It’s underappreciated and not as sexy as an overdrive or fuzz, but an EQ on your pedalboard can open myriad tonal doors.
Greetings, tone hounds! This column is, of course, called “Tone Tips," and I've been writing it every month for a number of years now. Still, there's an incredibly powerful tone tool I haven't yet covered: the often underappreciated EQ pedal. Most guitarists get excited about drives and delays, but relatively few have an EQ on their boards. I've just recently gotten acquainted with the relatively new Boss EQ-200 Graphic Equalizer, and it's allowed me to rediscover the magic and power of integrating an EQ pedal.
Different ways to use EQ.
Let's talk about a few famous EQ-pedal users and how they've utilized them. Sometime in the early '80s, David Gilmour started using Boss EQ pedals to fine-tune the tone from his drive and fuzz pedals, as in his Tube Driver overdrive and Big Muff fuzz pedals would each have a dedicated EQ pedal. In recent years, Gilmour has been known to use a programmable Source Audio EQ pedal as well, which allows a player to store four EQ presets.
By running an EQ after the drives, Gilmour can easily tailor the tone of each pedal with surgical precision. If you've never tried shaping the tone of a drive or fuzz pedal using a graphic EQ, you're in for a treat. It's super-easy to tame harsh or tubby frequencies, and boost the frequencies you want to stand out. Boosting mids can really make solos and leads sing.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Eddie Van Halen. In the late '70s, he was known to sometimes use a Boss GE-10 or MXR 6-band graphic EQ, mainly to buffer and boost the signal for long cable runs from his pedalboard to his amps. Whether he actually used the EQ sliders to alter his tone significantly is one of those ongoing rock 'n' roll mysteries. It's certainly possible.
Back in the '80s and '90s, hard-rock guitarists such as Warren DeMartini, Doug Aldrich, and Dimebag Darrell used the rackmount Furman PEQ3 for boosting. The PEQ3 was a parametric-style EQ, and the magic mid frequency for boosting was usually somewhere from 800 Hz to 1 kHz. The preamp gain control on the Furman EQ could be run hot as well, which would nail the front end of the amp with level and send it into screaming overdrive! And by mainly targeting and boosting just the mid frequencies—and possibly even cutting some lows—the tone could be kept tight.
By running an EQ after the drives, Gilmour can easily tailor the tone of each pedal to his liking with surgical precision.
Slash was known to sometimes use a Boss GE-7 equalizer in a similar way, but with one key difference. He'd run the EQ in the effects loop of his amp with the mids and level sliders boosted—just for solos. Because the pedal was placed in the loop of his amp, the level slider could provide a powerful volume boost. This is perfect for players with single-channel amps needing a volume bump for solos. Remember: If you run your amp dirty and primarily want a level or volume boost, try an EQ in the effects loop of your amp, because running in front of the amp will just saturate and overload the amplifier's front end more. Experiment! Both approaches are cool.
Radical tone shaping.
I've used EQ pedals in front of amps to shape pickup tones. You can make boom-y, wooly neck pickups "speak" with the clarity and cut of bridge pickups, and you can easily warm and fatten up harsh bridge pickups. I've also run an MXR 10-band graphic EQ in a slaved-style rig—post amp, after a load box, and before a power amp. Running the EQ after the load lets you fine-tune the tone before you hit the power amp, which mitigates the effect the load box may have on your core tone.
Running the Boss EQ-200 in the effects loop of my Suhr PT15 I.R. amp was a real eye-opener. The amp has a classic Marshall-esque drive tone. And by subtly boosting 120 Hz and moderately cutting low and high mids from 200 Hz to 3.2 kHz, I could dial in the distortion for a dry, raw, and brutal modern tone—more akin to a Diezel amp! The entire character of an amp can be shifted, and once you try it, you'll find it's addictive. In the studio—when dialing in individual parts or doubling and hard panning—little EQ tweaks can really make the tones shine and speak with a dimension and clarity that just wouldn't be possible otherwise.
It's incredible how one simple pedal can increase your tonal palette so exponentially. Think about it: What else can you use to boost and overdrive, tailor pickup tones, and morph amp tones in such a dramatic way? And let's not forget that an EQ pedal costs far less than buying more guitars or amps. If you've been less than happy with your sounds, an EQ pedal could be just what the tone doctor ordered. Until next time, keep on rocking, and I wish you great tone!
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Fender honors the indie-legend with signature pickups and accessories.
Fender announces the J Mascis Signature Jazzmaster Pickups, an ode to one of alternative music’s most prolific shredders. Throughout Dinosaur Jr’s twelve album discography and his rich solo career, Mascis has established himself as one of guitar playing’s most tone-savvy and ferocious players.
At the heart of his genre-defining, nearly four decades-long legacy is the Fender Jazzmaster. Not only does the bold and angular design of the Jazzmaster lend itself to a player as subversive as Mascis, but there is no instrument that sounds quite like it. That is, until now.
Compared to the tones on the Fender J Mascis Signature Telecaster and the Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster, Mascis notes,“The new pickups have a sweeter more vintage sound,” and as his hopes for what people might feel when they test out the new pickups, J Mascis adds, “I hope they feel like playing their guitar, ideally they could make a song that could be my new favorite record!”
Key Features Include:
- Neck Pickup: 7.27K and Bridge Pickup: 7.31K DC Resistance
- Neck Pickup: 3.6 Henries, Bridge Pickup: 3.7 Henries Inductance
- Enamel-coated magnet wire delivers warm vintage-style tones
- Alnico 2 rod magnets for warm, sweet output
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- Installation hardware include
Exploring the J Mascis Signature Jazzmaster Pickup Set | Artist Signature Series | Fender
The pickups are being released as part of a larger collection of signature J Mascis Accessories which include J Mascis Magenta Flower Strap, J Mascis Yellow Burst Strap, J Mascis Coiled Instrument Cable and J Mascis Dinosaur Jr. Pick Tin.
For more information, please visit fender.com.
Charvel unveils its new collab with guitarist Marco Sfogli.
Charvel unveils its new collaboration with PFM and Icefish guitarist Marco Sfogli. To pay homage to a guitarist whose sonic capabilities seem to know no bounds, Charvel has sought out to create a signature instrument as limitless as the player who inspired it. A pair of active EMG SA single-coils in the middle and neck positions effortlessly evoke classic Stratocaster bell tones, while an EMG ‘89 bridge humbucker provides a powerful bite. The signature model’s bolt-on maple neck has received a unique “caramelized” heat and drying treatment that imbues the wood with a warmth and comfort that is usually unique to expensive vintage instruments.
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- EMG SA single-coil neck and middle pickups, EMG ‘89 humbucking bridge pickup.
- Floyd Rose 1000 Series double-locking tremolo bridge system
- Five-way blade pickup selector, tone control, and volume control with push/pull coil splitting capabilities for the bridge pickup.
Marco Sfogli Presents His Signature Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1 HSS FR QM
- Signature S1-style guitar designed in collaboration with Marco Sfogli
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A highly versatile sonic tool, the pedal can deliver a broad range of tones – everything from mild, wonderfully organic overdrive to medium-gain crunch with a richly satisfying midrange kick.
The pedal is a collaboration between Shnobel Tone and guitarist, songwriter, composer, and record producer Frank Simes. Based in Hollywood, Simes‘ long list of credits includes work with A-list artists such as Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Warren Zevon, RodStewart, Roger Waters, Roger Daltrey, and Martha Davis from The Motels. Additionally, Simes was the musical director for The Who for many years.
Its touch sensitivity makes it a perfect choice for guitarists who rely on precise right-hand technique, and it cleans up nicely when you roll back your guitar's volume knob.
Frank Simes Overdrive features include:
- Three knobs: Volume, Gain, and Tone controls
- True bypass foot switch
- Top mounted power and in/out jacks
- Hand-built with through-hole components
- Crinkle-coated diecast aluminum enclosure, dimensions 4.7 x 3.7 Inches
- Standard 9v center negative power – no battery compartment
Frank Simes Signature Overdrive
Shnobel Tone’s Frank Simes Overdrive has a suggested retail price and MAP of $249.
For more information, please visit shnobeltone.com.