Describing The Chain

Describing The Chain

Mike Tresham No Comments

In my opinion there are two main factors to consider when choosing new gear: ‘tone’ and ‘noise’. Tone is the quality of the sound produced by your amp’s speakers at the end of your chain, noise is the amount of audible interference heard from your amp. All my equipment has a positive or negative impact on these two results. My 15 year old Mexican Fender Stratocaster is a great example.

The tone is excellent, favoured by hundreds of first rate guitarists in all sorts of genres (Malmsteen, Clapton, Corgan, Beck, and on and on). There are essentially five tones created by the five positions of the pickup switch. The bridge pickup creates a satisfying ‘spank’ for rhythmn and high end squeal for solos. The next position between bridge and middle has a softer, country and western sounding tone. The middle position has a warm and rich sound. The combination of middle and neck is smooth and low but to be frank, I don’t use it. The neck pickup is dark, creamy and smooth.

It’s worth getting a good guitar because it sets the standard for your tone. Any subsequent link in the chain, by using a cable or pedal, will in some way diminish this tone and introduce noise. Therefore, a straight to amp sound (guitar to cable to amp) will provide your tone in it’s purist form. The better the guitar, the better the starting tone and the better the result at the end of the chain.

Personally, I’m delighted with the strat. They are versatile and produce an excellent tone, which is suitable for my needs. However, the factory ‘single coil’ (more on this later) pickups are known for letting in a lot of noise into the chain, so I have modified the guitar and would expect to for all future Fender Strats.

The alternative is to choose a humbucker guitar with pickups designed to reduce the noise and interference. Now I have a strat, I would choose this type of guitar next time, possibly a PRS Tremonti or an Epiphone AFD for a few hundred quid. High end would include a Gibson, Rickenbacker, Collings and PRS and low end would include Epiphone and BC Rich. Of course, most brands produce a range of guitars for a spectrum of budgets.

Next in the chain are pickups, which I’ll say more on later. Enjoy the journey towards creating your dream tone!

New gear reviews on the way…

Kit Robertshaw No Comments

Just a quick note to let you know that a monthly gear review column from local gear junkie and axe shredder Mike Tresham is on the way. Heres a preview from Mike…

“I’m a guitar enthusiast who wishes he wasted even more time and money when he was younger so that he would be playing stadiums now. Having hit thirty I decided it was time to take things seriously and invest in decent kit. Here are some thoughts on my equipment, from the view of a passionate enthusiast who still has so much to learn.”

Stay tuned for more!

Buying a New Guitar?

Kit Robertshaw No Comments

What is a “good” guitar? How should I know which guitar to buy?

In my opinion a good guitar should be comfortable, easy to play, stay in tune, have good intonation and most importantly the student should enjoy the sound of their guitar.

On an average week I teach 80-100 students in group and one to one tuition. Some with average guitars, some with great guitars but unfortunately some students have poor quality guitars!

This is a great shame for them especially when they have enough musical intelligence to question why their guitar doesn’t sound right.

They may be practising daily but something still isn’t quite right, and some of them believe it is their technique. A bad guitar can have such a negative impact on a beginner student. It may even lead to them stopping their lessons or even starting to learn another instrument!

So how can one go about selecting a quality instrument at a reasonable price?

The first thing I could recomend is for the budding guitarist and his/her parents to go to a reputable music shop (Don’t buy second hand. Especially if you are new to the guitar world and this is your first instrument).

Buy a well-known make of guitar. For example Fender Squier Stratocastors and Yamaha Pacificas are good quality and very affordable solid body electric guitars. But there are many other great beginner guitars out their. But remember, the most well known makes are well known because of the quality of their guitars and customer service etc.

Take a guitarist friend or your tutor to the shop with you to try the guitar (if they have time they should gladly help you with this). Ask them to check the action, intonation and playability of the guitar.

Have fun!!!

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