Using Boss MT-2 and HM-2 Together to Create Unique Distortion Sound

Boss HM-2 is a similar kind of distortion pedal as the Boss MT-2. Out of the two pedals the MT-2 does have the biggest range, because of the parametric EQ it will let you dial in almost any sound you want. The MT-2 also has more volume and gain compared to the HM-2. The HM-2 may sound more natural and organic to most ears. What about using the two together to create a unique distortion sound? The goal is to use the HM-2 and to tweak its sound with the MT-2, because of the wider range of the MT-2 and also because of the pedal having more gain.

Experiment with the placement of the HM-2: HM-2 after MT-2 may be best, but it is possible to do it the other way around as well.

Once you have both pedals in place, dial in the sound on the HM-2 to how you like it, tweak this sound with the MT-2. Try to create an almost similar sound from the MT-2. Once you have done this you will notice it will make the HM-2 sound fuller.

Next, go for a more extreme setting on the MT-2 to add more spice to the HM-2.

The bonus of using both pedals is being able to get feedback at will. Both pedals will work well with single coil pick-ups and humbuck pick-ups.

Each pedal used on their own may sound dryer, once you use both pedals at the same time your sound will be wetter, fuller and having more sustain.

You may like the idea of using both pedals at the same time for a section of a song, or you may like to play an entire song with just the sound of both pedals. Whatever you will try, you cannot really go wrong with any of them.

Happing playing and hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

Boss MT-2: Parametice Distortion Great for not only Metal-but Alternative Rock Sounds as well

For this article a short guide to how you can set up the Boss MT-2 distortion pedal to overcome some of its, natural buzzy sounds.

Boss MT-2 is one of those distortion pedals which can give you a wide range of sounds. True, the pedal can give you that classic Metal sound from the 80s and early 90s but because of its parametric Equalizer, the pedal will let you tweak those sounds to almost anything.

Check out the manual for some sample settings: http://www.bossus.com/backstage/product_manuals/?group=2

click on link and search for MT-2, which you will see straightaway,  open the manual and scrawl to page 4 to view some of the sample settings.

Once you will try some of the sample settings you may feel they sound is a bit buzzy and tinny, especially the Fuzz setting. Try tweaking each setting by adjusting the concentric Equalizer controls, just play and change the setting of the bigger controls, then try adjusting the smaller controls until you get the sound which you enjoy playing with. As you adjust, you may also want to  alter the Level control. The Distortion control is the one which will give you overtones: open up the control and your sound will get wetter and richer with overtones, back down  the control and you will get a dryer sound. Adjust it to how you like it.

Great, non-metal sounds can be found as follows: Max out both small, concentric controls from the EQ section, keep the bigger, concentric controls at a lower level. Some people may find this setting too much. Adjust it to how you like, keep the distortion down to fairly low levels.

At some point I hope to add a video to this article to show you how I can get various tones out of the MT-2.

Some of the bonus points of the MT-2 must be:

  @ You are able to get feedback at will, especially when you use humbuck pick-ups. The small concentric controls are key to getting feedback.

  @ MT-2 will let you dial in its sounds on any amp, you will get similar results regardless what amplifier (or guitar) you use. Cool!!

Keep on playing, and hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie

Ibanez TS-808: Great Overdrive for Playing Slide Guitar!

I have written articles about TS before, what they are good at and what they cannot do. This article will mainly focus on the TS-808 and why it is a fantatastic overdrive for playing slide.
When you are reading this article you are probably well aware of the Ibanez TS pedals, if not, check out Analog Man’s page about Tube Screamers.

The TS-808 does have a very smooth sound, it is this feature which seemed to work well with the bright and tinny sound of a Slide. Using a TS-808 in combination with a humbuckers will get you a very thick, and smooth sound. Single Coils work very well as well.

As far as settings, you can keep the Overdrive control  fairly low, just set it to give a slight boost and push it to get a fuller tone. The Tone setting can also be kept fairly low, but it depends on setting of your amp and your taste. The Level control can be set halve way up and above. Tube Screamers tend to be mild pedals with not that much gain, so you may need to set the Level higher than any of the other controls.

All Tube Screamers tend to sound best when used in combination with a valve amp. Once you have started using a TS-808 you may become curious in any of the other TS pedals.

Happy Playing and hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

Choosing a Guitar for Slide Playing: Woods, Action and Pick-Ups

For this article a few highlights for guitarplayers who plan on learning to play Silde guitar. Some simple tips about the kind of guitar you may want to use for Slide playing and what the impact is of the various factors such as type of woods, pick-ups and action.

                         Action:

When you plan to make a start with learning to play Slide guitar you may wonder what kind of guitar to use.
Most guitars are fine for this purpose but there are a few things you can look into before you plunge into the deep: Is the action high enough of the guitar you plan to use? If the answer is no it is easy enough to eradicate this issue: Simply raise the action. 
                        
                        Type of Pick-Ups:

What about the pick-ups? Since the sound a slide produces is tinny it may be good to go for a guitar with Humbuck pickups: They produce a thicker sound which may be better at getting the sound to cut through in a mix of bass and drums. Ideally, get a guitar which does have both Humbuck and Single Coil pick-ups. In this way you can experiment with what kind of sound you like best. Often the sound which is most suitable will depend on the kind of song you are playing.

                       Wood of the Guitar:

What about the kind of woods? Should you really look into this?
Woods which absorb your sound may produce a somewhat “lazier sound”. A guitar where  the sound of the strings and pick-ups jump right  out of the amp may give you a more direct sound. This type of guitar may give a, somewhat, tinnier sound, because the woods do not really sustain the natural, acoustic sound of the guitar that well.
If your guitar is made out of a dense type of wood it will help to susain its natural acoustic sound, but it will also absorb the sound somewhat. Choosing bright pick-ups may help you to overcome the issue of absorbing the sound too much.

When it comes to woods you do not really have to become an expert at being able to spot what kind of wood your guitar is made of by looking at the grain of the wood. It will be possible for you to hear if your guitar is bright, absorbing, tinny, thick and sustaining. Once you can hear these wood qualities you may be able to find out later what kind of wood your guitar is made of. The ability to hear the sound quality of your guitar is more important than being able to identify the type of wood.
Playing various guitars from time to time will help you to tune in your ears into the qualities of the woods: Budget guitars (usally) will sound tinny compared to more expansive guitars. Sometimes these budget guitars will have a cetain quality you will not find of the more expansive models. Once you are aware of this you can then choose whatever suits best to your taste and needs. 

Happy Tone Hunting and hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie

Scales, Keys and Beyond

Do you find yourself often play in the same key when you are improvising or working with scales? Do you rely on scalepatterns or can you play your musical ideas freely without the support of any finger patterns?
For this article a handful of ideas to break out of the rut of scalepatterns and keys.

When you are starting out with playing solos on the guitar it is a good idea to memorise some scalepatterns. These scalepatterns will give you support and guidance during any of your solos. After all, it is  helpful to know, and to be aware of what you are doing on the fretboard while you are improvising.

Once you have mastered a few scalepatterns why not go beyond: Start off with a musical idea and follow this musical idea through to the next idea. In this manner you are “composing” a solo. Once you get stuck you may want to back track youself to see where you went wrong and to find out in which key you were playing. Knowledge of the key may help you to find you way back into your musical idea.

Any solo you will listen to responds to a song, it will reflect what goes on in the song and make a short, musical statement with regards to the song. The song is played  is played in a certain key, therefore the solo needs to obey to this key. 

How important is it to have knowledge of scales and keys? Listen to any solo, and see if you can sing back any of the notes of the solo. Each time you play a solo, try to sing the notes you want to play before you actually Play Your Solo.
Singing your notes before you play will make you play more melodically. No need to know the kind of scale and key you play in, once you can play what you sing all is fine. Having knowledge of the scale and key will probably help you with your notechoice, but still, being able to hear the notes you want to play first is more important.

                   Playing often in the same key?:

Most of the songs you are playing will be in common keys such as A, E, G, D or C. To break out of these keys try the following idea: Give yourself a note, try going for a sharp or flat. This note will be the key for your next solo. Now play a melody in this key.
If you find this hard, work on breaking down your scales, play them over two strings, especially those of you who have been playing scales over six strings. Find out where the rootnote is of the key, play this note in several places on the fretboard and start the scale from this rootnote. Once you can play the scale start playing musical ideas as this is more important. People listen to musical ideas instead of scales being played up and down the fretboard.

Keep on exploring and hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie

  

Song Writing: What Kind of Song??—-Story Song, Bruce Springsteen—-

For this article a snapshot into different kind of songs. I will mainly focus on the story-kind-of-song which most of you may know from people like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

If we can define a song like a story which is set to music you can trace the originals of this kind of idea back to a lot of folksongs from the British Isles and the Americas.
No need to list a lot of folksongs from this kind as the list would be long and confusing. Let me try to sum it up like this: There was Woody Guthrie with his guitar and voice and stories for the folks around him. The stories were for his audience, his children and family. His summed up what was going on around him, what was wrong at the time and what needed to be done about it. Simply really, or is it……..?

Then Dylan came along, gave it a different slant and he modified the songs for the change of the times, he even surrounded those stories in an electric setting, but that is another story really. What is useful to remember this modification for the song to the change of the times. Songs do not really change, stories are stories, some get dirtier, some get shorter but at the end of the day they remain a tale of what goes on today.

From Dylan to Springsteen is only a short walk around the corner. Bruce has recorded so many songs, played them on his own, with a band and………..modified them again and again. There are the love stories, there are the stories about growing up and stories, well you may not even know what they are about but the chorus keeps banging you on your head and the music lifts to words to a new height.

From this piont I can introduce you to some Springsteen songs. Why Springsteen you may wonder? Because his songs seem to fit the Story Song so well, most of them are long, there is a lot of variety in them, some of them do have a neat, hit-like sound while others remain more earthy and folky. Need to say more……………..

Okay now have a listen to this song, it is from his first album, this version is him playing song on his own:

Listen to how he introduces the song. Ain’t this typical “Man and guitar introducing song to his audience”?
The song itself does have a Dylan like sound at some point.
Here the album version, very 70s sound including the uplifting piano parts in intro and middle of the song.

The content of the previous song may have been obvious let us now have a look at this story here:

Maybe this is more what I ment with “Story Song” It is short snapshot in time about a woman, a man and where he is at the time, what he does and how he feels about what goes on around him.  Simple idea but there are a lot of words to listen to, a lot of images pass you by, but the roaring chorus of “Thunder Road” brings it all together. You may need to keep listening to the lyrics to hear what is going on next, but then there is again the chorus, the music and that sound and who cares what this thing is really about as it sounds good. Could you turn something like this into a single? Something with a stronger hook and more commercial sound to caputure the ears or an even larger audience? Have a listen to this one here:

Strong intro, including vibrato sound on low strings of the guitar—very 1960s ingredient, but who cares, it still sounded good in the 1970s—-
When Bruce starts singing you know this is not going to be 2.5 minute pop song with repeating lyrics in the verse, but the delivery of the vocal, almost pop (and soul) like with a lift in the melody and that stop and then the Oooogh shortly after that, all this in the very first 40 seconds of the song: Classic pop ingredient: Grap the listening by the throad and beg him/her to listen to what you have to say here. It is all there, but the content of the words and the kind of words? Still very folky but it works amazingly well here to give you the sound of an earopening, gritty song with sure popqualities including saxsolo in middle of the song, a strong chorus line with repeating intro, a modulating bridge which actually does not sound that cliche at all, even for today’s standards.
As with so many of Bruce’s songs you can hear he loves preforming and playing, listen to the extended end, he just loves to play and sing.

Not every story song needs to be a rambling vehicle full of roadcrashes with cries full of anger, some of then can also be tight, neat, sweet and punchy.

Enjoy and hope to catch you again soon,
Eddie

Boss DD6 in Warp Mode= Pedal Steel Effects

The DD6 is the only pedal in the Boss Digital Delay Compact pedal range which offers the Warp Function.
To engage the Warp Function you need to press on the pedal while the DD6 is switched on. The result is extended feedback, which sounds like infinite repeats from the last idea you played.

To get Pedal Steel sounds out of this function you need to develop a feel for how to work the pedal in this mode.
The result of the sound will depend greatly on your playing style, how much you understand what you are after and the setting of the pedal.

The settings I use for this sound are as follows:
Using a clock where 12.00 is half way up for the controls my settings are:
Level: 11.00     Feedback: 9.00  and Time: 9.00

Level is not that important, Feedback and Time are, but it all depends on how you play.

           Watch out for the following:  Press pedal too early and you get repeats, which is not what we are after.

          How Do You Get Pedal Steel Sounds?:

Play a phrase, press pedal while the sound decays, the result will be extended echo without repeats of the note (or chord) You will get a glassy echo which almost sounds like a Pedal Steel.

You can try this with chords, bends or even a Slide.

One drawback is: when you keep the pedal pressed down for too long you will hear a digital afternoise, which does not sound pleasing to the ear. Develop a good technique for how to work with this sound and you will not hear any digital afternoise.

Using a compressor does help to sustain the sound, overal the compressor makes the sound fuller, but also a bit noisier.

For anyone who knows the Boss compact pedal range, the sound as described before reminds me somewhat of the Feedback sound from the DF2. The DD6 does have a similar feel when you use the Warp mode, the sound result is sustain rather than feedback.

At some point I hope to make a video where I will demonstrate this particular sound of the DD6, in the meantime keep on playing.

Hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie

Guitar Lesson: Using Two Capos at the Same Time to get the Sound of an Open Tuning

Playing with a capo may be fun, you can easily transpose your songs while still using the same open chord shapes as you played before.

What about using two capos at the same time? The advantages of this are:

        ~ Creating Slash Chords with any Bassnote you need

        ~ No need to retune guitar to get open chordshapes

        ~ You  are able to play chordshapes which are not possible in standard tuning without use of any capo

         ~ Almost any Capo can be used.

In short, the idea of using two capos is as follows:

First capo is used in lower postion over all 6 strings. This capo mainly frets the low E String. This will become the note where we pitch our chord against which is fretted by the second capo.

Second capo is used to hold down only four strings. Watch out, not all capos will do this, the Kysler type (the big clamp ones) seem to be ideal for this. Another thing to watch out for is not to scratch your neck too much. You can use a cloth on the part where the metal is touching the back of your guitar neck.—The Capo is no longer touching the whole of the guitar neck since we only get the capo to hold down four strings!!—- All Capos are different, you need to experiment to see what works, it also depend on neck of guitar. The shape of all guitarnecks is different, but most guitarnecks will let you capo only four strings. It may be easier to use the scond capo further up the fretboard, in lower postitions capo may come off the fretobard if it only holds down four strings. Again, find out for yourself what works to get a feel for things.

Here is one example to get you going:

Capo first capo on first Fret, this capo holds down all six strings, next capo is at fifth fret, and covers only the first four strings. The second capo creates an A-shape C barre chord with the added 6th on the high E string. First Capo hold down a F note on the Low E and a Bb on the A string.
You can ignore the Bb on the A string. The A string can still be used for fretting notes. You can still play a C at the 3nd fret  The C can be used to give the Rootnote of the chord. The low E string creates the fourth of the chord. In a way you are playing:  C/F

Experiment what kind of melodic ideas you can play now while the two capos hold down the notes as mentioned before.

Ones you start to see what the two capos can do you will love it.
Remember this is not a short cut to get better sounding chords, it is just a different method to get some ideas going for another way of playing the guitar. In a way using the two capos is limiting as a lot of your fretboard is taken up by the use of the two capos. Do not use this idea if you want to play through a lot of different keys. It may be better to treat this idea as another way to play with open tunings with the advantage of not having to retune your strings to another pitch.

Enjoy and hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie

Song Writing and Chords

Most guitar players who start out with songwriting will start out with chords, logical as most guitar players start out with playing chords in the first place when learning to play the guitar.
After people have written their fist few songs they may start to feel: “I need use more complex chords, chords such as extended chords which contain 9ths, 11ths and 13ths”. 
Learning about chords, their basic construction and what to do how to extend them is not wrong but most of the songs you like have been written with basic chords. Chords can be played in various ways and how you put those chords together is another matter. Too many “pretty chords” in a song may be a bit too much. Select them carefully for them to make a contrast against the rest of the harmonic landscape of your songstructure.

A useful approach to songwriting is to use all what you know and to use it at its best: Once you have a chordsequence experiment with the strums: Does each chord need to be played for one bar or should I try playing two beats for a few chords? Experiment with the arrangement of your song: It is a common feeling to be happy once you have your order of chords, there is this feeling of accomplishment. Great, but maybe the songstructure could do with some extra work? Record the song for yourself and listen back to how it sounds like. When you listen to your song keep the listener in mind. Is the song fun to listen to?

if you have only written a handful of songs do not worry so much about what I mentioned before, as your songs will start to get better the more you write.

Over the next few articles I will give a few pointers as in what may be a good approach to writing, giving you a few more, extra techiniques you may want to try out for your own writing.

Keep on reading and hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie

Guitar Lessons: Playing Slash Chords for First Inversions

Last article was about Slash chords, this article will deal again with the subject of Slash Chords.
Slash Chords are great for playing first inversions of your chords.

What are inversions? an inversion of a chord is where the notes have been grouped in a different order compared to the Rootpostion of the chord. Each three chord note does have two inversions.
Here is a example of C major and its two inversions:   

Roootposition; C        First Inversion: E    Second Inversion:     G
                        E                                  G                                      C
                        G                                  C                                      E

If you play these chords in a linear way you will discover that the Rootposition of the chord appears again after you have played the Second Inversion. 

Here an example of Aminor (relative minor for C major) and its two inversions:

Rootposition:   A       First Inversion:   C          Second Inversion:    E
                        C                                   E                                           A
                        E                                   A                                           C

Okay let us now create a first inversion on the fretboard of D major.
The notes in D major are     D
                                         F#
                                         A

To create a Slash chord which uses first inversion of D we need to use the F# in the bass.
Here is one way to finger this chord:

          D/F#

     E——2——

     B——3——

    G ——2—–

    D——-0—-

    A————-

    E——-2—-

F# is on the low E, the open A is not used, Root is on the D, but not longer the lowest note. Rest of the chord is similar to how most of you will play an open D chord. Using the low open A string whilst not playing the F# on the low E string will give you a Second inversion.

Here the same Fist Inversion of D as Slash Chord but fingered higher on the fretboard:

                        
              
                         D/F#

  E—————————————–

  B—————-7————————

  G—————-7———————–

  D —————7———————–

  A —————9———————–

  E —————————————

This fingering of the D chord uses the A-shape and does have the F# in the bass on the low A string, another F# can be found on the fret 7 on the B string. The Root of the chord can be found in the middle: fret 7 on the G string. The fifth of the chord, the A, is on the 7th fret of the D string.

For all your own experimentation, it does help if youi know the notes of basic triad (Root, Third and Fifth) chords such as C, G, D, A, E and F because these chords will appear often in your own playing.

Try creating some Slash chords for yourself to get different sounds from your chords, try them along the whole fretboard instead of only sticking to first postion chords. Most of the first inversions can be fingered in a fairly easy way.

Good luck,
Eddie