Using Pop Shields on Your Microphone

Using a pop shield on your microphone is usually used for cutting down unwanted sounds in your vocals. Basically how it works, the pop shield cuts down a bit of treble, this bit of treble can  sometimes create unwanted, irritating sounds in letters such as P or S. When using the pop shield those sounds are less prominent.

A pop shield will also keep your microphone clean when you share your mic with other people.
When using your microphone outside a pop shield will keep the wind out of the mic. Wind can cause some irritating sounds as well when amplified by a mic.

In case you cannot find a pop shield you can also use an old sock. Any type of cloth you can put over the microphone will do the job.

Hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie

Using External Speakers on Your Guitar Amp

Some guitar amps do give you the ability to add an extra, external speaker to its main internal speaker.
Why would you like to try this?

~The hear how a differerent speaker responds to your amp.

~To spread the sound of your amp.

If your amp does not have an external speaker input you could try to connect your amp to another amp to achieve a similar kind of idea. When you are connecting your guitar to both amps set the amps up for a similar kind of tone. You will hear your sound as one amp rather than two different amps. Take out the sound of one amp to hear the differences in your sound, you will be surprised by what you hear.

 

Happy playing and hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie

Break Often Strings? What Causes Them To Break?

                           Old Strings:

A string is like an elastic band. At some point the string will have lost it elasticity, by that time the string will no longer feel slippery (typical feel of new strings) and it is time to change your strings. To avoid breaking strings during your playing make a habit of changing your strings regularly, all depending on how often you play and your playingstyle, but changing strings regularly will make sure you keep that fresh feel under your fingers and avoid embarrassing moments of snapping a string while in the middle of playing a song.

                          Sharp Edges on Bridge or Frets:

Sharp edges on either bridge or frets appear as part of wear and tear on your guitar, they can cause a string to break. If you break a string often at the same point check to see if you have any sharp edges on either frets or bridge. You can smoothen out those rough edges with some fine sandpaper or a fine file. If you do not trust yourself with any of this check out your local guitar repairman.

                         Your Own Technique:

You may play too rough for the strings to handle your playing style. Work on your technique to smoothen things out. You do not need to be gentle on your strings, they can handle a lot, but it depends on how you strike the strings. You can sometimes notice differences when you change your tecniquqe. There may be a point where you break strings, because you strike the string harder than how you used to play before. In cases like this try to smoothen out your playing, over time you will learn how hard to attack those strings. If you still keep breaking strings learn to live with how you play: change strings often for them to keep up with your style!!

                        Floating Tremolos such as Floyd Rose Systems:

Heavy use of trems like the Floyd Rose will wear your strings out quicker simply because there is more movement of the strings. Again, as what I mentioned before about your own technique, breaking strings while using any floating tremolo system will depend a lot on your style: It may be possible to use your trem all the time and not breaking any strings at all.      

Changing strings all depends on your style and preferences: Some guitar players do not like the sound and feel of new strings, therefore they may be quite happy not to change them too often. Most of use like to keep them fresh, and to achieve this changing your strings from time to time will help you!

Have a Great Time and hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie

Stereo Delay Trick Using Amp, Mixer, PA Monitors and Insert input

This idea is ideal for those of you you play through an amp and monitor speakers while on stage.
Sometimes it may be good to use the monitor speakers as part of your amp: You have an extra speaker around. This extra speaker may be useful for particular special effects while using your pedals. One of those effects is the idea of “stereo-delay” 

The image of “Stereo Delay” only comes alive when using two amps. Using two amps on stage may not always be practical. What about using the P. A monitor speaker as part of your amp?By using the insert input of the mixer you are able to send your Delay signal through that particular channel of the mixer: Simply patch the delay pedal into the insert input.

Insert inputs work as patching an effect onto one channel. You will need a cable with a stereo- Jack plug on one side going into two mono-Jack plugs. The stereo Jack plug is usually plugged into the mixer, while the two mono-Jack plugs are for your delay pedal: One Jack plug for the input while the other Jack plug goes into the output of your Delay pedal. The stereo- Jack sends the unprocessed signal of the channel into your Delay while the output of the Delay brings the signal back into the channel. A bit like an effects-loop, with the difference that the insert will only work for one dedicated channel.

The delayed guitar signal will only be heard on the monitor speaker, while your guitar amp in unprocessed. Make sure you do not plug the Delay straight into your guitaramp, since this will put delay onto both guitar amp and monitor speaker.

Using the insert input in this manner creates the idea of Stereo-image: Guitar amp is dry while monitor speakers do have the delayed signal. The monitor speaker will probably not be that close to your guitar amp, this makes the stereo idea work even better.

Inserts inputs do not only work  for Delays, they will take any effect. Try it to see which effects work best for you while using the insert input of your mixer. 

Happy experimenting,
Eddie

Hollow Bodied Versus Solid Bodied Electric Guitars

The tone of an electric guitar usually depends on the body construction, type of wood and the kind of pick-ups being used.
Solid bodied guitars may be the most popular guitars today but there was a time when the hollowed bodied guitar was all the guitarist had.

Hollowed bodied electric guitars came out of the acoustic F-shaped guitars. Guitarists used to put a pick-up on the body to amplify the guitar. 
From the 1950s onwards technicians such as Leo Fender and guitarists like Les Paul started experimenting with guitar construction with the aim to develop a solid bodied guitar. Out of these experiments came the Les Paul guitar, the Telecaster and the Stratocaster. All three guitarmodels are still popular today and use a solid piece of wood as main guitarbody.

The Hollowed bodied guitar may be less popular today, but it is still around in its various shapes. The main difference in sound is: A mellower tone compared to a solid bodied guitar. If you have never used a hollow bodied guitar you will notice the difference in sound and feel: With their bigger body they may feel like a standard acoustic guitar, the tone may be less focused (although this will depend on type of guitar and model)

Personally I feel the Statocaster is still the most versatile electric guitar around today, it can be used in many styles and will never feel out of place, with its tremolo arm and floating bridge you are able to get sounds you can not achieve with a standard, fixed bridge. The Strat can give you bright and dark tones which may be all you need to get you through a set of songs. If you have the choise, a hollowed bodied guitar, next to a Les Paul and a Strat will give you all what there is to offer in guitar tone-and feel.

Hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie

Theory Lesson: Suspended Fourth Chords Explained

The sus4 chord is one of those chords which pops up regularly in all kind of songs. “Pinball Wizard” of the Who is a well-known example which uses sus4 chords in many parts of the song.
Most people who play guitar have used this chord many times, probably without realising what kind of chord it is.

Thinking of chords, a major chord contains a Rootnote, a Third and a Fifth.  Take the chord of C and you get C as Root, E as Third and G as Fifth.
A sus4 chord replaces the Third for a Fourth. The nature of the chord is it wants to release to a major (or a minor) chord.

Going back to the example of C and we get: C as Root, F as Fourth and the G as Fifth.

Here a few chordshapes of Sus4 chords you may like and their resolution to the major chord:

   About the Chordshapes:
On the far left names of strings, for first example only used three strings because chord is only played over three strings.
For each chord I have also given the names of the notes.

          Csus4                             C

     E  ——-1–        F        ——-0——-    E         The sus4 is the F in the C chord, it falls down to E
                                                                                to give you back the standard C chord
     B ——–1-         C        ——-1——-   C

     G ——–0-         G       ——-0——–  G

           Dsus4                           D                                     The G forms the Sus4, it falls down to F# to give
                                                                                        you the standard D chord. You may like this D chord shape,
    E  —5—-            A       —–5———–    A                   which uses the A note at the high E string. Mute the B and G
                                                                                        string to get a nice, clean and ringy sound out of the chord.
    B  ——–                   ——————

    G  ——–                   ——————

    D —-5—-            G      —–4————   F#

    A  —5—-             D      —–5————  D

    E  ——–                   ——————–

            Asus4                          A                                Sus4 is formed by the D it falls down to C# to give you
                                                                                    the chord of A.
    E  —-0—        E         ——-0————  E

    B  —-5—        E        ——-5————   E

    G  —-7—        D       ——-6————   C#

    D —-7–           A        ——-7———–   A

    A  —0–            A       ——–0———-    A

    E   ——-                  ——————–

Next time you listen to some music see if you can spot the sus4 chords.
Experiment with your new chord shapes and hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

Songwriting Methods

For this article some short ideas how to kickstart a song.

A song contains of a lyric, melody, harmony and rhythm.
It is possible to start a song with each of those elements on their own.

Before we break down each of those four elements let us have a quick look at style to see what kind of impact style has on those four elements: 

Dance music: typically reduces lyric to a very short idea, harmony is usually reduced to a short riff or a few chords. 
Rock and Soul music: Strong on rhythm without compromising lyric, harmony and melody.
Folk music: Think of early Bob Dylan: Harmony is often simplistic, while lyric may be more important, think of the story the song tries to tell.

          Lyric: 

To start a song with a lyric can give you a sense of where you want to go with a song lyrically. You can write down some ideas, or even a short story, or a poem, which can serve as lyric lines for your melody.
Instead of having a clear idea of the words you can also work with “nonsense lyrics”: just use anything which come into your mind to serve you as a melodic idea. Once a song is happening work on your lyric to replace the nonsense words. Sometimes it may be quicker to use nonsense words, it can also give a sense of “non-commitment” Too much commitment at the start of a song may make it harder to get going. The fun element of the nonsense words may help you to open up your creative potential.

         Melody:

Start out with a melody before you even have an idea of harmony. Sing (or play) the melody to yourself. A strong melody can stand on its own. Having a strong melody may improve the nature of your song. Older songs of the past (1930s up to early 1960s) used to be stronger in melody.

        Harmony:

The “guitarist way” of writing songs? Typically mess about with chords, riffs or a handful of notes to see what comes about. It is a very satisfying way to write songs but does have a few downfalls: If you use no other methods you may end up writing the same kind of songs over and over again.  Having chords first may reduce your melody, you may just create melodies to fit your chords instead of the other way around. Ideally you should try to get chords which support your melody and at the same time sound interesting when played on their own without a melody.

         Rhythm:

Work with a bassline and beats first to kick start a song idea. A bassline may open up the harmony, since the bassnotes can be harmonised in different ways. You could start with this method and once you have a groove happening with some chords you could add chords and start thinking about song structure.  The drum/bass method is not just for people who work in the dance field of music, it is just another way to open up your creativity and to get you to think in another way to get a song going.

Try any of the above methods, use them when you get stuck with your own writing, think where you want to go with a song and try various ways of writing.
Songwriting is diverse, and you do not have to plan before hand. Sometimes it helps, the overal process is chaotic, the endresults are neat and, usually, end up with a finished song.

Have fun and hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie

Reflective Areas in Your Rehearsal Room

Reflective areas are those places in your rehearsal room where the sound bounces off. Hard sufaces such as tiles and stone walls are typically very reflective materials.
It is possible to deaden some of the reflective areas in your rehearsal room. If you have ever been to a recording studio, or dedicated rehearsal room, you may have noticed that the walls were covered in some kind of material to eliminate the relection of the sound.

Too much relection of the sound will make the room echoy and it may be less enjoyable to play in a room as such. Deading all the refective sounds in your rehearsal room will result in a dead sound, but when you are using electronic reverbs this may not be such a problem. Ideally you should strive to keep some of the reflection to keep the sound from being natural.

There are many dedicated products on market for you to choose from to create the ideal rehearsal room, however, when you think about what you are trying to achieve, you may able to improvise a bit with various materials and get similar results in a simpler (and often cheaper) way.

               Using Carpet,Cardboard and Wood:

Observe the walls or your rehearsal space and put some carpet on the wall. You can get the carpet onto the wall by using screws or glue and any method which will keep the carpet firmly fitted to the wall. Carpet will absorb the sound and lessen the refection. Cardboard does have similar characteristics as carpet, it may not absorb the sound completely but it will lessen the reflection of the sound, which is part of your goal. You may be able to find large carboard boxes, fold them into one and use them as a panel. Use double sided cardboard, which makes it easy for it to stand up against the wall.
Using wood is also a good idea, wood will aborb the sound as well. You may be able to find pieces of wood and use them as panels (similar as with the cardboard) and arrrange them around some of the walls of your rehearsal space.
As you do some of the the above, keep some areas free for the sound to bouce off, to remain some refection, which will give you a more natural sound.

             Sound Levels and Treated Rooms:

You may find, after you have treated your room, that your band does not have to play that loud for each instrument to be heard. Working with the sound (and size)  the room is always a good habit, try it. If you use different rooms for rehearsing, try to tread the rooms differently so you can observe the differences in sound.

Hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie

Change Sound of Your Guitar: Use Different Gauge Strings

Using a different gauge of strings may be an eye opener for those of you who have been using the same gauge for a while: Going up in gauge you may find your sound will be tighter and fuller bodied. Going down in gauge may get you a more twangier and less stiffer sound.

When you change the gauge of your strings do you need to set-up the guitar accordingly to this new set of strings? Ideally yes, but if you are going up just one number in gauge, for example from 0.10s to 0.11s, you can just try changing the strings, see what it sounds like and leave it like that. Readjust set-up only if you are experiencing very different action and intonation.
If your guitar was set up correctly, going up one gauge will not change it that drastically. Just try to see how it feels.

Enjoy, and hope to catch you soon again.
Eddie

Change Sound of Your Amp: Change the Speaker

The sound of your guitaramp comes from various aspects: The design of the amp, the type of valves being used and the speaker. Changing the speaker of the amp can have some interesting results: A stiff amp may now sound more responsive, the amp may break up in a different way, the brightness of the amp may have been tamed. These are just a few aspects I mention, difficult to predict how your amp will sound, just giving you a general overview of how the sound of your amp may have changed.

In case you use amphead and separate speakers, changing the kind of speaker you use will be very easy: Just plug amphead into different speakcabinet and listen to the results.
Using a combo? Some combo amps have a jackplug on the lead of the speaker, this jack plug is then connected to the speaker socket of the amp which lets you connect speaker to the amp. If your combo does have a jack plug connected to the speakerlead connect this jack to a different amp: You are now using the speaker of your combo to connect to a different amp. Often the speaker lead found on the exhisting speaker of your comboamp will be short. You may be able to plug your speaker into a connnectorbox which will let you plug speaker into box and then let you connect this box to a larger speakerlead which may be able to reach your amp. In case you are not really sure how to get this connection done, speak to an engineer or a friend who is well-versed in technical details as such.

                     Using Speakers You Know:

Trying different speaker onto various amps may work best if you use speakers you know, since you know their character and will be able to notice the differences in sound straight away. Working in this manner also avoids you having to buy new speakers, speakers you are not sure what they sound like.

Overal, this experiment will open up your ears to particular characteristics of your amps, observations which will make you understand your amps better.

Have fun and hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie