Guitar Effects Explained
Guitar effects are an extremely important part of any electric guitarists? life. Yet, most beginners have very little knowledge about effects. Effects are electronic devices that alter or moderate the sound, tone or pitch of an electric guitar. Effects are used in many popular genres of guitar music like rock, heavy metal, blues etc. They are housed in guitar pedals, amplifiers, simulation software and rack mount processors or preamplifiers. There are different types of effects. Here is a brief look at them.
Distortion related effects
Distortion is an effect that is commonly used in rock and heavy metal guitar music. A distortion pedal which is used to create this effect clips the signal and distorts its waveform leading to a distortion in the sound. There are many different types of distortion effects. Each one of them has their own distinct characteristics and features.
? Overdrive distortion: This is one of the most well known distortion effects. Most pedals that provide the distortion effect attempt to create a high grain sound. Some advanced distortion amplifiers like the Marshall, have went past the normal point of tonal break up and created a sound called as saturated grain also called total distortion in some cases. Some of the common distortion pedals are Marshall Guv?Nor, Pro Co Rat, Digi Tech Hot Tech.
? Fuzz: Fuzz pedals were originally created to recreate the classic sound of the 60?s overdrive tube amp combined with torn speaker cones. The original fuzz pedals have now been replaced by extreme designs that have effects like octave, gating etc. Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face is one of the most commonly used Fuzz effect pedals.
? Hi Gain: This effect originated from the high gain amplification used in electric guitars. In ordinary elec guitar terms, high gain is a sound that is produced by overdriven amp tubes or a distortion pedal. The sound produced is extremely thick. The modern hi gain pedals produce a sound that is unmatched and cannot be produced using any other device. The Boss ML2 metal core is a very common hi gain effect pedal.
Filtering related effects
? Equalizer: An equalizer is used to adjust the frequency response in a variety of frequency bands. A graphic equalizer which is a common feature in most music player software provides a slider interface for different frequency regions. In guitars, a rotary control is available in place of these sliders and they change the level of the frequency band.
? Phase shifter: Have you ever heard a sound during a guitar concert that is similar to the sound of a flying jet? That?s what a phase shifter can do for you. The effect is commonly known as phase.
? Wah Pedal: Just like the name, this foot operated pedal can create a sound that is similar to a man saying wah. The sound was most commonly heard in psychedelic rock from the 1960?s and funk music from the 1970?s.
Volume related effects
? Volume Pedal: This is nothing but a foot operated potentiometer that can be tilted forward or backward. A musician can easily adjust the volume of his instrument during performance. The pedal is also used to create a fading effect.
? Tremolo: This is a repetitive variation in gain for the complete duration of a single note. This is based on a very common effect that was built into guitar amps.
? Compressor: This is very much like an auto volume controller. The output level decreases as the incoming signal increases and vice a versa.
These are the most basic but commonly used guitar effects. There are many more advanced ones that you can use during concerts or gigs.
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