What is the Best Natural Sounding Amp For Your Electric Guitar?

201102211336461958guyatone_bodyAmps can have a big impact on the sound of your guitar: Some amps can alter the sound of your guitar radically, while other amplify its tone with adding only a slight bit a colour.
What is the best amp for your guitar? Of course, this question does all depend on what you want- and like from your sound and your guitar. Some players like the fact that their amp adds a lot of colour while others may prefer the hear the natural sound of their guitar coming out of the amp.
For this article a few ideas to guide you along the way how to achieve that natural tone.

Thinking of electric guitar and its  tone, the first amps were created around the 1930s. It was believed the amp should amplify the sound of the guitar without adding any artifical sounds such as distortion or anything else to alter the natural sound of the guitar.
Throughout the years amps did change a lot: They became more powerful and came with more features such as channel switching and adding on various effects.
Looking at any of the simple amps of the 1950s and early 1960s and you notice that not many of them do have a lot of controls. Usually volume and tone is all you can find. Often this is enough to give you that natural, clean sound of the guitar.

A good, simple amp will work with the tone of your pick ups and the resonance of the guitar. The speaker will add its own colour, but the overal sound should not be too different from what the guitar was designed to sound like in the first place.

Any amp will add colour. Think of the classic examples such as Fender and Marshall: A Fender amp will sound bright, while Marshalls can sound darker when you start to push their sound.

It may be possible to create your own natural, sounding amp: You can take any budget, practise amp and upgrade its  electronic components and speaker to get it to sound like a  better quality amp. Often simple practise amps will give you a basic sound, this basic sound can easily be modified to give you a better sounding, simple amp.

Hope to see you soon again for more updates regarding to sound and guitar technique.
Eddie

1970s Fender Guitars: They All Sound Unique Compared To Any Of The Older Fender Guitars

20140131140444IMG_3946Okay so we all know the stories about CBS Fenders and what went wrong. Most of you may also wonder how much of this is actually true, and does it matter? Not really as a guitar is a guitar, and if it sounds good to you then it is good! Simple eh?

We can all check out instruments for ourselves, play them and see how their sound and feel compares to what you know and what you play at the moment.
!950s and early 1960s Fenders may be harder to find, they tend to be expansive and more rare.
1970s Fenders are more regular to find as their prices are lower on the vintage radar.

Over the years I have had a change to try varous 1970s Fenders, most of them were Stratocasters, but there were also some basses. The one thing that struck me that some of those finish issues could be found on several instruments: Finish coming off easily as it was not applied all that well, sloppy finish issues and mistakes being made all along the line when the instruments were put together.
Playing them, their feel was different, different compared to older instruments and the newer ones (which all tend to go back to the ones of the 1950s) Similar to their sound, they sound is nothing like the newer Fenders.

Coming up with any theories as to why this is, there is the issue of vintage: In the 70s Fender did not ty to make their guitars sound and feel like any of the older Fenders. They just made them as they came out. They had to produce a lot of them, that is why quality issues arrived thinking about finish and some other issues. Most of these issues relate to the eye: The finish and overal instrument may not look that good, they may even look bulky, some being heavy but still, they can be good  and unique instruments.

What about newer Fenders? When I say newer I mean the Fenders which came out from about 1984: Well most of them in sound go back to how the 1950s ones were supposed to sound like, similar to their feel and look. Fender worked very hard at keeping the traditional sound, look and feel  to give younger players the idea that they play a vintage American Fender. Over the years Fender has made some changes to make their guitar appeal more to younger players: Rounder edges on the neck and slighlty hotter output from the pick ups. The vintage look in still there but now with a modern sound and feel!
When you think aobut any of the above you can see how I come up with my theory that the 1970s instruments have their own feel since most of the regular Fenders we find today are based on the ideas of the 1950s in their sound and feel. Yes I am talking about standard instruments not some custom shop knock off which can come in all kind of variations!

Enjoy checking out verious guitar and hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

Fuzz Tone: How To Get a Confincing Fuzz Sound Out Of Your Distortion Pedal?

20130926135626IMG_4407_orginalFuzz tones started to become popular in the 60s. Well, the Fuzz sound was the only kind of distorted sound around at that time.
The nature of Fuzz is that its tone is soft, but it also tends to take over your natural tone.

The softness of a Fuzz can be experienced by turning your tone control down all the way, use the neck pick up and play any notes on the low E and A string and listen to its sound: It will sound a bit like a synth,  let a note ring and it may give you that violin-like quality.

Some overdrive-and distortion pedals are great at being able to give you a Fuzz-like tone. Their sound may be somewhat different to any of the vintage Fuzz pedals you may know, but still, they may sound very pleasing and Fuzz-like.

Thinking of any of the Boss pedals: The SD-2 can sound very Fuzz-like when you use it in the Lead mode. Work with your amp and pedal settings to get the sound you like. Sometimes you may like to get the level of the pedal higher compared to the level of your amp: The pedal will take over your sound, but it may be the sound you just want at that time.

Dan Armstrong’s Blue Clipper can be a great Fuzz as well: There are no tone, or level controls on this pedal. The pedal itself is very primitive, therefore  a good candiate for a Fuzz.

The XT-2 and the PW-2, all from the Boss range are also good at creating realistic Fuzz tones.

Once you start dialing in for Fuzz tones think about your tone control: Keep it down as much as you can to reduce any artificial treble, and keep your playing primative as well: Simple Riffs and Power chords, but no speed shredding! Try it also while using alternative tunings, or any simple open string chords.

Enjoy and hope to see you soon again.
Eddie

How Improve the Tone and Feel of Your Guitar?

20140116182109IMG_5338Looking into changing the feel and sound of your guitar can be a lot of fun: It can be unpredicatable and exhiting process all at the same time.
You may wonder why make any changes to an exhisting guitar? Is it not better to buy a  guitar of which you like the sound and feel? Yes and no: Making changes to any of your guitars will give you more experience as in what is crucial for its tone and feel.
For this article I will go into a handful of simple things you can look into to change the feel and tone of your guitar.

Tone:
The main parts which create the tone on an electric guitar are the pick ups and the type of woods for the body and neck.
Lighter bodies may lack any depth to your tone. This could be compensated by getting hotter output pick-ups, but it may be better to get a body which creates  more resonance.
The bridge plays a vital part in the tone as well: Better quality bridges may give you more sustain and depth. Similar thing for the nut. Most of these parts are easy to change. Changing a body may be more radical as you may feel you will change your guitar completely.

Feel:
Most of the feel of a guitar comes from the neck: Is it a thick or thin one? Is it heavily finished or only lightly? The fretsize plays a part too: Thinner frets will give a different feel for your finger tips compared to thicker frets.
The kind of wood used for the fretboard: Maple fretboards feel harder, they also will sound brighter compared to Rosewood fretboards.

Getting a budget guitar may be a good starting point: You could change any part on this guitar without having the feeling that you are destroying its soul. The first thing you could do is change one pick-up. See what this has done to its tone, then carry on from there: Change more pick-ups or maybe change the bridge or……….whatever part you like?

Once you have finished the whole process you may end up with a guitar you really like, but it may also no longer be a budget guitar.
Have fun and hope to see you soon again,

Eddie

Starting Out with Guitar Playing: What Should Your First Guitar and Amplifier Be Like?

20140408092012IMG_3943It is very tempting to buy all the gear you need, when you are starting out. Get it all  in one packet and job done. Often these deals will include leads, picks, strings, guitar and amp. All you need really, isn’t it great? Yes but most likely, the gear you will get is of budget quality and may not be that inspiring to play after your first year of making music.

Another approach is to look at your budget and to get a separate guitar and amp. Before you buy look into what kind of gear you could get for the budget you have in mind. Instead of buying new, look into buying second hand. Often you can get better deals in this way.

Once you have made up your mind about what kind of amp and guitar to get ask some friends with playing experience what they think. Ask  them about their opinion and views. It may be possible to show them the gear and let them play it for a while to see what they think.

Making music and playing guitar is about growth. You want a guitar and amp which can keep up with your develpment. The gear needs to give you  joy and you need to be able to be proud of it. Over the years it is likely that you want to try something else: A other type of guitar or amplifier, but it should not be that the ones you have bought rigth at the start are no longer any good.

Over the years it may also be possible to upgrade your gear by making improvements to your guitar like installing different pick-ups or changing the speaker of your amp. There will also be room for improvement as it is part of the growing experience of making music and playing guitar.
Have Fun and hope to catch you soon again for more,
Eddie

Check List for Buying New Ukulele

20111117111343eddieBuying a new Ukulele is  relatively simple these days: Most Ukuleles you will find are of good quality, there are just a few things to watch out for: Ukuleles come in four sizes: The Soprano, The Concert, The Tenor and the Baritone. The Soprano is the one which is the cheapest and therefore the most popular one among starters.
Whey you shop for a Soprano, try not the get the cheapest one as most of these may not sound that pleasing. You only have to pay a little more to find yourself with a better instrument.
The one thing to watch out for is the tuners: Try to find a Ukulele which does have modern type tuners. Modern type tuners look the same as the type of tuners which are found on a Classical guitar. These type of tuners make sure you can actually tune your Ukulele. The traditional type of tuners for the Ukulele tend to slip and will make it hard to tune up correctly. A Ukulele which is not tuned correctly will be not much fun to play and will also make the learning of the instrument a less pleasant experience.

Happy shopping,
Eddie

Guitar Lessons in Group Format

20140222153811IMG_5187Taking up guitar lessons will mean for most people getting schooled in all kind of ideas relating to the guitar: How to hold a guitar, how music works and learning to play some simple ideas to get you started. Some people will go the way to take up individual guitar lessons, feeling they will receive more attention and learn more. Others may like the idea of having lessons in a group format. Group lessons do have the advantage that it is possible to play music in ensemble context. Within each group there are usually different levels, some students may be fluent with chords but not so experienced with single note playing. Any material which is taught in group format does have the potential to be played in ensemble context where each student will play various parts. Playing guitar in  a group setting is a enjoyable form of playing: Most students enjoy this kind of playing as each member can fit in easily according to their skills. Individual guitar lessons can also be tailored to ensemble playing: The ensemble is a little smaller since it only consists of two people, but those two people could still end up playing various guitar parts which make up a song. Playing guitar in ensemble context is not just enjoyable, there are huge benefits from a learning point: learning to play to keep in time with other guitar players, listen to the parts of other guitar players while you play your own part, learn to interact with other guitar players by playing simple solos and learn to enhance simple structures which work when you are playing with other musicians. Most guitar teachers, or music teachers, will let there students play in a group setting, if this is not the case maybe you should ask your teacher to let you play in a small group to experience what it is like to have your guitar lessons in a group format. Hope to see you soon again, Eddie

Get 1950s/1960s Sounds from Your Bass By Using a Mute

20110504122530eddieFor this article an insight in how to get that Acoustic bass sound from a modern Electric Bass. A lot of listening will help you to familiarise yourself with that sound. Also, try to think what the early Fender Basses had which the newer, modern versions lack: A Mute—the metal plate you will find at the back of the bridge. This Mute is  partly responsible for some of those sounds on the early Motown Hit Records.

Most of the early Electric Bass players had been Upright bass players in the beginning of their career. The sounds most of those players made reminds you about the acoustic bass. Some of the techniques some of those early Electric Bass Players used was adapted straight from playing Upright Acoustic Bass: Striking the string with one finger instead of using two alternating fingers, playing the strings by using only thumb instead of any finger—-think about the Finger Rest on early Fender Basses underneath the strings instead of above the strings. At some point the Finger Rest became a Thumb Rest.  This change must have been around the time more Bass Players started using their fingers instead of only playing with one finger or just the thumb.
Of course, any experienced Bass Player knows you do not need a thumb rest: You can rest your thumb as easily on the neck, the low E string or on the pick-up (depending on the lay-out of your Bass). You can also rest your thumb somewhere on the pick guard.

Thinking about that darker sound we hear on so many early Motown Hits you have to remember how most of those Bass Players played and what kind of equipment they used. Today we have a lot more options available but sound wise that early Electric Bass Sound some of the pioneers of Electric Bass did get cannot be beaten.

Once you have looked into how it feels to play whole songs with only using your First finger of your picking hand, or just your Thumb you may still feel there is something lacking: The Mute. The Mute was basically a metal plate with a bit of foam to mute all your strings lightly.
Have a look at your Bass, no Mute eh? Should you order one? Well you can but what about making one yourself? A very simple way to create a Mute is to take a piece of sponge, and cut it to desirable seize and stick it underneath your strings in the Bridge area. You will be pleasantly surprised as in how close this idea brings you to that authentic, early Motown Sound.

Experiment with different seizes to see what works best.

When it comes to strings,  most of the early Electric Bass Players used Flat Wound strings, Round Wound Strings were not yet invented! You may want to get a set of Flat Wound Strings as they will give you less ring. I will leave this choice to your own taste.

Enjoy and have fun and hope to catch you soon again.

Beginners Guide How to Hold the Ukulele

20111117111343eddieThe Ukulele is  a compact and small and relatively light instrument. You can play the Ukulele whilst sitting down or standing upright.  The main thing to look out for is to keep the Ukulele balanced and that you keep your hands free! Your Left hand is used for fingering the chords, not for holding or supporting the Ukulele. The Ukulele is supported by being tucked underneath your Right arm. Do not hold the Ukulele with your Right arm as it will prevent you from strumming effectively. Tuck the Ukulele underneath your arm, just let it rest there.
For strumming using your thumb (or first finger, or a Plectrum) of your Right hand. Strum the strings just above the fretboard not above the whole, (as what you would do while playing a guitar) playing in this manner will give you a stronger sound. Strum with a loose wrist, you can rotate your wrist slightly as you strum. All of this will become easier with time, avoid playing with a stiff wrist ( a common problem for beginners!) as it will  make your playing sound stiff as well!
Chords and single notes are being played with the tip of your Left hand fingers. All Four fingers are being used to finger chords, even your Pink. Try to stick to the “correct” posture and fingering right from the moment when you start as it will make playing easier in the future.

Have fun and hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

Easy Chord Sequences for Beginners Ukukele

20111117111343eddieThe Ukulele is a great, chirpy little instrument. It is a great idea for young children to start on a Ukulele and progress to guitar once they get a little older (from about 9 years or so).
The Ukulele in itself is an independent musical instrument. There are four different types of Ukuleles (Soprano, Tenor, Concert and Baritone) Each of them goes up in size, the Baritone is tuned similar as the guitar while the other three have a slightly different tuning compared to the guitar.
There are some great resources around for you to learn how to play the Ukulele, for this article I want to provide you with some simple chord sequences made up from basic chords. It is fine to look for individual chords but you need to put those chords into context for them to make sense musically. I have created four different sequences, and each of them can be played on their own to sound right.
I have put the chords into tap form, the fingerings are exactly the same fingering as any of the chord shapes you will find for these chords.

The chords are C, F, G and C at the end

A —-3—–0—-2—-3–

E —–0—–1—-3—-0—-

C —–0—–0—2—-0—–

G —–0—-2—-0—-0—–

Play all chords using four strums per chord. All chords are played for one bar, there is a C at the end of the sequence, then play C again for the start of next bar as the sequence starts again from  the beginning.

Next sequence is again four chords, and again, all four chords are played for one bar. You can play them using four strums per bar or just one strum per bar. If you choose to play one strum let the chord ring for the rest of the bar.
The chords are C, C7, F and G7

A —-3—-1—-0—-2—

E —-0—-0—1—–1—

C —-0—-0—0—–2—

G —-0—-0—2—–0—

The next sequence uses minor chords which have a darker sound compared to the chords used in the above sequences. The bars contain this time two Chords per bar, which means you strum each chord twice before you move on to the next chord.

The chords are Em, Dm, C and G

A —2—-0—–3—-2—

E  —3—-1——0—-3–

C  —4—2——-0—-2–

G —0—2——-0—-0-

The next sequence is again 2 chords per bar, play two strums per chord before you move on to the next chord.

The chords are C, C7, C6 and G

A —3—1—0—2—

E —0—0—0—3—

C —0—0—0—2—

G ———————

All chord sequences can be played over and over again, to give the sequence a “finished” feel you can play a C at the very end once you want to finish the sequence. The C will give the sequences a finished feel because all sequences are in the key of C. The Ukulele sounds great in the key of C: All strings played open will give you a C6 chord.

For next article a few tips on how to hold a Ukulele.
Keep on playing and hope to see you soon again.
Eddie