http://lamkins-guitar.com/music/article/effects-preferences
David Lamkins picked up his first guitar a long time ago. As best he can recall the year was 1967: the year of the Summer of Love. Four decades later David has conjured up an amalgam of folk, rock and jazz solo guitar music for the occasional intimate Portland audience.
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location: Portland, OR USA

Facets: effects, preferences, @musings info
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On effects

I prefer effects that add to the guitar's sound without making it sound unmusical or mechanical. Effects that emulate or enhance natural processes in the environment seem to work best.

That said, I often play with no effects. On one of my amps, which has a switchable loop, I sometimes put an Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man in the loop and use it to fatten up my lead sound. That's it. Which is not to say that I'm some rock god because I run straight into the amp - it's just the sound I've come to prefer over the years: amp overdrive and spring reverb.

So, why no (or rarely, few) pedals for me? Believe me, it's not for lack of trying pedals to see whether there's a new and useful sound to be had. I always come back to wanting to hear just the guitar.

The bands that I've heard make good use of pedals tend to generate a wash of sound with the guitar and color it - add interest to it - with the pedals. Some people are really good at this. There's a local guy who heads a kind of psychedelic pop band; he has something like twenty pedals (I'm not exaggerating) on his board, and sounds great in the context of his music.

I've heard other players kill their tone with overuse of pedals. It all depends on the musical context and the skill of the player.

At any rate, here's a list of my effects preferences:

Most-favored

tape delay/echo
Fattens up the sound, adds just a hint of murk and wobble.
reverb
Adds "hang time".
overdrive
Hey, c'mon... what's an electric guitar without it?
fuzz
All that intermodulation distortion, mmm...
Leslie
Nothing's quite like it... Sadly, nothing's as tough to carry.

Depends...

compressor
Just a touch of compression adds sustain to a touch-sensitive amp without compromising playing feel.

Least-favored

wah
Done to death, usually poorly...
phaser
Nice swirl... best in Uni-Vibe form * with the speed controller. But it's still too damned repetitive and predictable.
chorus
Thins out the sound.
flanger
The first woosh is exciting... by the fourth or fifth time though, my teeth start to itch.
vibrato
That's what fingers are for...
octave up/down
Sustain, glitch, sustain, choke... repeat ad infinitum.
pitch shifter
See octave.
synths
See octave.
envelope follower
Like a wah, but even less tasteful.
ring mod
Pitch, pitch, who's got the pitch?
talk box
Wanna make your guitar sing? Shut your mouth and practice!
vocoder
See talk box.

* The Uni-Vibe's circuit is a phaser, but the the frequencies of the stages are spread out, whereas those on a conventional phaser are aligned.

August 07 2003 06:46:21 GMT