Saturday, July 14, 2007


Q: Chris, I stumbled onto your site looking up 8 bar blues progression. Thanks for the info. I do have a question for you about tone. How do you balance the lush 9th chords with the distortion in the leads. I either have a killer clean sound for 9 chords and the lead that sounds too clean or a muddy sounding 9 chords and perfect lead. Can You help? Thanks, Rick

A: There are a few different things you can do. One thing is use one of those two or three channel amps and just switch between them. I personally don't do this unless I'm playing in some sort of fusion or pop situation where I have to have chrystal clear chords and super saturated solos.

But for my own general brand of music, which if you heard, is mostly Blues and Rock, I use one amp channel and that is it. What you may of heard on the mp3s on my site is pretty much a Marshall amp or something pretty similar. First I dial up my basic tone from which I will subtract to for rhythm and add to for solos. I don't think about the signal chain, meaning effects until I get the amp tone happening first.

You want middle of the line overdrive here, so with a Marshall, I put the gain on about 4 or 5(depending on the model, room and guitar I am using). And maybe the volume on about 4 or 5 again depending on the venue or studio. Bass up around 8, mid up around 7 or 8, treble at about 4 or 5 and presence on maybe 1 or off if I'm using a Tele. I should be able to roll off a little volume on my guitar and get a pretty clean sound, thus the somewhat clean tone for chords. I could roll back the volume to about 5 on the guitar and get a almost completely clean tone. If I roll back the tone as well on the guitar a bit, and use my neck pickup, I can almost get a hollowbody type sound.

For my solos, I use a tube screamer, or something similar. What you heard on the recordings was probably a HAO Sole Pressure. But I like tube screamers as well. Lately I have been using a Xotic BB preamp which is an overdrive/booster type of thing. How you set your boost, is with the distortion at about 1 or 2 and the volume at 10. This way when you step on it, it boosts your volume and sustain a little but doesn't really change your tone too much. I am using the Xotic box now and quite honestly, it is the best thing on the market today.

The main point is the sound you get from your guitar and amp first and then giving it a little boost from the box. Some of the tones I get are a little different from tune to tune so take a listen to the mp3s for free here, and if you have any questions about the individual sounds, e-mail me and ask and I'll be happy to tell you how I did it. You will be happy to know that it is not rocket science and you won't need a million dollars to get the same tone. Check out tunes like "Big Bad Sun," I like the tone I got there. Link: "Big Bad Sun"

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