Most guitarists don’t think about how they can use their guitars to sound better, but there are few tricks that will make your sound like a pro. Here are my two favorite tricks that I use regularly to add more energy and volume to my playing.
1) Use 12-String Guitar
Sometimes the most exciting way to alter your sound is just by changing your instrument. If you play guitar and you’re looking for a new way to spice up your playing, you should try playing a 12-string guitar. The extra strings add more volume and depth to your tone, which makes it easier to stand out in an ensemble or get your point across in a solo.
2) Get a Bigger Amp
The second thing I did was upgrade from a 20 watt amp to a 100 watt amp. If you’ve never tried it, using a bigger amp can make your guitar really come alive. Once I made the switch, everything about my tone sounded bigger and fuller, which was exactly what I needed for my upcoming tour.
So if you’re looking for a new way to make yourself stand out as a guitarist, try picking up both of these tips! You won’t be disappointed with the results!
Most guitarists who have been playing for any length of time have experienced the mysterious loss of “tone,” “volume,” or “energy” (whatever that is) in their playing. If you’ve ever been plagued by this condition, it can be frustrating and confusing – and hard to know where to turn for help.
I’ve had many students over the years tell me the same thing: they are frustrated because they feel like they are not making any progress on the guitar, even though they are practicing every day! The problem is, they don’t know what’s wrong. They don’t know that their struggles can often be traced back to a lack of clarity and focus in their sound.
They don’t realize how much better tone, volume, and energy can make them feel about their guitar playing – how it can help them grow as a guitarist, and get more enjoyment out of practice.
For the first couple months I had my guitar, my tone was horrible. It sounded weak, muddy, and boring. It was a constant struggle to get the instrument to produce anything resembling good sound.
I learned how to tighten my guitar strings.
A few people had told me this would improve my tone but I didn’t fully understand what they meant, or how to do it. Like most new guitarists I assumed that tightening the strings meant tuning them up. But there’s actually a different technique you can use to produce a richer tone, stronger volume, and more energy in your playing.
In this article, I’m going to explain what this technique is and how you can use it in your own playing.
Let’s start with…
If you’re a professional guitarist, you likely spend a lot of time thinking about your tone. But one trick that can make a big difference is so obvious that many guitarists don’t think to try it.
“I find that my tone changes drastically when I go from having my strap on the lowest setting on my guitar to the highest,” says guitarist and producer Mark Lettieri of the band Snarky Puppy. “For me, it’s a night-and-day sort of thing.”
It’s not hard to see why this would make a difference. When your guitar is positioned low on your body, the neck points almost straight down. When the neck points down, many more of the high frequencies will bounce off of your chest and back, and fewer will actually be projected into the room.
When you raise your guitar up, more of those higher frequencies project out into the room and less are absorbed by your body. As a result, your tone becomes brighter.
Lettieri says that this also works in reverse: When he wants to get a darker, jazzier sound playing his Stratocaster, he’ll move his strap down low so that his guitar points more toward the ground.
There are so many things that can be done to improve your tone. Especially when it comes to acoustic guitar. It’s pretty hard to get a bad tone out of an acoustic guitar—but if you want to improve your tone and make your playing more powerful and energetic, then try this trick:
Strings with a wound G string have a lot more bottom end. They have more sustain too. They’re also louder, which is great if you play live with a band or do recording sessions where you need to be louder than the drummer.
But they’re also harder on the fingers because they are thicker strings (12-gauge).
If the sound of the wound G strings is what you’re after, but you don’t like how hard they are on your fingers, then try this: put 12-gauge strings on your guitar and only tune up the six E and A strings. Leave the D, G, B, and high E strings tuned down a whole step. This will give you the sound of a wound G without having to deal with the pain of 12-gauge strings on your fingers!
I’m a professional guitar player, and I’ve been playing for 17 years. It’s something I love doing, and something that I do for a living. But before this article, I’ve never really written anything about it! So here we go:
But the most important point is this: the absolute best way to improve your tone is to spend time working on it. You can have the most expensive guitar in the world, with all of the bells and whistles, but if you don’t spend time learning how to use them and experimenting with different tones, you won’t get any better.
I’m not going to give you an exhaustive list of everything you should be doing to improve your tone. There are a lot of things involved (different kinds of guitars, strings, pickups, etc), but it all boils down to one simple thing: experimentation. Get out there and try new things! Find new sounds! Experiment! Experiment! Experiment! That’s how we learn.
If you want a good example of what I’m talking about: look at Jimi Hendrix. He was arguably one of the greatest guitar players ever (and certainly one of my favorites). And yet he often played with just one amp and one guitar. And he didn’t even play
A 12-string guitar is a steel-stringed acoustic or electric guitar with 12 strings in six courses, which produces a richer, more ringing tone than a standard six-string guitar. Typically, the strings of the lower four courses are tuned in octaves, with those of the upper two courses tuned in unisons. The gap between the strings within each dual-string course is narrow, and the strings of each course are fretted and plucked as a single unit. The neck is wider, to accommodate the extra strings, and is similar to the width of a classical guitar neck. The sound, particularly on acoustic guitars, is fuller and more harmonically resonant than six-string instruments.
12-string guitars have twelve tuning pegs and nuts. The strings are placed in groups of two (called courses) at intervals along the neck; each pair being tuned to the same note but an octave apart. The lowest three string pairs (E4–E5, A4–A5, D4–D5) are tuned in unison; one higher string pair (G4–G5) is tuned in unison; the next higher string pair (B3–B4) is tuned in unison; and the highest two string pairs (E