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Guitar Lessons and Instrument Repair

The Guitar and Bass Effects Guide

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Here at MayosMusic, in addition to offering great guitar, bass, ukulele, banjo and autoharp lessons, plus luthier services that include guitar, string instrument and amplifier repair/restorations, we are also a great resource service. Below is a guitar and electric bass effects reference guide to the different types and function of these special effects.

Today, the modern guitarist and bassist have many types and brands of special effects. These effects range from adding distortion, acoustic dimension, modulation and doubling sounds. Changing the tonality of the sound, regulationg the gain level, changing a sounds pitch, reducing noise and changing connections. Below is a quick guide to the type and function of these different effect units. Most of these effects are of the “pedal type” but there are also “rack units”.


  1. ADD DISTORTION
    1. Overdrive- the overdrive effect simulates the sound of an overdriven tube amplifier and responds to the players' touch. An overdriven tube amplifier means that both the pre-amp tubes and the power amp tubes are being pushed into distortion.
      Think: Classic rock.
    2. Distortion- the distortion effect produces a harder more metallic distortion and with many upper harmonics as compared to the overdrive effect.
      Think: Eddie Van Halen
    3. Fuzz- the “fuzz pedal” pushes and radically emphasizes the harmonics to produce a very distinct distortion.
      Think: Jimi Hendrix

  2. ADDS ACOUSTIC DIMENSION TO SOUNDS
    1. Reverb- reverb adds the natural acoustic ambience which is present in rooms and halls, especially those rooms and halls that have harder surfaces on the walls, ceilings and floors. Think: Singing in the shower
    2. Delay- delay samples the original sound and then plays it back delayed to produce/simulate a natural or artificial sounding echo. Think: The Grand Canyon or yelling in a tunnel
  3. MODULATES AND DOUBLES SOUNDS FOR NEEDED DEPTH
    1. Tremelo- the tremelo effect varies the volume of the original sound to create a cycling and/or pulsating effect as found on vintage amplifiers.
      Think: Play a note of a chord, let it ring and turn the volume control up and down, up and down, etc.
    2. Chorus- the chorus effect combines a slight delay signal with the original signal and then modulates it to create a shimmering and thick sound. The word chorus comes from “choir”.
      Think: The sound of (1) solo voice as compared to many voices as in a church choir. All singers are not perfectly in time and on perfect pitch to each other and the effect when heard is richer than the solo singer.
    3. Phaser- the phaser combines an out-of phase signal/sound to produce a sound that is similar to the “spinning” sound of a rotary speaker. Compared to a flanger, the phaser has a softer and fuller sound.
      Think: “Three Dog Nights” lead guitarist.
    4. Flanger- the flanger creates electronically a slight delay and then combines it with the original signal/sound for a “doubled-swirling” effect.
    5. Panning- the panning effect moves the sound between the left and right channels. The sound goes from one side of the stage to the other and back and forth.
      Think: Playing with your home stereo's balance control (left to right).
  4. CHANGES THE TONALITY OF SOUNDS
    1. Equalizer- the equalizer boosts and/or cuts a unique/particular frequence band to change the bass, mid and treble tones of the sound/signal. Equalizers may have only one tone control to many tone controls.

      There are (2) types of equalizers:
      1. Graphis equalizer with set boost/cut points
      2. Parametic equalizer with variable boost/cut points
    2. Wah- the wah pedal effect allows the boosting and cutting of a specific frequence range, (usually mid-range), which produces a unique and distinctive “wah wah” sound.
      Think: Disco music
    3. Auto wah- automatically creates a foot wah effect but is dependent on the players' picking dynamics.
    4. Acoustic simulator- the acoustic simulator makes an electric guitar sound more like an acoustic guitar.
      Think: Great for live shows
    5. Enhancer- the enhancer brings out the upper harmonics dynamically (adds some volume) which adds clarity to the sound.
    6. Bass synthesizer- the bass synthesizer pedal makes the bass guitar sound more like a synthesizer.
  5. REGULATES GAIN LEVELS
    1. Limiter- the limiter limits the peak levels (volume) of sound to precisely that which is set to the peak threshold level.
      Think: You can play harder but your volume will not get any louder
    2. Compressor- the compressor reduces the output of the hot signal levels above a certain threshold (volume) and boosts the low signal levels. Thus making the low to high output volume's levels more consistent and improving the sustain with no distortion.
      Think: You may play a little softer or a little louder at times, but your sound is more even in it's volume
  6. REDUCE NOISE
    1. Noise suppressor- the noise suppressor eliminates noise from using multiple effect units and units with very high gain.
      Think: No more hiss
  7. CHANGING A SOUND'S PITCH
    1. Pitch shifter- the pitch shifter shifts the pitch of the original sound/note to preselected intervals. Provides key-specific pitch shifting +/-2 octaves and then combines this with the original signal, thus enabling twin-guitar harmonies, a natural chorus effect without octave unison and modulation.
    2. Octave- the octave pedal produces a signal 1-2 octaves lower than the original signal/note, and combines with the original signal.
      Think: My guitar now sounds like a bass guitar and a guitar
  8. CHANGING CONNECTIONS
    1. Line selector- the line selector allows switching from amp to amp or pedal to pedal.
Experience since 1968
Providing Guitar, Electric Bass & Ukulele lessons and Guitar/Amp Repair in the Greater Phoenix Valley area of Arizona including Maricopa County and The Salt River Valley.

Mayos Music will continue to provide Guitar/Amp Repairs in Southern California's South Bay cities and Greater Los Angeles Area.
Originally located in Manhattan Beach and Torrance, California.

Now located in:
Gilbert, AZ 85298
&
Torrance, CA 90505

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