yeah yeah yeahs

From Bonamassa to Lamb of God, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Dweezil Zappa—10 Stomp Stations from PG’s Hottest Rig Rundowns

When it comes to finding fresh tones that inspire new song ideas or put the sonic palettes of your heroes at your fingertips, there’s simply no substitute for slogging it out and putting tons of time into experimenting with different instruments, techniques, effects, and amps. We’re individuals with our own unique touch on the strings, a set of ears that’s heard things no one else has, and a guitar or bass rig that—due to our budget limitations, being finicky, or (hopefully) an insatiable longing for new tonal titillation—is never going to be exactly what we want. Let’s face it—we’re impossible to please. But if it feeds our muse, how can that be a bad thing?

Still, sometimes getting out of your own headspace and considering other players’ contexts can get the gears in your brain turning in ways that woodshedding can’t, even if that context sometimes comes from guitarists or bassists you don’t particularly dig or know much about. Hearing someone play a particular pedal and seeing how they use it—what their settings are, where they put it in their signal chain, and how they adjust their attack or their instrument’s onboard controls—can reveal a previously mundane-seeming device to be a corridor into mind-blowing sonic realms.

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Why Fender + Fender (or other brands) = more than the sum of their own signature sounds.

This column is not for the faint of back, but the rewards of such potentially heavy lifting are great. In my previous columns "Like Peanut Butter and Chocolate: Classic Guitar & Fender-Amp Pairings" (May 2020) and "Finding Perfect Tones in Imperfect Amps" (January 2021), I've discussed classic Fender amp and guitar pairings and how to EQ and tweak amps to get ideal tones. Let's take it a step further and discuss how to combine multiple amps to achieve even more complex, richer tones.

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Intermediate

Beginner

  • Develop a better sense of subdivisions.
  • Understand how to play "over the bar line."
  • Learn to target chord tones in a 12-bar blues.
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Playing in the pocket is the most important thing in music. Just think about how we talk about great music: It's "grooving" or "swinging" or "rocking." Nobody ever says, "I really enjoyed their use of inverted suspended triads," or "their application of large-interval pentatonic sequences was fascinating." So, whether you're playing live or recording, time is everyone's responsibility, and you must develop your ability to play in the pocket.
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