#1
and my abilities as a player... as brutal & harsh as it was -> he's absolutely right.

So my question is what are your opinions on effects and the implementation of them?

Is it wrong for a song to be dependent on certain effects or is it just another added dimension?

Because I feel like I should earn my keep as player by messing around with acoustic for awhile and if I do play electric it should be with minimal effects.
#2
I'm no pro electric-guitarist, but the only effects/pedals I use is a distortion (I like the crunchy sound), a chorus (I dunno why I choose it, it just sounds cool when blended with the distortion), and a delay (sometimes) pedal.

I wouldn't say it's wrong to add effects to your playing. Just when there's so much effects that it covers up your playing, then I'd probably say is too much.

The majority of my practicing, I play with my electric guitar unplugged. (I sometimes try to get a few couple minutes of practice into my day. And sometimes I'm busy, so I don't have the time to unpack all those cables, get my amp, then connect my guitar and amp to my iRig, and my iRig to my computer.
#3
Depends on the type of sound you want. If you're using effects to achieve a certain sound, I don't see what's wrong with it. And there's also the issue of taste involved. Some people like as raw a sound as possible from a guitar while others prefer a more experimental take on it.

Personally, in terms of actual guitar tone, I do like a simple set up but I enjoy good and interesting use of effects that affect more the sound than tone. Noveller and RATM are both dependant on effects to get their sound while bands like Free and SRV have pretty simple set ups. In the end it's all preference. I like both.
Last edited by Arron_Zacx at Mar 8, 2016,
#4
I'd say it's not so great if you're using them so heavily that you're covering up your mistakes. If you can't even hear when you make a mistake you don't get that feedback that says "Hey you just screwed up. Pay attention to that next time" and so nothing changes. Then when you have to play without your effects suddenly you're not as good as you though you were.

That's not to say that effects are bad. It's a matter of taste. But if you're using them really heavily and not spending enough time playing without them your technique won't improve as much as if you were playing clean or with a little distortion.

On the other hand, if you don't spend a lot of time playing with effects you won't learn how to really use them. The best example I know of is Tom Morello. He can get some crazy sounds out of his effects, but you can tell that he's in control of the sounds he's making. I don't know how great of a player he is without them, haven't listened to him a whole lot, but I'm sure he's no slouch clean.

There are differences in playing with effects, with just distortion, clean, acoustic, and how much time you spend on each of those determines how good you get at each, but I personally think that the most practice time shouldn't be with a crap ton of effects until your technique and ear have gotten good enough that you can know when you've screwed up even when you can't hear it, or when you can hear through the effects (depends on the effects)

Mistake will always be made, they just get fewer and smaller as you develop, but you can't fix them if you can't hear them.
#5
I think what many people here are saying is that effects are often a crutch to help cover up a lack of good fundamental technique.

I'd say that maybe 80% of the songs in my bands songlist call for nothing more than an amp with various levels of drive and tone controls and some reverb and possibly a compressor. That doesn't mean they all sound the same. I get the variety of sounds I want depending on how I set up the amp for that particular song, but more importantly how I play it; power stroking, arpeggios, palm muting, pick and finger techniques, chicken-pickin', harmonics, coloration chords and fills, slide, etc. Many of these techniques have faded out of favor replaced by effects. But there are no effects that can simulate those techniques.

So you have to ask yourself, do I just want to be one of the crowd only differentiated by the number of effects I can buy, or do I want to be differentiated by my technique and sounds which sets me apart by doing things the other people can't simulate with pedals?
Last edited by dunedindragon at Mar 8, 2016,
#6
Quote by The4thHorsemen
The best example I know of is Tom Morello. He can get some crazy sounds out of his effects, but you can tell that he's in control of the sounds he's making. I don't know how great of a player he is without them, haven't listened to him a whole lot, but I'm sure he's no slouch clean.


For what it's worth, he did take lessons from Michael Angelo Batio.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#8
Screw your friend, a guys gotta have some effects in his life, if not its boring.
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#9
First off, aside from technique, a good amp is really the crucial element in a tone. In my youth, I used a lot of FX to mask the inherent terribleness of my cheap solid state amp. If you have a good amp, no FX are required to get a good tone, and adding FX then builds on a good foundation.

Second, settings are important, I'm taking a wild guess here and assuming you play with way too much gain, reverb and delay, and maybe chorus. Roll back the gain, a lot, take off the delay unless you're playing leads ( and set it so it doesn't interfere rhythmically with your playing) and dial down or take off the chorus. Reverb is crucial, but don't overdo it - use less reverb on high gain settings and more on cleaner settings, that's the general rule.
#10
When I sit down and learn songs I usually do it with an acoustic or an unplugged guitar. I never thought about it much and I don't do it that way by design I usually do it because I'm too lazy to plug into an amp. Even if I do plug in I just use a nice clean set up with little to no effects. As I said I never gave it much thought but I know when I go out to play a gig I can handle the song without effects if I have to. I am fairly basic with my effects. I will use overdrive, chorus, delay, reverb and sometimes a compressor. That's about it and I think I use them sparingly (at least that's my view). I always considered myself a good rhythm player so I like to keep it simple, strong and clear. Solo's are another matter but even those don't get much more than overdrive and delay.

That's just me. I own a box full of effects pedals and several multi effects pedals but even those are programmed for just the basics. I have been playing for 40 years and during the first 10 years of my playing life there were very few effects pedals. I think there were just fuzz (I had a Mosrite), Wah Wah (I had a Maestro Boomerang) and Phase Shifter (I had a Maestro then an MXR Phase 90) so I am use to not having many effects.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Mar 8, 2016,
#11
It's all about the tones you want to achieve. Don't use effects to cover up your mistakes. Use them to achieve the sound you are after. There is nothing wrong with using a lot of effects. Do what sounds good. But usually if an effect masks your mistakes, you don't really sound good either (because your sound will most likely be just pure noise).

What would be the point of effects if you shouldn't use them? Use them as much as you want, but always use them for a purpose. Use them musically.
Quote by AlanHB
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Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#12
maybe your buddy doesn't use enough
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
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#13
Effects are only a means to an end.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#14
agreed, but you could make an argument that so is technique.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
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#15
What genres and what FX?

A lot of recordings I hear posted on the fora sound over-processed to me, so maybe you buddy was saying too many sounds and not enough notes? FWIW, my mate plays in a pub rock band, and I think he uses too much OD/distortion, but he is pretty well back in the mix, so it sounds OK, more or less. - But I would rather hear it cleaner and further forward in the mix.
#17
I think the question is "why" are you using the effects.

Are you using them because they are there?
Are you using them so that you can be louder in the mix?
Are you using them because they sound better for the part you wrote for the song?

If it's the first two reasons, yes, too much effects. Or too much pointless effects, more to the point.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#18
^This.

And yeah so is technique Dave. Tools in the toolbox.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#19
^ yeah. and yeah pretty much what alan said too.

i know i was being a wee bit tongue in cheek when i said "maybe your buddy isn't using enough", but there was a bit of serious comment there too- there are some annoying types who act like it's only valid if you plug straight in and act like it's not "pure" if you use effects, and that's silly too IMO. not using them when they would be useful is just as silly as using them when you don't need them.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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Et tu, br00tz?
#21
Nothing wrong with evolving with the technology! Use effects as much as you want, as long as it doesn't overwhelm the listener. Of course, it helps to actually be good and not depend on sound effects to sound like a great player.

But don't worry about taking advantage of what you got. Life without effects is pretty dull after a while XD
#22
That's a very layered issue, and I've been spending alot of time thinking as well as discussing with some of the local cats in my area.

First, there are places for both - there's certain sound that regardless of your technique, you won't get it unless you use that specific pedal. Vice versa, there's certain nuances in the way you play the guitar that no effect gonna compensate, and sometimes those little nuances are the difference between having soul vs "soulless."

It's important to maximize both aspects of your playing. Sure, having impeccable techniques might take a little longer to achieve but that goes back to the previous point - there's a spectrum in which one can't compensate for another.

I've seen some guys who had eye watering board yet can't freakin subdivide time for goodness sake. I rather they not play and I imagine if his bandmates were any good, they would agree.

And I've seen some great players who can melt their heart to their hands and make that guitar cry yet they lose out all the musical possibilities of effect pedals because they were too much of purists.

Another aspect of this issue is also the way in which one views music, which largely depends on the genre of music one plays. Especially music genre that relies heavily on improvisation, it's more important to be able to communicate a story rather than being flashy. And thus, in these scenarios, having a certain sense of musical sensitivities that directly and successfully translate to your hands are much more important. But if it's the U2 ambient rock sound, understanding your options with the effects are crucial in achieving that sound.

Regardless, having good techniques would benefit even with music that requires more effects. I've seen couple times guitarists who, because they have a good sense of dynamic and a deep undestanding of how different amount of force one strikes the string with would significantly change the tone of the guitar, can really add another layer to the music even after having wrapped up in all kind of effects.

If I can use an analogy here - it's like being a painter. Having effects is like having different selection of color paints. Can you still make a black and white painting excellent? Absolutely. However, imagine if that same artist has opened himself up to the different types of paints over his lifetime, one can only imagine the kind of places his creative mind would have led him to. And of course, having all that equipments but he can't paint, then well, he can't paint.
#23
The main part of my tone is a tube amp and my fingers. I'm running Fender amps right now, and I like Peaveys a lot too, they are built to hold up to roadie abuse.

I also use my fingers to afaect tone. Picking hard versus picking soft or finger picking can make a difference, without ever touching a pedal or the volume knob. I use a volume pedal, so I never touch the knob anyway.

On my pedal board I have 4 effects, in this order -

Arion analog delay, Ibanez Phaser, Marshall Bluesbreaker Overdrive, Ibanez SD9 distortion. Then I have a Schaller volume pedal and A/B switch for when i run dual amp or both channels of the Super Reverb. Those are not effects, but tools.

I use the distortion and overdrive a half dozen times a night or so, the delay is almost always on, phaser is used once a night usually, now and then I get a wild hair and decide to use it when I normally don't.

I use effects to accent my sound, not to create it. You have to start with a good sound, then use effects to build on that. I also find that effects work better on a clean amp than a distorted one. I've tried both ways.

As someone else said, when I learn songs I usually play either an acoustic or an unplugged hollow body guitar. Even when I do play an amp at home I almost never plug in any effects, I like to try and get the best clean sound I can. Onstage I try to use effects sparingly, and to add to the sound, rather than create it.

When I play clean I don't even use reverb. The Fender Champ I use at home for a practice amp doesn't have reverb, never did. When I play the Super Reverb onstage, I usually set it very low. As in about 2 to 2 1/2 on the knob. I got so accustomed to playing with out reverb i never miss it, and half the time I set up, do a sound check and play a 4 hour gig and never realize I didn't even turn reverb on at all.

For band practice all I bring is the distortion pedal, I set it with the gain fairly low, and it works well. That and volume pedal is all that ever gets plugged in for band practice. Usually I play clean, once we get a song ready I do it with the distortion pedal and without to sew what sound works. The overdrive is set as basically a clean boost, analog delay for one light slap back you barely even notice, phaser on a middle of the road setting but rarely used at all.

So probably 3/4 of the time I'm playing with just amp and fingers on stage. I can control volume level and tone to a degree by just changing the way I play. That's one of the great things about tube amps, they respond to the way you play.

I guess where effects are concerned, the main thing to remember is use them to accent your sound, not create it. I use effects as sparsely as I can. Learn songs clean or acoustic so you hear every little thing. Turn the gain down onstage and at band practice, you need a lot less than you may think. The gain knob on my distortion pedal stays at about the 9 o'clock position. That's really low, and I get plenty gain for anything but metal. That's the number one mistake I see beginner and intermediate players make. The high gain that sounds great by yourself in the bedroom makes your sound turn to pure mud once you add in a full band and a lot higher volume levels. I had to learn the hard way too. I cranked the gain on the same pedal to the 2 or 3 o'clock position for at least 5 years...and wondered why it was so muddy...Found out by accident one night when I didn't check it, just plugged in and played due to time constraints, gain was a lot lower than I usually had it, sound was much better. I've played that way ever since.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#24
I guess where effects are concerned, the main thing to remember is use them to accent your sound, not create it.

Well, in most cases this does apply (if you want a "normal" guitar sound). But it's all about what you are after. Tom Morello would disagree with you, same with Edge. Their tone is all about effects.

If you are after some weird sounds, the effects definitely do create your sound. And there's nothing wrong with that. But yeah, when it comes to "normal" guitar sounds, I agree.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#25
Effects should just be another color on you palette that you use to achieve the sound you want to achieve. As many have already said in this thread, don't allow the effects to cover up sloppy play. As long as your technique is good use the effects when and how you want. They can provide variety and keep things interesting. What would the intro to "Welcome to the Jungle" be without that delay? What would "Nobody's Fault But Mine" be without that flanger\phaser?
Guitar - Ibanaz GAX70
Amp - Marshall Vintage Modern 2266 Combo
Pedals - Maxon OD9, Ibanez AD9, MXR Phase 90, MXR Analog Chorus
#26
Gotta strike a balance, I used to play just straight into tube amp with solo boost pedal, but got called out for not cutting through the mix and sounding the same all the time, so I got a boss multi fx pedal to broaden out a bit with delay, chorus, etc.

That said though it gets annoying sometimes playing with someone who keeps faffing about with pedals all the time, esp when they get tangled up trying to do pedals and play at the same time.

I still maintain that the ultimate guitar tone is simply straight into a tube amp set at the right point to break up when pushed. Gives me goosebumps!
#27
Effects are only rarely musical in themselves. Most of the time I'm using either straight clean or light overdrive, no delay or reverb.

Practice and learn without any effects, and you'll hear pretty quickly whether you're playing cleanly.
#28
As I said earlier, I think there is a difference between using effects to cover up your mistakes and using effects to achieve cool/weird sounds.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#29
^ definitely.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#30
It's often said in recording circles that if you can hear a compressor working on a track, you are using too much compression the idea being that the sound melds into the track without being obvious. I feel somewhat the same about effects on the guitar including overdrive and distortion. If the notes you are playing are being obscured or buried behind the effect, you are using too much effect.

Maybe it's just a personal thing. I play in a band where vocals and harmony are the important part and the playing is there to support it (at least in most cases). I have to limit the effects or it pulls the audience away from the vocals.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Mar 27, 2016,
#31
I don't understand this idea of distortion obscuring notes or burying them or covering up mistakes or whatever that people talk about so much. Maybe they are just using really bad/weird distortion because from my experience distortion tends to make mistakes that much more obvious rather than the other way around. Maybe people just don't understand that a distorted guitar behaves differently than a clean guitar and just don't account for it in their playing and blame distortion when really the problem is that they are using the wrong techniques.
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#32
^ yeah. there are definitely instances where distortion can make things easier, but distortion also makes things harder in other ways.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#33
The only thing it really makes easier is that it compresses dynamics to hide uneven picking strokes and weak legato, but that's not really always a mistake since when playing in the 10+ notes per second range, it slowly grows exponentially more difficult until the point of near impossible to have strong, even notes at usable volume when played clean.

Now filters type effects such as phaser and wah and also delay will actually cover up mistakes.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
Last edited by theogonia777 at Mar 27, 2016,
#34
You can bury anything with wah. It's almost a percussion instrument.

I agree distortion doesn't cover anything up except poor dynamics. Although if you're using a crappy distortion or amp, your instrument becomes nearly monophonic as you lose all harmonic clarity.
#35
^ yeah you can definitely use wah to make you sound faster or better than you are. again though good players will use it to do things that you couldn't without it. and a better player will sound better with wah than a bad player.

Quote by theogonia777
(a) The only thing it really makes easier is that it compresses dynamics to hide uneven picking strokes and weak legato, but that's not really always a mistake since when playing in the 10+ notes per second range, it slowly grows exponentially more difficult until the point of near impossible to have strong, even notes at usable volume when played clean.

(b) Now filters type effects such as phaser and wah and also delay will actually cover up mistakes.


(a) Yeah. As you said, a lot of the people who are using a lot of gain are also playing stuff which is difficult if not impossible to play without a lot of gain- I wouldn't really consider that to be "covering up mistakes".

(b) depending on what type of delay you're using it could be making your mistakes more noticeable by repeating them for you
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#36
I learned a lot from watching Pro Guitar Shop demos on Youtube. I didn't learn just about effects, but also the dynamics of which they are used. It takes a good guitarist IMO to figure that out. It seems to me most other demos I watch or whenever I hear someone play, it has to be a distortion pedal cranked all the way up. I've always hated that. I'd say keep practicing, even with the effects, but pay more attention to your playing vs. the effect itself and tone it down accordingly. I believe the effects pedals should be used as a "sugar coating".
You may be able to figure out where certain sweet spots are on the pedal quicker, which in turn will make it more enjoyable to use. Unfortunately you'll be adding a second level of practicing to your practice (first practicing playing guitar and also practicing with the pedal at the same time). Just my opinion though, I could be completely off with that.
#37
Quote by theogonia777
Maybe people just don't understand that a distorted guitar behaves differently than a clean guitar and just don't account for it in their playing and blame distortion when really the problem is that they are using the wrong techniques.


I think you hit the nail on the coffin there. That's why I've always followed the mantra of practice the same line with clean, half-gain, than full gain to make sure I used proper and appropriate techniques with each.

A good example I think is sweeping. Someone who's used to do sweep acoustically may find their sweeping becoming extremely muddy because at higher distortion, lifting the finger without properly muting them can cause unwanted noise. Vice versa, someone who's used to do it with distortion may find their notes become muted when they turn down the gain, because their hands aren't synchronizing well, and the distortion sometimes mask that.
#38
If you're concerned about whether the effects are right for the song, here's my litmus test. First, I try to establish what the point of the song is. Then I try to boil that down to one word. In other words: if someone were to ask, "What's this song about?" you should be able to answer that question in one or two words, rather than a lengthy dissertation.

That one word (in my experience) is usually an emotion (jealousy, happiness, sadness, etc,) or an action word (escaping, fighting, whatever). This is the point of the song. Once you have that, you can eliminate a number of effects and focus on the ones that help get that point across. Your selection may change from moment to moment as the song unfolds, but if your choice for that effect helps enhance that point, then use it without shame. You probably won't need 10 pounds of distortion to tell a story about falling in love, but if that love ended tragically it might be just the thing.

Some of the other posts caution about using effects to cover up poor technique and I would have to agree. When you have good technique and you're choosing your effects based on the point of the song, you really take all of your playing to the next level. Don't worry about "earning your keep" on an acoustic. If you're going to be primarily an electric guitar player, go electric. There's plenty of advice here on the forum to help you come up with a great practice routine.

One final note: listen to the music your favorite bands and when you hear an effect, try to answer for yourself why they chose to use that effect. Hint: the answer in this case can't be, "Because it sounds cool." Why did they use a chorus instead of a flanger? What's up with all that delay? Answering questions like this about your favorite bands will help you develop your own taste and style.

Good Luck!