Could it really be that simple? While it might not be the only trick to getting good guitar tones, it’s a cheap and effective place to start. Check out live clips of Hendrix, Stevie Ray, Beck, Page, and Van Halen and you’ll see they’re always messing with the volume knob and their pickups. It’s also a great way to simplify things while playing live. Instead of tap dancing on pedals you can keep it all to the controls of your guitar. I shot a YouTube video demonstrating this idea, check it out below.
Start out by getting the best distorted tone you can, then back off on your volume knob and use your pickup selector to clean up the sound for rhythm or clean parts. Keep in mind that while you might not get a sparkling clean tone with this approach, your slightly dirty clean tone will sound clean once the whole band is playing. When the solo or heavy rhythm part comes back in, turn up that volume knob and let it rip! Give it a shot! This super simple approach has saved me many times at gigs. It will let you stick to what really matters which is playing your part right with feeling so you can give the crowd what they want…a good show!
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