Some people hate Guitar Distortion

Messages
407
Years ago, I was surprised when, while playing a hard rock song (Maybe AC/DC) in the car with a friend, he said he hated the way the guitars sounded. He in fact, hated distortion. After discussing it, I realized this was why he hated all Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, and any genre of songs that had a distorted power chord. He said it hurt his hears.

From this, I learned how some people's musical tastes can be influenced away from some genres. I could not understand at the time, how he could not like it, but it was an epiphany.
 

OM Flyer

Member
Messages
5,878
I like a little grit, but high-gain tone annoys the hell out of me.

Interestingly, many classic hard rock guitarists used a lot less distortion than it sometimes seems like. Jimmy Page's restrained use of dirt allowed his guitar parts to cut through Bonzo and JPJ's often thunderous bottom end. Early ZZ Top was similar: Gibbons's lead tone was a little raunchy, but nowhere near the processed, saturated sounds he got stuck in on later albums.

Overdrive vs distortion, and all that.
 

Crowonawire

Member
Messages
534
Years ago, I was surprised when, while playing a hard rock song (Maybe AC/DC) in the car with a friend, he said he hated the way the guitars sounded. He in fact, hated distortion. After discussing it, I realized this was why he hated all Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, and any genre of songs that had a distorted power chord. He said it hurt his hears.

From this, I learned how some people's musical tastes can be influenced away from some genres. I could not understand at the time, how he could not like it, but it was an epiphany.
How did your epiphany inform your playing?
 

Fulldrive-1

Senior Member
Messages
5,827
OM Flyer's absolutely right about Page. I hear people play Zep stuff, and they're way too distorted. Listen to the live "How the West was Won" stuff; Jimmy's plexis are turned up enough to sound tough, but are hardly distorted. Then he sometimes kicks on the fuzz, and it just barely roughs it up a bit.

Even Hendrix, with his Fuzzface and Marshalls cranked, doesn't totally saturate out. You can still hear him articulate through all that.

Van Halen, same story. He doesn't totally distort out, but rather you can hear each note open up and sing, no matter how fast he's playing.

And I think that's especially true when recording. Figure out how much distortion you want, and then cut back some.

That's what's cool about Marshalls; they keep the distortion clear. They leave room for individual guitar players to sound like themselves. In the sixties and early seventies, everybody was playing the same Marshall Plexis and JMPs. But they all sounded recognizable.

By contrast, Mesa Rectos squash everybody down into un-dynamic mud. You can't tell one Recto player from another (except Tony Rombola).


I learned this later on, after I should have known better, playing punk. Basic tone was a Strat with a humbucker pushing Marshall JMPs wide open. And I used a Rat on top of that. Drummer said he couldn't hear my rhythm playing, that it was too muddy and indistinct. And he was right! I cured that by keeping the Rat off, and only using it slightly on to punch up the solos.
 

sahhas

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
16,083
remember hearing this from Eddie Kramer talking about Hendrix playing live, he said his live volume hurt people’s ears...
People weren’t used to it... and obviously PA amplification isn’t like it is today!!!

Years ago, I was surprised when, while playing a hard rock song (Maybe AC/DC) in the car with a friend, he said he hated the way the guitars sounded. He in fact, hated distortion. After discussing it, I realized this was why he hated all Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, and any genre of songs that had a distorted power chord. He said it hurt his hears.

From this, I learned how some people's musical tastes can be influenced away from some genres. I could not understand at the time, how he could not like it, but it was an epiphany.
 

soundchaser59

Thank You Great Spirit!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
12,663
Overdrive vs distortion, and all that.
pedals vs cranked guitar amp and all that.

I would guess a lot of it is due to the volume. Seems like a lot of guitarists don't make the connection that amp volume is inversely related to the need for pedal gain. A pedal that sounds great cranked in the bedroom will sound like a 140db beehive on a big stage.

But there are some people whose ears react with hyper sensitivity to certain harmonics and frequencies.
 
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sahhas

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
16,083
this sort of reminds me of hearing Hendrix and EVH when I was first playing in the 80s, and thought their sounds were so cool and distorted- and of course I couldn’t come close to any of it, but when I hear their stuff nowadays, it doesn’t seem as distorted, there is a clarity in their sound that I couldn’t hear in the 80s....

OM Flyer's absolutely right about Page. I hear people play Zep stuff, and they're way too distorted. Listen to the live "How the West was Won" stuff; Jimmy's plexis are turned up enough to sound tough, but are hardly distorted. Then he sometimes kicks on the fuzz, and it just barely roughs it up a bit.

Even Hendrix, with his Fuzzface and Marshalls cranked, doesn't totally saturate out. You can still hear him articulate through all that.

Van Halen, same story. He doesn't totally distort out, but rather you can hear each note open up and sing, no matter how fast he's playing.

And I think that's especially true when recording. Figure out how much distortion you want, and then cut back some.

That's what's cool about Marshalls; they keep the distortion clear. They leave room for individual guitar players to sound like themselves. In the sixties and early seventies, everybody was playing the same Marshall Plexis and JMPs. But they all sounded recognizable.

By contrast, Mesa Rectos squash everybody down into un-dynamic mud. You can't tell one Recto player from another (except Tony Rombola).


I learned this later on, after I should have known better, playing punk. Basic tone was a Strat with a humbucker pushing Marshall JMPs wide open. And I used a Rat on top of that. Drummer said he couldn't hear my rhythm playing, that it was too muddy and indistinct. And he was right! I cured that by keeping the Rat off, and only using it slightly on to punch up the solos.
 

Atmospheric

Member
Messages
3,682
I like a little grit, but high-gain tone annoys the hell out of me.

Interestingly, many classic hard rock guitarists used a lot less distortion than it sometimes seems like. Jimmy Page's restrained use of dirt allowed his guitar parts to cut through Bonzo and JPJ's often thunderous bottom end. Early ZZ Top was similar: Gibbons's lead tone was a little raunchy, but nowhere near the processed, saturated sounds he got stuck in on later albums.

Overdrive vs distortion, and all that.
Even the first few BOC records had pretty low gain tones. Surprisingly so.
 

rollyfoster

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
15,926
I think the progressive lower overall volume thing has much to do with why people tend to play with more gain.

All those dudes were getting the amps to compress naturally because they could run them wide open.

Since then as stage volumes have come down and master volumes introduced, gain has gone up not only for tone but that compressed feel that makes it easier to play

If you haven’t been able to run a NMV marshall wide open there isn’t really a frame of reference for what those guys were lucky enough to have at their disposal.
 

makeitstop

Old dude with guitars
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
1,398
I learned long ago that to make guitars sound bigger in the mix, double track them with a lot less gain than you were aiming for. That's how AC/DC's guitars always sound so huge.

High gain has its place, but I don't use it nearly as much as I did a few years ago. Some of that has to do with the material I'm writing or playing, but it's also got to do with getting good definition, either on recordings or live.
 

soundchaser59

Thank You Great Spirit!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
12,663
OM Flyer's absolutely right about Page. I hear people play Zep stuff, and they're way too distorted. Listen to the live "How the West was Won" stuff; Jimmy's plexis are turned up enough to sound tough, but are hardly distorted. Then he sometimes kicks on the fuzz, and it just barely roughs it up a bit.

Even Hendrix, with his Fuzzface and Marshalls cranked, doesn't totally saturate out. You can still hear him articulate through all that.

Van Halen, same story. He doesn't totally distort out, but rather you can hear each note open up and sing, no matter how fast he's playing.

And I think that's especially true when recording. Figure out how much distortion you want, and then cut back some.

That's what's cool about Marshalls; they keep the distortion clear. They leave room for individual guitar players to sound like themselves. In the sixties and early seventies, everybody was playing the same Marshall Plexis and JMPs. But they all sounded recognizable.

By contrast, Mesa Rectos squash everybody down into un-dynamic mud. You can't tell one Recto player from another (except Tony Rombola).


I learned this later on, after I should have known better, playing punk. Basic tone was a Strat with a humbucker pushing Marshall JMPs wide open. And I used a Rat on top of that. Drummer said he couldn't hear my rhythm playing, that it was too muddy and indistinct. And he was right! I cured that by keeping the Rat off, and only using it slightly on to punch up the solos.
Right on, Spot on! This kind of tip should be a sticky IMO!
 

ant_riv

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,451
I think the progressive lower overall volume thing has much to do with why people tend to play with more gain.

All those dudes were getting the amps to compress naturally because they could run them wide open.

Since then as stage volumes have come down and master volumes introduced, gain has gone up not only for tone but that compressed feel that makes it easier to play

If you haven’t been able to run a NMV marshall wide open there isn’t really a frame of reference for what those guys were lucky enough to have at their disposal.
This is so true!
I never liked distorted guitar, but craved Ritchie Blackmore, Angus/Malcolm, Brian May tone.

I really miss being able to open up a tube amp and get natural OD, compression and speaker break up!
 

soundchaser59

Thank You Great Spirit!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
12,663
If you haven’t been able to run a NMV marshall wide open there isn’t really a frame of reference for what those guys were lucky enough to have at their disposal.
Really any good guitar+amp rig run wide open will be a lesson that a guitarist will never forget. I did it a few times with a Strat and a 20 watt Frenzel and I thought Duane Allman was coming back to life. Very eye opening experience that I wish every guitar player could live thru at least once. Completely changed how I think about buying pedals.
 

crossbones

Member
Messages
942
I had a neighbor who was fascinated when I was mixing songs for bands and used to come over and sit for hours .
He was in his mid 80's.
One time, I was working on mixes for a retro style, 80's-ish band of guys who were too old to really be doing that anymore, but that's another story....
The guitarist was really tough to work with.
He had the standard old 5150, way too high gain sound on every song.
As I was getting the instruments to mix, my neighbor says, "What's that ....noise?"
I asked, "What noise? Describe what you mean."
He says, "That........noise.....that just sounds annoying."
I muted the guitar and my neighbor says, "That! Thanks God it's gone. It all sounds so nice now without that ....noise."
I explained that that was the guitarist, and he said, "Why doesn't he just play his guitar then?"

Wisdom
 




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