Monday, November 26, 2007

Guitar Tone: Tips and Tricks on What Works for You

How you tweak the components in your signal chain has a major impact on your tone. I have written a couple of posts regarding guitar tone; suggestions on how to duplicate your favorites plus an example of how I duplicated the tone on AC/DC’s “Shook Me All Night Long” using equipment I already had. Here are some more suggestions I left out of the previous posts.

GuitarWorld magazine features transcriptions in each issue. For each transcription, they also show suggested Boss effects pedals, their settings, and what order to chain them in for reproducing the guitar tone. If you have effects other than Boss, the information is still valuable so you can extrapolate it to the gear you have. GuitarWorld includes video lessons where the instructor addresses how they duplicate the tones.

Concert or instructional DVDs with your favorite artists are a great source of insight into guitar tone. As I outlined in a previous post about guitar lore, the more you dig into the guitar, the more information there is that you never would have noticed previously. At minimum, you will gain insight into where the pickup selector on the guitar is set to as well as views of effects pedals and amps they are using.

I have a PODxt amp and effects modeler from Line 6 that comes with preset tones for a wide variety of songs. When I am interested in a particular tone, I just open up the preset and look at the amps and effects used along with their settings to get some ideas.

The recording studio is also an “effect” that influences the sound you hear on a commercial recording. For example, a guitarist may double or triple track their parts in the studio. Knowing that, you may reproduce a similar tone by adding a chorus and a delay pedal to your signal chain.

When I first started playing, I grabbed the nearest guitar picks on the counter and went with those. Since then I have learned the type of pick has a big influence on your tone. Just pick up a large variety and experiment with the different materials and thicknesses until you find a type that creates a sound you like and fits your technique.

Always remember that the volume, tone, and pickup selection on your guitar make a big difference on how the elements further down the signal chain sound.

One final note and the point of all this is to keep experimenting. By learning how to reproduce the guitar tones you like, you gain the insight on how to design your own unique tones, which is the ultimate payoff.