I love the sound that Justin has while playing this song in the intro of the lesson. Now I know it’s probably very ambitious of me as a 2 month old beginner to attempt to play it as he does, but I like a challenge. I have a Squier Affinity Strat HSS with upgraded components played through a Marshall Code 25 and I’m trying to get close to the tone that Justin has here. I’ve picked one of the presets and edited it to add a Distortion pedal (also tried a Overdrive pedal instead) with just a little bit of Drive to get that crunch sound in the intro riff and the shuffle which I’ve come close to and am happy with.
The problem is when I switch to strumming while in the position 5 (humbucker) it just becomes extremely noisy. I’ve tweaked every single setting on my amp preset (even tried different simulated amps, cabs, pedals) and tone knobs on my guitar (volume is 3 on my guitar, master volume 1 on my amp) but the strumming is still very noisy. Am I attempting too much to have both the overdriven sounds and strumming on the same pickup setting? Of course, the easy answer is to just play it clean, but I’m attempting to play my first song with that “old time rock and roll” crunch
Any advice would be welcome.
PS. Feel free to move to another forum section if that’s more appropriate.
Firas, I’m no expert. If I understand correctly what you describe is what one can expect. It sounds like you have a single setup to dial up the tone for the riff. And from what you describe it would tend to be noisy when strumming.
The trick is how to setup and achieve both a rhythm and lead/riff tone. One way of doing this is either to use a footswitch, either on an external pedal that you can engage/disengage the overdrive or plugged into the amp to switch between two different setups. I know this can be done on some amps, not sure if you can do it on yours.
The other thing to play with his adjusting the tones using your guitar controls. You could try switching the pickups, maybe the rhythm would be less noisy on the neck pickup? You can also your guitar volume control. Turn it up to max for the lead/riff tone and then roll off volume (to be precise signal level) which would clean up the sound some when strumming. Or you could try both. This is not likely to exactly match what you hear from Justin and could be tricky to nake the adjustment while continuing to play.
What do you mean by “noisy”. Are you getting a lot of hum when not playing? Does this go away when you put your hand on the strings?
Or do you mean that, when playing, you get a lot of noise from your strumming and chord changes?
If you mean the latter, that is a consequence of playing with higher gain sounds. Part of this is learning to control string muting and fretting notes and chords cleanly. At only two months in, this is going to be challenging.
My first advice would be to turn down the gain.
What Justin has on that video is what I would consider to be a fairly moderate crunch tone. You should be able to get this with an overdrive pedal, rather than distortion (which tends to be a much more aggressive effect).
Alternatively, I would suggest to try removing the distortion and try tweaking the gain setting on the amp model, as this is actually set fairly low.
You should be able to get close to the tone Justin has at a relatively moderate gain setting. It’s probably a lot less grit than you think it needs. Digging in on the intro notes should bring out more grit.
If you can’t get it going without it sounding messy, then you are going to have to turn the gain a lot further down until you learn to control string noise, which will come with practice.
I think to get that tone you may need to use a valve amp or a Kemper type profiler - Justin is damping the strings and then getting more crunch from the energy he’s putting into the strings. I think a Code 25 is a modelling amp…
You’ve all understood my challenge which is that I’m trying to achieve both rhythm and lead/riff tones with one setup which as everyone has pointed out is challenging in the best of cases and way above my experience level. Basically when strumming the sound is noisy since I’m setup for a high gain/distortion for the riff tone. Justin’s skill level of palm muting, adjusting volume on the fly and of course playing cleaner chords is a huge factor that I cannot discount and can see all those things clearer now after you’ve all pointed them out and having reviewed the video lesson and his notes on it in the related lesson page. Add to that he’s using a Kemper Profiler (more accurate simulation of a valve amp) vs my Marshall Code 25 digital modeling amp is also a major contributor to the tone he’s able to achieve.
So I’ll try out the following:
Because I haven’t had enough GAS lately, I’ve ordered the matching Marshall Code 4-way footswitch. That should make it easier for me to manage switching different effects on/off and/or switch between different presets on the fly (it supports both modes). This will be much easier than attempting to change pickup positions and adjusting the volume knob on the fly as I can only manage switching chords as it is, and I won’t have to sacrifice replicating the tones that I’m looking for (the Crunch stays!).
I’ve looked ahead in the Grade 2 modules and found that Palm Muting and Understanding Distortion and other effects are covered there, so I’m just getting ahead of myself. The above solution will be a good temporary solution until I reach those modules and have had enough time to practice them to be able to apply them to my playing.
I’ll experiment some more with changing to Overdrive instead of Distortion FX and testing different volume/gain settings to get closer to the tones I’m looking for.
I’ll practice varying the intensity of picking and strumming to achieve the effects I’m looking for with lower gain settings (I just reached the Dynamics module of the SOS Grade 2 course yesterday which should help with that).
Thank you all for the enlightening and extremely helpful feedback, it’s highly appreciated
I appreciate your honest assessment Keith and will go even further and add “haven’t even begun learning several difficult skills” as I’ve realized after reflecting on all the feedback provided. Lots of room for growth and development to be worked on. Thank you
I appreciate you sharing your earlier experiences with your gear Keith (you’ve got quite a collection there) and beginner struggles. It helps put things in perspective and makes it a tad bit easier to be more patient with myself
That being said, I did some more tweaking with my preset settings last night and switched the distortion pedal FX with an overdrive FX as you suggested which gave me a better starting point. I then tried @DavidP 's suggestion of switching pickup positions from bridge to neck. Those two changes toned down the noise considerably along with some swapping around of gain, level and volume settings.
I then practiced the different parts of the song separately (15 mins. on the intro riff & strumming, 15 mins. on just the shuffle) while being more aware of strumming dynamics and palm muting. It already sounds much better and has given me some more focused skill goals to work on.
This being my first real play around with overdrive/distortion FX settings, I realized that I was strumming like I normally do with clean sounding songs which obviously didn’t work. Adapting my playing to the new FX and practicing the new skills is what’s needed.