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What is it, and how to use an Equalizer, or EQ pedal for guitar ?

boss GE

From all the available effect pedals for guitar, the EQ pedal (or Equalizer) is probably the most depreciated and underestimated. “ What is worth having another equalizer if I have the Bass, Mid, and Treble settings on my amp ? That’s enough no ? “ … A Good EQ thought, could save you a lot of time in your quest to reach the ultimate sound. It’s an essential element to add what’s missing, and remove what’s in it too much.. or even to fix the soup coming out of your effect chain.
Equalizer

The Equalizer, a matter of position?

Before all, where do we plug the EQ pedal inEQ an effect chain ? A wise person would say you’d need one after each other effect EQ to ” readjust ” the leaps between the sound. Let’s not be so dramatic, leaving an Equalizer at the end of your effect chain, just before the combinated effects (refer yourself to our article on effect categories), will be sufficient to refine the frequencies of your final sound.

How to set your sound with an EQ Pedal

To start, all the knobs have to be set on 0. To work with an EQ Pedal, Equalizerit’s willing to isolate from the already established sound the frequency you want to increase or decrease in particular. The first frequencies to set, are the basses. It’s what consistue the foundation of the signal, and what refers to the final amplitude of your sound. Use it to carve some parts of your sound, but utilisez not so much to avoid having your guitar ring like an empty tin can. The Trebles come in second, they constitute the “ crispy part “ of the sound specter.This grain a little crunchy and high pitched will be the hardest to set properly because it will highly depend on the strength you put in your picking technic. In the end, the Mids, or middles, will be separate into two categories : the low-mids and high-mids, will be the cornerstone of your EQualization. Giving all its relief to the already installed bass frequencies, it will also refine to the maximum the clarity of your guitar sound. The low-mids helps you set the warmth of your sound while the high-mids, the precision.

The EQ pedals often offers 8 different knobs to set the many frequencies making up the sound. The two last buttons, available on some pedals, will be used as a noisegate and an additional volume setting.

Don’t hesitate to try many settings until you find what fits the most to your idea of the perfect sound. The EQ, in the end, is a powerful effect that might affect drastically the result of a record or a live performance.
Otherwise, there’s not only the EQ that can affect so much the sound you perceive. We often forget a very important parameter: the position of the amp.

What is an effect pedal for guitar, how to use it and what are the effects ?

effect pedal guitar

You might sure have heard already of effect pedals for guitar, either in a music shop, or from another guitarist with a little more experience. The words distortion pedal, overdrive, reverb and loop tell you anything? Don’t worry, we’ll detail together all sorts of guitar pedals that are essential to your play style, to enhance your sound or add effects.

What’s an effect pedal for guitar ?

A guitar effect pedal is a small electronic device that you can control with your foot and which, according to its characteristics, apply an effect to your sound. You can plug in your electric guitar, bass or even an electro-acoustic instrument to transform your sound. You can power it with a 9V battery or straight from the plug. I advise you to quickly buy a power supply ! Pedals are very greedy in batteries and you might spend your time buying new ones otherwise.

  • an agressive saturation with effects like Distorsion or Overdrive.
  • some kind of reverberation, that could give you the feeling of playing in a wide church.
  • a programmable echo, brought to you by a delay pedal.
  • or some particular effects linked to the signal of your guitar like the wah-wah.

By pressing with you foot, you will activate the effect of the pedal. Another push on the footswitch will turn it off. We call that the « bypass ». In general, the average price of a pedal is set between 40 and 180€ according to the quality of craft and the type of effect.

The difference between an analog and a digital effect pedal for guitar

You are hitting here a conflict of purists. At first, an effect pedal was made from an electronic circuit with transistors. It’s in 1962 that the first pedal was born. For the more curious of you, we’re speaking about the Fuzz Pedal, I will write about it in the following of the article. Thus an analog signal treated the electric signal from the guitar with its components, before injecting the newly altered signal in your guitar amp.

The digital pedal came around in the early 1980’s. It’s aim was to sample (cut) the audio signals in a digital flux. Then, the different components inside (such as a microchip) will process digitally the signal. In the end, the digital signal is reconverted into a audio signal.

The great conflict opposing guitarists holds there : purist prefers analog while new wave only swear by digital effects. In the end, it’s a simple matter of point of view.

Advantages and inconvenient of the analog pedal :

  • Its authenticity and vintage vibe.
  • Doesn’t undermine the quality of the signal digitally/

Advantages and inconvenient of the digital pedal :

  • Lower price for far advanced features.
  • Possibility to mix all kind of effects in a single pedal (multi-effects vs pedalboards).
  • Possibilité de mémoriser plusieurs réglages.

From a personal vantage point, I love the vintage vibe coming from the good old analog pedal. It’s even possible to find tube pedals to give even more colors to your sound. Some became almost historical, such as the whammy or wah-wah, the Zoom G2 or the Boss series “me” de boss (like “me-25” or “me-70”). But on a practical level and to access a richer variety of sound, the digital effect pedal, notably in its multi-effect form is the most incredible and funny solution.

Multi-effect Pedals, Ali Baba’s cave

Thanks to the digital era, it became possible to mix a lot of effects in a single pedal. Imagine, a larger pedal with a screen, that helps you get a hundred-different effect, with the possibility to mix the way you want a databank already gathering dozens of presets giving you the sound of your favorite artist in a click. Moreover, those pedal also host an inbuild guitar tuner, metronome and drum box simulating rhythms. With this kind of pedal, you will be able to have fun months and months.

I personally love the amount of possible settings the multi-effect pedals allow us to manage. I have a Boss GT8 that I use during the live courses to set in the reverb, distortion or many other type of effects pleasing my ears. Everything easily controllable from my feet . You can switch from a dirty to a clean sound in a switch of the foot. Quite nice during live performances or concerts !

How to plug your effect pedal in your existing sound chain?

From scratch, an effect pedal must be wired between the guitar and its amp. Nevertheless, it is possible to set an effect loop (FX Loop), thus plugging the effect pedals after the pre-amplification stage of your amp. You can constitute what we call a “rack” of effects. An assembling in series to obtain different sounds thanks to a connected pedal network. If you have a lot of them, we can also advise you to build yourself a pedalboard. A kind of suitcase where all your pedal fit, connect, and are ready to be used and transported. For those you like to vary, you can also try the Four Cable Method cables.

A pedalboard containing a distortion pedal, a compressor, and reverb.
A beautifully set pedalboard, the perfect gift to a guitarist. The assembly line is logical but nothing prevents you to do some experiments

The different kind of sounds and effect pedals

You wouldn’t doubt it, engineers and electronicians had fun building pedals to create crazy sounds! Know that it is possible for you to assemble your own pedal at home by buying a crafting kit. Many tutorial exists on internet.

Saturation : distorsion, fuzz and overdrive

You love saturated sounds and desire to create a nice crunchy feel to your sound ? Those pedals are made for you !

  • The overdrive enable your sound to reach a clean and powerfull saturation or to give a crunchy vibe to it.
  • The distorsion is made for metal fans, it let you push your sound to the threshold.
  • The Fuzz pedal is rather particular. Imagine a drooling distorsion pushed to extremness. The Big Muff, for instance, is a reference and absolute must try !

Echo: reverb and delay

You wanna do some beautiful guitar solo ? Don’t look any further, those effects are the ones you seek :

  • Reverb grants you the feeling of playing in a church. You can set the intensity with the mix, the lenght or the depth for example.
  • Delay will give you a sensation of echo. By playing, the sound will repeat many time in a row, less and less loud.

Those two effects perfectly mix, I advise you to always set a little of it to embelish your sound. Less is more, in the end, no ?

To refine your sound : Compressor and EQualizer

You think your sound is way too loaded with bass or trebles ? With an EQ pedal, or “ equalizer “, you will be able to act on the different frequencies composing the specter of your signal. By boosting the bass, carving the mediums and cuting the trebles for . It exists under two shapes :

  • A Multi-band Equalizer allows you to set precisely each frequency band.
  • The Parametrical EQ enables you to carve the sound with an amplitude (Q) setting, on asserted frequency bands.

The compressor pedal, in opposition, will allow you to compress the sound to give it more room and impact.

To improvise : the loop pedal

You play 4 chord, push on your pedal and let it play for you in loop. You now simply have to you’re your guitar over what you’ve just recorded. Easy as a loop ! If you love to improvise in solo or live, this pedal will be a whole lot of fun. .Let’s take a look at its principle :

  1. Activate the pedal and play your chord sequence
  2. Press again once the sequence is over.
  3. The pedal has recorded the sound and will simultaneously play it in loop.
  4. Have fun and improvise over it !

The essentials effects : flanger, chorus, vibrato and phaser

Specials effects without saturation or echo made their way in to open the guitar world to new experiences. Especially in the production, I introduce you to :

  • The flanger, nicely nicknamed the “hoover”. A pedal that listen to your sound and add time and frequency perturbation. It feels like the sound is being bend in every possible way and your guitar doubles. (not like with an octaver, that takes the sound of your guitar and double it one octave higher or lower).
  • Le chorus vous donne une sensation similaire au flanger. C’est un des effets les plus connus, mais plus harmonieux que le flanger.
  • The phaser will shift your signal and mix it with another one, a little late. It then feels divided into phases, one past, one from the future, according to what you play.
  • The vibrato : is a rather original effect that will make your signal undulate the way it would with a vibrato bar you activate with hand

Expression pedals : wah-wah and pitch shifter

A few pedals can make the sound vary according to the way you bend a footswitch. That’s what we call an expression, or expressive pedal. It’s the case of the two we’ll present you now :

  • The pitch schifter will affect the “pitch” or height of your sound by sending it to the stratosphere of trebles. You can higher it or lower it for many octaves with a very simple foot move. The Digitech Whammy is a good representative of this technology.
  • The wah-wah is surely the most popular guitar effect. Used by legends like Jimi Hendrix or Dimebag Darrel, the famous Crybabyy from Dunlop is the ultimate reference to have. It’s a by-pass filter you can control with your feet. If the pedal is in low position, trebles are highered up. If it’s in high position, lows are amplified. The quick shifting creates the famous “wah-wah” sound

Tools pedals : guitar tuner or noise gate

Some other pedals will not vastly affect your sound but improve your playing comfort :

  • A tuning pedal or guitar tuner can be inserted in your effect chain to control the tuning of your guitar at all time.
  • A noise gate is a very interesting pedal. It will remove all the parasitic noises below a defined volume. You can play without ever worrying about dirty interferences.
  • A volume pedal : to contrôle de volume of your instrument. Better than turning on and off the amp no ?
  • A rhythm box : to play along adaptative rhythms and pre-recored drum track

Conclusion : is it mandadory to purchase a guitar pedal ?

Not at all, you can simply play sounds with your guitar amp without having to buy a pedal. At my humbile beginings, I bought a distorsion pedal… then I regreted it. Then, I bought a multi-effect…. And I also regreted it. But only because I lacked the experience to understand its whole utility. Today, I re-use those pedals to work on my sound. It never stopped me in my learning or in the way I practiced my instrument all those years. Everything depend on your interest in the technology, if you want to have fun creating crazy sound or simply to take pleasure in experiencing.

What is a tube amplificator for guitar ?

peavy valveking à lampes

The tube amp :

Tube ? Wait, why tube ?

Back in the days where digital and micro technology didn’t exist, the first amplificators where made with tubes. Beware, here we don’t speak about the geometric figure, not at all. Here, we speak about this device that some engineers compare to a lamp bulb. As seen below. You’ve understood well, this tube will heat up like a bulb and its wire will shine bright like a diamond… wait.. not exactly like that. The aim is to generate power and thus, sound. Nowadays, you can find amps without tubes but with transistors (less expensive) or with modelling technology (digitaly calculated sound). There are also hybrids amp crossing those different technologies.

lampe amplificateur de guitare
Here’s a tube… a glass tube

 

Thus, a tube amp is constituted of … tubes !

amplificateur à lampes
A tube amp, rather pretty isn’t it ?

 

Advantages and inconvenients of a whole tube amp :

The advantages

  • A very typical sound under the influence of each of the tubes. There are many series of tubes. Warmer sounds, more round, etc.. Each tube have their own sonic signature. Thus you can play and affect your sound by changing your tubes.
  • A more ” powerful ” sound : warning, a tube amp does’t have a higher sound a transistor one. 1 W is 1 W, nothing more. Tube amps are just enjoying better quality speakers. What can make it feel louder and more powerful than transistor ones.
  • Overdrive and flexibility of the tubes. If you drive your tube amplificator to the top, the tubes will handle it, where the transistor would break.
  • The seducing “old school machine” style : the fact you need to pre-heat the tubes of your amp before using it, looking at them lighting up, it has a peculiar effect on the guitarist. Here we find it charming !
  • Higher dynamics and amazing harmonics : be aware that we don’t mean a transistor amplificator would make honnor to your play. Just that you have higher chances to spread a rich sound on a tube amp than on its counterparts. A quality transistor amp might after all equal a tube amp easilly, if you put the price in it of course.

The inconvenients

  • Fragility : tube are very weak, they don’t like to be carried ! Careful of chocs and trips if you don’t wanna spend your savings changing them.
  • the price : tubes are expansive ! Count a minimum of 40€ per tube. Quite a high sum knowing you have on average 8 tube in a tube amplificator.
  • Yield rate and volume : you’ll obtain better resultats by pushing your aplificator to two third of your volume. I’m afraid your neighbors won’t appreciate it !

Few complimentary informations on the tube amp for guitar

We observe here the power stage of the Amp with the tubes. Those are the ones boosting the volume of your sound. The second stage is also composed of tubes, but special ones. Those to shape the type of sind you’ll hear. Don’t forget to pre-heat the tubes before each use. To do so, activate the POWER button 5 minutes before deactivating the STAND BY. Do the same to turn off your amp. Be careful, tubes are made of glass ! A sudden change of temperature or a heavy choc could damage them, along with your amp.

peavy valveking à lampes

Anyway, whether you own a tube amp, transistor or modelling one, only you ear is the judge. There is no secret method or special formula to chose which amplificator is the best. A transistor amp is not necesserily worse than a tube one. And a modelling amp can be as useful as a tube one to your eyes. Trust yourself and try as many guitar amplificators as you can 😉 !

On my side, I play with a all tube combo, a modelling one and a hybrid transistor/tube. They complete each other and have all their advantages and inconvenients 😉

Wanna know more about modelling amp ? How fitting ! We’re speaking about it in this article !

 

 

The Archtop Guitar and its specifications

eastman arce front close

The Archtop guitar is at a crossroad between acoustic guitars, folk and classical. From the english Arched, meaning curve and Top, refering to the harmonic table, the Archtop guitar is a rather singular piece of guitar making. Quite hidden from the common guitarist world..

Technical specifications of an Archtop Guitar

Its design

Created in 1905 by the famous master luthier Orville Gibson, founder of the mythical guitar brand, the Archtop guitar is inspired by quartet instruments, such as violins and cellos. Carved from raw wood as mandolins are, the depths and sides are sculpted in a bloc. The table of harmony is pierced with two f shaped openings and is overhanged by a floating bridge, holding the strings of the guitar. Sometimes, electromagnetic microphones are added to the body. If the Archtop guitar became a legend in neo-classical guitar craft, she’s also well know in her electric forms. We think of course of the Gibson Les Paul, her direct offspring, but also to the ES model.

Une magnifique guitare archtop
Cherry Red, this jazzy Archtop guitar has a rare refinement.

What is the difference with a more standard guitar ?

A guitar is made of a body. This one is usualy filled, or ” solid ” for modern guitars, such as de RG series made by the Ibanez brand. They also can be semi, or hollow body. Equiped with a more prominent part of electronic, the biggest difference between a normal guitar and an Archtop is the visual aspect and it’s componants. Alike an electric guitar, the Archtop can be equiped with a microphone. Everything is possible but he will usualy be alone and well hidden ! On the contrary with the electric guitare, having many mics straight on top of the body. The sound, for instance, will have a smoother color. Perfect for the Jazz ! You can play metal on it, but the warmth of the melody will make you realise it’s unfit.

A sound beloved by jazz amaters

Un peu d’histoire de la guitare

Very soon, Archtop guitars seduced the great Jazz guitarists of the 40’s and 50’s thanks to their impressive sonic range. With them, guitarist could finally take parts to small acoustic orchestra of the past. Better even, young talents like Django Reinhardt or Wes Montgomery found a way to push further te limits of the instrument through incredible solos. What defined the genra nowadays. The sound of an Archtop Guitar is still very special today, and few folk guitarist would dare try this particular craft.

When using an archtop guitar ?

Its body, curvier than usual makes the instrument quite imposing. Its strings are in steel and deal a great tension to let out an intense and loud sound that many don’t find adapted for rock and blues. There where many laying style might seem anecdotical on an electric guitare, theu might totally change the sound of an archtop guitar. The latest more inclined to be affeted by the material used to vibrate the strings. Like a pick. Or according to the position where you pick the strings.

To grasp the idea of the tender and warm sound of archtop guitars, here is a video :