All too often, traditionalists are extremely put off by all these “new-fangled” effects. “You’re wasting your time,” they might say. “Name me one song that uses that weird thing,” another might moan. As we all know, players have been using effects since The Ventures and fuzz, distortion, overdrive, modulation and delay pedals have become canonical in popular music. However, since Tom Oberheim built the first guitar-oriented ring modulator in the late ‘60s, traditionalists have been telling its users to get off their respective lawns. Yet here we are, 50 years later, and companies are still making them. Who uses these unusable things? Come with me as I take you on a
I love the dirt section of my pedalboard, which has been built with care, patience and love, and is informed by decades (well, at least two) of experience, but I still love checking out new stuff. So when I catch wind of new pedals that sound interesting, I race to check out whatever demos I can find. Unfortunately, I am forever left frustrated by said demos: Invariably, it seems, the player in question spends the whole time on the bridge pickup. Sometimes, the demo-er will noodle on the neck pickup, and then—right before activating the pedal—they will switch positions. Occasionally, there might be some bluesy lines played in the neck position, or some half-hearted strumming
The old maxim "less is more" has been lazily applied to just about every facet of life, and one often hears it in the music biz regarding everything from songwriting and performing to recording and marketing. As guitarists, we often hear it applied to accompaniment, soloing, and effects usage, among other things, and in many cases it is actually a good rule of thumb for musicians that have an inborn tendency to overplay or run amok with their pedalboard. One area where this decrepit old cliché absolutely fails, though, is in regard to amplifiers, specifically the number of amplifiers one plays through while on stage or in the studio. When plugging an electric guitar into an
Are you starting to sound like a broken record every time you pick up your guitar? Has inspiration again given way to muscle memory? This purgatorial state of self-oscillation afflicts every guitar player and like a bad case of the hiccups, there is no certain cure for what ails you. Or is there? In today’s bit, I aim to help you get over your spell of what I call “riffer’s block.” I have found four ways of digging myself out of the doldrums of familiarity and hopefully they will provide you with your own get-out-of-jail-free card in the future. Free your mind and your fingers will follow Sometimes letting your mind
Written by PGS Staff Guitarists venturing into a recording studio for the first time are sometimes surprised to discover that the face-melting live rig that so handily mowed down the audience members at club gigs doesn't sound quite as good as expected under the sonic microscope of a recording studio. Excess power and volume can make sounds more difficult to control and capture in a recording situation, and it can obscure the fact that, perhaps, the amp in question just doesn't sound very good. It's a disheartening lesson to learn, and many guitarists who have learned it invariably come to the conclusion that they will need a different amp for recording purposes. Looking back at the amplifiers
Written by PGS Staff Hiss, hum, crackle, buzz, and various other onomatopoeia are the bane of a guitar player's existence. Even if your rig is the picture of simplicity, with a humbucker-equipped guitar plugged straight into a clean, quiet amp, you're bound to encounter nasty electronic hash of some kind on a regular basis. Most players' rigs are more complicated than guitar-into-amp, with a variety of pedals, power supplies, cables, pickups and perhaps even multiple amps complicating the situation. Every added connection is an opportunity for failure or interference, so if you've got some weird, unpleasant sounds happening in your signal chain, tracking down and eliminating the source can be nightmarish. The good news: most
Written by PGS staff There is, perhaps, no more hallowed an institution of rock guitar culture than the solo. In times past, the common measure of a guitarist's greatness was often in his or her soloing abilities. Of course this is a ridiculous, somewhat arbitrary yardstick by which to measure the talents and contributions of a musician, and thankfully this hyper-focus on "lead guitar" has waned in the popular consciousness, but an epic guitar solo can still be a powerful thing in the context of a great song. A solo can elevate a good tune to the next level, making soloing a valuable tool to keep in your guitarist's toolbox, even if you're not really the "shred"
Written By PGS Staff In guitar culture, solos and soloists have always attracted the most attention. Many players first picked up a guitar after hearing Hendrix, Van Halen or Angus Young play light-speed pentatonic runs up and down the neck, and for some of them soloing remains their primary interest and vehicle for self-expression. While there’s nothing wrong with this per se, the negative side effect of this solo-centric culture is the shameful neglect of the music’s very life-force, the rhythm. This neglect seeps into everything we do, even manifesting itself in the way we discuss the different parts of the band; when a guitarist talks about “the rhythm section” they rarely