Boss OD-1 versus OD-3

Both the Boss OD-1 and OD-3 have a very clear and distictive sound. The OD-1 is based on the sound of Marshall JMP amp from around the mid to late 70s. Its sound can be heard on countless classic rock albums of that time. When you try the pedal for the first time you will hear it straight away regardsless of settings pedal and the amp you will play through.

The OD-3 is based on the sound of Marshall JCM 900. These amps were being made during the 1990s. The big difference between the OD-3 and OD-1 is: OD-3 does have more bass, more clarity, more treble, more volume and gain.
Both OD-1 and OD-3 do have a slight hint of mid-range. Maybe a characteristic of Marshall amps?

Guide to Set Up Your Amp for the Tones You Like

For this article a few tips on how to explore the sounds of your guitar (or bass) amp.

If you have just bought a new amplifier you may wonder what the possibilities of your amp are. If you are one of those people who do not change the settings of your amp you may be interested in exploring the sounds your  amp has to offer.
First and formost keep the controls of your instrument (bass or guitar) fully open. In a closed position you can never explore what your amp has to offer since your instrument does not give a full signal to your amp. You may find this an obvious comment but you be surprised in how many people try to work with their amp and getting the right sound while the volume of their guitar (or bass) is half way down! You can back off on volume once you feel you have the right sound of your amp, but start dialing in your tone while your volume controls are fully open!

Plug in your instrument and play an open chord, just hold this chord while you dial in all your tone settings, keep repeating the process as you dial in all the various controls. Play a bit, as an open chord responds differently compared to playing further up on the fretboard.
It does help if you already have an idea what kind of sound you are looking for. If you are new to the amp just keep on playing with controls until you find what you like.

                Active Controls:

Some guitar-and bass amps do have active tone controls: put all tone controls on zero and you do not get a sound. In case your amp does have active controls put all of them at 12.oo o’clock and treat this sound as your starting point, adjust treble and bass according to how you like the sound to be.

              Pre-and Power amp controls:

Approach them in the same way as what I mentioned above: Just play an open chord and dial in the controls until you find what you like.

              Equalizer Settings:

Some amps do have on-board EQ settings, this usually relates to bass amps. To set them up, use same approach as before. Usually the EQ will add (or cut) some of the basic sound of your amp.  Before you use the EQ, set up amp without using the EQ then start adding tones with the EQ until you like it. Adding too much EQ will create distortion, cutting too much with the EQ will take away from your basic tone. Balance the sound until you feel you have the right tone. Sometimes an EQ can be what you need when you play with a band: You may be able to boost  the low end a little bit which will make the bass more audiable compared to drums and guitar.

Happy exploring and hope to catch you soon again,

Prepare Yourself Before You Take Up Guitar Lessons

For this article a few highlights what you can do for yourself before you take up guitar lessons.

Most people who take up guitar lessons need the lessons as a motivation which is understandable. Once the motivation is in place you should use the ideas you get from your lessons to use in a constructive way for your own practise time.

You can prepare yourself a little before you make a start with your guitar lessons, here a check list of things you can do without the help of any other person:

   ~ Learn a handful of basic chords

   ~ Learn to pick a few strings

   ~ Use a tutor book which will  explain you the  basics of music and also show you how to read notes on the guitar

   ~ Have a look at tablature, find out how it works and try to apply it to songs you want to play

Apart from any of the mentioned above it may help to talk to a friend or anyone you know who does play guitar and find out what they have done to improve their guitar playing. You may want to ask about how long it took them before they got to grips with the basics or anything along the lines of that.

Stay tuned and hope to catch you soon for any more updates.

Tips How To Keep Yourself Riffing and How to Improve Them

When you read this you probably have a lot of riffs you play daily, riffs from any of your favourite bands and maybe some of your own riffs.
No doubt you can play those riffs as how they should sound like but what about using those riffs in another setting? Make them come alive with other solos and other riffs so those orginal riffs become actually a piece on their own.
For this article I will give you a handful of ideas what you can do to improve your riffing power and how it will make you sound  a more professional guitar player.

When it comes to playing music it does help if you can break down what you are doing: Get to know the key of the riff (or song) you are playing. Once you know the key you may be able to play the same riff in another position, or you may even be able to change the key of the riff. Why would you want that? By changing the key you may be able to play your riff with open strings. The sound of open strings may make the riff sound more jangly or heavier or whatever. Being able to give your riff the sound you like is a good idea, it means you are on top of your game instead of just using any old tablabture which shows you were to play the riff.

Now that you know the key of your riff what about your technique? Are you using down pick or alternate picking or…………..?
Is this important? It is good to play the riff with the sound you want, and the kind of technique you use for your picking will make a difference to the sound of the riff. Down picks do sound heavier compared to upstrokes. Try to break down your technique, find out what you are using and get your sound as smooth as you can. The opposite is guessing, and not using an consistent technique. The downfall of this is that your playing will not always sound as good as it can be.
If you notice any shortcoming in your playing work on it, break it down and iron out any weaknesses.

Now that you can play the riff with the right technique, and all sounds how you want it to sound like, let us move on to changing the riff. Changing the riff you may wonder? Yes, we want to use that riff, but we also want it to open you up to something more: Once you know the key of the riff, it may be possible for you to add lib. at some point in between parts of the riff.
How will I do that you may wonder? Without giving you any tab. or examples, just find a riff which does contain several parts. You may be able to play first part, then get to improvise a bit with some of the notes of the riff (and scale) before you plunge into the second part of the riff. In this manner you will be able to keep on playing your riff without it getting to sound all the same each time.

The next step is to change the style of the riff: This idea will make it possible to use parts of the riff for something which you have made yourself. Once you start working with this idea do not feel too precious about the original riff, just change whatever you need to get the new riff to sound how you like it, including style and rhythm. You may end up with the original riff being played in a completely different style. That is fine, but try also to get some of your own notes in there as it will help you to see how to create new ideas out of exhisting material.

Keep on playing and hope to catch you soon again,


Guide For How to Set Up Your Guitar Amplifier

Are you one of those guitar players who leave the controls of your guitar amp in the same place regardless of what you play?
This article may be for you as I will guide you quickly through how you can explore the tones of your amplifier effectively.

Dialing in a good tone on your amp is not difficult. You will need to use your guitar while you change the controls of your amp to see what the changes you have made sound like. Simply changing a control without playing will not let you know what sound you are dialing in. Play a bit while you change the control, then adjust afterwards until you feel the sound is right to your taste.

                           Bass ‘n’ Treble:

Typically you can strum and open chord ( chord of A will usually do), hold this chord while you listen to the sound of your amp. You can set all the tone controls mid way (12.0’clock or anything near to give you a “neutral” sound) from here you can go to a more brighter tone, or bassy, depending on what you like.
When you dial in more treble on your amp it is easy to get a more bassy sound by turning the tone controls of your guitar down. Not so easy if your amp is already set up for more bass than treble.

                          What About the Mid?:

You can adjust the controls for the middle to whatever you like. You may have an amplifier which does have a lot more controls than just Bass, Treble and Middle. It may be an idea first to get a basic sound by setting up Treble, Middle and Bass and then adjust all the other controls which will affect your tone.

                        Distortion or Clean?:

What I mentioned before relates to clean and distorted sound. The distortion channel of your amp may have more controls related to Pre Amp and Gain. Use them to adjust the rigtht tone and the level of the distortion. As far as actual tone of the sound, use the same guide as what I mentioned before to get the best results.

Happy Playing and hope to catch you soon again,

Ibanez TS808 versus Boss OD-1: Are they Similar?

No they are not, but they can sound close depending on the settings of both pedals.

Let me talk you through how they are:

The TS 808 is good for creating mild overdrive to your amp, even when the pedal itself is not being pushed into overdrive.
The TS 808 is not able to give you a clean boost, no matter what you do. Maybe modded versions are, but I am talking about the stock, reissue version from 2004. No clean boost.

The OD-1 can give you a clean boost, the pedal does not have that much volume, but it will be able to get your amp to sound louder even when the overdrive control is all the way down.
The OD-1 does have a slight mid range sound, characteristic of Marshall amps. You will not be able to get rid of this sound, no matter how you set the controls. All it all, use the OD-1 and your amp starts to sound like a Marshall.

The TS 808 does have more volume compared to the OD-1, it also has more bass compared to the OD-1, which may surprise some people. The mid-range boost, a lot of people mention about the TS 808, is of a very different nature as that compared the the OD-1: OD-1’s mid range is really the Marshall sound, TS 808’s midrange is neutral, hence the pedal being so good to give that smooth push towards your amp. (It works best with Valve amps, not so great with Transistor amps!)

The overdrive of the TS 808 is smoother compared to the OD-1, it is also neutral, the OD-1’s overdrive is Marshall: Keep overdrive down and the sound is mild, open up the overdrive and the OD-1 will give you a very thick sound.

You are able to get both pedals to sound somewhat the same depending on the settings of the controls, but remember, they can also sound very different.

There are some videos on You Tube where people compare both pedals, some of those do not really show the differences between both pedals. It really depends on what the creater of the video has in mind and what he/she feels is important to show in the video.

Stay tuned for more pedal talk for next few articles.

Guitar Lesson for Intermediate Players: How To Develop Your Solos–Phrasing–

For this article a short sample of a phrase, including a chordsequence, which you can use for your own playing.
Last week I wrote about phrasing as well, some of the ideas mentioned in that previous blog can be used for the guitar lesson of this blog.

We will create a solo (or rather, you will create) out of four given notes. The notes are G  C  D and F, all four notes are being used to create one phrase. Play the phrase with the following timing: One full beat for the G and the C D and F are played with triplet feel.  This will give you two beats in four/four. Play the idea twice and you will be playing the phrase for a full bar.

Underneath the phrase you can play the following chords:

        Gm          Gm         C          Bb  Gm

      /  /  / /     / / / /     / / / /      //    //

Each  chord lasts for a bar, the last bar contains Bb and Gm.  The  same phrase can be played over all four bars.

Once you get the feel for things you can change the phrase on the C and the Bb, since this will give you a different sound. Each of those chords beg for a different note. You notice I am running ahead here, let me first talk you through to how to approach the whole idea:

Get comfortable with the phrase first, give the chords a feel which fits the rhythm of the phrase. The four strums per bar are only for indication, find a feel you like and fits with the phrase. Record the chordsequence on a loop pedal or recorder, now you have the ability to play the phrase over those chords.

         Where Should I Play the Phrase?:

Anywhere where you can play those notes.  Here three tabs as example where you play those notes:

     E  ———————————

     B  ——————————–

     G ——————————-
     D  ———————3——–

     A  ———3—–5————–

     E  –3—————————–

To get smooth feel, play the D as a hammered on note before you land on the F.
As you can see the phrase is played in position using the low strings.

Here same phrase, now with notes being played on the higher strings using the open G as starting note:

   E  —————————————–1—

   B —————————1—–3———–

   G —————–0—————————

  D  ———————————————-

  A ———————————————–

  E  ———————————————–

Don’t worry about notation, the phrase still starts on beat One and is being played twice to cover one bar. The tab. suggests that phrase comes in half way in the bar, this is just how I have notated it here.

Now same phrase being played over the high E string:

E ——–3——–8—–10——-13——

Observe the Hammer on being used all throughout each example. The phrase is the same, but the position is different.

                 Once You Can Play Phrase Start Experimenting With…:     

Once you are comfortable with the notes break away from them: You can still play the same notes but add other notes at the end of the bar. Maybe play phrase only once in one bar and add lib. for the  next two beats.

No need to stick to the positions I have given, find your own positions where the phrase feels comfortable. Each position will open up new opportunities for you to use various techniques to add lib. with the phrase.

Next to the phrase you can add lib. with the scale of Gm Pentatonic or Bb major (the relative major scale of the key of Gm)

Incorporate string bending and more hammer-ons (and pull-offs) in your add lib. to make it sound more authentic and less like an excercise.

The next thing to do it to develop more melodic ideas out of the given phrase. Try to create a full solo where you play similar ideas each time you play over the chords.

I hope to get a video made soon where I will demonstrate how I approach the phrase, hopefully this will give you some ideas to carry on playing with the idea.

Next few blogs will have more articles about the Ibanez TS 808, The Boss OD-1 and the SD-1
Stay tuned and hope to catch you soon again,



Improve Your Guitar Solos Today: Phrases for Beginners

A Phrase is a short musical idea, you could see it like a sentence in a lauguage. Examples of short phrases are riffs and short melodies. Solos are made up of solos.
For this article a brief outline with some tips how to improve your phrases and, hopefully, your solos.

Most common phrases are being created out of scales such as Pentatonic scale or Diatonic scale. Most people who will use this approach end up sounding like any other guitar player. Working on your solos takes time and effort. It helps if you know what you sound like and what you can do to change this. Have a look at the next four point to improve your prhases:

                  Playing Over One String:

You may not have heard this for the first time, but playing over one string is an eyeopener for most beginners: You can see how your notes move up and down the fretboard. When you play your phrases in position you do not have this visibility and clarity of how your notes move up and down. When you try this approach sing one simple idea, and then develop it by moving up or down the fretboard instead of using your fingers to play a scalepattern you have memorized. You want every solo you play to be musical and mememorable instead of them being random noise made up of notes.

                 Play Same Phrase but now in Position:

Using the same phrase you played over one string, now transfer this idea across over various stirngs. You will now be playing in position and can probably see some scalepattern underneath your phrase. Being able to see a scalepattern will help you to familiarise your idea. Play it in position until it is smooth, then play same idea again but now over one string to see how it sounds and feels.

                 String Skipping:
Play Same Phrase now using string-and position skipping. Your idea may have changed a little in sound, try to keep your idea as close to your original phrase. The stringskipping may be hard at first, most people do find this not easy in the beginning: Fingers will get stuck between strings, plectrum may not sound as smooth anymore. All things you can work on individually to get it to sound good and smooth and clean.

                Using Hammer-Ons, Pull-Offs and String Bending:

Play same idea again, but jazz up your idea to add some drama to your solo by using some hammer-ons and pull-offs or even some string bending. Any of those techniques will add more flavour to your phrasing. Again, if you have never used any of these techniques before you know what you can work on.

When you listen to any solos you like you will hear that most of the above ideas are being used at one time or another. When you play solos it should become second nature to develop a good taste, technique and approach to how you can get the best out of your notes instead of playing that same old, minor Pentatonic idea without giving your notes any thought.
Keep working at some of the ideas mentioned above and over time your will start to see the change in your playing.

Happy Playing

Five Things You Should Do to Improve Your Guitar Playing

Any guitar player can improve their skills with effort and hard work. When you are a beginner you will need to work on a lot of different aspects of guitar playing, and what to work on may be more obvious compared to someone who has been playing the guitar for 5, 10 or more years.

                            Play Guitar Daily:

This may sound like an obvious thing, but it really helps if you play your guitar daily, even at moments when you do not have much time or appetite for playing. You can play through some of your songs, noodle around a bit, play some scales, or play through your full set-list to entertain yourself. All of this will help you to keep your fingers and mind in shape.

                           Set Yourself Goals:

Very important one, even for experienced guitar players, as there will always be something to work on whether it is technique related or style of music or whatever, find out what it is you WANT to learn and next find out HOW to work on this skill.

                           Start Playing with Other Musicians:

They can be guitar players as well, but it may be better to hook up with someone who plays a different instrument. Playing together with other people will teach you what it takes to play in an ensemble setting. You may enjoy playing with others, you may not, you may feel you lack the skills, by playing together with others you will find out what it is you need to make you sound good together.

                          Learn Some Music Theory:

Especially for those who have been playing for years and do it all “by feel”. Becoming aware of what it is you do will make you sound better, it will also give you a heightened insight to how to improve your own playing. There are plenty of guitar related theory books out there but you can also work with general music theory related books. A lot of basic guitar tutor books will teach you basic music theory as well. It all helps and once you have a basic, working music theory knowledge, you can always back it up later when you feel to need to dive in deeper.

                         Performing Music:

If you have never played in front of people you may be in for a shock. The first time you may be nervous after a while you may start to like it.
Performing in front of an audience (it may be just some of your friends) will show you that there is more to this skill than just playing your songs, you will need to entertain people with your guitar playing, and this may be a little more than just playing those chords or riffs or solos that you have been working on.  You will need to be on top of your music to be able to connect with the audience, you also need to believe in the songs you play (if you do not enjoy playing them how can you expect others to enjoy listening to them?) 

When you look back at the various ideas I mentioned above you may feel that some of those mentioned may not be for you.  Some of these ideas may be for later, all depending on your level of playing and your experience and how long you have played the guitar for.
Most people who play music, whether it is just for fun or something a little more, will at some point be actively engaged with any of these five issues mentioned above. Just keep at it for now and it give it some thought what it is you need to do next.

For next article more ideas about phrasing and other technical related issues.

Hope to see you soon again,

Reading Music and What You Can Learn From It

When you learn to play guitar on your own with the help of tabs and videos, reading music may not be one of your first concerns. “How can the ability to read music help you with playing your favourite songs ? ” you may wonder. Most people learn to play an instrument by copying other people. When you are reading notes from a book you are not copying someone, you are just playing notes who someone wrote down.

In an ideal learning situation people learn to play the guitar by being shown what to play. The ability to read music is another skill which will help your overal musician ship and coordination skills. Reading will also help you to get to know your instrument better.

                 Musician ship:

The ability to read music will make you aware of different rhythms. When you play a musical phrase of single notes you will probably play those notes with a different timing and feel. All of this can be written down to show you what is going on rhythmically 

                Coordination Skills:

Having to look at a book on a music stand whilst playing your guitar may sound easier that what it is: You need to read the notes while you play those notes in real time. You are not able to look at your fingers, when you do you will loose the pace of the music and you will also loose where you are in the book. Anyone can learn the skill to play from sheet music, but it does take time and practise.

              Notes on the Fretboard of the Guitar:

One of the difficulties of the learning the guitar is to learn where all the various notes are on the fretboard. Having some reading skills will help you to get to grips with the lay out of the fretboard.

             Reading and Reading:

Learning to read is one thing, in the beginning you will learn what each note of the musical alphabeth looks like, once you have got to grips this you will also learn where to play these notes on the fretboard.
You will need to practise your reading skills, and most basic tutor books for the guitar will let you make a start with this.
To keep your reading skills up, and to improve them, you can read any music which you can play on the guitar. Reading rhythms will be the hardest in the beginning, after a while you will start to feel what those rhythms will sound like.

Hope to catch you soon again,