Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Scientist's Top 8 Reasons to Play Guitar

Have you ever wondered why guitarists seem so laid back and loose on stage?

Some top guitarists even appear to stay sprightly and youthful (acting) forever, Lemmy and Keith Richards spring to mind. Obviously being very rich and very famous means they have access to the best health care going, but there has to be more to it than that. Maybe it's the thrill and exhilaration of doing what they love for a living? Or could it be the excitement of playing their guitars to thousands?

Scientists have looked into this phenomenon and come up with several reasons as to why playing a guitar can be good for you. 

Maybe, it seems that playing your Strat could boost your brainpower, sex-life, six pack and more. 

Find out how...

1) Feel The Pleasure
You don't need legions of fans to feel great playing your guitar. Neuroscientists at McGill university have found that hearing music releases dopamine in the brain, the same chemical that's release during sex. So playing your guitar on your own or in front of others can be equally as much fun. You can create your own jokes for this one!

2) Stress Free
Playing guitars has been found to help you release stress. A dual study from the Mind-Body Wellness Center and Loma Linda University School of Medicine and Applied Biosystems concluded that you can reduce stress on a genomic level by playing an instrument. So rocking out can reverse the pressure you feel in daily life, whether it's money or relationship stress, pulling out your guitar can ease the worries.

3) Feel The Pain
Many people suffer chronic pain that requires constant medication to be kept under control. Well, according to a study from the University of Utah’s Pain Research Center, listening to music can take your mind off, and thereby reduce, pain.
4) Brain Power Turned Up To 11
A recent Scottish study says if you play the guitar—or any musical instrument—you’re likely to have a high brain activity and function, this has the added benefit of helping to prevent mental decline in later life. 
5) Is Your Heart In it?
Scientists in the Netherlands found that patients who practised music for more than 100 minutes a day showed a significant drop in blood pressure and a lower heart rate than those who didn't. Three of the people studied were guitarists, enough said.
6) Give Me The Money
Not everyone can headline Glasto/Download/Your festival of choice, however, playing guitar could help you become richer. Research from Michigan State University found that musicians who picked up an instrument at an early age and proceeded to learn and play through adulthood had a higher chance of becoming successful in business. Much of their research points to higher instances of launching successful invention—registering patents, starting businesses, and publishing pieces.
7) Give Your Brain a Workout
Even if you're stuck in the office all day, musicians are still giving their brain a workout. According to a Cambridge University study, musicians remain creative even when they’re not playing their instruments. The research found musicians generally visualise music as shapes, this processing acts as a form of practice. This is a highly creative way of learning and can help in many different endeavours.

8) Build That Six Pack
If your band has a demo recently recorded, take it to the gym and see the benefits straight away! Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences found that music isn't just fun to listen to while working out it—it actually made exercising less exhausting for study participants. Not to mention if you're a gym goer you'll know about the energy boost one of your favourite songs can give you to go a little harder.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

27 Unusual And Creative Guitars

The guitar is more than just an instrument. It is a way of life, it is freedom, creativity. It is joy, frustration, love and every emotion in between. The humble guitar can also be a work of art in its own right. Take a look at these beauties below if you don't believe us! Do they play well? Who really cares?

1. Backbone Guitar

2. Mario Guitar

3.  Gibson 'Bonrich' Les Paul

4. 2006 Hamer Little Uncle Dick

5. Dragon Guitar

6. Bigfoot Guitar

7. Axe Guitar

8. Lego Guitar

9. Jerry Can Guitar

10. Angel Guitar

11. B Wing Guitar

12. Pacman Guitar

Leaf Guitar

14. Steampunk Guitar

15. Chinese Dragon guitar

16. Ikon Arachnoid

17. ESP Shinigami

18. Hand Guitar

19. Skateboard Guitar

20. Lava Guitar

21. AK47 Guitar

22. Flaming Skull Guitar

23. Scissor Guitar

24. Castrol Guitar

25. Alien Guitar

26. Cadillac Guitar

27. NES Guitar

Friday, 16 May 2014

The Top 5 Summer Rock Songs...

It seems that British summer has finally arrived, so there is no time like the present to line up your favourite summer jams on the stereo. We've picked just a few of the amazing summer rock songs out there and some personal favourites, but don't forget to let us know what yours are. Also don't forget to make sure to enjoy the good weather whilst you can!

1) 'Summer in the City'
The Lovin' Spoonful

In the summer of 1966 this was the anthem that reached No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Originally written as a poem by front man John Sebastian's brother mark, this is an amazing summer song. An ode to the electric vibe of a sunny day in a big city, it doesn't get much better. The type of songs that rocks hard but still allows you have a good dance, a classic.

2) 'Here Comes the Sun'
The Beatles

Compared to Lennon and McCartney George Harrison may not have written many of the Beatles songs. However, when he did they were some of their best tunes and certainly some of the catchiest pop numbers. This is a perfect summer pop song and is the perfect ode to the early days of the summer. The feeling that better days are ahead, runs throughout this classic. Harrison wrote the tune using Eric Clapton's acoustic guitar while visiting "Slowhand" at his house.

3) 'Summertime Blues'
The Who
A cover of Eddie Cochran's 1958 hit. The Who changed this into edgy hard-rocking number as part of their live shows. The 1970 'Live at Leeds' concert album was a classic and this this cover is one of the reasons. Daltrey attacks the bluesy tone of the original alongside Pete Townsend's hard rocking guitar riffs. There was a studio version discovered in 1998, but the live version is still great.

4) 'Long Hot Summer Night'
Jimi Hendrix Experience
The long hot summer nights are some of life's greatest pleasures. On this track Hendrix musically cuts through the humidity of a sweltering evening and lets us know "my baby's comin' to rescue me". The bluesy track boasts a piano contribution from Al Kooper and has Hendrix on all the vocal tracks. 

5) 'Summer Nights'
Van Halen
Having fun in the summertime is one of our favourite things to do and the Van Halen guys certainly agree. On the bands first album without David Lee Roth, 1986's '5150', Hagar sings about what he knows best: having fun in the summertime. Chuck in some great guitar licks from Eddie Van Halen and this is the complete package, party time!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Scientists find Guitarists' Brains are Wired Differently

The debate about whether we are born with talent or develop it is a contentious issue that has rumbled on for years, both sides of the argument have looked to science for answers and a new report tells us the answer may lie in our brain chemistry. 
As reported in Policy Mic, the recent studies on the issue have produced some interesting results. People often talk about "onstage chemistry" between musicians and science now suggests this could be a real thing. The study has found that the brains of guitar players actually function differently to everyone else.
 A 2012 study in Berlin shows us that  musicians playing together can actually synchronise their brains. Scientists scanned the brains of 12 pairs of guitar players performing the same piece of music, astonishingly it was revealed that the guitarists' neural networks would synchronise for the performance and incredibly slightly before they started playing. They were in a way reading each others' minds.
Neural research also indicates that this ability to synchronise may stem from a guitarists overarching intuition. In another study looking at the neuroscience of improvisation, scientists found that guitarists can momentarily deactivate regions of their brain when improvising or playing complicated pieces. This means they shift to a state of unconscious thought, which means they really are "in the zone".
The right temporoparietal junction is the region of the brain that typically deactivates in situations of “goal-directed behaviour”. This acts to inhibit distraction by irrelevant stimuli (hecklers or bottle throwers etc) that might impair the performance. When a non-musician attempts to perform this is not the case, they are acutely aware of these detractions, this indicates a brain scan could in fact tell the guitar Gods from the hobbyists.
Although, it doesn't conclusively prove this neural behaviour is inherent. The brain revises and remodels itself throughout our lives, so we can develop skills we weren't born with.
The renowned neuroscientist Gary Marcus tackled this issue in his 2012 book Guitar Zero, throughout the book he tried to discover whether musical skill and talent can be acquired later in life. He himself tried to learn guitar for the first time age 40 and looked at a number of musicians who arrived at their talent later in life.
As we all know, and feel, guitar playing isn't just about the chemicals in our brains. Its about the way it makes us feel.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Spotting A Counterfeit Guitar

Counterfeits are a global problem, just last week over a million dollars worth of fake guitars were seized in Jersey City. Clearly, the world is awash with fake guitars, so what can be done to combat the problem?

The manufacture is out of our sphere of influence, generally taking place in China. What we can do is spread the word and make sure people know how to spot a fake, and more importantly - avoid buying them in the first place.

Here are some common features of counterfeit guitars and the places that sell them:

  • Foreign websites selling branded guitars for less than the standard retail price should be treated with suspicion.
  • Many counterfeits are sold on sites like eBay. If you find a bargain it is recommended that you ask for detailed photos of the guitar to ascertain its legitimacy.
  • Look for stamps such as 'Made In The USA' on the guitar headstock which may be printed off centre, look off colour or of inferior quality.
  • Look closely at the logo and compare it with photos of photos from the manufacturers website. The real thing is manufactured to very specific standards. If the logo or any other markings are even slightly out of place or misaligned it could indicate a fake. Likewise, if the logo appears stretched, distorted or has a fatter (or thinner font) that is also a good sign that it could be fake.

  • If you are able to see the guitar in person, play it. Take note of the weight and the sound. If it sounds tinny chances are it's fake. If it feels too light, it is probably fake. This is due to the lower quality wood that is used to cut costs.
  • Many guitars come with a hard case or bag as standard. Check to see if the one you are looking comes with one. If not, yet it does from other retailers then it may be a fake
  • Look for 'Authorized Dealer' logos on the website of the retailer. Most authorised dealers will proudly feature the logos of the manufacturers they stock.
  • Fender guitars generally feature a serial number on the headstock. You can check the number on the Fender website which will give you the date of manufacture.
  • Gibson serial numbers are embossed and can be found on the wood at the back of headstock. As with Fender, serial numbers can be checked on Gibson's website.

As the age old saying goes: If it looks too good to be true then it probably is. Do your research before buying from a website that you aren't familiar with. If they are selling fakes then someone else will have probably mentioned it somewhere already. If you can't find any feedback good or bad about a retailer then it may be wise to err on the side of caution.

If you buy from a well known retailer with a proven track record such as Strings Direct then you really can't go wrong. Plus, in the unlikely event that the guitar is faulty or you are not happy with it you will be fully covered by guarantees, returns and refund policy and all that other good stuff you expect as a consumer.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Fans (And Bands) Behaving Badly

There is a kind of sick, cringe-worthy joy to be found in watching others fail and make fools of themselves. Whether it's bands or fans, there's plenty of that to be found in live music. In this post we will take you on a journey through live music mishaps, drunken anger and barefaced assault.

We of course don't condone violence, and must warn you some of these videos contain strong language!

Nickelback Booed Off Stage In Portugal

Nickelback decide to go home after having rocks thrown at them at a metal festival in Portugal.

Guns 'n' Roses Booed Off Stage In Ireland

The band receives a hostile reception in Ireland after appearing late with no apology from front man, Axl.

Ashley Simpson Booed At Orange Bowl

Fans are less than impressed by Ashley Simpsons energetic performance at Orange Bowl halftime performance.

Nine Inch Nails Halt Performance Of 'Hurt'

Nine Inch Nails abort their song 'Hurt' after receiving some critical feedback from a member of the audience. Lead singer Trent appears to be quite hurt by the comment, and the band switches to a more upbeat track. Watch out for the keyboard falling over with perfect comedic timing.

Brendon Urie Of Panic! At The Disco Knocked Out At Reading 2006

Lead Singer Of Panic! At The Disco is knocked out by a bottle thrown at Reading Festival in 2006. Their performance resumed after Brendon was checked over by paramedics.

My Chemical Romance Dodging bottles at Download 2007

I was there for this one, and never have I seen so many airborne bottles. To the bands credit, I think they managed to avoid every single one! Their determination was quite impressive.

Axl Rose Takes Matters Into His Own Hands

Axl interrupts the show to tell a member of tha audience with a camera to stop shooting. He urges security to take action before leaping into the crowd himself to take matters into his own hands. After delivering justice he climbs back onto the stage and storms off with the rest of the band.

Noel Gallagher Floored On Stage

Noel Gallagher is pushed over by an over enthusiastic fan at an Oasis gig.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

10 Top Tips for Playing an Acoustic Guitar Live

Whether you're making your tentative first steps onto the acoustic open mic circuit or if your a seasoned veteran who gigs all over the place, there is always room for improving your sound and standing out from the pack. 

The following are 10 tips which should help you improve your sound and performance. 

1) The Sound Engineer is all Powerful

Sound engineers are often notoriously difficult and it seems every musician has a story about an awful sound engineer. The truth is that like most things in life respect is a two way street and they're often on the receiving end of untold rudeness. 

Simply put the person sitting behind the mixing desk has the power to make you sound good or bad, being polite and calling them by their name will enamour them to you, especially when compared to what they usually have to deal with. So if you want to sound great, you know who to speak to.

2) Get on your Feet!

Unless you're playing in a big venue or a guitar superstar, stand up while playing. People will be more engaged by your performance, your body is more loose and open and if you sing it will help you sound a lot better.

3) Acoustic Amps are Great

They might be expensive, but they're essential for a serious live acoustic guitar player. You can control your sound to a much greater degree and everyone will be able to hear you properly. 

4) Strap Up

Acoustics can be really bulky and cumbersome, wearing the strap shorter shorter than on an electric will make them more comfortable and easier to play. 

5) Have a Tuner on Hand

A floor tuner as a separate unit or built into your preamp/effects unit, is not only great for making you sound good, but you can mute your guitar when needed. 

6) Get Fresh Batteries 

New batteries may be very expensive, but they need to be fresh to provide a strong signal. They also need changing regularly, and having a spare ready in the bag for a gigs is essential.

7)  Fight the Feedback

No don't fight critics of your performance, eliminate the horrible noises. Your guitar should a manuel notch filter on the preamp. Once feedback begins, turn the notch filter until it goes away.

8) Know what Hertz

Make sure you're guitar compliments any other instruments and cut back on frequencies which will muddy the sound. Take away some of the 70-80Hz bass sounds and if you're in a band cutting off some of the 600-800Hz can do wonders for your clarity.

Increasing the 1-1.5Hz can help you cut through in any situation. 

9) Band of Bother

Cutting back on the frequencies inhabited by other instruments, such as the bass guitar, can help improve the mix. It's important to get the mix correct rather than every instrument sounding perfect.

10) Make it Right

Don't damage your guitar cable or base, use a right-angled jack. This should stop any potential damage to your prized possession.

If anyone has any other tips, please let us know in the comments or on social media.

Captain Beefhearts 10 Guitar Playing Commandments

Captain Beefheart's Magic Band was a shifting collective of musicians who created some of the most unique and crazy music of the last few decades. Although there were many recognisable Blues-based elements, at times the band was unlike anything else you're likely to hear, operating on a plane of existence where Captain Beefheart stood alone. 

Some fantastic musicians joined Beefheart's band over the years, what seemed to attract them to the uncompromising task master and musical eccentric was his ability to push concepts and take them to borders of the ridiculous, but still make sense.

The following is a list of instructions issued to new guitarist Moris Tepper who joined Beefheart's band in 1976. The list contains some funny nonsensical truths alongside some practical advice. It is up to the guitar player to take the correct or righteous meaning from them (a bit like a Guitar Jedi Knight perhaps).

1. Listen to the birds

That’s where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren’t going anywhere.

2. Your guitar is not really a guitar

Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you’re good, you’ll land a big one.

3. Practice in front of a bush

Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn't shake, eat another piece of bread.

4. Walk with the devil

Old Delta blues players referred to guitar amplifiers as the “devil box.” And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you’re brining over from the other side. Electricity attracts devils and demons. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

5. If you’re guilty of thinking, you’re out

If your brain is part of the process, you’re missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

6. Never point your guitar at anyone

Your instrument has more clout than lightning. Just hit a big chord then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.

7. Always carry a church key

That’s your key-man clause. Like One String Sam. He’s one. He was a Detroit street musician who played in the fifties on a homemade instrument. His song “I Need a Hundred Dollars” is warm pie. Another key to the church is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin’ Wolf’s guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty — making you want to look up her dress the whole time to see how he’s doing it.

8. Don’t wipe the sweat off your instrument

You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.

9. Keep your guitar in a dark place

When you’re not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don’t play your guitar for more than a day, be sure you put a saucer of water in with it.

10. You gotta have a hood for your engine

Keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house, the hot air can’t escape. Even a lima bean has to have a piece of wet paper around it to make it grow.


“Though they bear numbers, they are not arranged heirarchically — each Commandment has equal import.”

Now even Guitars can be made on a 3D Printer?!

If you're unaware of what 3D printing is, it is worth investigating as it seems to be where technology is headed. It is predicted that in the future we'll all have 3D printers in our houses and be able to "print" anything from screws to cars.

3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digitial model. This is achieved using an additive process, where layer upon layer is laid down in different shapes. A 3D printer is an industrial robot capable of carrying out an additive process under computer control. There has been a exponential growth in the popularity of these machines since they became commercially available in the last few years.
It seems every week there are brand new objects that can be manufactured by 3D printer, the latest and most impressive for us are 3D guitars.
ODD Guitars a company in New Zealand makes guitars using Selective Laser Sintering and in my opinion they're pretty damn impressive...

A thin layer of nylon powder is repeatedly spread on top of the last, it is then fused in the correct locations for that particular slice of the component.

The layer is then dropped down a fraction of a millimetre, and another layer of powder is spread on top of the first.

This is then repeated until the guitar is built.

And they don't sound half bad either!

The 5 Weirdest Guitar Designs Ever

Music technology has produced some amazing innovations over the years. From the wah pedal to the synthesiser, inventors have constantly tried to create new instruments for us to play, or new interesting ways for us to play our old instruments. 

However, there has also been some rather dubious developments over the years. Products that are not the result of outstanding innovation and creativity, but more likely the result of intense drug binges.

The following selection of guitars definitely come from a very dark place:

1) The Wangcaster is a guitar which as you may imagine is made to resemble a giant wooden penis. If you're tired of things like subtlety or not being laughed at, it might be considered the ultimate statement guitar for the sleezy rocker. Amazingly it apparently carries the personal endorsement of Jon Bon Jovi, who said, "Wow, that guitar has balls!" - it sure does and pubic hair pick guards too! This would probably the most embarrassing guitar to own from this bizarre collection and we're only on number one!

2) The Pikasso Guitar was built specially for jazz fusion virtuoso Pat Metheny by Luthier Linda Mazer in 1984. Metheny is quite simply amazing and can play it fantastically - the way he plays this complicated instrument is enough to make us all start practising more!

The guitar has four necks and 42 strings, the tension of which puts the instrument under incredible pressure. We dread to think what would happen if you broke a string mid performance - probably a massive guitar explosion!

3) The Gun Guitar is probably for those who find the music industry a particularly cut throat place, or maybe wish to fulfil a dream of being a guitar playing soldier of fortune! 

Found at a store in Japan and costing around $700. Lukcily for the other members of your band when you're drunk, it doesn't actually fire bullets and is completely safe. The safety is definitely on!

4) The Jesus Guitar is a Fender Strat carved by Doug Rowell for Mike Deasy in 1969. It represents the figure of Jesus with a hand on a bridge. I guess this one could have been a lot more tasteless, considering the others we've seen so far. There is certainly has an amazing level of carving detail on display here and shows excellent craftsmanship. 

5) The Mermaid is a wooden sculpture with a guitar sticking out of its abdomen. If that's not weird enough it is pretty much impossible to play, well, not without look like you are trying to have sex with the front figurehead of an old ship. The guitar is completely impractical and probably an after thought. The mermaid herself looks to be a bit scared and is reminiscent of someone frozen in time. An utterly bizarre instrument.

Do you have a favourite weird guitar or instrument? If show let us know, we really want to see them!

"Holding a Guitar Makes you More Attractive" - Scientists Finally Confirm!

No it is not a very late April fools joke! 

It is often joked that a guy holding a guitar gets more attention from the opposite sex, but some (rather dubious) science has now appeared to confirm a thousand pop culture clichés.

Two recent university studies have looked into the truth behind the cliché and it appears there may be something in it after all. Although the methodology might not be the most rigorous, the results are fairly positive for guys who're obsessed with their guitars. 

A French study that was published last year suggests women are more attracted to a guy who caries a guitar around with him, and that supports a study published in Israel two years ago.

The French study looked at:
"The assumption that music plays a role in sexual selection. Three hundred young women were solicited in the street for their phone number by a young male confederate who held either a guitar case or a sports bag in his hands or had no bag at all. Results showed that holding a guitar case was associated with greater compliance to the request, thus suggesting that musical practice is associated with sexual selection."
Researchers enlisted a particularly brave 20-year-old actor and asked him to introduce himself to 300 young women under 25. He would then say "I think you're really pretty," and ask for their phone numbers. During the testing he was carrying a sports bag for one third of the time, nothing for another third and a guitar case for the other third. The results are pretty positive for us guitar geeks as 31 percent of the women gave him their number when he was carrying the guitar, 14 percent did when he carried nothing, and unfortunately for the jocks out there, only 9 percent did when he was carrying the gym bag.

The Israeli study took a different tact, the researchers set up a Facebook profile with a photo of a man on it and sent friend requests to 100 single women at Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Universities. Half of the time the guy in the photo was strumming a guitar like a pro and the rest of the time it was just a standard photo with no guitar. Only 1 percent responded positively to the guitar-less profile, however 28 percent responded positively to the photo with a guitar.

And if these studies are to believed, you don't actually need to play the guitar. Just carry it around and hope for the best!

Although neither methodology appears particularly scientific or rigorous, hopefully it offers some unlucky in love guitar guys out there encouragement. Unfortunately there was no study carried out on the effect single women with guitars on single guys, which would have been an interesting study. 

What do you think?

Have you ever thought of Using your Computer as a Guitar Amp?

Although every electric guitar player loves the guttural vibrations of their favourite amp and the bombastic sound it gives you when playing live. Have you ever considered using your computer as your guitar amp?
For audiophiles and amp lovers it doesn't sound like the greatest idea, but there are several benefits to using your computer as your amp.

For a start amps are not exactly practical, most good tube amps are usually very heavy and cumbersome. Making them a nightmare to carry around town, especially in a rush hour. When you consider the practicalities of getting around with your amp, the idea of using a computer for practice sessions and small performances becomes much more appealing. You only need a computer, a charger, cables and a quarter-inch to eight-inch adapter.

I am not trying to suggest plugging into a program like Garageband and hitting the stage is a particularly appealing prospect. However, programs such as Axe-Fx II, Guitar Rig 5 and many more similar pieces of software can produce some great results (after experimentation and tweaking).

The usual complaint from guitarists about software amp simulators is the lack of body and tinny sound. No matter what software you use, it remains hard to replicate the analogue nature of the amp. Software and sound synthesis may have come far, but replicating a speaker booming from a wooden box is something that has yet to be mastered.

If you are using your laptop for a gig, a great PA system is essential. It won't make you sound like you're using an amp, but it will make it sound like a pre-recorded version of you playing. If you realise that you won't sound like you're using an amp and are more likely to sound like you're in a recording studio, it is a lot easier to come to terms with for the amp aficionado. This clean and "studio-like" sound could also begin to define you as a musician, it could be built into you or your bands sound, making you stand out from others.

When using your computer as an amp, keeping it simple tone wise is important. A clean tone, with a dirty rhythm tone and a solo tone keeps it straight forward and reliable. Changing presents during a performance can be dangerous, especially if you're not aware of the volume or tone differentiations between them. Matching the tones before leaving the house can save you a lot of time and hassle at the gig. Another thing to remember, which can be easily forgotten, is the input recording volume. Unlike an overdriven amp, a clipping signal does NOT sound good.

Another common question for amp lovers is whether amp dynamics still exist, which they do, depending on your guitars pickups. When using a dirty rhythm channel for examples, the saturation level remained the same regardless of the guitars volume. Surprisingly, it is possible to execute a variety of different techniques and sounds on computer software, that you would think are reliant on having an amp.

Just as the wah pedal must have been odd-sounding to guitar purists of the past, it has been in common use for 50 years now. There is no reason to think this technique will not become a feature or sound used extensively in the future.

In my opinion it is well worth looking at the variety of amp emulation software that is available and working to develop a sound that you like from it.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Mind The Mids - Live Tone Perfection

Achieving a full bodied, powerful live guitar tone isn't easy. There are a lot of factors that come into play to get things sounding just right in the mix. One area that I think is responsible for a lot of hurt, more so than any other aspect is bad EQing. This is a problem that spans all genres and styles, and is something I have seen bands at all levels fall victim to. It doesn't matter how good you are, if your live show sounds awful then it detracts from the enjoyment of the gig tremendously, worse still you could actually be doing serious damage to your ears in the process.

All In The Mids

Getting your guitar sounding right as a standalone instrument is one thing, making it cut through the mix and harmonise with other elements is quite another. The secret? It's all in the mids. Why compete with bass and drums for low end? They have that covered. Vocals and cymbals have the highs. The guitars place should be firmly in the mid range. That is a very simplified explanation but I think it generally holds true.

It's important to realise that a guitar that sounds great on its own, will probably not sound good in the band. Rather than spending hours creating a killer tone in the bedroom, you should be more worried about how it will sound live and in the mix, where it really matters.

Playing by yourself you will be tempted to cut the mids. It will generally sound more pleasing to your ears, but keep these settings in the mix and your sound will get lost. What do you do to compensate? Crank up the volume of course! No, no no no. That is where so many go so wrong. You might be able to hear yourself now but you may have just raised your bass and treble to dangerous volumes and thrown off the sound of the mix as a whole.

The solution? Give those middle frequencies some love. Your sound will be much more balanced without needing excessive volume, it will drastically reduce feedback and gives the sound engineer a lot more room to work with. More and more guitarists are starting to realise the importance of the mid range, but some don't truly understand it. Anything from around 500Hz to 4kHz can be considered 'the mid range' generally speaking. Anything below is low end and anything above, high.

Play with your band and get someone to adjust your bass, treble, mid, gain and volume until you hit the sweet spot. You'll know when you do as everything will sound balanced and luscious, with no feedback when you stop playing. I'd love to just give you some magic amp and equalizer settings and be done with it, but in reality all gear is different! You'll have to do some of your own experimenting and fiddling to get it just right.