Compression is a tool which compresses (reduces) the dynamic range of a signal. It developed as a tool in studios but quickly found its way onto our pedal boards. Unfortunately, amongst guitarists, the compressor has a reputation for having limited uses – usually used as a sustainer or to get a ‘country’ squashed attack. By looking at compressors from a recording engineers point-of-view we see that they are far more versatile than we might have first thought.
Once the tone has been fully processed with compression, distortion and any pre-distortion effects (such as a phaser) the last main link in the chain is the final EQ and tone shaping (though time-based effects are still to come).The final EQ shaping is reliant on the speaker response, the speaker configuration, and whether the speaker cabinet is open or closed back, and of course the setting of the tone stack.
There are many ways of using EQ to enhance tone. Pickups all have their own EQ curves, and amplifiers have distinct mid-scoops which affect the final tone, and also there is the response curve of the speaker which rolls off the upper frequencies. This post finishes our look at distortion and introduces EQ by focusing on using EQ to ‘voice’ the distortion.
In the previous articles we’ve looked at the main ingredients of a lead guitar tone, which were; distortion, frequency curves, and dynamics. Today we are going to look more closely at distortion and how we can manipulate it to gives us control and flexibility of tone.
This post looks at the balancing act of getting a good tone.
This is the first in a series of posts which examine, in detail, the basis of lead guitar tone. This introduction covers the basics of frequency response, distortion and dynamics.