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Fx usage vs. tone satisfaction

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by idoru, May 9, 2006.

  1. idoru


    Dec 18, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    My guitarist and I were discussing this after a recent recording session. We're both a lot happier with our tone these days, and find ourselves using fx increasingly less. We still have huge pedalboards, but the various effects are really just used for brief accents within a song.

    I'm sure others will have found this correlation to be true, the question is I guess at what point did it become so?

    I just radically changed the EQ on my rig last week, and I think I've _finally_ got my basic tone nailed. Hitting a stompbox distortion just robs me of my beautiful tone, so I'm less likely to use it now (even with my blended signals). One possible solution is to set levels a tad higher than usual, so that wah or fuzz riff really leaps out at you.

  2. I never use effects when I am practicing. I prefer the EQ set in middle. I am able to hear the consistencies and inconsistencies in my playing. I am happy with my current setup, its toneful without effects. If I use an effect, its because the song calls for it. I adjust my playing technique to match the effect. There are plenty of players out there that use the effects to much and they sound good and appear to have good technique. If you remove the effects, you can tell their technique is terrible. Tone is a personal choice. effects on the other hand to me is just that, an effect.
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I love fx. I have a pedalboard laden with top-flight fx. But great tone, to me, is a question of subtleties: the bass, your fingers, "non-effect-y" processors such as a transparent compressor or a clean EQ or a tube preamp. I only use the fx when I want a crazy fun sound, not "beautiful tone".
  4. crapusername


    Sep 26, 2005
    North Kent.UK
    endorsing artist: Dean guitars, Marshall , Rotosound strings
    i can only agree with ya. I basically just use a Hartke VXL and Meatbox, and then add whatever is necessary for the accents etc. in the songs.
  5. Swimming Bird

    Swimming Bird

    Apr 18, 2006
    Wheaton MD
    Would you ever consider an fx tone beautiful? Something like David Gilmour's solo tones (I'm thinking Time off Dark Side of the Moon), epic and gorgeous.

    Maybe work on a more satisfying or subtle effected tone and not just the the dry tones with special/crazy ones on the side. Even though I love my dry tone, often as not I'll add an effect to give space or depth or a certain something (like just a hair of tremolo or a little extra compression) that really makes it perfect for a song.
  6. Vic Winters

    Vic Winters Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2006
    Rochester, NY
    I'd have to agree. I'm a big fan of Timmy C and his use of effects to create a dirty tone.
  7. SOA_bassist

    SOA_bassist Guest

    May 10, 2006
    Even though my bass is nothing special i prefer a clean tone over effects, but i still mess around with my effects just to experiment with and try different things.
  8. markjazzbassist

    markjazzbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
  9. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    Having a good basic tone is important and should be the foundation for everything else. Effects are layers of flavor to be used for coloring or accenting the music, maybe it works for a whole song, maybe not. Processors like compressors can be used as an "effect" or as a part of the basic tone, depending on what works for each individual.

    idoru - I have also found that triggering my overdrive effect (EH English Muff'n) makes my bass disappear in the mix unless I set the volume for a big boost. My drummer says he can feel the hair on his neck raise when I kick that thing on.
  10. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    I would estimate the correlation coefficient of Fx usage vs. tone satisfaction at -.78, however, other estimates are welcomed and will be duly considered.

    Carry on...

  11. slip


    Apr 24, 2006
    I've found the whole effects no effects thing goes in cycles. Like after the band splits and you spend 3 months with the cartons of Haagen-Dazs Rocky Road playing completly unplugged ^^ Sooner or later you have to get back on that horse though.

    The problem with digital modelers these days, is that most of them color the sound too much. Which is sort of a double edged sword. The downside is that they make it real easy to get away with sloppy techique, so much so that any chump with a pod can sound good. But once you are familiar with those sounds you can pick em out of a mix with ease. Of course none of these are realy problems from the average audience members perspective.

    On the flipside technologies like Ampfarm and audio quantization plugins in use in probably every major studio have completly redefined what is possible in the realm of recorded sound. In the end the question becomes; do you have the ear to keep your tone tasteful without being reptetive.

    Personaly I try to stick to the real thing whenever possible. I would rather spend the time dialing in my own sound than have some engineer at line6 tell me what a fuzzface sounds like.
  12. bass-shy


    Jan 11, 2005
    +1. And a big +1 to the David Gilmour comment. He is generally considered to have beautiful tone, but it doesn't sound overly processed. He uses lots of effects, too. The key is to build a complete rig or effects chain or rackmount system that contains everything you want, but to have all of the elements integrate seamlessly. This is a tough thing to do. It takes a lot of time, money and patience. However, it can be done. Using all of that equipment to it's full potential takes a lot of time, too. Tastefulness is where it's at.

    As for me, I love my effects and I use them a lot. Most people I play in front of can't distinguish what effect is what, they only know that the tone has changed when I start stepping on switches. Effects give me a whole spectrum of tonal possibilities, and I consider them all to be crucial to my individual sound and style. Admittedly, they aren't for everyone, though. If you need them to sound like you want to, cool. If you don't need them to sound like you want, that's cool too. That's the best part......there are no rules.
  13. fcoda


    Jan 23, 2002
    For live situations I solved the effect vs tone issue by running a dry sound out of 1 channel on 2x12s and run the channel 2 of the power amp for switchable dry and effects out of the 4x10.
  14. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    I go back and forth. For the most part I've spent years fine tuning my tone. I think that trippy rhythms and playing synchopated off-beat stuff can be just as trippy as some kind of effect. Then on the flip side, I love digging into a funky groove with my q-tron. Sometimes for dub reggae sections I'll bust out the synth of my syb-5 pedal. But even then, it's pretty sparingly. However for the most part, I love playing clean. It makes me a tighter player. Can't hide the flubs or whiffs behind the effect.
  15. Ron Now

    Ron Now

    Sep 3, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Endorsing Artist: Fuzzrocious Pedals
    My effects add to my tone not mask it. I spent alot of time figuring out my pedal board and I found that when I hit a switch it still is my sound, just another form of it. I think my effects enhance my tone rather than destroy it (unless I want them to destroy... I can do that too)

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