PhatPhish

Building an Electric Blues Guitar Sound

 

This tutorial goes through the process of building an electric bluesguitar sound, using a range of effects.

Click here to hear an MP3 of the full example (about 5.7MB). A transcript of this is given below.

For this tutorial we're going to go through building an electric blues sound.

We're starting out with the amp set to a slightly overdriven setting; nothing too dirty - just enough gain, to give the sound a bit of a bite. Here, the EQ is set fairly flat...

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There you can hear that the sound has got some gain to it, but by no means as much gain or overdrive as you'd use for a rock sound. What I'm going to do next is adjust the EQ and boost the midrange frequencies on the sound...

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That sound as it stands is perfectly usable for playing blues. For blues, generally, you don't need a particularly processed sound - just a bit of gain from the amp and maybe some reverb is enough. However, what I've got in mind for where I want to use this sound I need something fairly atmospheric and fairly moody so what I'm going to do now is add some delay to the sound. I'm using a digital delay set to around 400 milliseconds to give a slap-back sound, and you can hear what that sounds like...

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Now I'm going to add some reverb. As I want something fairly atmospheric, I'm going to set the reverb a little more pronounced than I might do otherwise. I'm using a digital sound processor which has a number of different reverb models, and in this case I'm going to use a very spacious-sounding hall reverb sound, set reasonably high, which adds a lot more space to the sound, as you can hear...

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That sounds quite good - quite a moody, atmospheric sort of sound thanks to that delay and reverb. That sounds perfectly OK as it is, but seeing as we're looking here at what you can do with different effects, let's take it a little further and a wah effect to it.

Generally, wah-wah effects come as a pedal with a variable control which you control with your foot. What I'm actually using here is a digital sound processor with an auto-wah effect. Rather than being controlled by a foot pedal, this responds to picking dynamics to apply the effect. In some ways it's not as flexible but personally I quite like it as I'm not having to concentrate on working the effect with my foot whilst I'm playing. Also, it means that if I want to walk around, then I can, as I'm not tied to one particular spot by the pedal.

With the way I've got this effect set, it's got a fairly smooth response. Even so, the effect itself is quite pronounced, so it's probably not something that you'd want to use for the entire duration of a piece - you might just want to switch it in for a particular section, and then switch it out again. So we'll take the basic sound, add the wah effect, and hear what that sounds like now...

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So there you go - that's a quite effective electric blues sound. It's quite atmospheric thanks to that delay and hall reverb. The basic sound is just a slightly overdriven amp, adding a touch of wah if we want to give a bit of variety.

Use that as the basis, if you want, for building up your own sounds. You don't have to follow that formula slavishly - it's up to you so experiment and, most of all, have fun.

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