New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post your question here and an experienced guitar player or teacher will get back to you.
User avatar
GM
Junior Member
Posts: 82
Joined: October 17th, 2004, 10:40 am
Location: Vermont

New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by GM » May 29th, 2008, 7:31 am

Hey, I've been playing acoustic for 4-5 years and finally decided to add electric to my repertoire. I got a Squier strat http://www.wwbw.com/Squier-Standard-Str ... 2725.music with a humbucker at the bridge and two single coils. I also got a Marshall 10w amp http://www.wwbw.com/Marshall-MG10CD-Com ... 1116.music

As a tease, the guitar arrived yesterday but the amp doesn't arrive until tomorrow. Here's my issue though: I've never had to deal with settings. From my experience, I feel like when I first started tuning my guitar. I could tell that I was changing things but not sure which way I have to go to get what I want (and tuning is just left/right as opposed to all these knobs!).

I've read a fair amount in these forums and found some bits on "tone" etc (BTW, there are two tone knobs but three pickups, what do they control?). Here's my request, could somebody give me a general idea on how to get a couple sounds and then I feel like I could play around from there.

What sort of settings should you use to sound like Derek & the Dominoes?

How about the Ramones?

Nirvana?

I know pedals are often involved (the amp does have overdrive) but any recommendations to get these sorts of sounds with just the guitar and amp would be much appreciated! Thanks!

dogbite
Musically Insane
Posts: 6354
Joined: July 14th, 2005, 8:06 am
Location: Coulee country, WI

Re: New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by dogbite » May 29th, 2008, 7:52 am

three pickups, one of which is a humbucker.
the positions of those pickups matter.
in genral terms think of this:
neck pickup...clear, bell tones.. blues, jazz.
bridge pickup with a humbucker...loud, creamy , smooth, biting, treble emphasis.
middle pickup...classic single coil 'squak' .

unlike acoustics the tone really begins with the fingers. your touch matters.

with a slightly overdriven amp and a humbucker you could probably do most of the things you mentioned.
an overdrive or distortion pedal will make that easier.

switch positions and tone knobs work like this.
switch all the way forward towards head stock> neck pickup active. one tone knob controls the amount of treble.
switch all the towards the bridge> humbucker or bridge pickup active. one tone knob controls that.
middle switch position control the middle pickup.
there are two in between positions. neck/middle and middle/bridge. explore those because some interesting things are there.
Nirvana tone is distortion with some chorus. I would thing a humbucker and some dirty sound would get you near there.
Clapton has a few things going. early Clapton (Cream and Dominoes) he uses a humbucker.
his later blues is all single coil.

the fist knob nearest your hand when holding the guitar is volume. you can reach it with your pinky while playing.
I am not familiar with your amp. it may have a Gain control. you can use that to dirty up your sound.

dirty is good. there are many terms used. all the pickup positions, tone conmtrols, volume, amp settings are used to get a tone. the tone begins with yopur playing and attitude.

holding notes and letting the string vibrate often brings out other tones in the note played. overtiones, harmonics are things to understand.
technique is important. vibrato, volume swells, hammer ons, pull offs, all bring something to the result.
take notes of your settings so you will remember the good ones.

have fun.

User avatar
GM
Junior Member
Posts: 82
Joined: October 17th, 2004, 10:40 am
Location: Vermont

Re: New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by GM » May 29th, 2008, 8:03 am

Thank you very much. That's the sort of thing I needed to know. I'll play around with it tomorrow when the amp comes in and see what I can figure out.

Thanks!

Blueline
Guitarnoise Denizen
Posts: 1711
Joined: April 17th, 2007, 12:22 pm
Location: Northern NJ
Contact:

Re: New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by Blueline » May 29th, 2008, 8:20 am

+10 on the follow up post!!

There's no need to fear..."Under-Dogbite" is here!!! :P

As always, an excellent reply from the dog!
Teamwork- A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.

Nuno
Guitarnoise Addict
Posts: 4058
Joined: October 7th, 2006, 4:10 am
Location: Madrid, Spain
Contact:

Re: New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by Nuno » May 29th, 2008, 9:39 am

Blueline wrote:As always, an excellent reply from the dog!
+1

Just a complementary reply on the amp. I had the 15 watts model with effects. It is a cool amp. I liked its clean channel.

GM, that amp has two channels: the clean and the overdrive. You can choose them by the black switch between the 'volume' and 'gain' knobs. When the clean channel, you only need a volume knob. When you use the overdrive, you need the 'gain' and 'volume': move the gain to get different 'dirty' sounds. I used to use it around the 1 or 2 (and select the volume as you like or you can play). If you move the gain to 10 you will get hard distortion sounds.

Play with all you controls in the amp and the guitar and try to identify the differences. Initially it is not easy but when you get used to your gear you can identify clearly.

dogbite
Musically Insane
Posts: 6354
Joined: July 14th, 2005, 8:06 am
Location: Coulee country, WI

Re: New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by dogbite » May 29th, 2008, 9:47 am

I sure made a lot of typos in my post up there. LOL. I do that when I have a lot to say.
funny I can fret clean notes, nut when I type I always hit two keys.

I am leaving it unedited, because it is funny lame.
but glad you understood.

humbuckers also are great for biting crunch and squealing highs. they produce creamy rhythym too.

User avatar
GM
Junior Member
Posts: 82
Joined: October 17th, 2004, 10:40 am
Location: Vermont

Re: New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by GM » May 29th, 2008, 11:11 am

Follow up question on this: So the tone knobs are for the fret end pick up and the bridge pick up and neither of the knobs affect the middle pick up?

What's kind of a "default" for the tone knob? In my mind is it like bass and treble on a stereo where the "default" is in the middle or is it like volume where the default is close to zero or should I not think of it that way?

Thanks again. I wish I had the amp already so I could be messing with the setup instead of just imagining it :D

dogbite
Musically Insane
Posts: 6354
Joined: July 14th, 2005, 8:06 am
Location: Coulee country, WI

Re: New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by dogbite » May 29th, 2008, 12:22 pm

the middle pick up IS controlled with both tone and volume knobs.

the way the tone knob works is this...it is a potentiaometer or pot. it really doesn't increase the bass end. it does bleed off the treble end of things. thus taking away the sharp high frequencies.
here is where pickup location comes into play. a pickup or pup closer to the bridge is picking up the vibration of the string next to the bridge. the distance is 'short'. the neck pup or fret end pup, as you call it, is in the middle of the whole guitar. it is surround by a lot of wood mass. plus the string when vibrating moves around quite a lot there.
it is like a rubber band analogy. you are holding both ends. those ends do not move as far as the middle. same with guitar strings.
so I find that the tone is rounder, mellower, fuller , woodier at the neck pup.

the middle pup is sort of the best of both worlds. kinda trebly and kinda woody.

you define your tone by adjusting the tone controls, pup positions, and also, where you pick the string.
you can notice the differnce in tone readily on an acoustic by struming where the neck meets the guitar, over the sound hole, or right next to the bridge.
you can hear it, right?

it is the same with electric. except unplugged it is hard to hear. but then the pups are on and amplified that tiny electrical current sounds huge. then you can the characterisitcs of pup position quite easily.
tone knobs. on my strat I like the treble rolled off just a hair. then using the bridge pup I can have biting treble but not too bright. when I want some AC DC I set it right in the middle. some tone knobs have a click point there. you can feel it sort of settle. some don't, so use your ear.

when I use the neck pup and want really mellow jazz notes I keep the tone knob in the middle.
but when I want clear bell sounds I put the treble full up. rarley do I ever go all the way to bass .
it sounds muffled there often.

notice that your volume sometimes is effected when yopu turn the tone knob. when full treble my strat gets louder.
it is subtle and does vary with models and years. I am not sure what a Squire does there.

so default setting. yes, one way you get more treble the other yopu don't. but as I said turning the knob to less treble does not add more bass; it just takes treble away. we just sense that more bass is added.
half way setting should not be considered a zero setting.

however, I have names for some of my settings. like I said, when I roll off the treble on my bridge pup and kick in my overdrive pedal I can come close to sounding like ACDC's humbuckers. so I call that my Angus setting.
when I have the switch one position away form the birdge I hear a different tone. it is kind of puck pucka. it reminds me of the artist Ry Cooder. so I call that my Cooder setting.

so you are allowed to name your things. so you can say what is your default, and know where it is again and again.
that is the beauty of guitar.
hope this helps.

User avatar
GM
Junior Member
Posts: 82
Joined: October 17th, 2004, 10:40 am
Location: Vermont

Re: New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by GM » May 30th, 2008, 7:24 am

dogbite, that was a great answer and makes a lot of sense. Thanks! I appreciate the acoustic analogy because that's where my knowledge is right now.

UPS says my amp is delivered so I'll get to put all this knowledge you gave me to use (with many rereadings in the process, I'm sure!).

gnease
Musically Insane
Posts: 5523
Joined: March 2nd, 2004, 10:38 am

Re: New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by gnease » May 30th, 2008, 8:15 am

dogbite wrote: unlike acoustics the tone really begins with the fingers. your touch matters.
Wha ... Wha ... WHAT!? :o Can't believe you wrote this, Dogbite. It starts at the fingers on acoustic as well! An acoustic may be a little less nuanced by fingers than electric due to that big Helmholz resonator under the acoustic's strings, but there still is a lot of finger-drive timbre.

dogbite
Musically Insane
Posts: 6354
Joined: July 14th, 2005, 8:06 am
Location: Coulee country, WI

Re: New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by dogbite » May 30th, 2008, 9:22 am

oops. mea culpa. I knew when I wrote that electric/acoustic finger tone thing that I was treading the limits.

I did that to make my point.
however, it is true, tone begins with the fingers when playing acoustic too.

thanks for catching me. :D

User avatar
GM
Junior Member
Posts: 82
Joined: October 17th, 2004, 10:40 am
Location: Vermont

Re: New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by GM » June 2nd, 2008, 6:04 am

Thanks again for the help. I got my amp this weekend and was able to mess around with it and I definitely felt more comfortable with it after you explained things.

I had two highlights, both involving my 19-month old daughter. First, I was trying to get a good punk sound and so I was trying out the American Idiot riff as I adjusted the settings. There was a lot of trial and error and finally I was able to find a really good sound. At the same moment, my daughter looked over, put down her baby and started dancing to it :D

Then on Sunday, she was at the table eating with my wife, and asked for more....my wife offered more food and she said "more" again and pointed at me. We realized it was because I had paused between songs and she wanted me to keep playing :lol:

dogbite
Musically Insane
Posts: 6354
Joined: July 14th, 2005, 8:06 am
Location: Coulee country, WI

Re: New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by dogbite » June 2nd, 2008, 7:39 am

girls and guitars...classic.
hen I am new to something, like recording, stomp boxes, amp settings, I like to jot down notes.
that way when I find something I like it is written down. eventually you won't need the notes.
glad things are working out.
now play something for the wife.

User avatar
GM
Junior Member
Posts: 82
Joined: October 17th, 2004, 10:40 am
Location: Vermont

Re: New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by GM » June 3rd, 2008, 5:09 am

I did keep track of those settings which is good because I'm a bit overwhelmed over how much it's all interrelated. I feel like I have a great sound and then change the pickup and suddenly the whole thing sounds dead until I adjust it all again.

My wife is definitely a bigger fan of the acoustic but hopefully she'll learn to appreciate the electric as I improve my playing on it :D

corbind
Guitarnoise Addict
Posts: 3117
Joined: September 9th, 2002, 1:07 pm
Location: Midwest

Re: New to electric (guitar and amp settings....)

Post by corbind » June 7th, 2008, 11:53 pm

TONE: oh my. It takes quite a bit of messin' around to get what you like. Seriously, you can take 10 of us at GN and we'd all have different opinions on what is the "Grail Tone" on the guitar. It's someting you'll have to tweak over the years.

Further, over the years, your ears will hear things differntly and you'll change your knobs on your guitar and amp. Part of growing. Still, I find myself messin' with it. Does that lend you a clue? Just keep tweaking it to your taste.
"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."

Post Reply