Ana Ng guitar tone question
November 19, 2004 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Does anybody know what guitar tone is used in certain TMBG and U2 songs? The most prevalent example is in the TMBG song "Ana Ng." During the chorus of the song, the guitar goes into this tremolo rapid-fire tone that maintains an even volume and has this nice rhythmic effect. It occurs at around 0:36 in the song. Any help would be appreciated.
posted by dagnyscott to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
The tone just about every U2 song revolves around vintage Vox AC30 TBs. After that, depending on the song, apply liberal amounts of delay (many times delay+mod). Any specific song in mind?

As for Ana Ng, it sounds like a fast, deep tremolo. To keep the volume consistent, he may be either picking during the silence (a la The Smiths How Soon is Now or using compression. Maybe, though, you could just pick regularly and have it work out OK with the tremolo.
posted by turbodog at 3:20 PM on November 19, 2004

Well, i just listened to Ana Ng about 15 times in a row and, while i am not completely sure, i have two guesses. My first (and best) is that it's actually not a guitar during that part of the chorus. I think it's probably an analog synth. (you can almost hear the guitar come in and out of the mix to be replaced by the synth...)

Second guess-- a guitar with tremolo and distortion and some kind of envelope filter (flange or phase or something). Though i must admit i've never heard any effects pedal that could produce a tone like that....

As far as the classic U2 tone-- probably a fairly quick delay with a long decay and some pretty dense reverb.
posted by verysleeping at 3:21 PM on November 19, 2004

I'm assuming you're referring to the choppy, distorted guitar sound like U2's Lemon (or REM's What's the Frequency Kenneth?). I think it's a fast tremolo on some kind of distorted guitar sound.
posted by O9scar at 3:34 PM on November 19, 2004

I agree with verysleeping: I don't think that's a guitar in 'Ana Ng.' But, as noted, if you want to simulate it, try a square-wave-shaped tremolo. Just gave it a try on the POD (which can set the tremolo to a tempo!), and it sounds about right to me.
posted by uncleozzy at 3:42 PM on November 19, 2004

All I could listen to was the iTunes preview, but this post (search for tremolo) implies that it is a guitar with a gate rapidly going on and off.
posted by turbodog at 3:51 PM on November 19, 2004

There was no TMBG on GuitarGeek, but there is a Edge page.
(I like their visual way of showing the setups, much more fun to browse than just text)
posted by milovoo at 3:59 PM on November 19, 2004

I remember reading or hearing or seeing an interview with TMBG in which they explicitly discussed the "Ana Ng" guitar sound. I can't for the life of me remember exactly what they said, and I can't find it on the web, but I remember that it was something really exotic. I want to say they used an old Mac to do some digital filtering of the guitar, and that particular sound is the result of a crappy flange effect. Flansburgh was really proud of it.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:08 PM on November 19, 2004

I heard them say that they sometimes used staccato chords because if they held a sustained tone for too long, the Dial-a-Song answering machine would think it was the beep that marked the end of the greeting and stop playing.
posted by mcguirk at 4:26 PM on November 19, 2004

Here's a partial source for mr_roboto's quote above...

Ana Ng -
Year: 1988
Sung By: John Linnell
Trivia / Info:
* Flansburgh sometimes sings "It's a small girl after all" during the bridge instead of the part about the bridge when played live.
* Flans has referred to the guitar sound as one of the coolest the band had created, and said the song had a "Latin feel."
posted by milovoo at 4:26 PM on November 19, 2004

Ana Ng: Sounds like a gate to me, probably MIDI controlled (but maybe manual). Record the guitar as is, then, effectively, slice it into sound:silence:sound:silence using a gate. Job done.

U2: Classic U2 sound has been pretty much recreated by similar posts - Vox AC15/30 with Top Boost, dotted tap delay and Edge's fingers...
posted by benzo8 at 1:28 AM on November 20, 2004

UK comedian Bill Bailey pokes fun at this in his "Part Troll" stage show, where he simulates Edge's effects unit breaking down mid song - revealling that he is just playing "Three Blind Mice" in every single song.
posted by chill at 3:23 AM on November 20, 2004

I distinctly remember John Flansburg saying it was an old noise gate. When I saw them do it live, it was just a boss tremolo pedal.
posted by dong_resin at 3:27 PM on November 20, 2004

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