Guitar Sound | Adjusting your guitar

Welcome back for another post on creating a good sound on your instrument.  If you would like to review the post on adjusting your amp click HERE.

One of the first things every guitarist learns is the parts of the guitar and what their function is. These parts are not always just for holdings your instrument together, but their function dictates what your instrument sounds like. We should discuss a few simple guidelines for getting the most out of your guitar.

  1. Learn how to control your tone knobs. These knobs will drastically change the way your guitar sounds. It can suck the life out of your instrument, or it can give your instrument the life that it needs. The best place to start is by turning your tone knobs completely open. This means as bright as it can be. This is the default starting point. Depending on your style, you might decide to turn your tone knobs back just a hair to take the edge off of your tone. This will give you a softer tone, darker, and less spunk. This is usually preferred for jazz. There is really no practical reason to turn your tone knob completely dark. This will sound muddy and suck the life out of your instrument.
  2. Proper use of your volume knob can really improve your sound. Once again a default starting point is to turn your volume knob completely open. This means as loud as it gets. Some exceptions to this include trying to match the volume of the band you are playing with quickly. Also you may be in a situation where you want to turn off the gain slightly, lowering your volume knob will slightly clean your sound.
  3. Experiment with Picking location. If you pick your guitar close to the bridge it will sound bright. If you pick your guitar close to the neck it will sound full and dark. Experiment with your guitar so that you can adjust your sound according to your needs. It may shock you to find out how much difference it makes.
  4. String brand and strength can make a huge difference. Usually the higher the string, the darker it sounds. The lighter the string, the brighter it sounds. The company you buy also makes a difference. This may take some experimentation to find out which sound works best for you. A general guide line with strings is that you get what you pay for. This doesn’t mean you need to buy the most expensive, but the more expensive strings usually last longer and sound better.

The goal is to have a well rounded, good sound. If you have never heard this advice before, you might just need to follow some of this advice blindly. It takes some time to build your ear so that you can hear what sounds good and what doesn’t sound good. If you follow these guidelines you will have a decent sound to work with.

 

Guitar Sound | Adjusting your amp

Hello fellow guitarists,

Recently I have been doing a lot of masterclasses for schools and I have come across a general weakness for beginning and intermediate level guitarists. Within literally one second I can tell how good someone is based on their sound. Every time a guitarist plugs in their instrument, they should adjust their sound. First I will present to you the problem I run into most often, and then I will give you three pieces of advice on adjusting your amp before you play. There will be multiple posts about adjusting your  guitar sound so I suggest you read those as well.

The Problem:

I walk into a band rehearsal and I hear the guitar sound tingy, unfull, not inspired, barely heard, and just a weak sound.

The Fix:

  1. Adjust all your EQ to 5, then adjust as needed. Once you plug in all your equipment, you should take a look at your guitar amp. Look for the knobs that say EQ or Equalization and turn then all to the half way point. This will probably not be the perfect mix, but it will give you a good place to start. From here you can adjust your EQ as needed to perfect your sound. It is way too common for guitarists to either neglect EQ, or to turn the highs up more than needed and the bass down more than needed.
  2. Pay Attention to gain levels and effects on your amp. A guitarist’s sound should be meaningful and intentional, however this is often neglected among newer musicians. While you do your sound check you should check your gain to make sure it is not overly distorted or overly clean depending on the situation you are playing in. A lot of guitar amps come with built in effects, DO NOT let this slip your attention. You don’t want to be in a situation where your guitar sounds all funky and you don’t know how to fix it. It is better to turn off all effects until you know exactly what you want and how much of it to use.
  3. Fix your volume. It is always better to be told to turn up than to turn down, but you shouldn’t want to be told either. Pay attention to your volume. Each situation you play in will require a different amount of volume from you, knowing how much will come with experience. However the rule of thumb is be heard, but not too loud. If you are playing with a band, you can try to blend in with them.

If you look at the picture above you will see someone playing a trumpet. We can learn about our sound by observing other instruments. Trumpet doesn’t have the ability to adjust EQ, It doesn’t have the ability to turn a knob and be softer. The musician that plays the trumpet has a fairly even EQ, and has to pay attention to how loud and soft he is. We should be like him. We should pay attention to having a balanced EQ and paying attention to our volume. A trumpet performer cannot ignore his sound, and we should not either.