Earlier this year i bought a delay pedal, which i sometimes use.
I always feel like when i'm using it, i'm cheating. Whenever using it, i feel like i'm actually lying to my own self, thinking i'm better than i actually am.

Same goes for pickups. I feel like using the neck pickup is also cheating. When alt. picking at faster speeds it covers a lot of s**t, the notes ring clearly, while on the bridge pickup, sounds a bit messier.

Tone knob. Turning this down, kind of cuts the high frequencies(also dulls the tone), so not much noise while moving on the fretboard.

I figured i'd try playing through headphones no effects, just a bit of distortion, hearing each and every bit of unwanted noise and sloppy playing. Thought i was better than i actually am. I thought i could shred, but after listening to myself through headphones, not really. I can hear sloppiness to some extent through amp, but not all like headphones.
Not noticeable in a band situation, but i should be able to play perfectly clean at all times with 0 effects, right?
Last edited by lebawss at Oct 31, 2015,
First of all, yes, you should practice so that your sloppiness becomes less of an issue. Remember, though, that NOBODY gets it perfectly right every time. That's called being human.

However, the use of effects, etc. is not "cheating"- mastering the nuances of your pedals, your guitar's controls and the knobs on your amp also require skill & practice.
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Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Oct 31, 2015,
Better technique and practice have no replacement. It isn't cheating to use effects or a neck pickup on a guitar. They are tools of the trade. They may help hide some deficiencies, but they aren't a crutch. These items aren't even designed with the intent of covering poor playing. A lousy guitarist will still sound lousy with a delay and neck pickup.

If you feel like your playing isn't up to par, then the obvious thing to do is work on your technique.

Define perfectly clean. Like Roland clean? If you're playing in a rock band, I think your band-mates would get a bit peeved if you were shredding on the clean channel of your amp.
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The concept that anything in music, as long as you're actually playing the instrument and operating whatever effects affect the tone, is "cheating" is absolutely and utterly ridiculous and should die as soon as possible (alas, it probably won't).

Truth is, some things help to hide mistakes (but usually will highlight others), and if you want to practice with whatever settings you find the most unforgiving and challenging, then it can indeed help to develop good technique, but in "real world" (i.e. recording, performing live, or simply playing for fun - in other words, everything that's not technical practice for technical practice's sake) what matters is the final result and whether it sounds good to you.

And then, there's a bunch of myths floating around. Delay may hide your mistakes a little when shredding fast because everything becomes a mess, but when playing even a bit slower, it means every one of your mistakes will be heard for longer. (As someone who likes spacey soundscapes and playing with a ton of delay and reverb, I can confirm hearing that wrong note for ten seconds is painful.) Playing clean can again eliminate the "can't hear a wrong sixteenth note because of thick distortion" factor, but it will not help you learn how to mute strings properly when playing with a healthy amount of gain.

Seriously, unless you want to be an uber-professional session musician with surgically clean technique, I think there is no point worrying about such things. If something about your playing bothers you, definitely work on fixing it, or if someone more experienced offers you advice, see if it actually works well for you, but overall you'll simply have a lot more fun if you focus on the final result, not just technique for technique's sake. There's lots of great musicians with a technique that's in some parts wrong according to the True Committee On Deciding The Only Correct Playing Technique, and yet their playing sounds good and actually has even more charm that way.

...uh, sorry for getting too much into a preaching tone but this is one of the things I'm too passionate about. Either way, short version: focus on having fun. If you have fun you'll probably also just end up playing and practicing more, and that will actually be better for your skills than getting depressed over every detail of your technique.

And of course, agreed with everything the two above posters said.
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
There's no point in trying to convince a moron.
When it comes to music, the only real cheating is speeding up a recording and lying about it and bribing the judges at a battle of the bands. Otherwise everything is fair game.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
http://smg.photobucket.com/user/DanJep/media/talentbooster1.jpg.html Unless you've got one of these...nope, pedals aren't cheating. Use whatever projects and emphasizes your skill the best. The closest thing I can think of is hiding behind lots of distortion so it sounds unclear to cover up technical deficiency. Even then, it sounds awful regardless.
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I think you should switch to sax. There's no cheating in sax and there's no denying sax appeal.
Quote by dannyalcatraz
Remember, though, that NOBODY gets it perfectly right every time. That's called being human.

Good point
I personally don't like perfect playing, sounds like a computer to me when that happens. I have friends that love the prog stuff so everyone is different.

Also on main point I used to feel that way about pedals. If I had too many then it would be cheating. It took awhile but I finally decided that it doesn't really matter either way since it just colors the tone. Whatever.
1. The SG stands for “solid guitar.”
A little sloppiness is human, and, in fact, makes your playing yours.
You don't NEED to be 100% technically sound to be a good player.
Obviously there's a limit, but sloppiness isn't the worst thing in the world.
Look at Jimmy Page.
He's considered one of the best players ever, and he was sloppy as hell live.
It's all about having fun with it.
Technique is important, but not as important as the final result.
If it sounds good, it's good.
Yes, you are cheating and you should be ashamed of yourself.
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"Pffft," I say to you.

I was joking of course. However, once I start playing without a board, my playing did improve quite a lot.
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^ as I said, depends on what you're playing. If you learn e.g. a metal riff that's even remotely complicated unplugged, you'll most likely find it's a total mess if you play it the same way with distortion.

I've been playing acoustic parallel to electric since forever and I still find playing acoustic way easier, even if playing fast takes a bit more effort. :P
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
There's no point in trying to convince a moron.
I thought I was a tight player, until I started recording myself.
Since then I've really started focussing on getting everything I play absolutely perfect and it's really rewarding, even if it did originally sound when I was just practicing it alone.

In regards to effects and stuff being 'cheating', thats not really the best way to think about it. Think of that stuff as a means of getting a certain sound. If something needs more gain, use more gain. If something sounds better on the neck pickup, play it on the neck pickup. And I don't really mean it as in your playing sounding better, I just mean the tone. If the tone is more appropriate on a bridge pickup without effects, but your playing isn't as clean sounding, then you should work on making your playing cleaner and tighter. Don't use that stuff as an easy option if it can be done better with a little work.
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people can hide behind effects. in fact, a lot of people write really simple music and it just sounds cool cause if their massive amounts of effects. a lot of indie music is becoming that way.

at the other end of the spectrum is a band who gets THIER tone by using effects and they are still incredible. examples would be royal blood (bass player using effects to sound like a guitar) and Jack White. same goes for U2's the edge use of delay. his music is still very well respected and its still not easy to sound like him. therei s a lot of skill behind it and what went into the song writing. its not shredding, but when it comes to composing a peice of work i dont think anybody is going to say the Edge isnt good at what he does.

is it cheating that they are sounding like something they arent all because of effects? suppose you could say that. i doubt you will ever find anybody who says royal blood and jack white are not amazing musicians.

if you could say SRV cheated by using Dumbles and he wouldnt be the same player without, Randy Rhoades only sounded good because he used a distortion plus pedal, and van halen......etc etc...

yeah people select pickups based on those characteristics. output, the tonal frequency / EQ, response, can all make some more clear or more muddy, also depending on if they are more suited to playing higher gain music or clean. thats just selecting the right tool for the job.

thats like saying buying the super awesome craftsman hammer for 40 bucks is cheating over the 12 dollar standard wooden handled one. two people still hammer nails the same. maybe all day of hammering the clear preference is the nice hammer.

BUT...is clicking on the light delay on a solo to get a bit "bigger" and more sustained sound kinda cheating? sorta. still my playing, it just sounds a bit more "epic" with the delay on. i still and playing and doing the vibrato, etc. i dont consider that cheating. its just a little extra pepper on the meal....
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Last edited by ikey_ at Nov 1, 2015,
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One of my favorite bits by Bailey.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Pure tone.

I'm not a guitarist, I'm a 'DOD Grunge pedalist.'
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Quote by Raijouta
Unless its electronic drums.

if you are using fx to cover up your crappy playing then sure it's a cheat. for the rest of us fx are just another tool. practice more and you won't feel like your cheating. i rarely use fx (except an overdrive) to practice unless i am working on a song and need to work on the fx cues to play with a band. keeps me honest.
When practicing, surely you either practice with clean sound(to improve your articulation) or practice with distortion (to improve cleanliness in your playing).

But for performance, you can choose to use whatever effects to make your playing sounds polished and great sounding, it's not cheating, it takes skill.
So keep on rocking

best regard