Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Effects, Music, Haters, and You

In my time on various musician and guitar gear forums I've come across people who say something along the lines of this:

Don't hide behind distortion or various effects, the best players are those who plug their straight into an amp and play.
While many guitarists can do that and sound quite good, how boring would it be if everyone plugged their guitar straight into their Twin Reverb? I feel effects pedals are an essential part of many guitarists sounds and that's perfectly okay!

Effects pedals can bring an even bigger impact to pivotal moments of songs or even entire albums. Hell, they even can define the sound of a genre like spring reverb for surf-rock. In a lot of music I listen to I find the same exact sounds recurring over and over again and the album feels drawn out and far from dynamic. I think musicians, especially in those in various metal bands should experiment more with effects to accentuate certain moments in their songs or just make their guitar sound like some other instrument completely. Guitar pedals can bring life to your sound and even compel you to play in styles you would never have imagined.

So to all you guitarists, bassists and any other musicians, if you don't already, experiment liberally with all kinds of effects! It's entertaining and inspiring, it could even lead to a new genre of music, you never know. So let all the haters play blues licks through their Fenders all day (no offense meant if you do), use all the effects you want and create music you love. Don't let anyone tell you the 'right' way to play guitar, you're unique way is the best way.


  1. I think a lot of people forget that all instruments and amps and effects ect do is to help produce sound. Is there really a difference in the end if you plug straight in or use a pedal? Does your amp have a EQ? your guitar/bass/ect and a tone control or onboard EQ? Did you pick your instrument for a certain voicing? How is that different? And why does it matter how the sound is produced as long as the one producing said sound like what they hear?

  2. Awesome points mudfuzz! That's a great way to really break things down.

    It's just sound, use it however it is pleasing to you.

  3. Some of us are looking for new sounds beyond what we've heard for the past 40 years. That's my main motivation in putting a bunch of pedals on my board.

  4. I look at it as I do most technology. Its purpose should be not to make poor things OK, or as a cheat to bypass effort, but rather a way to make things that are already good, better. If you write a great riff, maybe adding or tweaking your effects will bring it up to a new more interesting level. The same goes for anything else. When you use technology you should be getting more done and/or getting it done better or faster than you could have without.

  5. It totally opened my eyes, when I saw a video of Fred Frith holding a lecture. First thing he said holding up his guitar was "This is not an instrument even though many of you might think so." Then he pointed at his cable, effects and amplifier: "All of this is the instrument."

  6. That really is so true and what I think makes guitar playing so fun, you can add so many pieces to your instrument.