As a guitar player who is constantly chasing new gear and a new sound, sometimes it can be hard to just be content with what you have. Sometimes you just want to try new things, or get different sounds, but your budget just won't allow it. We believe that doesn’t exclude you from trying new things and continuing to be inspired by playing. Let’s talk about how you can get more out of your current setup.
Assessing your Rig
The first thing we need to look at is pretty obvious, what do you already have? When we are talking about your rig, we are talking about your guitar, pedals and amp(s). So, what do you have and what is the style you are trying to go for? This is the most important piece, what do you want to sound like. Once you understand your genre, we believe any rig can get you there. Begin to learn and understand the limits of what each pedal can do, or what your pickups sound like when you crank the volume louder than you should. You need to understand what you are working with. A lot of this will come with experimentation and playing, but the goal is to be aware of what your gear can really do without changing things too drastically. Once you are there, let the manipulation begin!
If you have never tried stacking pedals, we would highly recommend it! Stacking is essentially where you turn on two pedals at the same time, usually drive pedals. Pretty simple right? So, from here we need you to begin to try different things. Something to be aware of, the order in which you stack makes a huge difference. For example, if you place an overdrive before a distortion, when you play them both the overdrive will tend to act more as a boost to it because of the generally lower gain, while the opposite way will hit the overdrive with gain and saturation. Both are correct and sound great, but it just depends on what sound you may be looking for.
In our eyes, the amp is the most important piece in your rig. It is where the base of your sound will come from. This being said, there is no right way or wrong way to set up your amp. Its all about experimenting and playing around with the knobs. Make full use of all the extra knobs that you never touch, such as reverb, vibrato, and even tremolo. All these effects are great for finding new sounds, but require you to get out of your comfort zone. We also think that when creating your setting, try to find that “one size fits all sound.” What that means is a setting that sounds good with multiple genres you’ll be playing, and even multiple guitars you’ll be playing on. The key here is finding reliable tone to build off of. If your amp is the foundation of your tone, make sure it is solid on its own. If you aren’t happy playing directly into your amp, you wont be fully happy adding to it.
Using your tone and volume knobs
This may seem obvious, but listen to us, this works! Most of us now tend to just set our volume knob to 10 and never touch it, but you are missing out on a ton of potential thats built right into your guitar. Back in the 70s before pedals became a big deal, most guitar players would leave their volume at about 7, and set the amp to that as their normal sound. When their big solo came, instead of hitting a boost pedal, players would just slam the knob up to 10. This push the amp harder and not only gave them more volume, but thicker gain and sustain. Right here, you essentially have 2 “gain settings” built right into your guitar. Using the tone knob can also create a bit more warm or lush sounds just by rolling it back a bit. Make sure to fool around with these, as it will really broaden the scope on what sounds you have at your disposal, and right at your fingertips.
There you have it! You don’t have to spend more money to get the sound you want, you just have to have patience, think outside the box and have fun! Try out some of these tips and you can fall in love with your rig all over again.