I think the key to a great clean guitar sound is threefold. Clean Amp Some amps are designed the same way. Make sure the amp keeps clean at all times.
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Setting Up Your Home Studio. If your amp has an open cabinet then placing it against a wall will completely change the bass you hear. The point here is that you want to find the best position for your amp so you enjoy the tone it produces. Simply shifting the amp away from a wall or placing it off the ground could be all that it takes to get the tone you want. Key lesson: learn how your tone changes based on where your amp is positioned. Experiment and find the ideal position for your amp in your home.
If you search for guitar amp settings in Google, you will find a lot of articles offering suggestions on amp settings for different styles. I highly recommend you ignore and avoid articles that give you presets. For example, a person might recommend the following settings for rock: Gain 5, Bass 4, Mid 6, Treble 4, Volume 7. When you dial that into your amp, it might sound nothing like a rock tone.
Gain set to 5 might be way too high for one amp and way too low for another amp. Mid at 6 might sound muddy on one amp and thin on another. So these type of recommendations are pointless. If you want to learn how to correctly set your amp for different tones, I talk about this in detail on my Ultimate Guide to Guitar Amp Settings.
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Key lesson: while it might sound like a good idea to look up guitar amp settings online for ideas, you will learn more and become a better guitarist when you ignore those recommendations. Knowing which pickups to use in different situations can mean the difference between a good tone and a horrible tone. Knowing which pickup to use will take some time as every style, riff, and song is different. Guitars with a combination of humbucker and single coil pickups like the above Yamaha Pacifica v are usually a good choice for beginners as they give good flexibility in the type of tones you can produce.
For example, to get a decent rock, punk or metal tone, you could use the bridge humbucker. Then if you want to more mellow tone for blues you could switch to the middle or neck single coils. As a simple guide, any time you learn a new song play around with pickup choices for every section. You will gradually get a feel for what type of parts match up to different pickups. Key lesson: the pickups you use play a massive role in your tone.
Learn to match the correct pickup choice with the guitar amp settings and guitar parts for the best tone. Your strings will gradually become dull over time as you use them. It happens so gradually you barely notice how your tone changes over time. So how often should you change your strings? Ask a guitar store or string company and they will tell you something crazy like every week. They will recommend a really frequent interval because it means they will get more money that way!
Not only is it annoying to constantly change your strings, it adds up to a lot of money over time. Get a feel for when you start to notice your strings lose their vibrancy. One suggestion I do have which will make a big difference is to buy a guitar cleaning kit and wipe your strings down after any practice session. The oil in your fingers will shorten the life of your strings and simply wiping them down extends the life and tone. Learn how different metals, gauges, coatings, windings, and more can affect your tone and playability in this guide: Ultimate Guide to Guitar Strings.
Before you consider upgrading your guitar amp or any other piece of gear, make sure you fully exhaust its possibilities. Most beginner guitar amps available today are far superior to what was available to beginners a few decades ago.
So while it might be tempting to want to buy a bigger, newer and flashier amp, try to make the most of what you have first. While most questions you might have about guitar amps are covered in full on my Guitar Amp Settings guide, here are some common questions guitarists have about amps. The more you understand about tone and your amp, the easier it is to dial in better tones. Like the rest of Jimmy Page's guitar parts throughout the era, those riffs sounded behemoth , but they're really not overly distorted or excessively saturated at all when you listen closely.
Obviously, any extreme metal or shred players will need some serious hair in their preamp gain to achieve "that sound," but even here the key is to work your tone to keep the guitar part from becoming too fizzy, nebulous, or washed out. Get it to pop out with some punch and solidity, whether live or in the studio, and you'll get heard , and sound great in the process.
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Tone Tips: Clean Tones Can Create Bigger Rock Guitar | Reverb News