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Author: Subject: Different song, different guitar?

Ultimate Peach





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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 12:29 PM
Could someone explain the reason(s) why guitarists switch guitars, sometimes every song? Iím guessing part of it is tuning, but there are probably more subtle nuances involved. I donít notice this happening nearly as much with other instruments.



 
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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 12:34 PM
It's all about tone. Strats don't sound like Les Pauls, Les Pauls don't sound like Telecasters, etc., etc. That is....unless you are playing through a tone or amp modeler. Alternate tuning is also a reason for a change.

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 12:39 PM
There can be several reasons:

1. Change of sound

This could include something as drastic as a change from acoustic to electric, or something as subtle as a change from EMG to Gibson PAF humbuckers. In short, different guitars produce a different variety of tambres. If a particular song was written with a particular sound in mind and the thing strapped to you cannot make that sound, then you switch.

To put it another way - many viola parts can be played on a violin, but nobody serious about playing the piece as it was intended to be played would play it on a violin.

2. Wrong number of strings

Unless you have a double-neck guitar, you cannot switch from a 6 string to a 12 string without changing instruments.

3. Change of guitar type

I'm not talking about "Les Paul to Strat" I am talking about switching a standard for a baritone or tenor guitar, for example. This is less common, though, as the only electric guitar manufacturer that makes any of these is Danelectro.

4. Change of tuning

Many stage guitarists (myself included) tweak their instruments for a specific set of strings tuned in a specific way so that the intonation of every string is accurate thoughout the length of the neck. Even though I COULD simply retune my guitar without switching out, the subtle variations of intonation would manifest themselves when playing higher on the neck. When playing slide that can be easily compensated for, though.

5. Look of the instrument

This never seems like a good idea to me, but some people do it.

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 12:41 PM
Hey Vaylor. I think Fender makes a baritone Telecaster now.

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 12:46 PM
quote:
It's all about tone. Strats don't sound like Les Pauls, Les Pauls don't sound like Telecasters, etc., etc. That is....unless you are playing through a tone or amp modeler. Alternate tuning is also a reason for a change.


It's not an amp modeler you need in this situation, BDOB, it's an instrument modeler. A Les Paul cannot sound like a Strat by changing its amplifier from a Mesa Boogie to a Roland. Line 6 makes a series of guitars with only peizo pickups (no electromagnetic induction at all) and this output can then be modeled to match the sonic characteristic of whatever instrument you want. This can then be fed to whatever amp (or amp modeler) you want.

That is not to say, though, that this is tantamount to sampling and synthesis. The waveform remains intact, so everything about the guitar's output (attack, sustain, harmonics, etc.) are still present. The waveform is simple modified (equalized is a MAJOR way) to take on the characteristics of the instrument you need. If you want your guitar to sound like a glockenspiel, though, you still need MIDI and a sound module.

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 01:00 PM
True dat, Vaylor. I meant guitar modeler, but I'm fairly ignorant about electronics. I play instruments and amps, nothing in the signal in between, except maybe a tuner. I would like to try a Line 6 Bass amp modeler one time to see if I can make my rig sound like an Ampeg, but then, why do that? It defeats my minimalistic approach to music.

And upon further research, if Fender did make a baritone Tele, I can't find it on it's website. It must have been a Custom Shop piece for one of the country pickers I remember reading about. I did find a baritone Jaguar on the Fender site.

http://www.fender.com/products//search.php?partno=0259300306

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 01:04 PM
...as for the "not happening as much with other instruments" that is very true, but lets examine the other frequently used instruments in popular music

Drums: a drummer doesn't have to switch instruments because if he wants a different sound, he simply buys the thing that makes that sound and makes it part of his kit (think Neil Peart). Same phenomenon for percussion.

Bass: some bass players do switch instruments - from 4 to 6 strings for example (as Oteil does) or from fretted to fretless. Most often, however, particular bass players are recruited for bands because of the style in which they play. Larry Graham is Larry Graham and Jaco is Jaco. As good as Jaco was, Parlament would have been very different indeed if he had been their bassist.

Keyboards: Keyboardists have the best of both worlds. If they want a particular sound, they can just add that type of keyboard to their rig (think Keith Emerson). However, since the mechanics of pressing keys on a keyboard is so easily reproducible, it has become very easy to produce a keyboard which produces every sound you'd ever need. The tradeoff for this wonderful palette at your fingertips, however, is lack of mobility.

Wind / Brass: If you are part of a horn section then you will almost never switch instruments as you will have parts arranged for your instrument If, however, you are a lone soloist then it is not out of the question to switch from tenor sax to alto, from sax to flute, from trumpet to flugalhorn, etc.

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 01:10 PM
Sometimes a guitar swap is made because of a technical problem, like a string has broken or the instrument just won't stay in tune. I saw Rick Derringer live in a trio about ten years ago. He started one of his better known songs and broke a string. The bass player and drummer kept playing while Rick switched guitars. It only took a few seconds and then the song continued.
 

Universal Peach



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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 01:10 PM
I see no reason to switch guitars with the exception of tuning. Your guitar is your 'identity'. maybe that's part of the problem today....guitarists have no identity.
Everyone has to have something to hand your notes on...I know where mine are.
Looking at the major players I know, they don't change ot as their guitar is an extension of themselves. My 'Mona Mae' is my baby, my lover, my heart.
spdb

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 01:53 PM
quote:
I see no reason to switch guitars with the exception of tuning. Your guitar is your 'identity'. maybe that's part of the problem today....guitarists have no identity.
Everyone has to have something to hand your notes on...I know where mine are.
Looking at the major players I know, they don't change ot as their guitar is an extension of themselves. My 'Mona Mae' is my baby, my lover, my heart.
spdb


OK I have to take issue with this. It is one thing to become attached to your instrument. This is something I completely understand. But it is another thing entirely to disparage those musicians that don't (or perhaps have that same sort of attachment to several instruments).

At the end of the day, a true musician serves the MUSIC, and not the INSTRUMENT. If the music calls for a sound that your current instrument cannot produce then you have 3 choices: don't play that music, play the music in a way that is less than it could be (sell the music short), or get an instrument that fits the bill.

I play a Parker MIDI Fly primarily. The reason I play this instrument is not because of its looks or anything else, but becase of the HUGE amount of tambre varieties I have at my disposal - thereby reducing the possibility of running into a situation which would call for a different instrument.

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 02:00 PM
...and on a different note, don't let ANY object become your "identity." Guitars can be (and often are) destroyed. No matter how much I love my guitar, at the end of the day the guitar is the MEANS not the ENDS. It is a tool I use to make music - and the MUSIC is the ENDS - and there are other tools (of varying quality and qualities) I can use to get there.
 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 02:12 PM
OK, after starting a couple of times to add YET ANOTHER reply I decided to walk away from this for a bit and let the blood cool a bit. Sorry, skyponydogboy, but you've just hit on one of my biggest pet peeves about the way music is made. If you had added to your post that you felt that learning how to read music and learning music theory detracts from your ability to play well, then my head might have exploded.

I'll be ok. Just need to breathe for a second.

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 02:20 PM
Vaylor, I wish I had taken band and music theory back when I had the opportunity. I just didn't have a desire to play until a few years AFTER high school. So I am self taught and limited in my improvisational abilities because of my lack of musical training. Which leads to the point of my post...

The guy who leads the band I play in at church is an accomplished bluegrass picker. He plays guitar and mandolin with ease. When he first came on to lead the church band, (which, by the way, we are all pretty much novice players and singers, but do well as a group) I asked him if he read and wrote music, to which his answer was, "Not enough to hurt my playing." Cracked me up, and I hope you can appreciate where it came from.

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 02:55 PM
I dont know why, but a simple answer that is only my opinion, was all I
intended. I dont give a fat rats ass why anyone plays what they do. Just what I do.
I dont give a damn about theory, lessons, or instrument you play. I have mine you have yours. Leave mine the hell alone.

 

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Peach Head



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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 03:10 PM
OK, fine, but that's not what you said SPDB. If it is indeed your opinion that you "don't give a fat rats ass why anyone plays what they do" then why would you opine in your previous post that playing more than one guitar is "part of the problem today....guitarists have no identity".

I would say to that notion that MANY guitarists have played different instruments - even switching on stage. It is, in fact, rarer to find someone who has played the same instrument throughout their career. In fact, the only guitarist the ABB has had that HASN'T switched guitars (that I know of) is Dan Toler - and even he might have post ABB (as I haven't kept touch with him).

Opinions are one thing - generalities about an entire group of people is quite another. Typically that's called prejudice. I won't go that far, but man, you have to know that there are musicians that read this board.

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 03:47 PM
Wow - heaviness!

Imagine having a few different cars, same fella driving them, just each one is slightly more suited to different activites, i.e. like 4x4's compared to VW Beetles and so on .

Different guitars bring out different apects of my playing, like my Les Paul Deluxe is gorgeous, but it isn't the best for the heavier stuff - for that i'll use my Yamaha SG2000, the p'ups are monsters. And I'll practice on a strat - the sound of it is so different , that i'll play different things or a with a different aproach, but .... it still sounds like me ..... think of Duane Allman, you can spot that guy a mile off in any recording, but i couldn't tell you which one of his guitars he was playing, beyond the basic obvious differences between a single and bucker.

It's in the fingers. Gregg still sounds like Gregg no matter what microphone he sang through, even though microphones have vastly different qualities.

Anyone fancy a pint?

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 03:48 PM
quote:
OK, after starting a couple of times to add YET ANOTHER reply I decided to walk away from this for a bit and let the blood cool a bit. Sorry, skyponydogboy, but you've just hit on one of my biggest pet peeves about the way music is made. If you had added to your post that you felt that learning how to read music and learning music theory detracts from your ability to play well, then my head might have exploded.

I'll be ok. Just need to breathe for a second.
It's not worth the stress. This is only an internet message board. We well covered the reasons for switching guitars onstage.

 

Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 04:10 PM
quote:
I see no reason to switch guitars with the exception of tuning. Your guitar is your 'identity'. maybe that's part of the problem today....guitarists have no identity.


Dickey Betts sounds like Dickey Betts whether he's on a Les Paul, ES-335, SG, Strat, or PRS. Clapton sounds like Clapton whether he's playing a Les Paul, Strat or SG. Hendrix sounds like Hendrix whether he's on a Strat or SG. Duane Allman sounds like Duane Allman whether he's on a Strat, SG or Les Paul. George Harrison sounds like...........

and so on.

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 04:10 PM
This has been an interesting discussion. I have wondered the same thing myself. One guitarist I have seen a lot of is Warren Haynes. Everyone knows his main axe is the Gibson Les Paul. I would say he uses this most of the time, especially with the ABB. Since the ABB has a mostly clean sound, I have assumed that he tends to use the Les Paul when he is looking for that clean sound and when he is playing slide. My understanding is that most guitarists play slide in open tunings but Warren plays in standard tuning. I don't know if that's always true but it makes sense with the Mule since he often has to play slide, rhythm and regular lead in the same song. So in that case, he would not have to switch for that reason With the Mule I see him swithch to a couple of other guitars, I am not sure the make. He uses a hollow body sometimes and I assume (though I could be wrong) that he is getting a richer slightly more natural sound from that. As for the "identity" comment. I agree with Vaylor, a guitarist doesn't need a "Lucille" to have an identity. Most great guitarists have a number of instruments they play regularly and identity has to do with your sound and style and not the axe you wield. Does anyone know any more about when and why Warren switches? I think Derek ususally sticks with the same instrument but I could be wrong.

Doug

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 04:22 PM
Some people on this thread are entirely too serious. If I READ the thread title,
It is simply about switching guitars...asking why. The players I respect, AND THIS IS MY EFFING OPINION, play the same instrument alll the time. Jeez, you would think we are reinventing the damn guitar here. I wonder how much EGO is involved in a guitarist switching guitars every song? I venture AN OPINION and say probably a lot.
spdb
and I play a GIBSON LES PAUL and love it.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 04:22 PM
quote:


In fact, the only guitarist the ABB has had that HASN'T switched guitars (that I know of) is Dan Toler - and even he might have post ABB (as I haven't kept touch with him).




When I saw Dan play with GAB at Rockers, Dan was playing that sunburst LP.

Here he is at Syracuse BluesFest with DB in 2003.



That's not a LP.





[Edited on 8/6/2007 by PhotoRon286]

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 04:27 PM
Interesting thread, and I can't tune a guitar, let alone play one.

And believe me, I've tried.

 

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World Class Peach



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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 04:30 PM
quote:
quote:
At the end of the day, a true musician serves the MUSIC, and not the INSTRUMENT...

Some interesting points here...As a player of over 25 years myself, I have to say I agree with many of things Vaylor mentioned including the above quote...and I do understand the "identity" crisis a lot of players have today which Brent alluded too, but I don't think that's attributed to switching guitars as much as other factors...

Guitar players typically hear different sounds or tones in their heads that they feel would "serve the music" best. A thick mid-rangey Humbucker equipped Les Paul might suit a certain Rock or Blues song best, but then if you have to create and dive into a tune that's more country or rootsy or you need some chime etc, maybe a Telecaster, Strat or even a Gretsch might serve the song better. Different guitars also make a guitarist play his instrument differently - the "feel" is slightly altered so you attack the instrument differently. Different Amps will do the same thing...they also serve the music as well. A player might want a glassy sounding 6L6 equipped amp for one song but then may switch to an amp with a different voicing for something else. The great thing about music is that there is not one set of rules you have to go buy. Your limitations are only set by your imagination...and in some cases, maybe your wallet . I love guitars and I Love playing guitars...damn, I wish I had a few more, LOL.

Nice thread though...


BY the way, take a look at Steve Kimock - a world class player - in my signature. He is playing 3 very different looking and sounding guitars - each one wth it's own unique feel and sound and each one will serve the music he creates differently. That's his way. Dickey mostly plays Les Pauls and Derek mostly SG's...that is their way. To each his own...




[Edited on 8/6/2007 by EddieP]

 

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Universal Peach



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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 04:33 PM
By IDENTITY, I refer to a players personna...ie: You think of Dickey, doesnt his image conjure up a Goldtop LP? and Duane, his Tobacco LP?, and Derek? his red SG? Warren, the LP? Now, ya wanna go TONE? Let's look at a few players IDENTITY WITH TONE.
Duane, BB King, Dickey, SRV, Derek, when you hear that TONE, you "know who it is...
hence, IDENTITY. Some players need to IDENTIIFY WITH TONE, and switching guitars ain't gonna help. Gibson or Fender.
spdb

 

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Extreme Peach



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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 04:38 PM
One thing I don't quite understand is the switching of same models of guitars by guys. In songs that are clearly still standard tuning clapton will play multiple strats. Warren has a good number of Les Pauls despite using them in standard tuning. I can only figure its because they have different pick ups that produce slightly different tones? That and I guess the neck shape/size and body size may vary slightly?

I guess Vaylor had basically answered this question with this

quote:
or something as subtle as a change from EMG to Gibson PAF humbuckers



I don't know enough about pickups to distinguish different humbuckers and single coils from each other.

 
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