Less gain and more tone...

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by Jackie Treehorn, Mar 12, 2009.

  1. Jackie Treehorn

    Jackie Treehorn Strat-Talker

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    Listening back to Page, Clapton, Hendrix, and etc I'm surprised at how little gain was used. Now I try to use just enough gain to get the amp to open up and sing.

    Turn down the gain on your amps/effects and dig in on your guitar. Maybe it is just the aging process, but some lessons are learned slowly.
     
  2. hendrixfan

    hendrixfan Senior Stratmaster

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    sometimes i play clean with no gain at all it sure highlights your technique though with no gain to hide behind
     
  3. johnreardon

    johnreardon Senior Stratmaster

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    I agree Jackie. I would go one further and say ditch your effects, especially if you are a relative newcomer to the guitar.

    Hear what it sounds like without all that racket going on. And then see how it sounds like when moving your fingers or thrusting your body into the guitar. It's a whole new world to discover
     
  4. stratluvr

    stratluvr Strat-O-Master

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    X2 i agree with you.
     
  5. aidB

    aidB Strat-Talker

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    It's surprising when you realise that even the likes of SRV and Gary Moore play(ed) behind effects pedals. They apparently have the ultimate tone guitars and amps, but still need 'help' with their sound. A bit disappointing really.
     
  6. Intonator

    Intonator Strat-Talker

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    A lot of people turn the gain up in order to hide the sound of their mistakes.

    I would rather HEAR the notes that are being played.
     
  7. gcconspiracy

    gcconspiracy Strat-O-Master

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    this is a lesson I have been learning lately as well... less is often more when it comes to gain and effects!
     
  8. Offshore Angler

    Offshore Angler Senior Stratmaster

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    Gain is fun when you are alone, but in a band it means you can't cut through the mix. Beginner mistake number one is to become dependent upon effects to acheive "tone". It all starts with a nice clean tone.

    I've used the same method for years. I set my guitar volume control to about seven or seven and a half, and then turn the amp up until it starts to break up. from that point, I can get clean by turing the guitar down a hair, or by turning it up, I get more overdrive. Since the amp is at the end of it's clean headroom, it won't get noticably louder as you overdrive it. Just "thicker".

    Of course, this means you have selected the proper size amp for the job at hand. If you have too big an amp for the venue, you're boned from the get-go. I always try to err on the size of too small, since I can mic a good sounding amp that needs more volume, but with an amp too big to hit its sweet spot - you're in for a long evening.

    Although I must admit, for little venues I'm just as happy with a modeler and a power engine lately.


    In the studio, I'll often play a part clean - sometimes direct into the board - and then add the effects afterwards using the send and returns for the channel.
     
  9. ToneMonkey

    ToneMonkey Strat-Talker

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    Rather harsh, I think. Thats like saying they play "behind" their amps or guitars or heavier strings.

    Some players use effects to shape the tone thats already there.

    Engaging a TS9 for a bit of hair or mid a boost, is no different from turning ones guitar volume up for more grit, or adjusting a tone control on your amp, just another method, more convenient and versatile (at times) and a slightly different tone.
    It also doesn't necessarily allow one to hide behind ones pedal(s).

    Not using a pedal doesn't mean you are a better player, it means you choose not to use a pedal, or don't need the qualities a particular pedal may offer.

    I think I was quite restrained then....or I should be!
     
  10. Diamond Jim

    Diamond Jim Strat-O-Master

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    I appreciate that statement. A lot of times we get so caught up in our "quest for tone" that we forget that the general public can't hear it/could care less. They just want to have a good time and hear some music. Which is also borne out by the number of times my tone has been terrible for whatever reason, I made too many mistakes on guitar, flubbed vocals and at the end of the night total strangers come up and say "man you were great!" So as long as they had a good time it was a successful gig. Took me quite a while to learn that and just say, "Thanks, glad you enjoyed it and thanks so much for coming to see us."
     
  11. casualofender

    casualofender Senior Stratmaster

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    A great, clean tone is kind of like the "secret handshake" that most people never notice, but players can appreciate and compliment each other on.
    I want to throw it down every time. If someone notices, we can talk on a level that "bystanders" wouldn't understand.
     
  12. joeybsyc

    joeybsyc Senior Stratmaster

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    I bought a '59 Bassman LTD 2 weeks ago and have been realizing how bad I suck ever since. :D
     
  13. SDStrat

    SDStrat Strat-Talker

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    Gain, the hider of many sins!
     
  14. midifarm

    midifarm Commercial Suspension

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    The girl that's watching you play usually isn't interested in your "tone." I know it's our ego thing as players. Try playing for yourself next time you're up there. I bet you'll get more compliments.
     
  15. Carlsoti

    Carlsoti Senior Stratmaster

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    I'm with offshore angler when it comes to "dialing in". With that sort of set-up, in most cases, your picking dynamics have a greater affect over the tone. You can play lightly, and keep it "clean", or really dig in to get some crunch.
     
  16. elementlax

    elementlax Senior Stratmaster

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    i only use gain when it makes the song sound better. i am effects free 60% if the time
     
  17. aidB

    aidB Strat-Talker

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    Sorry to sound harsh, I didn't mean to. I sometimes think guitars sound too processed. They're saturated with distortion. Less is more kind of thing. I have nothing but admiration for Stevie's, and to a lesser extent, Gary's playing ability. When I said I was disappointed it was more to do with what we're told is the Holy Grail of electric guitar tone. 1959 Les Paul/Pre CBS Strat. Should these guitars really have to put through hoops to sound good?

    I think I understand the points you raise in your reply except for this sentence;

    "I think I was quite restrained then....or I should be!"

    Can you explain what you meant by this? :)
     
  18. sevycat

    sevycat Custom Shop Cat

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    WHAT?
     
  19. ToneMonkey

    ToneMonkey Strat-Talker

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    Absolutely, the whole tone of the thread was /is irritating and supercilious, having had a glass of wine (or three) I (at the time) considered a rant. But I didn't, hence the restraint.

    However, as you asked :mad::

    One of the beauties of Tube Amps is the ability to exploit the various gain stages, to one degree or another, for sonic effect.

    So to say: "Yah, I like to play clean so my audience can hear all my multitude of mistakes, but then smile at them 'cos they don't know enough to realise it. " is toss. Whilst others talk about OD, edge of break up, then slag off "Gain"....well wtf is OD then, "Loss"? Gain is not only achieved by pedals!


    He/She then proceeds to explain how, by turning up his guitar vol increasing the signal through the "GAIN" stages of his amp he manages to acheive tonal Nirvana with "GAIN". [​IMG]

    IMHO, of course, and discussed in the best possible spirit of guitar lovers.

    Group Hug![​IMG]
     
  20. Intonator

    Intonator Strat-Talker

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    Thing about tone, is that everyone has a different idea of what "good" tone should be, and how to achieve it.
    There is not a thing wrong with using pedals to achieve what you may consider to be a better tone than what your amp can do.
    Doesn't mean that everyone will like it, but that also does not mean that it is bad, or not a "good" tone for you"
    Distortion on a solid state amp is nothing more than a built in pedal.
    Twang from a Telecaster may be a complete turn off for a non country player.