'd still have the same style just with a different tone from the amp. I woulda called the article: Style and progression.
    tyler larsen
    death metal is repetitve? you must not be listening to death metal then.what bit of "death metal" are you talking about?if you mean by screaming in every song that doesnt make it repetitive , thats because you cant put any other vocals over it that would sound right.deftones on the other hand is repetitive, and boring.i could probly find three songs on their new album that sound alike.rapping over guitars,unoriginal and stupid.death metal screams all the time....deftones mutters pointless rap and gives out a good scream every once in a while.i bet you cant find two death metal songs that sound a like.riffs and tempo changes out of nowhere..20 times more creative than limp....i mean the deftones.
    Heavyhenning
    This really sucks! Like the rest of the Tone and sound articles. This has nothing to do with tone and sound! Since you pick so much on people for copying others the what about writing something new in stead of repeating those famous points everybody have heard before? Btw I know music theory, improvisate and write and this article is lame!
    AngusYoung4ever
    i dissagree with the second point of the article. I think it's more important for a guitarist to have a niche to work with. If you're really into blues guitar, you're not going to throw in any modulations in your soloing more than likely. You're just going to stay in the pentatonic scale. I don't mean to say that you should just listen to one artist however, but i think time would be better spent exploring in depth the one genre that interests you and influences your playing the most. That way you can combine the elements of different players to create your own style within the genre.
    ILIKEMUSICALOT
    Cain777, article was great. I feel sorry for the people think this has nothing to do with tone and sound. Think about it retards. I totally agree with your last comment too.
    ensaepit
    Read between the lines people - this was about tone. He was telling you NOT to limit your sound by being unoriginal, and not to restrict your knowledge of music by listening to just one specifc style of music. If you listen to a lot of different music your style will evolve - thus your tone and sound will be changed. Nice article.
    Seeingblind13
    It does have to do with tone and sounds, but to the plain eye, it's hard to notice. Maybe you should've named the article different?
    Klown
    great article, thank god im not one of these mistakes, i know a guitarrist who only plays Zakk Wylde, really annoying, just trying to jam with him and all he does is play alot of crappy riffs that dont stick together... he is really skilled but he has over like 2 years written ONE song for his band! and it sounds just like a zakk wylde song. i hate that, alot.
    Klown
    oh yeah... you guys who didnt get what this had to do with sound is just stupid, your probably offended by it... and the sound is directly affecting the tone.
    chinko
    great tip, just play anything, even a chord, and mix up the ways you play it, or just play anything thjat comes to your head and write it down. all i used to do was play for whom the bell tolls on bass but now i play more of my own stuff because its more rewarding. all i need is to get into a band. oh yeah, saying hendrix was pop is THE worst thing to say. have you even heard anything be jimmi or the jimmi hendrix experience?
    f**k the system
    this has been done hundreds and hundreds of times but for those of you that havent done this might want to give it some consideration. if you are a punk band and are running out of idea's for covers. why dont you do a punk version of a pop song.(not being sarcastic) a band i knew and watched did a cover version of "barbie girl" by aqua. it doesn't sound like a good idea but it works most of the times. it all depends if the audience is enjoying your show or praying your band gets kicked off stage. anyway the band i saw did a cover of "barbie girl" and it was awesome. when the band was doing the verse of the song they made it sound slow and calm but when they came to the chorus they shouted "COME ON BARBIE,LETS GO PARTIE" and pulled out a really heavy and fast riff. anyway at the end everybody loved the song even though it was a pop song and had barbie in the lyrics. therefore at the end the point i am trying to make is to struggling punk bands is why don't you pick a pop song and try to make up a killer riff and solo for it and be creative while still doing a cover.
    deftones17
    death metal IS pretty damn repetitve.. if you want a good cover suggestion i've got 1 band for ya- DEFTONES baby!
    Dios de amor
    YES! we DEFINATELY need an article about using different effects! good stuff though, peace
    stunt
    kool article even though it had nothing 2 do with tone your second one on tone was the best by far
    dresedtodepres
    yea cuz there was ONLY pop before the Velvet Underground. Hendrix was pop, and all the blues guys were pop. yea. mabey their debut album has only sold so much because they suck.
    civildp1
    dresedtodepres: yea cuz there was ONLY pop before the Velvet Underground. Hendrix was pop, and all the blues guys were pop. yea. mabey their debut album has only sold so much because they suck. [POSTED: 08 April 2004 - 11:36]|
    YOu're a metal head aren't you. Velvet underground must be too,well, underground for you
    me an my gitar
    i totally agree about widening your taste in music. it opens you to a lot of different sounds and moods that you can bust out in a jam and be more progressive than just using the same genre in your riffs all the time
    harak
    nice article, but you should probably talk more about how to use effects to your advantage and stuff instead of talking about music styles.
    ozzyzig
    don't call hendrix pop. he was a legend. wot u sed was just plain f***** stupid
    BibaLin
    kinda boring.. Hard to know what you were talking about and why any of this has to do with tone and sound. lol
    strangled
    it does have to do with your tone because what you listen to often influences what you play hence your tone but i would like to see and article about using effects
    GuiTarPlaYnPunK
    great article, but I can't see how this was about tone. But nevertheless, a great read, definately worth it. I can relate to some of the stuff you said.
    bobisonthecob
    i dont like what he said about not playing sublime at a metal concert, couldnt you just play it in that style of music, like what phish does, they play rap at there concerts man, like 2pac(RIP)