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Does playing modeling amp make you a worse player?

Phletch

Senior Member
Messages
9,896
One one of things I notice....and I'm guilty as well...is people using the word gain in the wrong context. I think it's more of a saturation/compression thing that people use.

This is played with a crapload of gain...but it's sure not saturated like a metal tone setting. And talk about controlling it!

Exactly, Brian, and that clip is one of the finest examples of how to get a clean, clear tone and huge gain/OD without changing anything but right hand attack and a volume pedal. Larry is such a master at that.

The compression/saturation thing (in my experience anyway) comes from really driving the preamp (in an "amp only" configuration, obviously). When I was younger that's what I did - dime the gain with the master barely cracked open which was compressed fizz city with little or no note clarity or separation. Now I'm just the opposite because I realized that the way to get note clarity and the sustain/controlled harmonic feedback is to push the power section harder with less preamp input; basically, more volume.
 

StompBoxBlues

Member
Messages
20,153
If I practice clean or unplugged, it does nothing to prepare me for playing through a pushed 50W head or an amp patch with gain. I nearly ruined my technique practicing unplugged for years. Whenever I would plug in, there would be noise everywhere. It was very difficult for me to control the amp, in terms of dynamics and controlling subtle string noise. Due to the fact I live in the city, practicing on a real amp is out of the question, so I use a modeller (HD500). I'm very aware of how compression and gain "aids" in playing, so I take the stance that it is cheating and turn it off. A modeler with the gain set to about 12" o clock with NO compression added and a tiny hint of reverb for room ambience, can be just as unforgiving as any tube amp.

All that being said, when I'm performing I use all the bells and whistles (gain, compression, delay to taste). I can only do so after knowing I practiced long hours without any of that stuff making it "easier". When you're on stage, I have no problems with doing anything you can to make the guitar easier to play. But IMO that stuff has no place in the practice room, unless of course your entire "thing" is based on effects.
Maybe I'm wrong but you seem to be saying two contrary things here. Playing unplugged is no help but playing "clean" does. I'm not negating your experience, but to me hearing the "source" of my playing, unplugged really does help me.

When I then play a pushed amp (and I've played long enough that it is not a surprise) it's just icing in the cake. But the other way...going from playing an amp, to unplugged, seems to uncover a lot of mistakes and non-optimal habits, or technique. At least for me. Not saying there is only one way to do it, but maybe folks are different enough that what works for me works for many others and why works for you does too.

I still say, many guitarists use way too much gain and it all turns to mush, and they would sound a lot better by easing it back a bit.
 

thornie

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,443
Maybe I'm wrong but you seem to be saying two contrary things here. Playing unplugged is no help but playing "clean" does. I'm not negating your experience, but to me hearing the "source" of my playing, unplugged really does help me.

When I then play a pushed amp (and I've played long enough that it is not a surprise) it's just icing in the cake. But the other way...going from playing an amp, to unplugged, seems to uncover a lot of mistakes and non-optimal habits, or technique. At least for me. Not saying there is only one way to do it, but maybe folks are different enough that what works for me works for many others and why works for you does too.

I still say, many guitarists use way too much gain and it all turns to mush, and they would sound a lot better by easing it back a bit.
I'm sorry if I was unclear. Playing unplugged and playing clean do nothing for my technique when my main tone or style uses a good amount of gain or OD. There is just so much subtle muting that has to happen to get a good clean singing tone, especially when playing as fast as I do (Eric Johnson, Bonamassa style). Eric Johnson actually goes deep into this in one of his early videos, where when using gain there isn't just right hand muting going on, you're left hand needs to mute as well. For ME (YMMV)... It's impossible to accurately practice that left hand technique unplugged or even clean. The same goes for long legato lines. It just doesn't work. You can't simulate the sounds and string noise the amp or modeler makes when playing unplugged.
 

StompBoxBlues

Member
Messages
20,153
I'm sorry if I was unclear. Playing unplugged and playing clean do nothing for my technique when my main tone or style uses a good amount of gain or OD. There is just so much subtle muting that has to happen to get a good clean singing tone, especially when playing as fast as I do (Eric Johnson, Bonamassa style). Eric Johnson actually goes deep into this in one of his early videos, where when using gain there isn't just right hand muting going on, you're left hand needs to mute as well. For ME (YMMV)... It's impossible to accurately practice that left hand technique unplugged or even clean. The same goes for long legato lines. It just doesn't work. You can't simulate the sounds and string noise the amp or modeler makes when playing unplugged.
Ah..now I get it and of course it depends on the style of guitar a person plays. The muting thing is right on. I don't play a lot of that style, or that much gain where muting is a big part of it, folks that do though your way makes sense.
 

fenderlead

Member
Messages
4,610
This thread reminds me, whenever you see one of those 12-year-olds on YouTube playing Eruption, they're always using one of these modeling amps with a lot of gain, sustain, and compression. Much more than what was used on the original recording.
Granted, the speed, dexterity, and coordination has to be there but you don't see the same finger strength and right-hand attack that is really needed to play Eruption the way it was originally.


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Early EVH has deceptive compression/sustain and dynamics mixed.

As I posted before, EVH has more compression/sustain then if someone just plugs a PAF pickup guitar into a 1968 Plexi circuit and turns everything up to 10.

Hotter pickups can result in more more compression/sustain and gain.

But in the case of EVH, he seems to have had something no one noticed and that was a medium set Dyna-Comp like compressor in his Echoplex that he used as a slapback delay a lot of the time to give the mild spacey touch.

Put one of these medium set Dyna-Comp like compressors with some tape slapback through a 1968 Plexi circuit and it will have more compression/sustain but will also have Plexi style dynamics mixed in with it, so that it ends up as a deceptive compression/sustain Plexi mix.

Not a 2203 like thing but nearing it and not a totally Plexi like thing either, and the variac adds some elements as well and helps with volume.

The first thing those amp sim preset do with EVH presets is to up the compression and gain and add some delay, in order to half emulate early EVH.

Plus on the albums there is also studio compression but that is different and loads of bands had Sunset Sounds studio compression and didn't sound anything like EVH and studio compression is not playing compression that is within the signal chain of the players gear.
 

Zingeroo

Member
Messages
4,344
Early EVH has deceptive compression/sustain and dynamics mixed.

As I posted before, EVH has more compression/sustain then if someone just plugs a PAF pickup guitar into a 1968 Plexi circuit and turns everything up to 10.

Hotter pickups can result in more more compression/sustain and gain.

But in the case of EVH, he seems to have had something no one noticed and that was a medium set Dyna-Comp like compressor in his Echoplex that he used as a slapback delay a lot of the time to give the mild spacey touch.

Put one of these medium set Dyna-Comp like compressors with some tape slapback through a 1968 Plexi circuit and it will have more compression/sustain but will also have Plexi style dynamics mixed in with it, so that it ends up as a deceptive compression/sustain Plexi mix.

Not a 2203 like thing but nearing it and not a totally Plexi like thing either, and the variac adds some elements as well and helps with volume.

The first thing those amp sim preset do with EVH presets is to up the compression and gain and add some delay, in order to half emulate early EVH.

Plus on the albums there is also studio compression but that is different and loads of bands had Sunset Sounds studio compression and didn't sound anything like EVH and studio compression is not playing compression that is within the signal chain of the players gear.
Eddie's rig did have a mix of compression and plexi dynamics. A potent mix for anyone who had such command of the instrument as he did. If you heard him play "Crossroads" on that old interview tape, he could make a plain old cranked Fender amp scream. He had a formidable right hand attack. So when I see those videos of the kids playing "Eruption" it's definitely impressive, but it's not quite the same thing as when he played it.
 

Flyin' Brian

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,271
Exactly, Brian, and that clip is one of the finest examples of how to get a clean, clear tone and huge gain/OD without changing anything but right hand attack and a volume pedal. Larry is such a master at that.

The compression/saturation thing (in my experience anyway) comes from really driving the preamp (in an "amp only" configuration, obviously). When I was younger that's what I did - dime the gain with the master barely cracked open which was compressed fizz city with little or no note clarity or separation. Now I'm just the opposite because I realized that the way to get note clarity and the sustain/controlled harmonic feedback is to push the power section harder with less preamp input; basically, more volume.
Locally I still see many players do that. They play a million notes all crushed together with no note separation at all. Then again one guy said to me, "I get nervous when I'm not playing a bunch of notes".

It reminds me of people who have to fill absolutely every space in a conversation with "um", "y'know", "like" and the like. Let the listener digest what you said, either musically or verbally.

Listen to how few notes Larry plays in this video. It's what makes it so compelling and musical.

 

michael.e

Member
Messages
20,583
I think low volume with gain makes a sloppier player in general. NO matter what one uses. Get to band volumes and the dynamic is completely different.
 

custom53

Member
Messages
4,746
Pull out a old Fender Twin, without any pedals, and play all the songs that you think you have nailed with a modeling amp.. Then reply..
 

CowTipton

Member
Messages
9,143
Pull out a old Fender Twin, without any pedals, and play all the songs that you think you have nailed with a modeling amp.. Then reply..

Can you loan me about $1500?
I'm sure you'd still have $1000 left over from this week's pay.
 

goldtop4g63

Member
Messages
259
Makes me question how accurate those models are. I've never played a JCM800 that has that liquidy legato sound without at least an overdrive goosing it.
The models in the axe are pretty accurate but you can drive them harder than the real amp if u desire. All the amps have a saturation parameter to mimic an amp with that mod. Turn that on and you can get fair amount more gain. A lot more gain than the stock version would have.
 

Phletch

Senior Member
Messages
9,896
Not your thing. Doesn't have to be. Some people jump on it right up front. Some enjoy the journey. Some guys' ladies never get any foreplay either. :)
:rotflmao And the same ladies never see the finish line because Zippy shot his wad in 30 seconds.
 

Phletch

Senior Member
Messages
9,896
Locally I still see many players do that. They play a million notes all crushed together with no note separation at all. Then again one guy said to me, "I get nervous when I'm not playing a bunch of notes".

It reminds me of people who have to fill absolutely every space in a conversation with "um", "y'know", "like" and the like. Let the listener digest what you said, either musically or verbally.

Listen to how few notes Larry plays in this video. It's what makes it so compelling and musical.

:aok That is one of the many things about Larry's playing that I love, how he builds a solo, takes the listener for a ride, never really knowing where he's going to take you but always looking forward to the next turn.

Here's another one. Where/how he starts is nothing like where/how he finishes.

 

neoprimitive

Senior Member
Messages
2,348
If playing through modelers makes you a worse player, then I must be terrible by now. digitech player since 1993. never owned a tube amp. don't even own an amp now. modelers, mixer, monitors for me now.
 






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