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Guitar tone tricks..

Turi

Member
Messages
9,485
..I'm keen to see what people are doing to get the most out of their guitar, tonally, with no help from amps or pedals.

Here's a couple of things I do, that opens up some more sounds:

- Pick closer to bridge for brighter sound/more attack, pick closer to the neck for more warmth.. picking closer to the neck really helps lead lines sing a little more, they sound totally different being picked up there compared to being picked anywhere else, and picking near the bridge gets the twang happenin'.

- Ride the volume knob - This is great for playing straight from guitar to amp, set your guitar volume to like 4-5, get your amp to whatever volume you like and use your guitars volume knob as a boost, for me this introduces more volume obviously as well as some sweet natural overdrive from the amp.

- Use the tone knob - Self explanatory but I've got a few mates who just have their guitar tone knob set to max the whole time and go looking for ways to make their sound a bit warmer (i.e "dark" overdrives etc), when you can totally just do it yourself with the tone knob, also playing with your fingers with the tone knob rolled back will get it even warmer. Really cool and using the tone knob really lets you pull so many more sounds from your guitar, imo.

- Pull the neck back slightly - not sure how safe this is to do, but it'll bend all of your strings up just a tad, do it kinda quickly and you can get a nice shimmery kind of sound that isn't the same as a trem arm being depressed for shimmer (though it's similar to pulling the trem arm up).

- Built-in extras - Bigsbys and trem arms are brilliant, I don't use mine often but there are some awesome tricks you can do, from subtle shimmers, to that Eddie Cochrane trick, to larger dive bombs with Strat-style trems, and I never hear the trem arm or Bigsbys being pulled the other way, for a different sounding shimmer. You can depress the trem arms in time to the song for an almost tremolo styled sound, you can do it quicker while still playing if you're good enough, for some awesome chorus'y type sounds.
So much fun to be had here and so many awesome things you can do to spice up your playing.

Along with that point - some guitars, like Jazzmasters, have a rhythm circuit (Gretschs have their mud-switch sometimes), that introduce even more possible sounds you can coax from your guitar - really nice, smooth jazzy tones that aren't the same as simply rolling your tone knob back.
My J Mascis gets pretty damn dark, and it sounds brilliant imo.
You can use this a bit like a preset, you flick from lead (bridge pickup, mad twang) to rhythm circuit with the tone rolled back a bit and the volume dropped a tad, and you've shifted your sound drastically without touching your amp or pedals or anything.
Massive variety at the flick of a switch.

Further to this, some guitars (also Jazzmasters lol) have strings behind the bridge you can hit - not many other guitars have this so you might as well put them to use (can hear them in my Timebender2 clip in my sig link).
It sounds awesome to me, they're not in perfect tuning though, for me, when my guitar is in standard, they're all about a fifth above, but not quite perfect pitch. Makes for a cool sound.

Those behind the bridge strings also produce loads of natural overtones and harmonics while playing, which is just awesome, can't really explain this.
Sometimes when you're playing, you'll hear notes you never actually played - really cool, and they usually ring out for me unless I mute the strings behind the bridge.
It doesn't happen all the time but once it gets going man it's cool.
Also, my trem arm maybe isn't worn in properly, so in one certain position, it'll buzz like crazy when I'm playing if I sustain a note - I don't know why it works this way, but that buzz is audible through the amp and sounds so damn cool. It's a little reminiscent of a chainsaw to me, sounds amazing and it's something I can basically do whenever I want, because I know exactly where my trem arm needs to be for it to happen.


There's also a little thing I do, that you can hear in my soundcloud clips a fair few times, and that is when playing with my fingers, I kinda pop the strings most the time, sometimes this is a bit harsh sounding but I'll work on that - but there's a way you can basically get the guitar to almost howl in the background, by doing a pinch harmonic just with your fingers, no pick.
Sounds awesome, and it's nowhere near as prominent as doing a pinch harmonic with a pick - it's more like the harmonic is in the background.
It happens a few times in the Timebender2 clip in my sig link, as well as more than a few times in the Unchained Melody-ish clip also in my sig link.

It's something I accidentally did a few times and can now nail, and even though it's not a massive in your face "check me out" pinch harmonic, it's nice, more like an overtone in a way.



What cool stuff do you guys do, to get the most out of just your guitar with your playing style/technique?
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
43,730
Pick scrapes, striking the strings above the nut, pinch and natural harmonics, lots of muting and slapping sorts of techniques. Types of pick material makes a difference. I have a metal pick I use once in a while.
 

Turi

Member
Messages
9,485
try again:
try singing, or humming.
with some overdrive, & your TimeBender "on".
keep your hand on the volume control, or your foot on the volume pedal.
Sweet, cheers mate, will do!
Never knew I was supposed to have some OD and delay on.

I didn't know there was more to it than just yelling into the guitar > amp.
Can't wait to give this a shot, always dig it when people do it.
 

old goat

Member
Messages
1,987
Bill Kirchen does a thing where he uses a flat pick for solos and fills but strums behind his voice with his middle finger. As far as working picking position and the knobs and pickup switch, no one I've seen does it more. He's constantly playing with the controls. Worth seeing him for the lesson, even if you don't like rockabilly.
 

Average Joe

Member
Messages
11,827
Unhappy with your sound? Try changing your pick - it's remarkable the differences you can get from different thickness/Material.

Angle the pick for variation - again different sounds hitting with the surface side or the edge

Never turn the guitar volume to ten. This doesn't work on all guitars, but there are some I have an easier time getting good sounds from with the volume turned down ever so slightly.
 

adew

Member
Messages
299
I'm a big fan of using a single channel of my amp dialled in with loads of gain/disto, and then using my neck pickup with volume rolled way down as my "clean" tone. Of course, it isn't a very clean tone, but good enough for moody arpeggio intros for the style of music I play. Flipping the pickup selector to the bridge pickup unleashes the fury for my main rhythm/lead sound. Also allows me to do stutter effects with the pickup switch when the mood strikes. (Note, I'm using LP style guitars with 2 x vol pots.)
 

gennation

Member
Messages
7,603
I yell into the pickups all the time onstage and have even record vocal tracks singing through a pickup. You definitely need distortion, volume, and a humbucker for best success.

Another thing is I can get seagull sounds by pressing the G or B string against the front edge of the pick. It works best on the neck pickup as opposed to the beidge pickup since it leaves you more string length. You push the string on the edge so it stretches, or kind of bends, over the pickup. Sounds exactly like seagulls.
 

twp

Likes guitars; loves music...
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
567
I second Lithsp's favorable mention of the Jazzmaster rhythm circuit. Fuzz through the rhythm circuit works well for me; ironically I most frequently use it for lead lines.
 

T Dizz

Member
Messages
21,021
play slide with the mic stand

oh and the harmonics trickle down the neck trick while pulling off.. I don't know what its called.
 

cameron

Member
Messages
4,189
Weird little trick: on a Tele, there's a stretch of open string on the G string between the nut and the machine head. If you reach up there beyond the nut and pluck that stretch of the string, you get a very high tone, usually a bit louder than the 5th fret harmonic, and somewhat richer harmonically (the 5th fret harmonic is a very pure tone) but which sounds, like the 5th fret harmonic, as a very high G note. It can sound quite striking to hit that note and let it ring.
 

splatt

david torn / splattercell
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
25,738
Weird little trick: on a Tele, there's a stretch of open string on the G string between the nut and the machine head. If you reach up there beyond the nut and pluck that stretch of the string, you get a very high tone, usually a bit louder than the 5th fret harmonic, and somewhat richer harmonically (the 5th fret harmonic is a very pure tone) but which sounds, like the 5th fret harmonic, as a very high G note. It can sound quite striking to hit that note and let it ring.
..... do the same on a strat, and then manipulate the pitch up/down with the vibrato-bar;
can work well on your "B"-string, to boot.
 

splatt

david torn / splattercell
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
25,738
def not a trick, but a mechanical technique:
starting at 1:25.
no pedals necessary.
from a live solo gig:

 




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