Are you tired of the familiar sound of your Stratocaster, Telecaster, Ibanez, Gibson, Cort or Epiphone? Are you a musician in need of spicing up your next gig? Or a beginner looking to see the range of what an electric guitar can do? 

We’re here to let you know that it’s possible to vary your sound with guitar effects obtained through different means.

Thanks to electric guitar pedals, for instance, you can create unbelievable sounds that are impossible to obtain with a classical or manouche guitar.

Korg, DigiTech, Auto-wah, Mesa Boogie, as well as Reverb, Modulation, Noise Gate or even Footswitches. Do theses random names ring a bell?

Well, these are effects used by some of the biggest electric, electro-acoustic and bass guitarists in their music. And some of the most experimental players of the acoustic guitar and the electric guitar use them too.

But if you’d like to reproduce them in your own playing, you’ll need to have some standard equipment. In particular, we recommend the amplifier that comes with Gibson Les Paul guitars, which creates some of the best effects there are.

From mixing to using compressor pedals and speakers, a lot goes into obtaining an original sound.

Choose the right guitar amplifier, buy a pedal, take care of your guitar, and collect picks… so many things come into play when it comes to the sound of an instrument.

Whether you’re left- or right-handed, the act of choosing a guitar among all the ranges of musical instruments will help make you a better player…

Follow this guide to learn as much as you can without having to take guitar lessons!

Sounds Vary between Each and Every Guitar. 

Do you want to buy a new guitar or find that perfect vintage Strat?

Be careful not to throw yourself on the first guitar that catches your eye. Before buying an instrument, we recommend trying it out. Indeed, the sound and tones of each one, whether a hollow body or 12 string guitar, for instance, will be different.

Of course, the sound will depend on whether you are buying a classic, folk, electric or acoustic guitar, as well as where it’s being made.

Without a doubt, the guitar that you’ll find in your local luthier’s workshop will be the most expensive, but its sound will be of a much higher quality than one bought on Ebay that was “made in China.”

But this isn't all. What a lot of people overlook is the fact that the very nature of your guitar will alter the tonal texture and sound of your playing.

All of the things that come together to make a guitar - from the types of pickups (Humbucker or single coil) and the body shape to the material of the guitar body and fretboard (whether maple, mahogany or spruce) and even the size and resonance of your steel strings. All of this will affect the tone of your guitar.

Find the right balance between your budget and your expectations.

GuitarThe shape, tonewood, and quality of your instrument will change its tone.
StringsIf you use heavy strings, expect a more resonant, bassier sound. Thinner strings produce a brighter sound.
AmplifierAs you are going to amplify your electric guitar, pick an amp that is worth the cash. These are pivotal in your guitar's tone.
PedalsAdd different effects to your sound with plug-in pedals.
TechniqueYour technique, fundamentally, is what produces the sound in the first place. But this is the most difficult thing to change.
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Your Strings Affect Your Electric Guitar's Sound.

And once you have it, it’s vital that you take good care of your guitar. Leaving it to collect dust in a corner of your house is a definite no-no! And let’s be honest, if you’ve chosen this guitar, you are probably motivated to learn and play (why not take some guitar lessons?), so don’t miss this opportunity. Treat your instrument like a queen!  

In other words, change your guitar strings when it’s time. So many beginner guitarists underestimate the importance of regularly changing strings. Some even wait until one breaks before replacing it…

However, the sweat on our hands causes strings to oxidize, which can make them more difficult to touch and play. But more importantly, old strings might change the sound of a guitar. As soon as you notice an unusual sound, especially when your guitar has been tuned, it means it’s time to change the string!

Strings are also one of the many components of an electric guitar.

A man plays the strings of his guitar.
The state of the strings - and their size - play a decisive factor in the sound of your guitar.

We recommend that you change all the guitar strings at the same time. If not, one string might sound better than the other five, which will upset the overall harmony.

Also, learn to properly tune your guitar. Leaving a guitar untuned too long may have negative repercussions. Whether you use electronic tuners or you do it by ear, please do it regularly.

And be aware of temperature changes!

A guitar left out in the cold for too long will become untuned much quicker than if stored in an ambient temperature. You must also pay attention to the humidity of your room, as your instrument is made of wood (spruce, mahogany, rosewood, ebony…).

With their fragile material and construction, guitars must be treated with the greatest of care!

Your Amplifier and Your Guitar Sound.

You may have bought the best guitar of all time, but it won’t be worth anything your amplification isn’t up to sniff. Achieving the perfect amplified sound is one of the things you would learn in a guitar lesson…

So be very careful when choosing equipment.

There is no need to spend a fortune to have high-quality equipment, but be aware that it’s easy for beginners to be swindled on the merchandise.

To obtain a good amplifier, it is recommended not to pay less than 75 or 85 dollars. Of course, the price is not a measure of quality, but it is very difficult to find a good amplifier under these prices.

Check Superprof for online guitar lessons.

A guitar plugged into an amplifier
Get amplified: choosing the right amplifier is important for obtaining a good guitar sound.

There are two types of amps.

You can buy a tube amplifier. These are often the preferred amps by professional guitarists for their high quality. However, they come at a high cost, and you’ll have to spend between about 250 and 450 dollars to possess such gems.

Also know that tubes change every few years. So you’ll need to plan for a regular investment to maintain the device.

In addition, to get the best sound quality out of these amplifiers, they’ll need to be plugged to their maximum volume. So if your neighbors are not entirely understanding of your new passion, you might opt instead for a solid state (analog) amp or modeling (digital) amp. With these options, you’ll maintain a constant sound quality no matter the volume. Although if you turn the volume too high, some defects in sound could occur.

Several brands share the amplifier market.

Marshall

This legendary name is known throughout the world of music and of guitar instruction.

These amps were and are used throughout the world by big stars, including

  • Jimi Hendrix (a guitarist who holds a central place in guitar history)
  • The Who
  • Eric Clapton [mistake in original]

I think we can safely say that these connections vouch for Marshall amplifiers!

Fender

The same can be said for this brand, which also makes guitars.

Its amps are just as first-rate as the guitars it sells.

Vox

Although somewhat less known by the general public, the brand Vox is also used by professionals. Its amps have notably been spotted on stage with

  • The Beatles
  • Queen
  • The Shadow

And all the amplifiers we’ve just discussed, and the multi effects they make, from Looper to Cutaway, will help you discover new sounds.

Distortion and Overdrive

No matter the amplifier, it will have these two essential effects.

The overdrive serves to saturate the sound. This also happens when you set your amplifier to its maximum volume.

The distortion effect is especially useful for heavy metal amateurs as it achieves a slightly rougher sound – again volume control is key for your desired guitar tone.

Saturation

This effect is recommended for intense guitar solos. A bit stronger than the overdrive effect, it makes a warm and resonating sound.

The Black Keys is one group who uses this electric guitar playing technique.

Using Pedals to Change Your Guitar Sound.

Why not add pedals to power your amplifier and add even more effects to your guitar-playing repertoire? You can also connect several types of pedals and choose from among them as you play.

How does this work?

There are three parts to the guitar’s multi-effect pedal:

  1. The drive allows you to control the small box with your foot. This allows the guitarist to be hands-free to play the guitar while adding his or her desired effects.
  2. There are also several jack outlets to connect the devices. You’ll need to link your guitar to the small box, and the box to your amplifier.
  3. The controls are where you can play with different buttons to obtain the sound you want.
A pedal board hosts many many different guitar tones.
Pedals are very practical for controlling sound effects while playing.

But for ultimate playability, is it better to choose several pedals or a multi-effect pedal?

The multi-effect pedal is especially useful to those who travel often to play. With this pedal you can get away with having just one box, which is much more practical than lugging around your entire set. However, the price is higher, so you’ll have to make an investment.

If you opt for different pedals, here are 5 examples of pedals and their effects.

1.  The Reverb

The reverb pedal allows you to add an echo to your sound. Using it will give the impression of playing in a large, resonating room or even on stage. But be careful all the same not to go overboard with this effect!

2.  The Chorus

As its name indicates, the chorus pedal allows you to multiply your sound as though accompanied by a choir. Here, the same sound is played several times but delayed for orchestral riffs.

3.  The Flanger and Phaser

These two effects are very similar and thus often confused. They both sound as though a plane is taking off in the distance.

4.  Vibrato and Tremolo

These two effects can also be found on your amplifier. If not, you can always buy a pedal. The tremolo allows you to vary your sound volume while the vibrato affects the sound frequencies and vibrations.

5.  Wah-Wah

This effect is one of the most popular for guitarists. The Wah pedal transforms the sounds “o” to “a” or the “a’s” to “o’s.” This effect has a long-held tradition in jazz, achieved by musicians who placed a toilet plunger on their trumpets.

Do you also know the different types of electric guitars? What about guitar components like the fixed bridge and guitar stand?

Your Guitar's Sound Depends on Your Technique.

A lot of guitarists obsess over their equipment: their pickups, their preamp pedals, their guitar amps, and the size of their picks. Yet the most important part of your guitar's tone is your technique.

As the guitar works through vibration, the way that you play, the way you handle the body and neck of the instrument, will change your tone. The string vibrates depending upon how you interact with the fret - or frets - that you are playing on the fingerboard. If you want to endlessly strum the guitar, your tone will change; if you attack the strings more aggressively than others, you will produce a louder and more aggressive sound.

Any player of the classical guitar would tell you this is true of their instrument - and the same is true of players of acoustic guitars. The tonewood and technique affects the tone. Electric guitarists usually have the same tone fundamentally when they play unplugged as they do when they are plugged in. This should tell you how important technique is.

The Sounds of Your Guitar Heroes.

Want to play like your guitar idols without having to take lessons?

The following artists use effects that can be reproduced through the right equipment. All you need is to know are a few secrets…

Jimi Hendrix, considered by many musicians to be one the greatest guitarists of all time, notably used the effects of Fuzz, Chorus, Wah-Wah and Octavia. He generally used pedal prototypes that were then sold on the market. Today one can find them easily in music stores.

 

Eric Clapton making beautiful sounds on his guitar.
Eric Clapton was very adept at creating his own guitar effects.

When Eric Clapton joined the group Cream, he invented the “Woman Tone.”

This effect is possible thanks to the pickup tone button, which goes hand in hand with the Wah-wah effect. Unfortunately, it’s now a rarity to appreciate Clapton’s talents, as he suffers from motor troubles.

Use the Delay effect to play like Pink Floyd or even U2. Sounding a bit like an echo, this effect delays the production time of sound with your diffusion time.

Want to learn even more? Try using other effects like Looper and Cutaway when you play your next chord!

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Jon

As an Englishman in Paris, I enjoy growing my knowledge of other languages and cultures. I'm interested in History, Economics, and Sociology and believe in the importance of continuous learning.