#1
I play mostly clean with heavy reverb and delay ( only pedals i have so far) and i want to give my clean tone just a little more flavor. Its difficult because i really doing know what I'm looking for. A friend of mine plays clean tone with an overdrive pedal just barely on so it gives ita more oomph without distorting the clarity.

I've been watching videos trying to get inspiration but I'm not sure. I know its a vague question but have you got any ideas?
#2
Man, do you have options!

There's all kinds of effects that- used with moderation- can do all kinds of nice things to your tone, as the greats have found.

David Gilmour occasionally uses Leslie rotating cabs dialed in for a subtle warble. Here's a guy using a Boss RT-20 rotary pedal to simulate the Leslie effect on "Shine On You Crazy Diamond":


According to a recent interview, Tom Scholz used a slight detune effect- just a couple of cents- to "double" his guitar. Lots of blues guys use a little overdrive to thicken theirs.

Univibes, fuzzes, chorus, distortion...
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#3
I don't often see a lot of clean players utilize a wah - maybe they reckon it up to a shredders device.  They are quite useful as a notch filter.  Utilize it with an eq, then you can strategically eq your signal particular to a placement on the wah.  It's nice because you can change as you're playing.  A lot of people are anti the half-cock wah sound, mainly because a lot of people playing Zeppelin made it cliche.  Regardless it's a fun thing to experiment with.


Something I've always considered trying is splitting the signal three ways, eq and effect differently, then return them back to a mixer pedal and out to the rest of the rig.  For example, splitting into three.  Line 1 bass eq and light fuzz. Line 2 mid eq and chorus.  Line 3 treble eq and reverb with a very brief delay.  I don't know how it'd sound.  But I'm interested in the potentials of placing effects on particular frequencies and what that could allow for in terms of tone shaping.
"I definitely don’t write all my music in a blackout, like I used to, although I did come up with some good stuff in a blackout."
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#4
I always loved Chorus with clean (and dirty/distorted) tones.  IMO it's right up there with Reverb & Delay.  Just a little dash of Chorus can add a lot of flavor and they can imitate a Leslie effect at higher/maxed settings.  
Last edited by Way Cool JR. at Jun 26, 2017,
#5
The biggest mistake I see when people play clean is that their sound is too clean, making it anemic. Personally, I'd turn up the gain on the amp or use an od to where I get some breakup if I strum hard. You can then turn the guitar volume down to around 7 if need be. This will give you a fatter, punchier sound with more dynamics. A little delay or reverb will give you more space and fill out in between notes and a very slight chorus can give you more movement. Slight compression will also make your sound more alive.
Originally Posted by evening_crow
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#6
My answer to this is the right amp (bright) and pickups (mostly P90s),  with subtle reverb (I use it mixed with clean) and compression to add "squish" or "sag" when playing hard to give a swampy type sound. .I've also used OD enough to appreciate that this can  be used to add interest, turned low so that it only becomes apparent when you lay in fairly hard, as suggested by evening_crow . The other thing I can do on my amp, which is similar to using an OD pedal, is use the gain channel with the gain turned low enough to be almost clean, and the volume turned up the desired amount. This give a thicker sound than the clean channel, but there is some sacrifice in clarity.

EDIT It has judge occurred to me that good picking dynamics and careful use of string damping are the best way to spice up your tone.
Last edited by Tony Done at Jun 27, 2017,
#7
An arpeggiator or random tone generator- again, at some of the lower settings- can add a bit of wobble & chaos to your tone.
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!
#8
Lots of very good posts here. The most obvious Option that came to my mind was use an OD but my music is a mix of prog metal/post rock with ambient guitar so i didn't want to "dirty" my tone again.

I really like warm guitar tones so maybe something to make my tone have a more bottom end sound. Not sure what pedal would help with that...

I was thinking of getting a lofi pedal like a zvex instant lofi junkie. Even just having that on a very low setting will add a little something i think.
#9
Some options:
- A little OD to add harmonics and thickness
- Compessor to add sustain
- EQ to tailor tone
- Harmonic exciter to add sparkle

Many times a more "woody" clean sound came be obtained by using the amp's distortion channel, and rolling back the guitar neck pickup volume.
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#10
+1 on chorus and/or rotary. 

I dig what Smashing Pumpkins do with their clean tone; phaser or flanger, speed pretty low, depth high. Depending on the pedal, regen to taste. Nice bit of warble and shimmer. Just depends on what you're doing specifically for genre tho. Thru the eyes of ruby, rhinoceros, Mayonnaise are examples I like with different fx. 
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Last edited by Maidenheadsteve at Jun 27, 2017,
#11
Quote by FlawlessSubZero
...I was thinking of getting a lofi pedal like a zvex instant lofi junkie. Even just having that on a very low setting will add a little something i think.

There are no subtle settings on the Lo-Fi Junkie. On one side it's heavy compression and the other vibrato on top of the compressed signal. Anything in between results in chorusing over a heavily compressed signal.

Very slight breakup and picking dynamics are your best bet. Anything else is pure texture.
Originally Posted by evening_crow
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#12
Quote by FlawlessSubZero
Lots of very good posts here. The most obvious Option that came to my mind was use an OD but my music is a mix of prog metal/post rock with ambient guitar so i didn't want to "dirty" my tone again.

I really like warm guitar tones so maybe something to make my tone have a more bottom end sound. Not sure what pedal would help with that...

I was thinking of getting a lofi pedal like a zvex instant lofi junkie. Even just having that on a very low setting will add a little something i think.


Mmmm...perhaps something like a poly octave generator, octave, or octave-fuzz. Any of those could add a little low end. So could a pitch shifter like the EHX Pitch Fork.
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!
#14
A little flange can be fun:
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!
#15
I play with cleans a lot. I like my cleans very clean with reverb, delay or chorus or a combination of these.  I'm talking really clean, not mostly clean with a little break up but clean, clear sound. If I only could use one effects box to improve a clean tone it would be a decent compressor. It boosts your overall volume while controlling the level and adding some nice sustain. Be careful, it's easy to over use. If you are looking for a dirtier tone go for a Tube Screamer or clone.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Jun 27, 2017,
#16
Quote by FlawlessSubZero
I play mostly clean with heavy reverb and delay ( only pedals i have so far) and i want to give my clean tone just a little more flavor. Its difficult because i really doing know what I'm looking for. A friend of mine plays clean tone with an overdrive pedal just barely on so it gives ita  more oomph without distorting the clarity.

I've been watching  videos trying to get inspiration but I'm not sure. I know its a vague question but have you got any ideas?

Get a 10 band EQ pedal, you would be amazed at the different clean sounds you can get.
If you're into modulation try a detune pedal over a chorus, it colors the sound less IMO.
#17
Chorus, Vibrato, Tremolo, Phaser and Flanger, are all great pedals to add some movement to your cleans. I have listed them in my opinion from the least intrusive to the more heavy sounding modulation effects. For a nice spread I like using stereo chorus. You must be very cautious when and how to use modulation or you would sound like an old band. Used correctly they can make your cleans vibrant and add depth to the tone. 

I also like compressors, particularly, the Dynacomp. It is not a clean compressor, it changes the tone, but I find it very flattering to my single coiled strat. I also really enjoy playing the microamp. It is a offered as clean boost but it shapes the tone. It seems to get rid of some low end and push the midrange a bit more. I did not enjoy cleaner boosts as much as I enjoy the micro amp. I think I like the dynacomp for the same EQ in the pedal like the microamp. Getting rid of some low end cleans the sound. Much like to what a TS9 does to a dirty amp, tightens the low end and pushes the midrange.

You may also wish to add another delay. Having a dirty short delay into a long clean delay and then into the reverb. 
#18
Quote by Gab_Azz
You must be very cautious when and how to use modulation or you would sound like an old band. 

?
#19
Quote by 33db
?

Sometimes pedals like a phaser can make you sound 70s and a chorus sound like 80s. Tremolo could make you sound even more vintage. If that is the sound you are going for, there is nothing wrong with it and they generally sound good. But if you want to sound modern you have to use them a bit differently. You use the same effects but in a different way. It is not that the pedals are not good, but they require a different approach.
#20
Quote by Badluckpalms
I don't often see a lot of clean players utilize a wah - maybe they reckon it up to a shredders device.  They are quite useful as a notch filter.


Wah pedals are like everywhere in funk. Ain't you never heard that percussive wah pedal "waka-waka" before? Also while the wah pedal kept static as a filter is a neat idea and has certainly been used by many guitarists, I do have to say that a notch filter is technically a very narrow band-stop filter that kills a vary narrow frequency band to prevent hum (usually the 50/60hz electrical hum) or feedback rather than a boost.
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#21
For super clean sounds I'd say a very good starting point is putting top dollar in amazing boutique pickups:
Joe Barden, Arcane, etc.

I'd say start from there first.

A little hair (overdrive - cleanish like Voodoolabs Sparkle drive) might be a good thing, or a bit more gain from the amp to get a slightly more "pushed" tone and play around with your volume and tone pots, watch Jeff Beck to see how it is done.
#22
Quote by theogonia777
Wah pedals are like everywhere in funk.  Ain't you never heard that percussive wah pedal "waka-waka" before?  Also while the wah pedal kept static as a filter is a neat idea and has certainly been used by many guitarists, I do have to say that a notch filter is technically a very narrow band-stop filter that kills a vary narrow frequency band to prevent hum (usually the 50/60hz electrical hum) or feedback rather than a boost.



"I don't often" does not equal "never."  So I'll say it again, I don't often see guitar players use a wah when playing clean.  

Also, you're right, I should have said it's a bandpass filter - that said, it made literally no difference to the point I was making.

Cheers
"I definitely don’t write all my music in a blackout, like I used to, although I did come up with some good stuff in a blackout."
-Matt Fucking Pike
#23
Options...




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!
#25
Also, I use the Digitech Nautilus and I would suggest a different chorus pedal, in fact I already suggested detune which gives a chorus like effect without the coloration in a standard chorus pedal.

TBYB (try before you buy)
#26


An overdrive pedal (or a boost) set to really low drive, or an amp on the verge of breakup with just a touch of grit can really liven up cleans. Boosting a tube amps front end to get some compression and grit when you dig in allows expressive variations depending on pick attack/intensity.

A compressor can help too; especially if you need a more consistent tone (funk rhythms and the like) or some more sustain.

Modulation such as chorus, tremolo, flanger or phaser can provide a bit of movement/depth to sounds too.

Reverbs and delays can also sound great and be inspiring to play.

It really depends on the kind of cleans you want...


For more low end, you could try an ep boost (thickens up the lows a fair bit), or a decent univibe clone (modulation, with a nice low end in it's lfo sweep). An eq pedal could help too for tone shaping, you can do a lot with just an eq.
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Last edited by mulefish at Jun 27, 2017,
#27
I think we all forgot to say the most important thing though - if your progressions are cool, it wouldn't matter even if you play them straight into the board with just a touch of ambient room reverb or anything, it is all about the songwriting, all the effects are little sprinkles of icing on top of the cake.

One of the main reason why I recommend pickup changes in this instance - I went for Joe Barden soapbars in my Godin and the whole thing just opened up 3 dimensionally by itself...and that now is my main tone. It sounds godly even thru some 2006 modeling tech.
#28
Quote by diabolical
I think we all forgot to say the most important thing though - if your progressions are cool, it wouldn't matter even if you play them straight into the board with just a touch of ambient room reverb or anything, it is all about the songwriting, all the effects are little sprinkles of icing on top of the cake.

One of the main reason why I recommend pickup changes in this instance - I went for Joe Barden soapbars in my Godin and the whole thing just opened up 3 dimensionally by itself...and that now is my main tone. It sounds godly even thru some 2006 modeling tech.

It's true, just a good guitar and amp clean can be the best.

There's also a thing that happened for me where I basically got addicted to delay in all my solos.
I just couldn't have a straight solo with no delay, kinda handicapped me, I'm over it now (sort of).
#29
Quote by diabolical
I think we all forgot to say the most important thing though - if your progressions are cool, it wouldn't matter even if you play them straight into the board with just a touch of ambient room reverb or anything, it is all about the songwriting, all the effects are little sprinkles of icing on top of the cake.


While this is a good point, there is a lot more to music than just note selections and melodies and chord progressions. Things like timbre and texture can create whole worlds of music with almost no chord changes (and sometimes legitimately no chord chsnges) and no real melody to speak of. Ambient, drone, found sound, free improv, noise, etc all draw on sound and atmosphere rather than relying entirely on riffs and chord progressions and things of that nature. In some cases you don't even need any definite or intentionally pitched sounds to create compelling music.

While you shouldn't have to rely on things like effects to make compelling music, there is nothing wrong with create music that does. Sometimes just eating plain icing with no cake is great.
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#31
More options:



Just to clarify: I know I'm posting all kinds of pedals. But like I said, almost any pedal can be dialed in subtly to shape your tone in new and interesting ways. 33db mentioned he didn't care for the Nautilus in this regard, but if you watch the video, Andy does demonstrate some minimalist settings that make for nice "cleans".
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!
#32
The biggest problem I'm seeing is that we don't know what type of cleans TS wants. He mentioned he wants more bottom end. What kind of guitar, amp, and genre are we talking? The first thing I'd look at is gain, compression, and eq. Those are the fundamental elements that go into a clean sound and encompass playing dynamics, pickup selection, picking technique, type of picks/strings, amp settings, volume, etc... most clean sounds aren't actually vey clean (just like distorted ones don't have as much gain as people perceive).

The reason I bring that up is that I personally don't think modulation is the answer. It's a nice texture,
but it won't fix your actual problem. To me that's just polishing a turd. Plus, it's really easy to over use those effects and end up sounding gimmicky. Delay and reverb are more effective at sweetening what you do have.

I guess what I'm ting to say is: is your dry clean tone good? If not, have you tried changing pickups, strings, amp settings, where you pick? If it is good but just not enough, try adding a compressor, eq, and/or gain. THAT should give you good cleans. Now, just to make them less dry, add some reverb and/or delay to make it sound more alive. That's your salt and pepper. Want to make it interesting and different for a particular song? That's where I'd go to modulation. To me that's where you start crossing over into composition itself. Subtlety is usually best unless a wet effected sound is what the song calls for.

Build up from the ground up so you can enhance your tone with each step rather than trying to mask or fix a problem that's not gonna go away.

YMMV but that's the approach that works for me.
Originally Posted by evening_crow
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Last edited by evening_crow at Jun 28, 2017,
#33
I love the sound my EQ boost pedal adds to a clean tone, discovered it by accident. This is with a tube amp, not sure if the effect would be the same on a solid state. 
#34
For a nice fat clean sound, I like a compressor and a J Rockett Blue Note.
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#35
It is my opinion that good cleans are 50% amp, 30% pickups, and 20% other stuff like pedals and the way you use your EQ.  Blackface fender amps are generally the thought of as the holy grail of clean tone because they have a much wider frequency response than most modern amps.  If getting a new amp isn't an option then try to EQ your amp to mimic a blackface.  This means keep the mids relatively low and turn the bass and treble relatively high.  If your cleans are too clean you are going to sound sterile so give your amp just enough gain to get a little breakup without sounding distorted.  A good example of what I'm talking about would be just about anything by SRV.  His "clean tone" is legendary but if you listen to it with a critical ear you will hear that it isn't really clean.  For pickups I think vintage output single coils are the best way to go.  Sure you can get good cleans with PAF's but it is my opinion that they don't do it as well as single coils.  If your guitar uses humbuckers then I'd consider swapping them for humbucker sized P90's because they give a wider frequency response and more top end bite than humbuckers.  My personal favorite pickups for cleans are the ones based on early 60's strat pickups.  They use formvar wire which gives you a bright tone with a lot of what I refer to as sparkle.  They have scooped mids and a loose, smooth, slightly fuzzy bass tone.  They are also wound slightly hotter than the pickups from the 50's and quite a bit hotter than the pickups from the late 60's.  A good compressor is also pretty important.  I know that seems to contradict what I said about turning up your bass and treble so I'll explain why it's important.  When you turn up your bass you can get a lot of rumble or even cause your amp to give you farting noises.  The compressor, used sparingly, gives you the ability to remove the lowest frequencies that cause the rumble while boosting the low frequencies that you actually want.  The compressor can also act as a clean boost making it easier to push your amp into that magic space with just the right amount of breakup.
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