|Posted - 08 Oct 2005 : 16:21:24 |
| I would like to shift "gears" (sorry for the pun!), and talk a little about effects. There are so many varying opinions about effects, or whether even to use them at all. I have heard some players talk about thier absolute disdain for them, telling us to plug straight into the amp. There are others who can't get thier sound without having tons of gadgets affecting/creating thier tone.There are reasons for both positions.|
I, personally,like to use some effects, but not to generate my tone; I just enhance it. The musical situation always has to dictate the usage of effects. I think that all players should start with the amp itself. If you have a crappy sound, chances are it is in your amp. And all it may need is some tweaking. That's why those knobs are there, to set the amp up the way you like it. You do not need to get a new amp, just find a better way to make your amp produce what you want.
If your sound is close with your amp set the best you can, try checking your guitar next. Something as simple as old strings can produce unsatisfactory results. Change strings. Go up a guage. Lower the action(the height of the strings from the fretboard.). Maybe even(yikes) RAISE the action.
Try your pickup selector (if you have one) and see if it sounds better using the bridge pickup (my preference) or the neck pickup. Try combinations. Or switch to single coils pickups from double coils (humbuckers). Maybe even try to switch to different pickups.
The next thing is your cable. Try a shorter cable. Longer cables have a tendency to have a larger resistance to voltage. This is called "impedance", an appropriate name. This causes a general loss of high end, and can muddy your sound (unless you like it muddy). If I can, I like to use a wireles unit for live playing. A lot of pros say that that causes tone issues, but I prefer the sound, myself. There is no impedance in the signal. But it can get some interferance, and that always sucks.
Now, moving on to effects. I am not going to talk about distortion. You either like it or you don't. Apply it as much or as little as you want. Sometimes the amp distortion will do just fine. But sometimes that little stomp box is the right call.
As far as other effects units, they do affect your tone. But I think that if you have an awesome tone from the gitgo, that will dictate how much effects will figure into your sound. I really like chorusing. But I use it sparingly. If used well, chorusing can help give the illusion that there are two amps playing simultaneously. But too much will make the signal too "wet" and muddy up the sound. Also, if it is too "wet", your tone will sound weak and thin.
I also like to use a wah pedal, but only for leads. I like to use more for its filtering effect, rather than wah-ing. It allows me to enhance certain frequencies, especially for "pinch" harmonics. But again, too much can make it sound really muddy and indistinct.
Any other effects that I would use are just to flavor the basic sound. Most of the time, they shouldn't really be heard. It is kind of like putting eggs into a batter when making a cake. Ultimately, you won't taste the eggs, it will enhance the flavor and texture of the cake.At least, if you do it right.
A lot of times I use effects to bring out a certain texture, or to give a different flavor to a different song. Sometimes, I will use heavy chorusing and flanging for a non distorted tone. Sometimes, a wah, used with a clean tone, will sound really funky, a la James Brown ,Prince, or Earth, Wind, and Fire.
But one thing I must tell you: The more effects in the signal chain the weaker your signal can be. And sometimes, the noisier your signal can be. Those stompboxes add to your noise; especially if the 9v battery is weak. The more you add to your signal chain the more impedance you create. Some players like the extra noise, and use it to great effect. Others like to keep it super clean.
This is by no means a good summary of effects devices. That is not the purpose. It only informs you that effects can alter your tone, however pleasant or unpleasant it may be. This article only gives my personal opinion about using effects. How you go about personalizing your sound is your business. If there are any specific questions, I would be happy to answer them.
"C'mon Dave, Gimme a break!"