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Guitarists: Finding the sound to fit your style

” So you want to be a rock ‘n’ roll star?
Well listen now, hear what I say
Just get an electric guitar
Take some time
And learn how to play

The Byrds
photo: AWelding

” So you want to be a rock ‘n’ roll star?
Well listen now, hear what I say
Just get an electric guitar
Take some time
And learn how to play
“- The Byrds

Admit it. You’ve daydreamed of being on that stage with a guitar slung low, rocking out. If you were anything like myself, you even used a tennis racket as a kid in front of that mirror blasting some Led Zep and thinking you could be Jimmy Page. Ah, and then reality sits in!

Re-watching the documentary It Might Get Loud and The Edge’s crazy soundscapes inspired this article in that The Edge was really not so different in his raw playing than Page or White, but it was his use of effects that made him stand apart, yet he is no less of a musician.  If you at least understand the basics, then you can progress to finding elements that give you the tone and sound of certain players.  While it may give you the sound though there is no ignoring that skill cannot be replaced by effects.  There is an old story of how Ted Nugent picked up Eddie Van Halen’s guitar and thought he would “sound” like Eddie and his ‘brown sound’.  Let’s just say it didn’t work in the least.  Your style is your style, but try to find the sound that fits your style and you may have a winning formula.

Let’s stick to the economic decisions for the purpose of this article then.  Pedals offer a myriad of different sounds to make your tone more like Hendrix or even more like Denver if that’s your goal.  The faves of electric axe players seem to be distortion, overdrive, fuzz, and wah to start with.  Each offers a learning curve and you want to do your research.  But, don’t just look up pedals on Google, your best bet is to go to a particular company with a great reputation like Aclam Guitars or the like.  Acoustic players should not ignore the ability to toy around as well, some of the best live acoustic performers I’ve witnessed these days like Howie Day and Ed Sheeran can command a crowd by themselves due to their use of pedals.  Check out a looper, delay, or drum machine to have some real fun and if you want to play live definitely invest in a chromatic tuner.  And if you are running multiple pedals and do not want to look like a chump then you certainly want to invest in a quality custom pedalboard.

But if pedals are elementary to you or you are more into the studio thing then you definitely want to get into mods and maybe even a rack if you are super serious about playing live.  To see how pedals and a rack work together you should check out the aforementioned film, It Might Get Loud, or YouTube to get a true feel.  But be aware that when it comes to modulation and effects racks, you pay for what you get.  Good is never cheap and cheap is never good.

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