December 7, 2023

How to select Guitar effects

Guitar effects. What a selection these days. You don`t need a burning stratocaster or the Jimi Hendrix account at New York`s Legendary Manny`s guitar store to find yourself spoilt for choice with a bewildering array and vast multiplicity of choices.

What I`m saying is that there are thousands of them. Back in the early 90`s I used Zoom effects – their half rack midi controlled 9050`s were completely wild at the time and offered convenience, portability, stereo output and ridiculous amounts of parameter control. It sounded like Steve Hillage on speed or the Ozric Tentacles. Nowadays I`m taking a simpler route to guitar sonics and using my hands, a bit of reverb and maybe a Loop station or a Hot Cake, or VALVE distortion pedal. All you have to remember is that it`s up to you. Dont overwhelm yourself with too much tap dancing unless you really want to. Maybe try some digital modelling if you`d prefer instantaneous sound emulation. Or if you really prefer the sound of an L.P. to a compact disc settle for something more traditional like a quality distortion pedal and a valve amp. I know a few artists who still dig that whole 2 inch tape scene in the studio and dont like recording to digital at all…..almost as though digital is like throwing ice cubes into a metal bucket whereas analogue is the sound of hummingbirds drinking from a waterfall…Look after your signal, I`m in two minds bout it myself but sometimes youve gotta compromise.

The secret is to use your ears and your hands. Not your eyes, or your wallet or the company`s advertising spend or endorsees.
Remember the Edge from U2 has popularised an entire sound and melodic approach from intelligently using delay (and some beautiful skeletal arpeggios), Tom Morello kicked the ass out of the wah sound with a Digitech Whammy pedal with Rage Against the Machine and Jeff Beck tends to just let his fingers do the talking (with a bit of wammy).

After years and years of experience what I will say is that turning on and off one or two effects at a time without scrolling through menus gives you plenty of time to play, less margin for error and simplicity is just that. When it all goes wrong can you still plug straight into your amp and get through the show? Having kicked dodgy pedals off the side of the stage and plugged straight into an amp instead I know how I prefer my rig.

I once ran a toaster in  my effects line, timing the toast so it would pop up at the peak of a solo.
Sounded and tasted great!

Get the sound you want in the way you want – that`s all you need to consider.

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