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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Guitar Setups

5. General Purpose Setup

Many guitarists, whether playing in covers bands or for musical theatre for instance, have to cover a wide variety of styles convincingly, from rock to jazz and blues to reggae - a versatile setup is therefore required:

Guitar

The best bet here is to go for a guitar that, however good, is not too distinctive. This generally rules out semi-acoustics or highly individual guitars such as Rickenbackers. A ‘Superstrat’ is worth considering, particularly one with an ‘H-S-H’
PickupA device for converting sound into an electronic signal, usually by direct contact with the instrument body or by magnetic interaction with the strings, as opposed to a microphone which picks up sound vibrations in the air.
pickup
configuration (i.e. a
HumbuckerA type of guitar pickup developed by Gibson in the 1950s, in which two single coils are connected in opposite phase in order to cancel noise. This also results in a distinctively different sound to a single coil pickup, generally thought to be fatter.
humbucker
at the neck position as well as at the bridge). This type of guitar can be used to good effect in many styles, from heavy metal to fusion and jazz - the
PickupA device for converting sound into an electronic signal, usually by direct contact with the instrument body or by magnetic interaction with the strings, as opposed to a microphone which picks up sound vibrations in the air.
pickup
switching options of modern designs from the likes of PRS and Parker are also worth considering, as they often include interesting and powerful
CoilA length of wire wound around a core to create an inductor or electromagnet. Used in electric guitar pickups where fine enamelled copper wire is wound a few thousand times around a magnetic core. Vibrating strings induce an alternating current in the coil as they modulate the magnetic flux.
coil
split/tap options enabling their
HumbuckerA type of guitar pickup developed by Gibson in the 1950s, in which two single coils are connected in opposite phase in order to cancel noise. This also results in a distinctively different sound to a single coil pickup, generally thought to be fatter.
humbuckers
to be used alternately as single
CoilA length of wire wound around a core to create an inductor or electromagnet. Used in electric guitar pickups where fine enamelled copper wire is wound a few thousand times around a magnetic core. Vibrating strings induce an alternating current in the coil as they modulate the magnetic flux.
coils
.

ModellingSynthesis technique whereby a sound or set of characteristics is created from a mathematical model. This can be applied to create instrument sounds as well as to simulate the response of a device such as an amplifier, effects processor or speaker to any given input.
Modelling
guitars are a recent innovation but are becoming increasingly worthy of consideration. These use physical
ModellingSynthesis technique whereby a sound or set of characteristics is created from a mathematical model. This can be applied to create instrument sounds as well as to simulate the response of a device such as an amplifier, effects processor or speaker to any given input.
modelling
techniques running on an onboard chip to ‘build’ a sound from scratch, enabling a single guitar to contain models of various Strats, Teles, Les Pauls, semi-acoustics and even acoustics, banjos and other instruments. This technology was pioneered by Line6, and their ‘Variax’ guitars lead the field, though other companies such as Alesis have recently made inroads, and Roland’s ‘V-Guitar’ systems represent an interesting alternative approach to guitar
ModellingSynthesis technique whereby a sound or set of characteristics is created from a mathematical model. This can be applied to create instrument sounds as well as to simulate the response of a device such as an amplifier, effects processor or speaker to any given input.
modelling
. Some purists find the results of
ModellingSynthesis technique whereby a sound or set of characteristics is created from a mathematical model. This can be applied to create instrument sounds as well as to simulate the response of a device such as an amplifier, effects processor or speaker to any given input.
modelling
unconvincing, but the option is certainly worth taking seriously.

Amp

A 3-channel
AmpereUnit of current; the amount of electricity flowing through a conductor. One Ampere is equal to the flow of 6.25x10^18 electrons through a conductor in one second.
amp
providing clean, crunch and lead sounds is the ideal choice for this type of player. A relatively small yet powerful combo is probably the best option for fitting into tight stage setups, and transporting without a road crew! ‘Modelling’ amps, like guitars, are an attractive proposition as they aim to recreate almost any
AmpereUnit of current; the amount of electricity flowing through a conductor. One Ampere is equal to the flow of 6.25x10^18 electrons through a conductor in one second.
amp
sound, often include a selection of
EffectsGeneral term applied to audio processors for dynamics, time, ambience and equalisation whether in the form of 19" rack units, guitar floor pedals, or software plug-ins.
effects
, and can be programmed to switch instantly between very different sounds via a single press of a
FootswitchA switch operated by the foot to turn on or off a function while both hands are playing an instrument as in guitar effects pedals or synthesizer patch changing.
footswitch
, for example from distorted Marshall
StackA form of guitar amplification, generally associated with rock music, in which the amplifier circuitry ('amp') is separate from (and usually placed on top of) one or more speaker cabinets ('cabs').
stack
with
DelayAn outboard unit used to create time dependent effects where a source signal is sampled/recorded and replayed later by a adjustable amount, either singly or in multiples. The amount of delay results in a range of effects from chorus and slap back to rhythmic echo. Also used for time correction in large PA systems.
delay
and
Chorus1) A delay-based effect that simulates the sound of a group of the same instruments. Regarded as a soft modulation, effect it can create rich textures through phasing and mixing of layers. 2) The part of a song that acts as a recurring theme or refrain.
chorus
to small clean combo with phasing.

Effects

Versatility is the name of the game here, and a broad selection of
EffectsGeneral term applied to audio processors for dynamics, time, ambience and equalisation whether in the form of 19" rack units, guitar floor pedals, or software plug-ins.
effects
is ideal. Rather than carrying dozens of pedals on a heavy pedal board, a ‘multi-fx’ unit is a convenient way to create many pre-programmed sounds, which can be saved as
PresetA program or patch forming part of a synthesizer of other device's factory-shipped state. Presets usually can't be overwritten, but they may usually be edited and the result stored to a user program.
presets
for instant recall. Most multi-FX units contain all the major guitar FX types -
Chorus1) A delay-based effect that simulates the sound of a group of the same instruments. Regarded as a soft modulation, effect it can create rich textures through phasing and mixing of layers. 2) The part of a song that acts as a recurring theme or refrain.
chorus
, flanger,
DelayAn outboard unit used to create time dependent effects where a source signal is sampled/recorded and replayed later by a adjustable amount, either singly or in multiples. The amount of delay results in a range of effects from chorus and slap back to rhythmic echo. Also used for time correction in large PA systems.
delay
,
ReverbReverb is an effect that simulates the reflection of sound waves from the surfaces of an enclosed area such as a room or hall. After the initial direct sound arrives at the listener, reflections from the surrounding surfaces follow and gradually decrease in intensity as they are absorbed.
reverb
, phasing, octave, pitch shift, and several types of
OverdriveA type of distortion pedal that aims to emulate an overdriven guitar preamp, rather than a straight distortion or fuzz pedal, and so retains more of the original guitar sound.
overdrive
and
DistortionIn most cases distortion is an undesirable alteration to a signal which occurs when a piece of equipment is driven with a input level that is too high for its operating level. Sometimes, as in the case of guitar distortion, this can be an intentional and desirable effect.
distortion
. Many floor-based units also include an assignable volume/wah pedal.

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