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Why do guitarists use so much reverb?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Altitude, Feb 25, 2006.

  1. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    Why do guitarists use so many effects in general, and reverb in particular? To me, reverb is mainly a studio effect. In most of the places I play, the room provides all the reverb we need, plus some we don't.

    Yet, most of the guitarsists I've played with load their signals up with crazy effects, all this reverb, echo - it really tends to eat up the whole sound spectrum and leave little room for anyone else's contribution. Plus, I'm not sure it even makes the guitar sound all that good - I can't hear the notes or dynamics nearly as much when they have to fight to get out of all that garbage.

    Don't get me wrong - I'm not opposed to effects in general. But if what I usually hear is a 10 on a 1 to 10 scale of effects usage, I think a 3 or 4 would be better.

    Can I get an amen?
  2. crapusername


    Sep 26, 2005
    North Kent.UK
    endorsing artist: Dean guitars, Marshall , Rotosound strings
    guitarists just like to shut their eyes and imagine that they are playing Wembley stadium, or Madison Square Garden or somewhere similar. Hence the huge amounts of reverb
  3. ElBajista


    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    From what I've seen, most guitarists use a ton of effects to cover up their lack of skill and their "nancy" uneffected tone. :meh:

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those "effects are for loozerz" guys, but I don't think that spending money on effects in order to cover up a lack of both playing and EQing skills is wise.

    Certainly not the case for all guitarists, but a good number IMO.
  4. it gives them a " bigger " sound
  5. reverb live is a joke in my opinion.

    i'm a guitarist too. at home or recording i like to use effects they are fun.

    but live i keep to the minimum. i'll just usually use a fuzz pedal, wah, phaser and delay.

    anymore and your a wanker :p
  6. bigcatJC


    Jul 9, 2004
    Brother, I feel your pain!

    Most guitar players who do this set up their effects by themselves - at home - thinking "More is kewl!" and set the effect levels to equal the original signal. It never occurs to them how they might sound with a band, in a live atmosphere. Too much distortion, reverb, and delay causes mushy sound, and the guitar player can't hear himself with the band playing. So he turns up. Now it's still mushy and louder, and the rest of the band can't hear themselves over the louder mushy guitar. So they turn up. Now the drummer has to hit the skins like John Bonham just to hear himself. Finally, the singer has to give himself a 3rd degree hernia forcing out the high volume needed to keep up. So the Volume Wars have begun and no one can hear anything, but the soundman has to take the whole band (except the vocals) out of the PA to cut down on the chaos. IMHO, bands could sound better if some guitar players used less reverb and less uber-crunchy distortion, which eats up everyone's frequencies. Then we all could turn our stage amps down and let the monitors and FOH PA do their jobs. A bass player can dream, can't he?

    So to sum up: Excessive effects = death of (good) live sound.
    I Can't Dance likes this.
  7. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Effects used properly like reverb can add space to a solo or make a certain part feel bigger. Running reverb all the time isn't a necessity.
  8. elgranluis


    Feb 14, 2003
    El paso, TX
    ok, to me vocals live HAVE to have reverb.. They just don{t sound complete. Maybe guitarists think the same way?
  9. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    The whole reverb thing depends upon the room. If a singer is singing in a large stadium, reverb would only make them sound like crap. But, in a small room, you need some reverb, or the singer will sound flat.
  10. +1000

    Hit footswitch - play surfer style lead line - hit footswitch again = yay

    I think one problem is that many guitaristists are deaf from growing up playing alone in their basements with their half stacks cranked.

  11. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    Other important and semi-related questions:

    Why do businessmen wear ties?

    Why do you see POS cars with expensive hubcaps?

    Why do 'certain women' wear too much perfume?

    Why does the evening news have such dramatic music?

    Why does the evening news think we need to know the name of the person reading the news?

    Why does the person with the least important thing to say have to say it the loudest?

    Why do movie stars have the light on their face AND the backs of their shoulders when standing outside? (like there's 2 suns?)

    answer-- you either ARE important, or you have to seem important.
  12. I like reverb, but I agree it should be more for recording.
  13. OrionManMatt


    Feb 17, 2004
    + Pi
  14. I've got to disagree with you there. :bag:
    Guitarists generally turn their effects up very high because that's the only way for the crowd to hear them!..at low levels the effect is overpowered by the uneffected tone thereby making the original tone seem muddy, insted of removing the original tone and giving you an unexpected sound. :cool:

    Although it totally depends on the effect and the type of music you play...too much reverb is usually bad ;)
  15. I hate reverb.

    Enough said....
  16. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    I believe you answered your own question.

    A lot of guitarists think they are the most important noise in the band, therefore they deserve the entire sonic spectrum. Now, I'm not saying they necessarily are aware that they think this way, it's probably a subconscious thing. But they nevertheless tend to do whatever it takes to hog the whole bandwidth.

    Notice I said "a lot of guitarists", not "most guitarists". Please, you guitarists, don't quit my band!!!
  17. DemoEtc


    Aug 18, 2004
    They suffer from 'thick string envy.' ;)

    I know, I'm also a guitarist. That's why I play bass too :)
  18. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    In my limited home recording experience, I've found that clean guitar lines can sound pretty horrible which can be fixed with a tad of reverb and delay. But then again, my guitar "rig" really isn't the best. I also prefer it when my band's guitar player spices up his clean parts with a bit of delay and chorus, it adds a bit of "colour" to them, in my opinion.
  19. RyansDad


    Jan 31, 2006
    Tolland, CT
    Guitar effects, reverb especially, are like any thing else people add to instruments, like a double-kick, 6-stringer, etc. In the right circumstances, it can really add to what you can do in a song. However, using it all the time just gets annoying.

    I have found that guitar players often fall into one of two categories:

    1) they have 100's of different effects and they want to use all of them (leading to constant switching of sounds in the middle of songs)

    2) they have almost no additional effects and just select 'clean' or 'distortion'.

    IME, many start out at the former and drift to the latter as they get more experienced. In defense of guitar players, though, there are plenty of bass players with the same problem (even though, on bass, you really don't need to change the sound that much at all during a song).
  20. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I'll dissent and say I like the sound of reverb on rock guitar. Not crazy rockabilly-springtank-all-the-time reverb, but a little bit. Without it, a loud, heavily distorted electric guitar signal is monotonous, claustrophobic and just damn hard to listen to for any length of time. Especially if you're recording with one through headphones :spit:

    An acoustic or hollowbody guitar is a different story.