Not used to electricity
I bought my first electric of a friend some days ago, and i just brought it home. It's an epi les paul special2 and the amp is a fender frontman 15R. I normally play a baby taylor and the transition is rather hard. It feels like I don't know anything anymore. Putting the epi down and picking up the taylor again feels like such a relief, but I really want to make this electric thing work. I wonder if any of you have any advice for me, any "common problems with going electric"-tips for instance.
1. The guitar sounds rather nice when it's not plugged in, but as I've never used an amp before, I don't really get the different functions and stuff (not that there are many). Which wheel to turn if i want a cleaner tone? The thinnest strings make an awful lot of noise compared to the bass strings. It also starts buzzing if I turn the volume up. Any way to avoid that?
2. The strings feel harder than i'm used to, although they are thinner than the ones on the taylor. I find that I have to press the strings down really hard to actually make a clean tone rather than a thump, and it makes my hand hurt.
It's so much less forgiving. It feels like I have to do everything perfect to make it sound decent.
To get a cleaner tone, turn down the gain. More gain also means more noise. Also, as you turn up the "Presence" you'll hear a lot more of that string noise. That's pretty much what "Presence" is.
"A cheerful heart is good medicine."
You might just need to get a set-up done on your electric guitar: think of it as a tune up on a car, basically it should make playing it alot easier. It does take some time to adjust to an electric but i really think you might need a setup.
Ricochet: Ah, I was wondering what gain meant. I was turning it up and down and wondered if it was supposed to mean thicker/thinner tone or somethin.
Setup, that was a good idea, but what does such a setup involve?
Gain means more amplification in the earliest stages of the amp, which "overdrives" the intermediate stages if you turn it up much. That gives your "crunchy" sounds beloved of rockers, but it also magnifies your klutzy string noises that are too small to hear on an acoustic.
Setup means adjusting things like your string height, intonation and neck relief, as well as pickup height and properly adjusting your "trem" if you have one. All guitars need that sort of thing checked from time to time. All guitarists ought to learn how to do it themselves. It's a good idea when you're starting out or buying a new guitar to have it done by someone who knows how it should be done and how you intend to play, which unfortunately not every shop has available.
"A cheerful heart is good medicine."
Another thing about Electrics vs Acoustics is this.
On an acoustic guitar you must 'finesse' the sound from the instrument.
On an electric you must 'control' the sound of the instrument. (Especially when your amp is cranked up loud)
Acoustic-hard strumming, hard hammers, hard chord grips
Electric - you barely strum, you shouldn't need to fret hard at all to get your note or chord to voice properly.
Acoustic- Mute? Really? what's that?
Electric- Mute, mute, mute. Palm Mute, Fret hand mute.
Also the knobs on your Les Paul are:
You have a volume and tone knob for each pickup.
Typically the bottom two are for your bridge p/u with the volume being the knob closest to the neck.
Likewise for the neck p/u a V and T knob again the V being the one closest to the neck.
Your switch is the p/u selecter
Up - Neck p/u
That's prolly clear as mud huh?
Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. - Wernher Von Braun (1912-1977)
As others have said, the technique is different. Open chords tend to sound good on acoustics but can sound bad on electrics. You do need to control the sounds more on electrics to stop everything building up and running together in an undesirable way. As previously mentioned above, this can mean muting, but often it can also mean playing less strings for a chord than you might on an acoustic. You can also spend a heck of a lot of time experimenting with all those knobs, and almost getting the tone right... :wink: It's all good fun though... 8)
EDIT: Have a read through this previous thread, where a similar question was asked. There's some good ideas, including a great post from Gnease with some good tips (Page 2 I think).
Thank you all for the thorough replies. It really helps alot.
Dagwood: I've actually only got two knobs and a switch on the guitar. Guess that means that there si one volume and one tone knob, and that both pickups are adjusted the same way?
ChrisC: Yeah, now i rather wish I hadn't been thinking that "ill master first position first, and move up the neck later", cause almost all I know are first position chords. At least i finally mastered those power chords, so I've got something. Muting, - that's a whole new world to me.
It's all good fun i'm sure, but at first, it's a bit overwhelming "I'll just do something I know I do well" i thought, and then realised that that meant classical pieces and fingerpicking songs. So I ended up just doing scales over and over, and playing a really easy song i wrote myself. The stuff i did well on the acoustic suddenly sounded crappy.
I've actually only got two knobs and a switch on the guitar. Guess that means that there si one volume and one tone knob, and that both pickups are adjusted the same way?
Yes, the two knobs will be volume and tone and will work on either or both pickups, depending on where the p/u selector switch is set. It shouldn't take too much experimentation to work out which is which!
:D :D :D
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)
So I ended up just doing scales over and over, and playing a really easy song i wrote myself. The stuff i did well on the acoustic suddenly sounded crappy.
I think that's probably par for the course. I played mostly fairly folky/traditional "camp fire strummer" type stuff on the acoustic, and it sounded just terrible when I tried to switch it directly to electric. So I decided to start from scratch on a different set of stuff. It was only some months later that I was able to go back and try the old songs again and get them to work well. By then I seemed to have developed whatever the different feel and touch is, because I could get them to sound reasonably OK then. It's all voodoo I tell you.... :twisted:
I'm sure you'll soon get the knack of it, but it was definitely a weird mixture of elation and excitement mixed with disappointment, and some successes alongside a few failures to begin with. :wink:
Thanks for the post, I also picked up my first electric guitar recently after about 4 years of playing acoustic.
Whats interesting is I've sort of stumbeled across some of these suggestions, muting, and playing partial chords seem to be working best for me now. But I'm still very much in the transition stage.
It's working out better than it did. Simple open chords work out allright again, and thank god for that. The action is very high, though. Higher than on both my cheap nylon strong acoustic and the baby taylor, which is quite the opposite of what everyone have been telling me about electric guitars.
Vibrato is simpler on the electric, which is good as I'm not really good at the vibrato thing. It's more fun to practice when you really hear what you do.
I still can't do even small semi barre hcords, like the little F and Dm7. I hope the hardness of hte strings can be fixed with that setup you suggested i get, cause my joints don't like having to hold down so hard.
I just bought my first electric from a crackhead two days ago, it's way different than acoustic! I'm already in love with infinite number of sounds I can get out of it, and with how much easier it is to fret notes. Controlling the sound is an issue so far, but I'm making good progress there.
And keep in mind that an electric guitar - contrary to popular belief - will AMPLIFY YOUR ERRORS. Don't worry about it, but just be aware that you gonna hear your miscues like never before.
And when that happens you can just turn up the gain and let the distortion cover your errors. :wink:
"If the moon were made of ribs, would you eat it?"
You know I just switched over from a electric over to a big baby taylor acoustic. Some songs that I was playing on my electric sound so much better on acoustic and vice versa. And the change didnt really affect my chords or anything. Its like ive been playing the same instrument just the sound is different.