Hey people. Welcome to my mind again. It was getting lonely in here. All the noise and writing on the wall was driving me crazy! I am in LA at the moment, working on my third week teaching for the National Guitar Workshop. There are some great students here and some great teachers also. I have been finding this lesson coming up in class quite a bit and thought I would share it with you. We as players need to get rid of the "one tone Johnny" situation that is happening. You know what I mean! Having the distortion channel on and then rolling the volume down on the guitar to clean it up. This is our entire tone spectrum? Come on now. Please read about the sounds I think we should all have. At least myself anyway!
You must have a clean sound. You can have some goop on it but should have the availability to make it bone dry also. Use that darn pickup selector switch. Why do you think it is on your guitar? Just for looks? Nooooo! Get flicking that switch. Pizeo electric pickups also make for a very cool addition for a clean sound. Especially if you can switch and combine it with your original electric clean sound. Good settings for EQ could be Bass (6) Mid (7) Treble (5).
Crunch sound is what we are talking about here. Not big gain at all. When you hit the strings hard the sound should distort but when hit softly the sound should clean up.
Think of an AC/DC sound or a slightly crunchy SRV sound. This works for many purposes. It can add just the right punch to a part - but not be too intruding.
A good gain setting could be (2) or (3). Bass could be (6) Mid (9) and Treble (6).
The Death sound is a great sound to have. This can be used for over the top heavy riffing. I usually use a rectifier amp setting to achieve this. The gain has to be very carefully adjusted depending on the volume setting you are playing at. At a lower volume setting, you can use more gain. However, the louder you turn your amp up the less gain you need. You still want it to punch through with insane kick, but you do not want it to fart out either.
A great gain setting could be (6) for playing loud with a band. You can give a little more if you are playing in your room. This same principal can and should be applied to the bass setting on your amp. The louder the amp, the less bass you need. A great way to find out the perfect setting for your amp is to turn it up and just chunk out on the low E string while moving the bass knob. Try and find a place where it still kicks like a 2x4 to the forehead but does not start to fart out or sound tubby! Same principal for the gain setting.
One more secret you can add to your death sound is to add a lower octave to the sound and mix it in with the original. This adds a great low growl that is not noticeable when playing power chords but can be heard slightly when playing single note riffs. Watch how much you add in since you could get the attack of the fart people coming back! Good EQ settings could be Bass (5-6) Mid (4-5) Treble (7-8).
The lead sound is another sound of God. We have some options here. There is basically an overdrive lead sound (Eric Johnson) or a distorted lead sound (Dimebag Darrell).
Distortion has more of a bite to it, but can also be a little thin. An overdrive sound can be warmer but lack some crunch to it. I think you should use whichever one you like. Hell, you can even use both if you want to have as an option. The style of music should dictate this also. I am a fan of more of the overdrive for the lead sound. It is more "women like" in its sound, and women are beautiful people on just a side note.
I like a little goop on my lead sound. I like some delay and reverb. It is great if you can get just the right amount and not cover up all your cool licks you have been shedding for the last 10 years. Compression can be your friend here. You will be able to use a little less gain if you use a small amount of compression on your lead sound. It seems to work a little better with an overdrive sound, since the distortion has more gain stages to it.
A compressor squishes your sound and turns it into sustain. I like my drive setting on 10 if I do not have a compressor on it. If I do then I can back the gain down to around 7 depending on how much I squish the sound with the compressor. Good EQ settings could be Bass (7) Mid (10) Treble (4).
I call this the keyboard sound, or the swelling sound. This sound is used from a few people like Allan Holdsworth, Van Halen and myself . It is sound of God #1 to start.
There is some serious goop going on here though.
First off you need a great delay sound. You can have it in stereo, if wanted. This adds a great spatial dimension to the sound. They call it ping-pong delay. You can start with around 1 second of delay with a feedback mix of at least 30%. You then need to set the mix level of the effect itself. This needs to be pretty high. Probably around 90%. Then you need a nice plate type of reverb on here with around 1.5 seconds and a mix of around 20%. Next can be a very slight chorus effect. I make it with a very slight rate and depth. The mix of the effect is quite low. You can also add a pitch shifter a 5th up in sound mixed in very slightly to get a unique sound. The mix of this effect should only be around 7% or so. A compressor can also be a good thing to add to smooth the sound out. This might seem quite crazy, but it works.
The way you use this sound is with a volume pedal ,or your volume knob on your guitar. (We do not always have to have it set on 10!) The whole idea is that we do not want to hear the attack of the sound, just the after effect. Basically just hit a D chord for example with the volume off. Then fade in the volume at a medium increase. Then fade it out after you have hit the maximum volume. At this point when the volume is back to 0, hit another chord and fade back in. This is quite cool. We can also make the delay bounce and play with us in time for a cool new sound. Check out the demo in class!
So you thought there were only five sounds. I lied! Sorry God! (Editor's note: You'll burn in hell for sure now, Dave)
I call this the "What the Hell was that!" sound of God. Just when you thought it was over, we need to shock people with a new sound. How many times have you seen your favorite player hitting the stage to be amazed with there talent, but after about 40 minutes or so, using the same sound, our interest level drops slightly. This is where you bring out the secret weapon sound. I like to use the Whammy pedal from Digitech. This thing just rocks. It has been used by Tom Morello, Joe Satch and Dimebag to name a few. You can set it for so many strange sounds. You do not need this exact pedal but if you use something that is just all out strange, that will be fine.
Hint. There is a thing out there called a MoogerFooger! Watch out. The neat thing is that I can use my clean sound of God #1 (acoustic pizeo) with any of these sounds to create even more texture. Imagine sound of God 3 (The death sound) chunking out with an acoustic with it. That would be strange. What if I even put the Sound of God 6 on top of that! Wow... get the idea!
David Martone is a guitarist from Vancouver, Canada who has released seven solo CDs which showcase his musical diversity and brilliant guitarmanship.
His 2007 CD is entitled "When The Aliens Come", which features a progressive sound incorporating jazz, rock, fusion and metal influences.