Satriani Told Me to Lose the Effects

By Eric Din

You do not need reverb. You are in a room. Rooms have reverb. Only use reverb or echo if it’s essential to your statement. It often is not. If you play electric guitar, with just a pickup and an amp and a cable, you’ll pull things out of your hands that are different, not unlike a piano player staying away from the sustain pedal. Joe Satriani told me, when I showed up for a lesson in my early teens when he was still teaching regularly in Berkeley, to lose the pedals. I was dismayed because I was all excited about my new MXR Flanger and Roland tape echo and distortion pedal. But strangely, when I finally stopped using all that stuff, I found I could make anything I heard in my head come out of the guitar, without any effects. Just by imagining it and reaching for it. I use a single coil treble pickup and an amp, exclusively. Have done for years. This wont do if your music is built with effects as part of the core statement, like Radiohead or U2. But if you’re not doing stuff that depends on effects, lose them. They can distract from your real potential as a guitar player. The electric guitar, unlike recording technology and other wonderful toys, has not been improved upon, in decades. You can do so much more with just a guitar and an amp than you might think. You just have to grab the thing, take your musical image, and put it in your fingers. The vibrato, timing, dynamics, and raw power you have to put down, you might not discover if your sound is expanded by circuits, rather than by your imagination and your hands. So I have found. Give it a try! And thanks Joe, for asking. This is a lovely thread.

Eric Din is a founding member of famed ska band the Uptones. He studied with Joe Satriani. 

2 comments to Satriani Told Me to Lose the Effects

  • I agree with the caution that paying attention to live production needs is also a fundamental concern. Use delay, distortion, wah, verb, pitch transposers etc. where needed. Even Satch knows that. Of course playing dry is a great tool for your growth and will help you be a better player.

    My main point being: Don’t be a sheep and accept these axioms as end-all’s.

  • Paul

    …I agree with Biffoz. Also, don’t hide absolutely everything under loads of gain….

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