Tips on Practicing Guitar pt.2

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Practicing through a clean amp can really help your playing. Plugging straight into an amp puts you at your most vulnerable. You’re completely exposed. Every nuance of your playing can be heard completely clear. This is often very uncomfortable to most players.
If you can’t sound good perfectly clean what do you think is happening when you plug in all those effects? You’re just creating one big sonic smoke screen.
This is not an anti effects article; it’s a discussion on improving your tone and technique. I’m not suggesting you throw out your effects, I’m just saying it’s good to strip it down sometimes.
I keep an amp set up with no effects, no pedal board, no reverb, nadda. Cable to amp.  All of your pitchy bends, uneven vibrato, and uneven dynamics are going to be highlighted. Think of it as a spotlight on your playing. It’s really about your fingers at this point. What you play becomes really important.
One of my favorite things recently is playing straight to amp on a gig. It certainly takes the B.S. factor out of your playing. Guitarists have a tendency to fill space with a lot of nothingness. Impulsive playing or over playing is one of the hardest things to overcome. Taking a solo naked means that the notes you play really matter. You have to say something melodically and rhythmically. Placement becomes crucial.
I know people that can’t play without reverb or distortion. They’re hiding behind effects. Some guitarists’ paint ethereal landscapes with effects and some apply “makeup” like a 1980’s prom queen.
The thing you might not realize about playing with distortion all the time is distortion acts like a compressor, shortening the dynamic range of the instrument. The guitar is actually a much more dynamic instrument then people appreciate. Listen to Buddy Guy. That guy uses all of the dynamic range.
Guitarists who only play with gain and compressors often don’t master all of the dynamic potential of the instrument. Take the gain/compression off and you’ll hear un-even dynamics til’ the wee dawn.
There is also a false sense of sustain with effects. Without effects you have to think about how your fingers are actually affecting the length of the note. See where I’m going?
Try it and you can really get an idea of how much a difference your picking hand’s proximity to the bridge or neck effects the tone.
It’s good to check in with yourself from time to time. Take inventory of your weaknesses. Be brave and don’t be afraid to expose yourself….. I’m talking about playing guitar of course. We seriously don’t need more naked people in Times Square. Look at this guy!!

naked cowboy in times square

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Guitarist Mark Marshall located at 51 Macdougal St #264 , New York, NY . Reviewed by 11 customers rated: 4.9 / 5
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