Feb 16 2010

Soundcheck for Rock guitar playing


Here are a few guitar tab riffs to test out your sound. You need three sounds for playing rock guitar, distorted rhythm, lead guitar and a clean acoustic sound.

First riff is for a good dirty rock or distorted rhythm guitar sound.
Play this with overdrive and or distortion, either pedals or a push in switch on your amp.

Volume knobs on the guitar and amp can be turned up high. On your amp set your Gain to 4 or 5, Bass and Treble to around 6 and Mid to 4 or 5. (Secret is to have both your bass and treble higher than the mid setting).

You can put the lead for your guitar in to the high impedance input of the your guitar amp or if using pedals in to the low impedance input.

Set your guitar pickup selector switch to use the bridge pickup. The bridge pickup is sharper than the neck pickup and will give a good heavy, sharp, precise sound for rock riffs. This will be your main sound for your guitar lessons.

Rock rhythm guitar is mainly played on the EADG or 3, 4, 5 and 6 strings. This riff is based on two open powerchords (an E and an A powerchord) and a B powerchord.

Distorted Electric Guitar Rock Soundcheck

Distorted Electric Guitar Rock Soundcheck

Second riff tab is for a lead guitar sound.

Play this with any effects that add to the sound you want, overdrive or distortion, chorus, delay, doubler etc. Experiment till you get a sound that you like. Keep the same amp settings as above with the lead for your guitar (high) or pedals (low) in the same impedance input of your guitar amp.

Switch the guitar selector switch to the bridge pickup to get a mellower warm rock sound. You would also want to get a sound with some sustain to the notes, a compressor pedal can help with this.

Lead guitar is usually played on the DGBe or 1, 2, 3 and 4 strings. This is played on the first few strings of the guitar, it is nearly all single string riffs except for the end. Play it slow and slide where indicated in the tab with the symbol /

Distorted Lead Guitar Rock Soundcheck

Distorted Lead Guitar Rock Soundcheck

With the Multi-effect guitar pedals you can set up 3 separate patches. Have one patch for each sound (rhythm, lead and clean) and you can switch quickly and easily between the three sounds as required. For this leave the guitar lead in the low impedance input on your amp the whole time.

In the next part we look at getting a clean acoustic sound in an acoustic guitar lesson.

Feb 15 2010

Soundcheck acoustic guitar lesson


Here is a set of tab riffs to test a clean or acoustic guitar sound. It intended to be played on an electric guitar. You often need a quieter sound when playing rock guitar.

Play these tablature riffs with no overdrive or distortion applied. No effects are neccessary. You can put the lead for your guitar to the high impedance input of you ramp. Or if you choose to use pedals change to the low impedance input of your guitar amp.

Adjust the volume knobs on the guitar and amp to a lower volume setting to get the right sound. Keep the gain on your amp down at lower at 3 or 4. It should sound like an acoustic guitar or a quiet electric guitar. You can pick the notes singly or gently strum the chords for an acoustic guitar lesson.

Use the guitar selector switch to select the neck pickup. The neck pickup is not as sharp as the bridge pickup and will give the right blended, bassy, muffled sound for a clean rhythm guitar sound especially for the strumming and a bassier sound. But do try the bridge pickup for a brighter sound, especially for the picking riff. If adding any effects use low gentle settings and non-distortion effects (switch the lead back to the low impedance input when using pedals).

Pick the first part of the riff and then strum the second half. These two riffs are basically the same, both parts are played with a sliding three fingered powerchord and an open E string and the same chord progression.

For the first part, pick each single string once, going up and down the strings. Use the time spent picking the open E or 6th string to slide to the next position. Try the riff with different pickups to see which one gives the best sound for you.

Clean Picking Acoustic Guitar Rock Soundcheck

Clean Picking Acoustic Guitar Rock Soundcheck

Put the pickup selector switch back to the neck or neck and middle pickup. With the bridge pickup it can sound a bit sharp and jarring.

For this one strum the top four strings together. The open E string acts a drone note. Strum down, up, down, pause and slide to the next powerchord position and strum down again. Use the down, up, down, down pattern for each bar. Slide back and repeat.

Clean Acoustic Guitar Strumming Rock Soundcheck

Clean Acoustic Guitar Strumming Rock Soundcheck

Hope this has helped with getting your clean acoustic style sound right. Remember if you are using multi-effect pedals keep one patch aside for your clean sound.

As I said, the first distorted sound will be your main sound for playing rock guitar. As you learn to play rock guitar
you will also need the lead guitar and clean sound at times so have a go at these now (see the other soundcheck post for rhythm and lead guitar soundcheck tips).

You can also have a read of the two part series on getting the right rock sound below (Getting the right sound and getting the right effect).

So next thing is to improve your playing rock guitar.

Dec 22 2009

Rock guitar music, getting the right sound.


The electric guitar is better for playing rock guitar and getting a hard or heavy rock sound.  The acoustic is generally not used used as the main guitar in rock is generally used for ballads or quieter songs.

First you want the right type of guitar.  The best well known brands, particularly for Classic Rock guitar music, are the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul. 

Gibson Les Paul Guitar

Gibson Les Paul Guitar

Epiphone is the value version of Gibson and Fender also has a value version in the Fender Squier brand.  There are more modern guitar brands like Jackson Guitars, ESP, B.C Rich, Yamaha or Ibanez.

Try and get a guitar with a Humbucker pickup. Looks like a double pickup, see the pickups on the Gibson Les Paul guitar above. This will give you a fat meaty rock sound. Get a guitar with at least two pickups on it as well. Three pickups are nice but not totally necessary. One pickup will limit your sound.

One guitar to avoid which is not associated with rock is the Fender Telecaster, it has a bigger association with country music. 

Guitarists often use lighter gauge strings, 9’s to make it easier to play, string bend etc.  Lighter gauges also give a lighter sweeter tone.  Heavier gauge strings, 12’s can give a richer more solid heavy sound though.  The string gauge is up to individual taste.  As you learn to play rock guitar, you probably should start off with a lighter gauge for ease of guitar playing and then go up to 10’s, then 12’s or whichever gauge you choose, as you become better.

The Guitar can also have a tremolo bar which used during lead solos.  The Floyd Rose tremolo is the best for keeping strings in tune.  The bridge floats when not used.  You won’t need a tremolo when you begin guitar lessons so it is not necessary at the very start.

The next piece in your sound is the guitar amplifier.  The amp amplifies the sound from the electric guitar.  Best known brand is of course the Marshall amp, which of course comes in a stack.  There are loads of other good brands such as Vox, Fender, Gibson, Roland, Peavey and Laney.

A 15 watt amp is good enough to begin with as a practise amp.  You can get a lot of noise out of 15 watts.  You can get bigger ones, 25 watts etc, when or if you plan to play in public.  Some amps come with built in effects such as distortion or more probably an overdrive switch which are handy for playing rock guitar.  Only thing is the effect are hard to switch off when you are playing.  You need to stop your guitar playing for a moment to hit the switch which interrupts the guitar music.

An amp is essential, doesn’t matter if you have a built in effect or not on it.  You should try and practise your guitar lessons on the amp as you learn to play guitar.  When you play the guitar amplified you get a different sound.  You also get unwanted sounds amplified such as the noise of your fingers sliding or fingers and pick hitting the strings wrong  (pick attack sounds) or buzzing of untouched strings.  Practising with the amp will teach your to damp these unwanted sounds. 

You can also buy a noise gate to cut off these unwanted sounds.  But you need to set it under a certain level or else you also cut off your wanted guitar notes as well as your unwanted sounds.

In the next part we will take a more in depth look at Guitar effects.