#1
When I play and practice guitar, is it okay to always have my gain maxed? Lately, I been really anal about playing cleaner, so I always play with extremely high gain with distortion. So, if I'm playing sloppy, it will sound terrible because I can hear it very well (not to mention it is a FirstAct amp so that adds to it).

Are there any disadvantages to this? Am I putting too much stress on myself to get clean playing, especially since I've only been playing 6 months so far? Or is it good that I'm trying to get it figured out earlier?

Okay, on to the next thing... How the hell do I play this riff more clean?

  PM PM PM PM PM PM PM PM                  
  S  S  S  S  S  S  S  S  S S S S S S S S  
------------------------------------------|
------------------------------------------|
------------------------------------------|
--2--2--2--2--2--2--2--2------------------|
--2--2--2--2--2--2--2--2------------------|
--0--0--0--0--0--0--0--0--5-4-0-1-0-0-4-5-|


  PM PM PM PM PM PM PM PM                  
  S  S  S  S  S  S  S  S  S S S S S S S S  
------------------------------------------|
------------------------------------------|
------------------------------------------|
--2--2--2--2--2--2--2--2------------------|
--2--2--2--2--2--2--2--2----------------7-|
--0--0--0--0--0--0--0--0--5-7-8-4-5-7-8---| 


If anyone is curious, it's from Sequoia Throne by Protest the Hero.

For the the first section, when I play the open strings (in the 5 4 0 part), I find it difficult to take my finger off the low E string without accidentally taking my finger off another string. And even if by some chance I didn't take my finger off by accident, there would be absolutely no way I could do that at the regular speed it's normally played.

After I palm mute it, should I move my hand palm muting down one so it's muting every one besides the low E? Or is there an easier way to do it?

As for the second section, would it be okay if I bent my wrist more so my fingers naturally rest the strings? Or should I play with a less bent wrist and figure out a different way?

Sorry for the very long thread, but I really want to learn this song. With some more practice, maybe a couple days, I can get most of the tapping parts down... I think I'm probably better at tapping than playing normally... Hah.
Last edited by Dregen at Nov 2, 2008,
#2
Mute the other strings with your pinky finger on your picking hand when you palm mute, and when you don't just lift your palm. You should also play very relaxed, and practice it SLOW first until you a get a feel, then slowly speed it up. Hope that helps mate.


EDIT: Use alternate picking on the parts on the E string. If you are using good technique you shouldn't be touching other strings, but your right hand will mute them anyway. And yes, it's good you are trying to play clean =P
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Last edited by {Ѵëņŏmőůş} at Nov 2, 2008,
#3
Playing with really high gain and distortion hides your sloppyness and mistakes just so you know. You should play everything on the clean channel. That way you can hear every mistake or open/ringing notes that shouldn't be heard.
#4
Quote by Doc Smiley
Playing with really high gain and distortion hides your sloppyness and mistakes just so you know. You should play everything on the clean channel. That way you can hear every mistake or open/ringing notes that shouldn't be heard.

Trueeeeee, but you can't necessarily tell if you are muting perfectly on clean - so you should probably practice on both
#5
Quote by Doc Smiley
Playing with really high gain and distortion hides your sloppyness and mistakes just so you know. You should play everything on the clean channel. That way you can hear every mistake or open/ringing notes that shouldn't be heard.

No, it doesn't. Playing with lots of gain will quickly show every muting problem you have, because just barely touching a string will cause it to sound quite loudly. This is not the case when playing on clean.
The only bad thing I can think of about practicing with gain is that the differences in pick attack and other such dynamic nuances are much smaller, thus you won't have as much control over your dynamics as when you practice on clean. Also your legato technique has to be much better to make it sound good on clean.

Tl;dr: Practice both on clean and with gain like the poster above me said.
#6
Quote by which ones pink
No, it doesn't. Playing with lots of gain will quickly show every muting problem you have, because just barely touching a string will cause it to sound quite loudly. This is not the case when playing on clean.
The only bad thing I can think of about practicing with gain is that the differences in pick attack and other such dynamic nuances are much smaller, thus you won't have as much control over your dynamics as when you practice on clean. Also your legato technique has to be much better to make it sound good on clean.

Tl;dr: Practice both on clean and with gain like the poster above me said.


Playing with tons of gain will definitely accentuate any muting problems. So, it's good to practice with gain in order to deal with muting.

It seems to me that the main disadvantage of practicing ONLY with distortion is that you can't really tell if you're fretting a note properly. Ideally, you want to have your finger right behind the fret. If you don't do this properly, the note can often sound pretty weak, especially on the clean channel. There will also be lots of fret-buzz. But I find that if you're playing with lots of gain, that problem gets covered up, so you would mistakenly believe that you're fretting properly.

EDIT: whichonespink, I forgot to note also that you are dead-on correct regarding legato. If you practiced legato only with distortion, my guess is it would sound pretty bad if you then tried to do it clean. Eg, when you have tons of distortion, it takes almost no effort to do hammer-ons and pull-offs (pull-offs especially). Your pull-offs would probably sound weak when you try to play clean.
Last edited by tapitin at Nov 4, 2008,
#7
Pretty much what everyone else said. Playing with distortion is great for highlighting muting problems, especially when tapping. Regarding playing clean - one of the best things you can possibly do for your playing is spend some of your practice time not plugged in at all. If you can get it sounding good unplugged, it will sound awesome when you plug in as long you are also spending practice time plugged in so you work on muting problems.
#8
Hey, you don't have to play clean. some great musicians were pretty sloppy. Jimmy Hendrix was in all honesty a pretty sloppy player and so is Les Claypool.
#9
Quote by McFoss
Hey, you don't have to play clean. some great musicians were pretty sloppy. Jimmy Hendrix was in all honesty a pretty sloppy player and so is Les Claypool.

hahaha,

les claypool is sloppy?
#10
Quote by Chasepw133
hahaha,

les claypool is sloppy?


Well in Primus ya. He can play clean but I think the slop adds to his style.
#11
While practicing with a very distorted tone will force you to develop good dampening technique, it is possible that your control of dynamics may suffer. Correct control of dynamics an articulation is very difficult to practice with high gain.
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#12
Quote by McFoss
Hey, you don't have to play clean. some great musicians were pretty sloppy. Jimmy Hendrix was in all honesty a pretty sloppy player and so is Les Claypool.



For "Jimi" it was mainly his dirty crunch tone not his style, he also has incredible vibrato that pretty much no one can imitate.

I would agree if you said jimmy page and kirk hammet were sloppy
#14
Quote by Jimi-is-god
For "Jimi" it was mainly his dirty crunch tone not his style, he also has incredible vibrato that pretty much no one can imitate.

I would agree if you said jimmy page and kirk hammet were sloppy

To consider anyone of that caliber truly sloppy is a bit silly - though I'd definitely put Herman Li in that position, where its sloppy to the point where its a pain to listen to.
#15
Quote by McFoss
Well in Primus ya. He can play clean but I think the slop adds to his style.


I'm confused...where in the hell is the slop in Primus? I have several albums and everything is clean there.
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#16
Quote by Chasepw133
To consider anyone of that caliber truly sloppy is a bit silly - though I'd definitely put Herman Li in that position, where its sloppy to the point where its a pain to listen to.


Is Herman Li actually that sloppy? I've seen that horrible live performance where both guitarists are just pathetic... but it looks like they were drunk off their asses.

I don't like Dragonforce, so I've only listened to Fire and the Flames a couple times, but the solos sound pretty perfect to me. I don't know anything about recording techniques or ProTools, but is it possible to actually remove all the guitar noise that comes with sloppy playing and poor muting? Maybe he played with one of MAB's damping things.

Then again... there's also those lesson videos where they're embarrassingly sloppy, and they don't seem drunk... who knows?
#17
Quote by tapitin
Is Herman Li actually that sloppy? I've seen that horrible live performance where both guitarists are just pathetic... but it looks like they were drunk off their asses.

I don't like Dragonforce, so I've only listened to Fire and the Flames a couple times, but the solos sound pretty perfect to me. I don't know anything about recording techniques or ProTools, but is it possible to actually remove all the guitar noise that comes with sloppy playing and poor muting? Maybe he played with one of MAB's damping things.

Then again... there's also those lesson videos where they're embarrassingly sloppy, and they don't seem drunk... who knows?


In terms of studio work where they can sit down in a controlled environment and run the same solos over and over again until they get it right? They're both perfectly good gutarists but the fact of the matter is that they just can't pull it off live; I've seen them and to be honest there was more slop in their show than any other I've ever seen.
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#18
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
In terms of studio work where they can sit down in a controlled environment and run the same solos over and over again until they get it right?


That's a good point. But just from my playing experience, it seems like either you can mute or you can't mute. You play sloppy, or you don't play sloppy. I would think if you can play it once perfectly, then it's pretty ingrained. What I mean is, if I try to play something at a speed that's beyond my current ability, I could play it a thousand times and I'm never going to "accidentally" play it correctly and mute everything properly (I would need to sit down and practice it at a slow speed and work it up). But maybe that's just me.

Obviously, I'm not a a professional musician, but I've recorded a few songs on my computer, and I gotta say, as soon I hit the record button and I see that red light, I get pretty nervous! I'll immediately mess up something I've played perfectly a billion times. But doing something live has gotta be much more intense than studio.
#19
Quote by tapitin
That's a good point. But just from my playing experience, it seems like either you can mute or you can't mute. You play sloppy, or you don't play sloppy. I would think if you can play it once perfectly, then it's pretty ingrained. What I mean is, if I try to play something at a speed that's beyond my current ability, I could play it a thousand times and I'm never going to "accidentally" play it correctly and mute everything properly (I would need to sit down and practice it at a slow speed and work it up). But maybe that's just me.

Obviously, I'm not a a professional musician, but I've recorded a few songs on my computer, and I gotta say, as soon I hit the record button and I see that red light, I get pretty nervous! I'll immediately mess up something I've played perfectly a billion times. But doing something live has gotta be much more intense than studio.


1 - Live is more intense in my experience.

2 - In the studio you can do cunning things like wrap a sock around the neck of your guitar so none of the open strings sound even if you completely miss what you're aiming for
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#20
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
I'm confused...where in the hell is the slop in Primus? I have several albums and everything is clean there.


I knew I'd get burned for this. "Slop" might not be the right word. But certainly a loose imperfect playing style. Slop (as I'm calling it) can either be horrible or bad-ass, depending on the person. As for Claypool, listen to his bowing on "Coddingtown". It's crazy squeeky and I love it, I could just picture him playing it and saying "I don't give a damn how imperfect this is! I love it!" Words only have a negative conatation to them. Trent Reznor has also said that he always tries to make his music sound a little sloppy. To me, sloppy music sounds a little more personal than extremely tight music. Perfection is only a step away from boredom, once perfection is acheived what else is there to look foreward to?
#21
Quote by McFoss
I knew I'd get burned for this. "Slop" might not be the right word. But certainly a loose imperfect playing style. Slop (as I'm calling it) can either be horrible or bad-ass, depending on the person. As for Claypool, listen to his bowing on "Coddingtown". It's crazy squeeky and I love it, I could just picture him playing it and saying "I don't give a damn how imperfect this is! I love it!" Words only have a negative conatation to them. Trent Reznor has also said that he always tries to make his music sound a little sloppy. To me, sloppy music sounds a little more personal than extremely tight music. Perfection is only a step away from boredom, once perfection is acheived what else is there to look foreward to?


If you've achieved perfection, then it's possible to do both.

TS, if you want to play 'cleaner', then do what I did. Once a week during practice, I would turn down the gain by 1. You won't notice much of a difference, even though there is one. You should automatically try to correct dead notes, etc, without thinking. After a while, you should stop the gain on about 5 or 6, or so much as to still have a 'distorted' sound. (Assuming you have 10 levels on your amp, if not, adjust accordingly.)

Once done, you should have cleaned up your playing without even realizing it. An example of how you would go about doing this:

Week 1: Gain -1
Week 2: Gain -1
Week 3: Gain -1

And so on, so forth until you reach your desired number. The lower you go, the better, and I encourage you to try shredding on the clean channel once you're comfortable with doing it with Gain +5 or so. If you find you cannot do that, the repeat the steps of lowering the Gain, but keep going until you have none. (As you know, there will be no volume if the Gain is turned down too low, so that's where you'll have to switch to the clean channel.) You should feel more confident on clean then. (Make sure to have your bass on at most half way, as this combined with high gain can hide up mistakes also.)

I hope I helped a bit.
#22
I don't understand the need to practice on the "clean channel" when you ultimately want to play with high gain. I mean the higher gain you have, the more conscious you must be of your muting and string noise. On the clean channel you wouldn't have near the amount of unwanted noise and feedback, etc.
#23
Quote by fixationdarknes
I don't understand the need to practice on the "clean channel" when you ultimately want to play with high gain. I mean the higher gain you have, the more conscious you must be of your muting and string noise. On the clean channel you wouldn't have near the amount of unwanted noise and feedback, etc.


It's the unwanted noise/feedback that hides up your mistakes. (Muted notes sound just like properly played notes, so another reason why high gain is bad for shred practice.)

On the clean channel you can hear when you are making mistakes. When you have high gain, it blocks them out, therefore, you don't know if you're actually doing it right or not.

Do you think that Petrucci, Vai, Satriani, etc. are good because it sounds like the have ridiculous amounts of gain? No. They can play that well on clean, and as a result, it sounds VERY smooth and professional when gain is present.

There is seriously no down-side to practicing shred on clean channel, unless you want to be in a band full of 'chugs' that only use the lower strings and random shredding that only sounds good because they use the heaviest, most distorted amps available. Get those guys on an amp without their luxuries, and they would sound terrible.
#25
I also play my guitar resting it against a wooden object, for natural amplification
The sound is pretty intresting actually.
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#26
Quote by public property
I also play my guitar resting it against a wooden object, for natural amplification
The sound is pretty intresting actually.


Lol ye I was playing at a bar somewhere and when i accidently rested my guitar against the bar, I heard my guitar amplified and i was like wtf. It does sound interesting indeed.

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#27
Quote by fixationdarknes
I don't understand the need to practice on the "clean channel" when you ultimately want to play with high gain. I mean the higher gain you have, the more conscious you must be of your muting and string noise. On the clean channel you wouldn't have near the amount of unwanted noise and feedback, etc.


Think of it in terms of "projecting" your playing. An acoustic will require the most out
of you in order to get your sound through the strings and out the sound hole. You have
to be in control of all the dynamics to do that well.

As you add amplification and distortion and effects, all that equipment begins to do
more and more of the projection work until basically you can just hit a note any old
way and it will be nearly all projected work done by the equipment. Whichever way you
happen to hit the note, it tends to sound like any other note. You're robbed of the
control of most of the dynamics by allowing equipment to do your projecting. Pretty
much what you're left with is muting as a skill to control noise and dynamics (at the
extreme end).

So, if you're interested in learning to project your dynamics, use clean as it will give
you the most control. And if you have that skill you'll find it easier to move to more
distorted kinds of sound rather than vice-versa.
#29
Well, after I first made this topic, for a day or two I didn't get too many replies... A couple of days after that, I checked it and it has two pages.

Lots of helpful info. Thanks for all the input guys.

But no one really helped me on the Sequoia Throne thing.... Whatever lol.
#30
Quote by Dregen
Well, after I first made this topic, for a day or two I didn't get too many replies... A couple of days after that, I checked it and it has two pages.

Lots of helpful info. Thanks for all the input guys.

But no one really helped me on the Sequoia Throne thing.... Whatever lol.

If you want to play it cleaner, play at the quickest speed you can play at with 100% accuracy; the cleanliness you want, with a metronome, and speed it up maintaining the same accuracy until you reach the speed you want.
#31
Quote by Doc Smiley
Playing with really high gain and distortion hides your sloppyness and mistakes just so you know. You should play everything on the clean channel. That way you can hear every mistake or open/ringing notes that shouldn't be heard.


+1
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#33
Quote by Chasepw133
To consider anyone of that caliber truly sloppy is a bit silly - though I'd definitely put Herman Li in that position, where its sloppy to the point where its a pain to listen to.



are saying that page and hammet arent sloppy?

If that is the case, you must think that neil young's style of guitar is incredibly clean.
#34
As a pointer, I've started practicing both clean and with some gain (not an excessive amount of gain, to the point where I could put less effort in my playing), and I've noticed a definite improvement. Like I'll switch every few minutes. Or if I'm playing with a metronome, I'll switch for every increase of, say, 12 bpm.
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#35
Quote by Freepower
Practice unplugged, clean, and with gain for best results.


Unplugged? I've always thought of that as bad - even though I do it often.
#36
Quote by gabcd86
Unplugged? I've always thought of that as bad - even though I do it often.


I do it all the time as well. I practiced unplugged for 2 months total, and when I got back on the amp, I sounded amazingly clean. But then I got a little sloppier because I relied on the distortion too much. Going back to unplugged very soon.

When you learn a technique unplugged and clean, it's way better than learning with an amp with massive distortion. It becomes way easier to achieve clean playing with unplugged practice. Don't ask why; it's just easier.

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#37
Quote by Pauldapro
I do it all the time as well. I practiced unplugged for 2 months total, and when I got back on the amp, I sounded amazingly clean. But then I got a little sloppier because I relied on the distortion too much. Going back to unplugged very soon.

When you learn a technique unplugged and clean, it's way better than learning with an amp with massive distortion. It becomes way easier to achieve clean playing with unplugged practice. Don't ask why; it's just easier.


I disagree, unless you play with gain or at least some form of heavy compression regularly you'll never develop proper muting technique. I know from personal experience and have just spent a few weeks changing my pick hand so I do mute effectively after having spent a few months playing almost exclusively unplugged.
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#38
Quote by Pauldapro

When you learn a technique unplugged and clean, it's way better than learning with an amp with massive distortion. It becomes way easier to achieve clean playing with unplugged practice. Don't ask why; it's just easier.


I disagree as well. When you're playing with distortion, you HAVE to mute out all the unwanted string noise. When unplugged you can't hear it nearly as much. The only reason I practice unplugged is when I play late at night and my parents are asleep or because my ears just need rest.
#39
IMO playing both plugged in and unplugged can be really helpful. Obviously plugged in is important, so you can hear muting problems better. By the same token - hearing problems - unplugged is useful for a lot of things. For example, if your picking is weedy, then it is going to sound really weedy unplugged. If you can't get your notes to flow together, then they are going to sound especially terrible unplugged. As well as highlighting problems (like muting), distortion also covers a lot of problems.