How do I put together a sound with guitar effects pedals?
January 2, 2009 11:28 AM   Subscribe

I want to get a handle on how to put together specific electric guitar sounds using effects pedals.

I've played guitar for some 13 odd years now, and electric guitar for most of that, but during most of that time I was a child with no money to spend on effects pedals of any sort. Now that I can invest some bucks in these things, I'm interested of really taking advantage of the "electric" part of electric guitar.

With that in mind, I guess this is a two part question:

1) I've got a basic idea of how most all standard guitar effects work and sound on their own, but I'm often baffled when I want to pick apart what, specifically, makes a certain player's sound tick. On the other hand, I don't really know how to make feedback, for instance, but I suspect I don't currently own a loud enough amp, so maybe I'm not as informed as I think I am.

2) The sounds I'm most currently interested in figuring out are those of Jimi Hendrix, Sonic Youth and Dungen. I just want to know how Jimi gets his tone. I know that a lot of Sonic Youth's sound comes from non-standard tunings and prepared guitars, and that's something I'll just have to experiment with, but I like their timbre too, especially on Daydream Nation. With Dungen, I'm specifically interested in the sounds the guitarist makes in the solo at the end of the song Du e For Fin For Mig on the album Ta Det Lugnt (this is pretty specific, so no worries if it doesn't get answered).

I guess that's all. I'll note that I inherited a Digitech 2112 from a friend's father, and while I like it alright, I find that it has a high latency and doesn't seem to offer the types of sounds I want, but I'll admit to not exploring it to its fullest depths. I guess I'd prefer analog and DIY solutions, but I'll welcome whatever works. Cheers and thanks!
posted by invitapriore to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is a very broad question - some more information that might help: what kind of guitar do you have? What kind of amp? Note that Jimi played Strats (mostly) through Marshalls (mostly). His strats were mid- to late-60s, and his Marshalls were tube amplifiers. If you start with those elements (or some facsimile thereof), and play REALLY loud - instant Hendrix. Bear in mind that vintage strats can cost 10s of thousands of dollars, so that might be a tough nut to crack. Tube amplifiers, though, are definitely worth it - even if you don't get a vintage one, there's just no substitute for the sound of a loud, overdriven tube amp.

Other effects Jimi used - wah-wah pedal and a univibe.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 11:41 AM on January 2, 2009


I've got a Mexican Strat that I'm pretty happy with; my roommate's got a Mesa Boogie tube amp that I've appropriated ever since he stopped playing electric. Having played it, I totally agree on the tube amp.
posted by invitapriore at 11:48 AM on January 2, 2009


This site has a lot of information about sonic youth's tunings... I found that simply playing using their alternate tunings is much of what makes their sound unique.
posted by kpmcguire at 11:54 AM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm assuming you know about GuitarGeek's effects-stack diagram database? Nothing there for Sonic Youth or Dungen but here's Jimi's rig.
posted by nicwolff at 12:10 PM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's hard to tell from listening to that Dungen song on Youtube, but it sounds like a wah-wah locked in place and a phaser, mostly. For the Hendrix sound, get yourself a Big Muff or Fuzzface or other fuzz pedal. For more fun, stick it in between two wah-wahs; the first one lets you dial in some seriously sick sounds with the fuzz, and the second one you can use like a conventional wah.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:11 PM on January 2, 2009


Its all in the amp and the settings. People do weird things to the amps too, like buying devices that change the voltage(?) and thus the sound. Back in the day there weren't that many pedals anyway.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:19 PM on January 2, 2009


Jimi is so popular that you can buy pretty accurate reproductions of what he used - for example.

Having the right guitar, pickups and amp and playing at the right volume would be necessary to really get the same sound as Jimi, but unless you're playing at Woodstock you're not likely to get a chance to practice that loud. You might try a modeled amp for low-volume amp simulation - I have a VOX AD30VT that works nicely.

Between that and a few pedals I can get a sound that would be 90% perfect Hendrix if only I could play like him, so I figure I'll practice for 20 years or so before I bother with the other 10%...
posted by mmoncur at 5:44 PM on January 2, 2009


Sonic Youth use some very odd effects on occasion - check out ring modulation and frequency modulation for example, they also use custom "bent" pedals, and word of mouth tells me they even buy from 4ms (full disclosure I used to hang out with Dan Greene, the founder of 4ms and helped brainstorm the noiseswash the triwave generator and the atoner, but I don't get money from them or anything) - you can download their partslists and schematics and build their stuff yourself if you want to try a boutique pedal without the boutique price.
posted by idiopath at 6:31 PM on January 2, 2009


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