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Want to cut treble but not let the low end/mid range become more present like modern wiring allows? Put a resistor inline with your capacitor for softer, less muddy tone!
When recording a part solo, play like the band and crowd are there. If you find yourself laying a track on your own, just before laying the track, get someone to play drums or set up some loudspeakers to rehearse the part against the other elements of the band at the volume levels the band plays. Memorize how hard you are hitting the instrument and how your arms and hands feel playing at that intensity. That’s how the track must be played to sound right in the mix. The intensity and strength exerted on the instrument will affect intonation, attack, sustain and overall feel, and all that changes when other musicians are playing with you, so you have to replicate that same intensity when recording an individual track that later will be mixed with the band.
Use a camera for recall Every phone is a camera these days. When recording, once I’ve got the sound I want, I’ll take photos of the guitar controls, the amp settings, the mic position – both from the side to see distance from cab and from behind the mic to see it’s orientation to the speaker cone, and the mic pre settings. I have been able to match my own tracks to change an arrangement a year after the fact by setting everything up like my photos.
“Name brand” copper shielding tape sold for guitars can run $10-30 for a mere 2 feet of tape. But if you go to your local hardware store, for $10 you can get 10-20 feet of copper tape (intended for repelling garden snails) which will do the same job just fine.
Get a cheapo test meter (and use it) If you are wiring your own guitar, get a cheapo test meter that can test resistance, capacitance and at the minimum can test continuity of a circuit. If you have properly shielded and grounded your instrument, you should be able to put one probe on the ground of the 1/4″ jack and touch the other probe to your bridge and everywhere else you have shielding/grounding and see a connected circuit with the tester. Likewise, if you test the resistance of your pickup(s) and know that value before wiring, with each connection you solder as you go along, you can retest the resistance of your wiring with that pickup selected and you should see the same value of resistance. (Assuming volume and tone are all the way up at the time.) With these simple bare minimum tests, you can tell if something is going wrong early, before you try to get it all assembled and plug it in to an amp.
I’ve always found it a challenge to balance preset clean and overdriven lead sounds, especially in a festival or multi-act setting where setup time is limited. What seems to work for me is to play clean six string chords at roughly the volume I’m going to play and get a tone I like. Then I switch to my lead sound and turn up (or down) to where playing one string is just a little louder than a full clean chord. I test by playing single note licks across the neck in the center, between the fifth and twelfth frets. I also tweak my lead EQ at the same time to get a pleasing balance between the low and the high strings. I switch back and forth rapidly between clean and distorted until I’m happy with the balance. I usually have to tweak it when the whole band kicks in, but at least I’m in the ball park.
Replace your second thinnest string (B) with a thicker one, and tune it to B but an octave lower than normal. Don’t be afraid to “Double Up” on guitar effects and use two of the same, works especially well with two delay pedals. Be careful with the amount of distortion if you double fuzz/distortion though. Play with thicker strings for a couple for months and then switch back to the lighter gauge, your left hand strength will be huge. Don’t rush straight for a huge amp, I still use a piddly 15watt cranked up as much as it can go. Why would you want it to sound like your gear isn’t giving it everything?
By Rod C. Venger
Whenever I acquire a new tube amp, I always pull the chassis and photograph the entire circuit chain, inn an overall sense but also in closeups of various sections. I use a high quality digital camera with a tripod and good lighting. I do a quick, overall study of the amp while the chassis is out, but later on I study the photos so that I fully understand what the signal path is, what’s in the signal path, where one channel begins, where it ends and another begins, where the signal from various sources is going to or coming from, as well as noting where any test points might be, etc. I also seek out information on bias voltage/amperage, power tube requirements, known mods and a host of other things. At the very least, you need to know the basics of your tube amp’s S/R loop’s specifications and placement, as this affects your entire signal chain. Always ascertain whether or not you’ve got at least one tube acting as a buffer for your input signal if you’re using a loop. An excessive output signal from an FX unit can blow out your power stage, but this danger is greatly lessened if you have one or two preamp tubes acting as fuses before the power stage. Preamp tubes are generally cheaper than power tubes and certainly cheaper than transformers! Knowing your amp will probably extend it’s lifespan and you’ll likely sound better too.
Always begin your gig with a low volume setting, and never go too loud. How do you know that you’ve gone too loud? Well, if you feel that you’ve won the loudness battle against the bassist and the keyboardist, you’re too loud. During your soundcheck take a long cable and get off the stage, walk where the audience will be, play from there. Your amps are going to be pointing to you and everything will be louder down there than up in the stage. Make the band play at a level that doesn’t drill your eardrums. You might feel a bit uncomfortable when you don’t seem to hear what you’re playing. But believe me, everyone can hear you very well. Try and make a mistake, see their faces! You’ll just have to feel the mix and your fingers. It will only be until you save enough for a JamHub and in-ear monitors, and then you’ll make enough money to hire a sound engineer if your new venues don’t already have one. This applies for venues where there’s no PA, no engineer and no monitors, and all you’ve got is your amps.