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Rick Andrews and other experts answers guitar repair questions
For almost one year, guitar luther Rick Andrews answered your guitar repair questions. After recieving over 500 questions we put together the most popular questions and answers. Today, we are involving other great guitar builders and will continue to expand this area in the future. This section will no longer be interactive but you should find most of your guitar building and repair questions have already been answered in this section.

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  •  Guitar tone question 1
    From: John Adams
    To: Rick Andrews
    This is somewhat guitar related. If I sent you a small MP3 file of a guitar tone that I like, could you give me an idea of how it was created? Such as if it was using distortion or overdrive, along with delay, etc?
    Thanks.
    John Adams

  • Ricks Answer to - Guitar tone question 1

    From: Rick Andrews
    To: John Adams
    Hi John,
    I would say yes I can most likely listen and tell you how to do it. A little secret for you . . . A guitar with 3 single coil pickups will allow many more sound combination possibilities than you could ever get from humbuckaer pickups, unless you have 3 humbuckers that can be split so that you can use a single coil with the other coul switched off.

    Anyway you are welcome to send the sound sample to me so I can hear it with windows media player and I'm sure I can tell you once I hear it.
    Rick Andrews
    Andrews Guitar



  •  Guitar tone question 2
    From: John Adams
    To: Rick Andrews

    Here are several samples of tones that I like that are all pretty similar.
    I contacted the person playing the one called Funk Solo and he said that this was what he was using, to the best of his recollection:
    I use a Brian Moore Custom guitar with Duncan pickups into a Rocktron Voodu Valve preamp which is plugged into the input of my soundcard for all recordings. It's a matter of these elements, the settings on the preamp, and the way I play that makes the sounds I get.

    And when I asked him if he remembered the settings on the preamp, he said:
    There is a high gain setting, slight chorus, delay 1 set around 100ms, delay 2 set around 375ms, slight reverb. Sounds like that solo uses the neck pickup.

    The equipment I have to work with is my guitar (S-S-H) configuration (with medium-gain Peavey pickups) and a SanSamp Tri-AC which is an analog Tube Amplifier Emulator. It can emulate a Fender Tweed amp (for clean tones), a Marshall amp (for overdrive tones) and a Mesa/Boogie amp (for distortion tones). It has the usual Level, Bass, Mid, Treble, and Drive controls. I use them when going directly into a PA system, which is what we do when I play at my church. I also have one of the new Danelectro Wasabi Overdrive pedals which has a nice overdrive tone. I also have a Wasabi Chorus-Tremolo pedal, which probably wouldn't affect the tone that much, unless these were using Chorus.

    I also was wondering how much the type of strings used affect the tone. I currently have just your normal everyday .11 guage Elixir strings. I have heard that nickle flat-wound jazz strings might make a big difference in the tone. Is that true, and would a little bit heavier gauge string make a difference?

    Any suggestions that you could give me that would help me get closer to that type of sound would be greatly appreciated. If you say that the only way to get closer to that sound would be to get new pickups, then it would certainly take me a while to save up for those, but I would be interested in what types of pickups you would replace these with.

    Thank you for being willing to help me in this endeavor.
    John
  • Ricks Answer to - Guitar tone question 2

    OK John,
    After hearing your samples I think this should be fairly easy and straight forward. On the Awesome God and the Funk Solo, you can use the same settings and equipment. Actually you can get that sound using a simple distortion floor unit and the bridge humbucker pickup and turn back off the treble just a bit to get the smoother sustain. That is one of the easiest sounds to get.

    On the Smooth jazz I would play the amp fairly clean with a touch of mid range and use the neck pickup alone and trim the tone back to cut out the high shrill treble to fatten up the tone. That will give you a good jazz tone like the sample. Really that is about all you will need for these sounds. Now you can enhance these a bit if you like to add chorusing but the reverb is about average to most live playing.

    Many of these tones you hear are really not that complex as to how they do it. Of course my main expertise is raw guitar tone / pickups / strings. Heavier string guage will project much stronger but it is not necessary. I can get any sound I want with very light guage strings as long as I have power in the preamp and output power amp. Of course I am really an all tube guy myself with added deep fat tones.

    The elixer strings are not my choice for this style playing. I prefer the lighter guage Ernie Ball super slinky strings for faster and easier playing and let the equipment handle the power I need. A lot of heavy metal players and hard rockers believe in heavy guage strings and it is true they will crunch heavier and much more projection but most people do not think about the noise factor in a studio setting. The lighter guage string will be much quieter as far as noise and crosstalk and trash in line signal from electromagnetic interferences, etc.

    The man at the board can bring out the power of the sound and work much better with the signal. My personal thoughts anyway.
    Rick Andrews
    Andrews Guitar



  • Ricks Answer to - Guitar tone question 3

    From: John Adams
    To: Rick Andrews
    I still am having problems getting that smooth long sustain that I think I am hearing in these samples. I have a Guyatone compressor/sustainer. Would that help any?
  • Ricks Answer to - Guitar tone question 3

    From: Rick Andrews
    To: John Adams
    The Duncan pickups will certainly have more power and sustain capabilities. A sustain circuit will help but I would not compress the signal as it may die out a bit quicker because it has a signal cutoff point. Adjusting the pickups closer under the strings is one way to help. The higher the gain on the preamp the more you will over drive the premamp section of the amp, thus more distortion and sustain. The speakers in the amp can have a bearing on this also. The PA system you are going into direct is made for a cleaner overall sound.

    If your amp has a line out for studio then use that before you go to the PA system so you get the most out of your amps over drive capabilities. I would think that the PA system has very clean speakers by design.

    First you want to achieve the sounds you are looking for within your guitar amp, then transfer that thru the PA system. There are so many different pieces of equipment out there today and many can deliver very close to the sounds you want but it is a matter of learning each piece of equipment you use and how to get the most from it. Some equipment will get more than others.

    Years ago I used a simple MXR floor box distortion unit (all solid state) blended with the old wah wah pedal, and played thru a cheap Peavy solid state amp and was able to capture the sustain and distortion levels playing Santana style guitar. I was surprised as to how close to the real thing it sounded. Carlos Santana was using the same wah wah pedal but playing thru a Mesa Boogie all tube very hot high gain amp.
    The more you overdrive the preamp is where it happens. Of course Carlos Santana piped it thru a big sound system but he needed the vintage speaker to get that extra smooth sustain. So he actually used the mesa Boogie amp and the vintage speaker and then he used a microphone in front of the speaker and then piped it thru the system so he could get all of the benefits before piping it into the big sound system.

    The nickle flatwound string will be a bit more muddy sounding. A full wound string will give you more punch in the signal and will sustain longer. A more sustainable string, higher output pickups, and more overdrive, more vintage style speaker will make the big difference. Sometimes when you are using several in line devices it can make a big difference in which order you hook them up together. Try experimenting by changing around which units go where.

    I reccommend going thru the distirtion unit first from the guitar, overdrive it and then to the amp preamp, overdriving the already overdriven signal. That will add a lot more sustain. Hotter and closer pickups is a big thing here in what you are trying to accomplish.
    Rick Andrews
    Andrews Guitar

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