The discomfort and value of not using reverb and delay

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by Dr. Lo, Mar 14, 2015.

  1. Dr. Lo

    Dr. Lo Supporting Member

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    For several months, I had been playing with moderate amounts of reverb and delay in my signal (Strymon Flint and Empress Tape Delay). It felt and sounded big and cozy, thanks to the reverb especially. One day, I decided to remove both effects and try to rely more on my playing (dynamics, held notes, no notes, slow vibrato) for setting the right ambience/space in the songs. Please note that I play in a three piece (mix of pop and classic rock), so things can sound empty real fast. It felt weird, but not for long, and the rest of the band liked it more. I have to admit it was liberating and certainly helped put my guitar more front and center (no surprise there). It forced me to concentrate more on what my hands needed to do in order to complement the song the best.

    I'm not suggesting that time-based effects like those don't have their place. Of course they do. However, I fell into the trap of relying too heavily (in my view) on effects and not enough on my hands. Hard not to do since I had a pedal board full of colourful, flashy boxes begging to be stomped on. Highly recommended exercise!
     
  2. Help!I'maRock!

    Help!I'maRock! Member

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    I love my delay and reverb, but half of our songs have neither. Effects are there to serve the song. You don't have to use them just because you have them.
     
  3. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

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    Yup, this isn't an either/or thing. I stay dry a lot of the time and kick in some delay where it's beneficial.

    To me a bone dry solo tone sound awful, most of the time.
     
  4. gearscrubs

    gearscrubs Supporting Member

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    As a lover of ambience, the phrase, "from my cold, dead, hands," comes to mind.
     
  5. Roadstar II

    Roadstar II Member

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    Well, those two effects can certainly drown your signal--albeit usually in a good way. Frankly, I've never had reverb enumerate itself as well in a band mix as in the practice room by its lonesome. There is a lot to be said about an organic, dry clean tone. That warmth--especially on the neck pickup of a Strat--is inspiring.
     
  6. Billy Idle

    Billy Idle Member

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    I own a Topanga, an Echorec and a Echoponic.
    I compell myself to just pick one of them.
    Same for modulation : just one.
    Helps me concentrate on DIRT !!! And thus, on playing real notes instead of walls of noise.
    Too much mod kills mod !
    Too many effects kills effects.
    Too many lies kills the truth !
     
  7. Dr. Lo

    Dr. Lo Supporting Member

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    I agree. I was simply sharing my own experience with the exercise so that others possibly benefit as I did. If you're already a player who doesn't overdo it with effects and knows how to get the most out of your hands, then that's great.
     
  8. Tune-O-Matic

    Tune-O-Matic Member

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    For me, reverb is a BIG part of the electric guitar sound.

    Without it, they sound dry and lifeless.
     
  9. Ogre

    Ogre Member

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    I believe that you, sir, are on to something.
     
  10. Ev O)))

    Ev O))) Member

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    really depends on your definition of the guitars role and even more on the musical context in which it's being used. I have an always on dirty spring tone and use delay in every song in my bands set save for one.
    The other guitarist plays drier but with a dash of verb on most of the time and some delay here and there.

    We play psych/soul/experimental rock stuff and there is only one guitar solo all set. We both play a supportive roll to keys and bass in a sense and to play without a bit of weird colouration from various delays and verbs would definitely be to our detriment.

    that said, for more down the line stuff i can totally see where the OP is coming from, but in my particular context it is just not applicable I guess haha
     
  11. NakedInTheRain

    NakedInTheRain Member

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    i have two reverbs. boss FRV-1 which is set for a really drippy spring reverb, and the smooth setting on my dd-20, which is always on and set to a really dark short delay time (except when other delay patches are on, but then you don't *need* reverb anymore). it's a subtle room reverb, but you notice when it's off.
     
  12. jordane93

    jordane93 Member

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    It's nice to have an actual clean sound. Nothing but guitar into amp.
     
  13. Braciola

    Braciola Silver Supporting Member

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    If you're using delay/reverb as a tool to improve your tone - good
    If you're using them as a crutch - bad
     
  14. RockDebris

    RockDebris Member

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    When Reverb is not a featured effect for a song, I still have a preset that is a short room reverb. I dial it in to the point where I can't really hear it, and then just bring it up a hair. It's not all that noticeable really, except when I turn it off. Makes things less jarring, and the guitar is not buried or hiding behind it.
     
  15. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    I think it is a good idea to try out different things and record them, though admittedly, recordings don't capture how you feel while playing, but it is the end result.

    An option is also to keep reverb but turn it way down in the mix, damping, time, mix, etc.

    Or just go without. I find I feel like I want some reverb when the band rehearses but never seem to need it at a venue when we gig. Never. There the room supplies the reverb and it usually is better than any pedal.

    I liked to think I kept it pretty subtle, but one night years ago (I used to give the vocalist a ride to rehearsals) the vocalist mentioned he thought I ought to tone the reverb down, that I used it too much, too prevalent. My first reaction was disbelief, but I listened and decided he was right.

    The thing about reverb, at least to me, it seems to move he guitar sound way back in the mix and can be used for an effect that way...very cool, kind of a milder version of how Gilmour plays the solo in "money" where he has this big delay and then turns it off midway through the solo, you notice how that makes the guitar seem to have moved "forward" in the mix, to be more intimate. Reverb works like that too.

    But reverb drenched, every song, is not a good sound for me.

    It's like many things, you have to learn to use it, or can just drop it (another good option), there is no one way.

    That said, other than when appropriate, like when you really do feel an obvious effect is the right choice, those for me are exceptions and the main sound I put out, when I use effects I almost want them to be so subtle that you can't really tell what is making it.
     
  16. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    I think that is a really good way to do it!
     
  17. Drak

    Drak Supporting Member

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    Two bands I seem to be listening to lately are:
    The War on Drugs
    St. Vincent
    TWOD guitar tone is heavily drenched in ambient effects.
    St. Vincent guitar tone is as stark and starved of echo and verb as the Sahara Desert.
    I have really been enjoying switching back and forth between them lately.
    Admiring Annie Clark's razor sharp and sparse guitar sound.
    Her gated, immediate fuzz tone is the exact opposite side of Adam G's.
    I really like both sides of the coin.
    It's kinda like doing without them makes me appreciate them more when I do use them.
    I'm not addicted to everlasting waves of ambient trails, tho I do like to use them.
     
  18. slimefuzz

    slimefuzz Member

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    i often turn the reverb up while i'm adjusting the sound, then turn it down to barely perceptible.
     
  19. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

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    FWIW , I saw Josh Smith in Oslo a couple days ago, he used a fairly loud spring reverb all the time.
    As the spring reverb is so long in decay it did't really get in the way on anything and it wasn't distracting , but gave his sounds a certain "flavour" which was really cool.
     
  20. Kid Casseroli

    Kid Casseroli Member

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    For live gigs in a closed room venue, the following members' comments reflect my experience too, and I thought that repeating the comments might serve as insight for players who are willing to try something new.

    It's frustrating to listen to a good group when the guitar is lost in the mix, adding to the ambient noise, instead of contributing to the music. Recognizing when delay and reverb aren't needed is one solution to improve the mix.

    When the music is priority number 1, balancing the effects will help keep it that way.
     

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