Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Guitar Multi FX Friend or Foe?

Guitar Multi FX Friend or Foe?
by Tony Williams

Killer Guitar Sounds? Maybe...

Guitar multi FX units are undoubtedly one of the best value-for-money tools available to today's guitar player. Even a cheap multi FX unit found on eBay will house some great sounding effects to brighten up or add interest to even the most mediocre guitarist's playing.

With so many different guitar sound effects available in the typical multi FX unit it is a great temptation to try and use as many as possible. However, that temptation could also destroy your credibility as a player and leave your audience nonplussed. In fact, when it comes to guitar multi FX, that old clich less is more can very often be absolutely true!

The solution? You need to get your basic sounds right and stick with them before adding any extra sparkle.

So what is meant by 'basic sounds'? Well there are really only three and they are:

* Clean You know how this sounds; crisp chords and sparkling arpeggios.

* Mild Distortion / Overdrive This can vary from slight breaking up of a clean sound to a satisfying crunchy distortion.* Heavy Distortion / Fuzz The all-out blistering solo sound, think Gibson Les Paul through a Marshall stack turned all the way up to eleven!

(A little tip about distortion don't be tempted to use too much! What sounds great plugged into a small practice amp or headphones in your back bedroom will often sound like undefined mush when it is cranked up to gig volume.)

Anything on top of your basic sound, whether it be chorus, flange, delay, or whatever, should be considered as extra that is added to compliment and enhance. The basic sound should not be sacrificed or altered in any way.

Listen to some of your favourite guitar players and try to work out how many different combinations of sound effect they are using - I guarantee that however many there are (and its probably fewer than you think) they will be sitting on top of a great basic sound.

So in conclusion; enjoy your guitar multi FX and make the most of the variety of different sound effects available, but don't sacrifice your guitar sound for the sake of guitar sound effects.


Tony Williams is a musician, writer, and self-confessed eBay fanatic. He is the editor and webmaster of MuZiCk! - the irreverent rock music lexicon.

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