Great Guitar Tone in an Ensemble Setting

Posted: May 24, 2010 by Paul H in Tips & Tricks

If you are playing in a band it’s smart to think of your guitar tone as a part of the overall band sound. You know, every time the drummer plays the snare drum it Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 11.29.21 AMaffects your guitar tone and conversely everything you play affects the drum tone. A great way to think of it is, you want the drums make your guitar sound good and vice a versa.

I like bottom end in my guitar tone. I know I can get away with more bottom if I am in a non-band situation, doing an unaccompanied solo or just practicing. As soon as the whole band comes in, the extra low end that makes my guitar sound fat, muddies up the bass and the kick drum. This is magnified if you are tuned down like a lot of metal bands these days.

The secret of a great tone, live or in the studio, is to allow the instruments to do their job each in their own frequency range. Let the bass player and Kick drum take the bottom, you cover the mids and upper mids.

Another thing about an ensemble setting is, if you have a ton of distortion sometimes it’s hard to hear the notes you’re playing. The tone may be okay without the band, but add the band and you may become a fuzzy buzz. Sometimes slightly less distortion might give you a better overall tone, I especially notice this if I am playing rhythm in an instrumental song. If a the melody is played on a guitar with a highly distorted tone, I like the sound of less gain on the rhythms. Using different guitars and amps help separate them in the mix also.

I totally think a big huge “in your face” sound is the way to go, just search for that right amount of fatness and gain. Especially at high volume levels everything changes, and sometimes less gain is more tone. Use you ears and follow your instincts. Oh and when in doubt, Go Loud!


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