#1
Say im learning a song that has a lot of distortion, should I practice it clean, distorted or both? I am learning that little lead lick in the intro to Jump in the Fire by Metallica, and i'm wondering what would be the best way to practice it. Having high gain would mean I would learn to mute correctly, but if I played it clean, I would make sure my P.O technique is good.
Which is better?
#3
Both. Clean will make you a more accurate player and distortion will help with muting like you said.
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#4
So, take it up slowly by and everytime I go up by..... 20 bpm, I could go back 10 and switch from distorted to clean, or vice versa?
#5
How about find an acoustic guitar too and try that? (Even better than your clean channel! And it builds extra finger strength!) And instead of changing your metronome up 20 BPM a time, try 5. That'd be a bit easier and probably more efficient.
#6
When I'm learning a new lick, I usually have an average amount of distortion. When I think I have it down, I put on an insane amount of distortion so that way any mistakes are sure to ring out
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#7
Quote by Christian Davis
How about find an acoustic guitar too and try that? (Even better than your clean channel! And it builds extra finger strength!) And instead of changing your metronome up 20 BPM a time, try 5. That'd be a bit easier and probably more efficient.


Good idea. My acoustic has bad.. well... acoustics and it's action is really high. I took me so long before I built up enough strength to be able to H.O and P.O, so when I switched to a low action electric, it was effortless. I just tried it now and I can barely play the lick.

And I didn't mean take it up 20 bpm at once. I mean once I increase it by 20 bpm (Probably over the course of 4 bpm increases) I will descrease it a bit and start again with a different amp setting.
Last edited by GoldfishMoon at Aug 21, 2009,
#9
My theory would be to use a healthy amount of distortion to insure your accuracy and overall comprehension. Errors will be more noticeable with distortion.
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#10
Quote by GoldfishMoon
Good idea. My acoustic has bad.. well... acoustics and it's action is really high. I took me so long before I built up enough strength to be able to H.O and P.O, so when I switched to a low action electric, it was effortless. I just tried it now and I can barely play the lick.

And I didn't mean take it up 20 bpm at once. I mean once I increase it by 20 bpm (Probably over the course of 4 bpm increases) I will descrease it a bit and start again with a different amp setting.

Doesn't mean it's not possible though. I just started playing with the acoustic again recently. It makes things harder to play for sure. My advice is just do some simple picking exercises on there like 10-15 minutes a day and see where that takes you. Do some scales, try sweeping some, try your HO and PO and so forth.

Ah ok, I get what you mean now about the metronome.
#11
If you're going to play something with a clean sound, practice it on clean.
If you're going to be using distortion, use distortion.
#12
90% clean 10% distortion.

It probably goes without saying, but you should also have no effects on either. No echo, no reverb, no compression, just a straight clean sound.

But the more clean practice you do, the better control over your dynamics you'll have. Distortion tends to really compress, so you won't get an accurate idea of how much or how little attack you're putting into your pick work.

The only reason to really practice with distortion is to make sure you're properly controlling feedback, and properly muting your strings to avoid any kind of sympathetic vibration that you get more of with a distorted tone. But other than that, all distortion does is hide your dymanics, masks staccato playing, and tends to mask missed or wrong notes.
#13
I practice and play guitar unplugged 95 percent of the time. When I play with distortion my technique is correct because I'm use to playing without any effects or dialed in a certain way.
#14
Quote by Amer91
If you're going to play something with a clean sound, practice it on clean.
If you're going to be using distortion, use distortion.

That about sums it up lol
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#15
Music is an Aural art, and should be treated as such, to have the most musical potential.

You can't predict how something will sound distorted if you only practice clean.

Speed and clean technique are not the only aspects in music.

Your technique will react different on a distorted sound, and thus you have to practice distorted if you plan on writing or performing songs which require distortion.

So practice using both sounds.

Quote by icronic
90% clean 10% distortion.

It probably goes without saying, but you should also have no effects on either. No echo, no reverb, no compression, just a straight clean sound.

But the more clean practice you do, the better control over your dynamics you'll have. Distortion tends to really compress, so you won't get an accurate idea of how much or how little attack you're putting into your pick work.



I disagree.

You can't think of echo and such as automatically satisfactory.

Ie. You can't say I practice this dry, and with the echo presume it will sound like this or that.

Some tapping licks sound cool with delay, but some don't, so knowing which will sound like what with the effect should be considered as well.

You just look at one aspect, and are ignorant in presuming that an effect is just an effect and will make the outcome of sound be the same, but "just with an effect".

That's close-minded.

Not to mention that if you can get a lick nicely on distorted, then it's okay.

It doesn't matter how it sounds as clean, cause if it's in a song, then you will only hear the lick distorted.

By ur logic, you want to hear every distorted lick as clean to validate that it is well played, and thus this would mean that you don't like songs with distortion, cause you don't get a clean reference for every lick.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Aug 22, 2009,
#16
Learn to pick up your mistakes taht are normally only audible with distortion, while you're playing on clean, you just have to concentrate harder and block out what you aren't listening for.
#17
Quote by Christian Davis
How about find an acoustic guitar too and try that? (Even better than your clean channel! And it builds extra finger strength!) And instead of changing your metronome up 20 BPM a time, try 5. That'd be a bit easier and probably more efficient.


or better yet how about 1 BPM at a time.
#18
I usually learn a riff unplugged, get the picking/fretting down - essentially teach my hands what they're meant to be doing (not at full speed, just so they know what's going on). I also make sure everything sounds good unplugged.
After that: I plug in turn the distortion on and make sure it sounds good. Finally, get it up to speed.
#19
inbetween....crunch. clean isnt always ideal for things that need extra sustain or boost.
#20
Quote by xxdarrenxx
I disagree.

You can't think of echo and such as automatically satisfactory.

Ie. You can't say I practice this dry, and with the echo presume it will sound like this or that.

Some tapping licks sound cool with delay, but some don't, so knowing which will sound like what with the effect should be considered as well.

You just look at one aspect, and are ignorant in presuming that an effect is just an effect and will make the outcome of sound be the same, but "just with an effect".

That's close-minded.


You're getting very specific, when I'm speaking in very general terms.

Obviously if you're trying to learn Paul Gilbert's "The Echo Song" then, you're going to want your echo on.

But the fact of the matter is that while practicing all FX really do is cover up your mistakes.

As for some FX sounding good with certain thing's and bad with others. Well first, if you're good with your FX, then almost anything should work with anything if properly setup, and second experimentation should come after practice and not during.

Not to mention that if you can get a lick nicely on distorted, then it's okay.

It doesn't matter how it sounds as clean, cause if it's in a song, then you will only hear the lick distorted.

By ur logic, you want to hear every distorted lick as clean to validate that it is well played, and thus this would mean that you don't like songs with distortion, cause you don't get a clean reference for every lick.


You're missing the point.

Fact of the matter is, you hear more of your playing dynamics when playing clean. It's easier to tell how hard you're hitting the strings when you're playing clean, it's easier to hear if you're clipping your notes, or playing staccato.

I know a few sound engineers, and to make a long story short they were telling me that 90% of todays recordings, the guitars almost always have compression on them. The reason: Most guitarists have no control over their dynamics.

Here's how it generally works.

You practice with distortion most of the time. You sound great with distortion. But when you switch to a clean sound, you'll sound like ****.

You practice clean most of the time, then you can generally play with distortion just as well.

All playing clean does is make you a better, smoother and more well rounded guitar player. Although I suppose, if you never really plan on ever playing clean, then it doesn't really matter.
#21
^^
Why be general if you can be specific.

I'm not missing the point, cause it's this box like thinking that causes so many mediocre players out there.

I agree on dynamics being heard more on clean, but what this really says is, is that dynamics react differently on clean.

On overdrive the dynamics are different, and you have to learn to play with this as well.

Off course, you are thinking of br00tal gain and such, but there are numerous people who have a dynamic gained tone.

Not to mention the creative aspect, which I believe should be included in practice.

Practising scales and such only makes you good in scales, but there are tons of other things where continuity needs to be learned in order to have a smooth playing.

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#22
Quote by xxdarrenxx
^^
Why be general if you can be specific.


Well being specific would require a great deal more typing.

I'm not missing the point, cause it's this box like thinking that causes so many mediocre players out there.


See that I don't buy. There's a time to go out of the box, and a time to stay in the box. Besides that, most of the mediocre guitar players I know are infact the ones who spend most of their time practicing with the gain turned up. Perhaps you know a different set of mediocre guitar players than I do?

Besides which, how many countless great guitar players have preached practicing clean? Off the top of my head I can think of... Andy Timmons, Marco Sfogli, Satriani, Vai, Shawn Lane, Marty Friedman...

I agree on dynamics being heard more on clean, but what this really says is, is that dynamics react differently on clean.

On overdrive the dynamics are different, and you have to learn to play with this as well.


True. But controlling the strength of your pick attack, and keeping your playing smooth are still probably the most important aspect of playing, and that is something that starts to disappear as you pile on the gain.

I admit I was probably a little over zealous with my 90%/10% ratio, but I do maintain that people should put considerably more time into practicing clean.

Off course, you are thinking of br00tal gain and such, but there are numerous people who have a dynamic gained tone.


br00tal gain is a bit of an exaggeration, but yes, I'm mostly talking hi gain here. Because more often than not, newer guitar players tend to gravitate to Metal and Shred instead of Blues. So, again generally speaking when people talk about practicing with distortion, they tend to mean a fair bit of it.

On the other hand if you want to practice your blues licks on a Blues Jr with a tubescreamer, then it's really not nearly as huge a deal.


Not to mention the creative aspect, which I believe should be included in practice.]

Practising scales and such only makes you good in scales, but there are tons of other things where continuity needs to be learned in order to have a smooth playing.


Again, we agree. Although I do think that technical and creative practice should be separated.

As for scales... Well I always kind of thought the only reason to practice them was to memorize the sound of them, and where their notes lay on the neck. Otherwise, if you're going to practice something, do it with some kind of context, so you can actually use what you're practicing. But this is totally off topic.
#23
I recommend that you do both. Playing clean will teach you to control your dynamic range, playing with an overdriven tone will teach you to use correct dampening technique. You will not learn to sound good clean if you always practice with gain, you will not learn to sound good with it if you never practice with it.

Also, while an overdriven tone will kill some of your dynamic range, the tone of a note still changes if you change how hard you pick, and the effects of pick angle and picking position become even more evident with light/medium gain. There are many aspects of lead playing that CANNOT be practiced without some gain, as the note simply decays too quickly.

You need to learn how to control how you sound, be it clean or overdriven. The first step is playing clean, certainly, but an overdriven tone is an instrument in itself. It takes a huge amount of practice to master playing with an overdriven lead tone.
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Last edited by Prophet of Page at Aug 23, 2009,
#24
You could turn DOWN the distortion.
You will get the best of both worlds.

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#25
I will always start off playing something distorted (unless it's a clean segment) since that's how i'm going to be playing if I ever record it, or if i'm showing anybody. If, however, I notice my mistakes (or don't) I will go into clean to figure out what I need to do. Maybe I should pick this note harder, or use more legato? I'll figure out that stuff, and practice for only a little bit clean, and then i'll get back to distortion.

Practice how you play. If you plan on playing the lick/riff/song in distortion then practice it 90% of the time distorted and the other 10% of the time clean, and vice versa.