Dec 20 2009

Rock guitar music, getting the right effect.


We looked at the right guitar and amp in the last part, now to get the best sound out of these you can use effect pedals. Not essential but for playing rock guitar but you will probably get them eventually, are effect pedals. 

Effect pedals are used to change the sound of your guitar through your amplifier and are normally foot operated.  The effect pedals are made by many companies Boss, Danelectro, Ibanez, Digitech, Dunlop and more.

The most common pedals are distortion and overdrive.  Distortion changes or distorts, clips the sound of your guitar making it dirtier and heavier.  It is mainly used for rhythm guitar. 

Distortion Pedal

Distortion Pedal foot operated

The overdrive pedal will push or overdrive the signal, usually giving the sound of a Tube amp overdriving.  It gives a heavier but cleaner sound than the distortion pedal.  When the volume is quieter it will be a cleaner sound and it distorts and clips more for higher volumes.  It is used for both lead guitar and rhythm.  Having them on foot operated effect pedals makes them easier to operate than a push button on an amp if you need to turn it off while you are playing guitar.

Other pedals are the noise gate previously mentioned to keep unwanted sounds down.
Chorus, flanger, reverb (or echo) pedals are used to get even more fancy sounds.  Chorus will make your lead solo sound like two guitars by splitting off the guitar signal in two.  The second signal is delayed and can be changed in pitch and then mixed back in with the original first signal.

A compressor pedal is often used for lead solos also.  It dampens or attenuates loud guitar notes and increases or sustains the notes when they get quieter.  Just think of Gary Moore and “Parisienne Walkway” and you will know what heavy compression while playing rock guitar sounds like.

For your initial guitar lessons, all you would need is a Distortion or Overdrive pedal.

Multi-effect units are a very economical option.  They digitally produce the sound of all the pedals above in a single unit.

You can get ones made by Boss, Korg, Zoom, Digitech, Vox, Roland and more multi-effect pedals.  They will have preprogrammed sound or patch which use multiple effect to create a certain type of sound.  Most of these have several pedals so you can set them up to switch between three sounds. Your rhythm guitar sound, clean guitar sound and lead guitar at the touch of one pedal.  Only disadvantage is that you do not learn what each pedal does or how they interact to product the overall sound.  Programming your patches is a good way to learn what the effects do.

A quick note about leads for your guitar amp and pedals.  Buy the best quality one you can even as you learn to play rock guitar.  Decide the length (3 to 5m) you need in the cable and go for a thick cable with good plugs.  Don’t buy a thin long cable (9m) because it is cheap, you will end up replacing it as they will break easily and cause hassle and frustration.  Cheap leads also tend to introduce noise into your amp.  Spend at least $30 on your cable.
Now it is time to play guitar and try out the right sound and learn to play rock guitar.

Thanks for reading,