Vintage Gretsch Guitars

How do I make my guitar have that beefy epic sound for solos?

1

How do people get their guitar to sound like that? If I played the same thing the strings would sound all dinky even with distortion on. It's some sort of effect pedal making the guitar sound louder and more epic, but I'm not sure which.

2

Try a compressor perhaps. What vintage guitar is it?

5

Using the neck pickup on leads is all you need to do , sometimes. Yet the tone is in the fingers. Is there a particular song your trying to render?

The answer could be a set of P90's and a Marshall.

6

What guitar and amp are you using, and what is an example of the sound you are looking for?

7

It's all in the face you make. You have to put your epic rawk guitar solo face on for it to work.

8

Step up and own it. It’s all in the confidence...and practice. Many people do it with no pedals at all.

9

It's all in the face you make. You have to put your epic rawk guitar solo face on for it to work.

– WB

Having a hard poo face is very popular. Apart from these smart ass comments, I guess the challenge is to learn to swop from rhythm guitar chords to single notes and make the solo work. You forget how tricky this is, one moment you're punching out a big power chord, the plucking a 10 guage weedy E string. Practice, dynamics and technique is probably the most annoying suggestion. Apart from 'having a poo' face

10

I sure hate to sound like the proverbial broken record but here goes! To me, in my ears, there is nothing to compare to an APHEX XCITER pedal. They come engineered for acoustic, electric, and bass guitars. I have had the "electric" red one for years and IMHO if I am interpreting your question correctly I believe this pedal would do what you are seeking. Many fingerstyle pickers recommend the "bass" one and there is a great video of Thom Bresh demonstrating one on YouTube. You might wanna check it out. If it doesn't suit your need or give you the sound or tone you are trying to get then you can resell it for a good price. I recommend checking EBay for a good used one at an already good price. You really have to hear one firsthand to hear / see what I mean. Maybe you could borrow one from a friend or test drive one somewhere like Guitar Center. I highly, highly recommend this pedal. "This is my opinion and it ought'a be yours"! Who said that???!!! Makes me as giddy as a cockroach on a honeybun! Whatever you decide come back here on the GretschPages and report in and let us know. Have a good'un! Steve

11

David, I'll tell you what I do. I'm very old school on this one. It involves using the guitars volume control, as an effect. My first electric guitar mentor told me "volume control is everything". I use a technique that he taught me back in 1978, and goes as follows :

I use a natural overdrive pedal (which I leave on all the time), and I set my amp up, so that it is loud and dirty with the Guitar volume on full. Set up the pedal to get your desired solo tone. I then roll the guitar volume back, to about #3 (this dramatically cleanes up the sound) to play the clean parts of a tune, and roll it up to #10 for the solo, going back and forth as needed.

It takes a little time to get used to the technique, but it's worth the effort, it will soon become second nature. It has been used by many of the pros for decades. Watch any video of Stevie Ray Vaughn, he's constantly going back and forth to the volume control. Check out just how much range in overdrive you have available, by using only the guitar volume control, when set up this way.

Newer electric guitar players tend gravitate towards placing the guitar volume on #10 all the time and avoid using the guitars "volume control", but there are 9 additional, and very usable numbers available. It also eliminates the need to stomp a pedal to play a solo, so it can be used away from the pedalboard. Try it out, and let me know if it works for you.

12

A good rock solo builds energy as it unfolds. I think a great starting point is an amp that can get some powertube compression /overdrive, when called forth. I like to use a wah pedal and sometimes an overdrive to kick that compressed monster up a bit during a solo.

13

Your guitar didn't come with an "Epic" switch? I'm surprised!

Just kidding. (and LMAO to Walter's comment)

What style of music are you talking about? There's lots of different things for different types of rigs - if you're talking Jazz, an epic solo can mean a tremendously different thing.

14

Looks like we lost the OP but it's cool how all of us have a different idea of what the answer to this question is in our interpretation of the sound he's referring to.

Wade, I have always been interested in the technique that you mention. I think a lot of folks on here use that technique. I think I would do better using this approach myself, I just never have been able to land in the same spot on the knob quick enough to make that work and as well landing in a different spot each time. I'm sure it takes either practice or those little stops they make for pot knobs, which in my opinion are butt ugly.

15

A volume pedal on the floor- easier to control dynamics and swells with your foot than with your picking hand. Works best if you have the amp up in the sweet spot and the VP about halfway in.That way you can accompany the lead vocal/lead instrument without stepping on them,and then light up the afterburner during your own solos.

17

Backing volume down at the guitar has been less than ideal for me, because with amp cranked to the desired max-solo level and tone, "cleaning it up" by turning down does not yield the same clean tone as the amp, set clean, with the guitar volume UP.

The "cleaned up at lower knob setting" tone is invariably softer around the edges, less dynamically sensitive, and usually still a little dirty. I get that that can be an attractive tone in and of itself, and may work for many players and some genres.

But my home tone is pretty clean, and I like the punch, clarity, and articulation I get from an amp set clean and bold, with the guitar all (or most) of the way up. If I want the clean to be a bit hairy/driven/crunchy...there are pedals for that. If I want a complete overdriven solo (or rhythm) tone...pedals.


And for beefing up a lead...all the posts have valid suggestions. It does have to be played with authority (and/or intention), with attention to individual, notes, phrases, overall arc. A better composed lead sounds "beefier" from the git-go, because it's a little composition to focus both the player's and the listener's attention.

It also helps if the rest of the band, instead of cranking up to compete with the lead - and instinctively filling every hole (I'm looking at you, ride cymbal) - leaves space not only to hear the lead, but for the lead player to pause, articulate, phrase, express.

Sometimes going to the neck pickup (especially up the neck) can provide the fat needed - but it's a different tone than bridge, and maybe not the one you want at the moment.

"Beefing up" a lead (which I take to mean, making a lead stand out) is very genre-specific, and context-specific within the genre or song. Jazz, modern bro-country, classic chicken-pickin' country, rockabilly, rock, RAWK, and metal all have very different standards for an effective lead tone.

In all cases, though, sometimes it just needs to be the tone you're already using, but louder and maybe a bit more driven, or a bit fatter. Conversely, maybe it needs to be cleaner and punchier/brighter.

I've always relied on some combination of ...
• boost (ie, more volume without introducing more distortion, though in some cases boost usefully gooses the amp for more moreness),
• compression (sometimes more, sometimes less),
• compression-as-a-boost (where the compressor is set to provide more volume as well as its envelope-shaping function),
• overdrive-distortion-fuzz,
• EQ,
• and other effects.

I also tend to ride a volume pedal, where wide open is loud enough for lead, and I adjust for other roles as the moment suggests.

A few pedals usefully combine some of the above functions. Tavo's Brain series of preamps is good. (I like the 2-button Atomic, because you dial in a kinda always-on tone which somehow makes your guitar more present, more MORE - and then have the second button for boost.) Xotic's EP Boost is an excellent clean boost, with EQ settings inside the pedal to let you choose specific frequency ranges to boost (because you don't necessarily want them all). Most EQ pedals (I prefer parametric) also provide boost functions that can be used either alone or in conjunction with the EQ. (Source Audio has just introduced the 2nd generation of their EQ, which includes both graphic and parametric, and is programmable for multiple settings.)

And, of course, any overdrive pedal has a level control separate from the level of distortion, most have tone controls (and/or an inherent tonal signature). Also, drives don't have to be all-on or all-off. There's a whole range of gain in virtually all of them, and when I'm auditioning pre-programmed tones in modelers, effect processors, and swiss-army amps, I almost always find that, on the dirty/crunchy/lead/RAWK programs, backing the gain DOWN actually yields a more intelligible, textured, interesting, and articulate overall tone. Max drive is also max compression, and it squashes dynamics and all tonal subtlety of your guitar and your approach. Sometimes a lead which is cleaner than the rhythm tone which surrounds it - but a bit louder - stands out much better than one that tries to get gainier/distortier/morier. Everything can't be louder than everything else.

I'm also a fan of Jackson Audio's Prism preamp, with three gain "personalities" from flat to pushed to pushed-and-midrange-colored, as well as three RANGES of boost, a boost knob, and two tone controls (one called "body," which is fattening). It can sculpt just the right difference from a rhythm tone to make a lead stand out.

Likewise Jackson's Bloom compressor - with 6 preset compression styles (making it hard to dial in a bad comp effect), knobs for amount of compression within the style and balance of compressed-to-clean, 3-band tone control; AND "bloom," which is an adjustable boost which swells up and down quickly rather than abruptly switching. So it kinda emulates bringing up a volume control on the guitar. All of the functions (comp, eq, boost) can be used alone or together in any combination. It's a pricey pedal, but the combination of three essential functions and its sheer audio quality make it a pretty good deal.

When considering effects for a solo, keep contrast in mind. The lead has to stand out from what surrounded it in the song, and whatever accompanies it. Literally any effect can be used - drives/dirt, tremolo-vibrato-phaser-vibe-chorus-flanger, delay, reverb. But it's not necessarily about piling them up for the solo (though it can be); sometimes it's about contrast with the rest of the song, and might involve simplifying the stack.

In the 1920s an efficiency expert trying to get more productivity out of factory workers found that improving the lighting worked. He thought that was the answer until productivity leveled off and then declined some. THEN he found that dimming the lighting increased productivity. Nother words, it's change that we register as interesting. Contrast.

So a solo in a song whose guitar tone has been modulated (trem, vibrato, phase, chorus, whatever) through the verses might benefit from turning that effect OFF - which draws attention to it. If the rhythm tone has been awash in reverb and delay, back those off to draw attention.

Or, conversely, if there's been none of that in the guitars elsewhere in the song, try some on the solo.

And if we're talking about mid-70s-90s rock, a period marked by progressively pouring on more of more, nothing says EPIC LEAD like a pretty gainy tone with 300-500ms ambient delay (and often more reverb than is good for you). Just remember, too much is too much - and can end up burying what you're trying to feature.

Again, on pre-programmed devices, I usually find too much of both reverb (mix AND time) and delay on lead tones intended to be epic. Backing them off yields more focus. It's about finding the right amount to make the lead stand out in its context. (And there's a school of thought that says not to use reverb and delay at the same time. It's always worth trying them separately.)

Start with a lead with intentional notes into which thought and emotion have been invested, add boost/eq/compression/drive alone or together as needed to make the guitar stand out (but not eat the rest of the band), a touch of verb and/or delay as warranted, other effects for color. In pretty much that order.

But mostly, play bold with intention, conviction, and purpose. (Melody, ideas, and phrasing help.)

18

Everytime I try to play a beefy solo the crowd is all

19

All of my solos are epic. BOOM!!!!!

20

[I assume this is spam.]

You would need to name a song.

Most people have never dimed a Marshall.

I would have assumed an amp would blow up, in fact, the solid-state amps I owned as a kid would have blown up if you had tried that.

21

[I assume this is spam.]

You may have something there. I wouldn't be surprised if the OP comes back and says he's FOUND THE PEDAL - and then promotes it.

A social marketing setup all along?

22

Which tone, which guitar, which pickups, which amp? Not using a pedal is a good start.

24

[I assume this is spam.]

You may have something there. I wouldn't be surprised if the OP comes back and says he's FOUND THE PEDAL - and then promotes it.

A social marketing setup all along?

– Proteus

Makes you feel sort of cheated after your initial bloviation, don't it, Tim?

Honestly, sometimes I don’t know where you draw all that energy from.

25

Makes you feel sort of cheated after your initial bloviation, don't it

I'm used to it. Sometimes I treat the internet like a senior with dementia. They ask a question, you kindly respond in detail like you'd never heard it before. Seed tossed to the wind. You never know where the ripples go.

And it doesn't matter, because writing is a way I organize my own thoughts, a more structured and productive way of talking to myself than submitting to the cloudy meandering internal dialogue which usually accompanies consciousness. (At least in my head.)

Having given the possibly silly or disingenuous question the benefit of doubt (that it was sincere, if vaguely posed), I tentatively formalized my own aesthetic on the matter.

Which I realized I'd never thought about in just that way before, so it held my interest for a few minutes.

don know where you draw all that energy from.

I don't have that energy; the process is energizing.

Also, I mostly do it when I'm procrastinating against something I have to do (rather than elect to do).


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