So, you’ve got yourself a guitar. It plays nicely and you’ve learned all your favorite songs. What’s next? How do we move from hobbyist to expert? Of course, there’s practice. More practice will make you a better player, for sure. But, what if you want to improve the actual sound?
Instead of focusing on rehearsing and discussing better playing styles, we’re going to dive into some of the top ways you can actually improve your guitar’s overall sound and tone. These tech tips can help you turn that sound from bedroom boredom to stadium sounds. Read on for everything you need to know to help improve or change your guitar’s sound.
If you haven’t already started, it’s time to dive into the world of effects pedals. No matter what amp you are playing through, distortion, delay, overdrive, fuzz, or phaser pedals – to name a few – are some of the best ways to change your guitar’s sound. The phaser, for example, is a great little tool that adds a sweeping rise and fall effect to your guitar tone. Use the pedal’s switches and dials to boost or reduce the peaks and troughs, while making it sound a bit like you’ve got a few mates playing the same chords behind you.
Distortion, fuzz, and drive pedals obviously add a bit of crunch, while delay and chorus add echo or room-like effects. There are more than enough types of pedals to choose from. Get down to your local music store and give them a trial run. See which ones work for you!
Try Different Amps
On a similar note, you might want to check what amplifier you’re playing through. Most beginners start with a handy low-watt bedroom amp, and that’s fine. However, if you want to start experimenting with cool tones and effects, it’s probably best to upgrade your hardware here.
If you want to stay traditional, you should look for a quality tube amplifier. These amps have vacuum tubes or valves that, when warmed up, boost the amplitude of the electric signal, giving your guitar a real kick out of the speakers. Think 1970’s rock, walls of Marshall amplifiers, that kind of sound.
However, there is a new kid on the block in the world of amplification and that is the digital modeling amp. These clever toys map and model the sound of hundreds of “real” amplifiers and then stores them all digitally, allowing you to play through an array of amplifier sounds into your headphones or through a speaker. Modeling amps aren’t cheap, but they are an excellent way to try thousands of sounds and ideas to improve or change that tone.
Restring That Thing
Think about it, when did you last restring your guitar? Do you know how to restring a guitar properly? Old strings can really dull the tone of a guitar. So, before panicking about your amp sounding terrible, try some new strings.
It’s also worth noting that strings come in different sizes and styles. Heavier gauge strings will give a deeper, more rock and roll feel to a guitar. While thin strings can have the opposite effect. Most standard guitar strings are steel with round-wound nickel. However, there are also flatter and more interesting string types to try. Though, the ‘standard’ round-wounds are most appropriate for modern music.
Try a Different Tuning
Speaking of strings, why not detune them into a different tuning. The standard EADGBE tuning can play most modern tunes, but there are a huge variety of tunings that allow you to try different styles of music and create totally different sounds. The most common is drop D, where you detune the E to a lower D, meaning you can play open bar chords. Or, for more technical playing, try DADF#AD for completely open tuning. These will totally change the way your guitar sounds and the styles you can play.
Pick a New Pick
Finally, it’s worth considering what you’re playing your guitar with. There are multiple gauges of plectrums or picks to choose from. A superlight pick will suit loose strumming and breezy tunes, whereas a heavier pick will be better for heavy, single-note playing. Mixing up your picks for different styles can totally change the tone of your guitar.
It is clear, then, that there are multiple methods you could use to try and improve your guitar’s sound. Any of these fun technical swaps or additions can make your guitar seem like a totally new beast! Give yourself hours of experimentation and enjoyment by trying out these steps to alter your guitar’s tone.