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Getting a blues tone

Discussion about guitar playing from a diverse group of people with different tastes and levels of experience.

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Postby MinorKey » June 18th, 2012, 3:45 am

OK I got no pedals, I just got a Fender Frontman 15G amp, and you know what, for a 15W it kicks butt! Clean, the guitar sounds 50s rock, but put the dirty channel on and my god, metal tones punching out the windows! And the volume is only on 2!!!
But what I want is a blues tone a la BB King. I guess that I want the neck pickup for that, but what tone setting would be best for that? The tone pots on the squier strat dont seem to make any difference to the tone-they might as well not be there, or is it just me? The tone controls on the amp however make a world of difference!!

And if I were going for a pedal for blues what should I be looking for?
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Postby TRGuitar » June 18th, 2012, 4:11 am

To give you exact settings I would need your guitar and amp and I would have to play them. Your technique is a factor as well. That said, I can offer suggestions of things to try. You are right about the guitar tone controls. They are passive and cut frequencies but can not boost them. The amps controls are active. The neck pickup is a good place to start but I think you can also get pleasing tones from the middle as well as a neck middle combo. Try using your dirty chanel but dial the gain back some. My rule of thumb with all amp knobs (except volume) is to start in the middle (at 5) and go from there. Twist that gain knob either direction to get just the right amount of grit you want for your blues tone. Starting with the bass, middle then treble do the same thing til the tone sounds best to you for the sound you want ..... then repeat to tweek it in. This is the method I use anyhow to dial in a sound I'm looking for. I'm guessing for blues you may end up a little heavy on bass and mids but you need to use your ear. I'm guessing your gain will be around 3 or 4 but like I said, you need to dial it in. A blind stab in the dark though? Neck and middle pickup, dirty chanel, gain 3 bass 6 middle 6 treble 4 volume to taste. :D
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Postby MinorKey » June 18th, 2012, 12:45 pm

Thanks TR.Its a fun world when you get an electric!
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Postby s1120 » June 19th, 2012, 6:04 am

I always think of a Blues tone is not so much a higher gain tone... but a overdrive, or saturated tube sound. Not sure how much you will get out of that amp... but I would be starting with a clean setting on the amp, with a blues driver pedal, or a tubescreamer pedal of some sort. Guitar makes a diference also. I was messing with a cheap offshore Strat knockoff, and could get nothing eaven close to a nice bluesy, overdriven tone out of it. Did cleans OK< and high gain metal tones.... but anyhting in between was just terrable.
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Postby Crow » June 19th, 2012, 7:21 am

For a dark tone that still has bite, try this: switch to mid & BRIDGE pickups, roll volume pot (on guitar) back until tone color just starts to change, then dial back the tone pot to taste. Clean setting on amp, of course.

Generally I'm not a BB fan, but I saw him on an old episode of "Married... With Children" the other night, playing Lucille all by himself through a Pignose, and it was killer.
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Postby TRGuitar » June 19th, 2012, 10:07 am

Paul, I like the pedal idea but MinorKey said he has no pedals.

Crow, I recently saw that episode too. It was the one with the dogs and Cheech Marin doing Bucks voice wasn't it? I think BB was getting some speaker breakup from the Pig Nose. The only reason I suggested the dirty chanel with a tad of gain was because it is a Fender solid state practice amp and I think the clean chanel will be very bright and it is my experience in those type of amps that if your gain is below 2 or 3 on the dirty chanel there is no overall volume. I like just a tad of grit in my blues tone. :D

I actually expected to see a lot of folks jump in with various settings because there are a wide variety of blues tones and everyone is different. Ever notice how some people can get the same basic tone with totally different settings/guitars/pickups?
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Postby Vic Lewis VL » June 19th, 2012, 10:27 am

Squier Strat and Frontman 15W amp? Exactly what I started out with when I joined GN about 8 years ago! I was particularly keen on saving my settings back then....had a book with every setting written down in it. The killer word there is "had"...as in, "I wonder what happened to......?" unfortunately.

From memory, I used to keep the gain down to about 4 when playing blues - like you, I needed very little volume on the amp. I tended to keep the volume switched up on the guitar though, round about 8 or 9 - advice from these very forums, you might want to turn it up a little for solos.

Not a bad little amp, the Frontman....had mine for a couple of years or so then got a Cube 15. Again, from memory, the only thing missing from the Frontman is reverb or echo, the Cube has both.

:D :D :D

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Postby MinorKey » June 20th, 2012, 11:51 am

TRGuitar wrote:I like just a tad of grit in my blues tone. :D


You mean like this?
http://soundcloud.com/cameraman59/rock
I used the dirty channel, eq all mids, gain on 3 3/4, drive on 3 1/2
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Postby MinorKey » June 20th, 2012, 12:50 pm

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Postby Vic Lewis VL » June 21st, 2012, 1:19 pm

I like the second of those two samples the best. Minor (very minor, 'cos I've been there and done that myself!) criticism... if you're going to play blues, you're really going to have to practise those bends and vibratos 'till they're second nature. Then be able to do them in any key.....

Getting there, MinorKey, you're well on the way...good luck, mate!

:D :D :D

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Postby s1120 » June 22nd, 2012, 2:01 am

TRGuitar wrote:Paul, I like the pedal idea but MinorKey said he has no pedals.

?


HAS no pedals. Didnt say he didnt want any. :D

I tell you I picked up a chepo Beherenger [sp??] bluesdriver pedel a wile ago. it was REAL cheap.. maybe like 25 bucks or so... Doesnt sound half bad!! is it the best? No way... but better sounding then i am. :D
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Postby TRGuitar » June 22nd, 2012, 10:56 am

I was wondering about those Behringer pedals. MF had a bunch listed, no pics though. Some times inexpensive pedals can be good. I use a Danelectro Fish N Chips EQ because it got just as good of reviews as the Boss EQ did. It was a heck of a lot cheaper. Oh, and it does sound good.
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Postby s1120 » June 22nd, 2012, 12:53 pm

Its not bad at all sounding. It is in a plastic case though....might not stand up to gigging, but I'm a ways away from that!
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Postby MinorKey » June 24th, 2012, 5:41 am

Vic Lewis VL wrote:I like the second of those two samples the best. Minor (very minor, 'cos I've been there and done that myself!) criticism... if you're going to play blues, you're really going to have to practise those bends and vibratos 'till they're second nature. Then be able to do them in any key.....

Getting there, MinorKey, you're well on the way...good luck, mate!

:D :D :D

Vic

Thanks Vic! I think with new strings, 9 guage slinkys, I'll get those bends easier. But I need more practice too, and I got headphones so, once the kids are in bed...bring it on! :)
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