How on God’s green earth could Randy Rhoads have been such an amazing talent, yet had the worst buzzy guitar tone? The guy meticulously triple tracked many of his solos, took classical guitar lessons while out on the road, yet applied the use of a big pedalboard that Ozzy Osbourne referred to as the “chip pan”. Apparantly the hissing noise it made sounded like a sizzling frying pan. I mean, if it was annoying to Ozzy, it must have been really bad! God knows what kind of weird shit he had buzzing around his head in those days just sitting at the breakfast table eating cornflakes.
The tone on Joe Satriani’s Surfing With The Alien? A true mystery for the ages! On Satch Boogie I think he is playing through my alarm clock.
A sensible guitar player must use at least .012 gauge strings straight into a tube amp. Your cord can not be more than 20 feet long and must coast at least sixty American dollars. You may use a Tubescreamer or a Klon…but that is it. If you tune down to compensate for the extra string tension, you are a patsy. With this setup your guitar tone will be the finest in the world. Underwear will be thrown. You will get the hottest babes. It worked for Stevie Ray Vaughan and it will work for you. Eric Clapton got so upset that Stevie edged him out on this discovery that….well you know the rest.
If you are a mediocre guitar player and absolutely must use effects as a crutch because you suck, here are some things I have learned.
1- Discussions involving “True Bypass” will get you into fights on internet forums.
Lets say Zachary Vex, Howard Davis (inventor of the venerable Deluxe Electric Mistress Flanger), and Pete Cornish were to morph into one super being. This super being decides to log on to gearpage.net and check some posts while drinking coffee out of an effectstore.com mug. Said being clicks on Is My Pedal Really True Bypass thread and produces a well thought out helpful reply. The responses to such kindess and philantropic action will be immediately berating and chiding. Nobody knows the truth to True Bypass. Everybody thinks they know the correct answer. Nobody shares the same ideal. It is a nebulous void of confusion, hate and despair. At best it is now a marketing ploy. It is very similair to religion.
2- Flangers are kind of like really pretty girls
Flangers are quite subtle when being run into a clean amp. Hell, they are quite subtle when being run into a cranked amp. Still really cool, but subtle. Think Seventeen Seconds, or Faith by the Cure for good clean flanging tones. Like an attractive woman a flanger needs to be complimented before it starts to get you all hot and bothered. The relationship is directly proportional. You must coax out the goodness! Put a fuzz or an overdrive in FRONT of the pedal. The flanger will use this extra harmonic information to provide you with a sonic wHoosh wHoosh of pleasure! Listen to some happy flanging sounds on Dinosaur Jr’s Freak Scene, and the opening riff to Suedes Animal Nitrate! Heart’s Barracuda will also give you the ultimate pleasure! Nancy Wilson is the guitarist, and being female, knew this trick all along.
3- George L Patch Cables
I recommend the straight style with the screw. The right angled jobbers have a knob that you hand tighten. It is way too easy to penetrate through the rubber casing and muck things up. Since you are using .012 gauge guitar strings, you are probably pretty strong and don’t know your own strength.
You may want to never purchase one of these. Your tone will be quite muddy while playing live. Perhaps you can meet yourself half way and purchase a delay to fatten things up.
Whatever the case, write good songs. Nobody but other guitar players really give a conscious damn about your guitar tone. If anything, it should inspire you to play more and better. Randy Rhoads wrote amazing guitar parts. The man had his priorties in order. Frank Zappa used to make fun of a young Steve Vai’s guitar tone. He likened it to an “angry bee”. Steve Vai writes good songs. He even has great hair and pants. Use whatever gear you have available to you and create songs that make you happy. If your tone sucks, it will not for long. If you dig your tunes, an unsatiable desire to bring the best out of them will soon follow. The path to good tonedom is there on the right. It is a never ending path, but a scenic and enjoyable one!
For a good aural journey compare Joe Satriani’s early recorded tone to that of his live stuff off of Time Machine. Night and Day in a positive way. (Feel free to use that as a song title and submit it to Seasame Street). Some artists, like Eddie Van Halen prefer the “lets go backwards” approach. Compare the guitar tone on Balance to that of Van Halen II. I don’t quite understand. Do you?