That said, it can be very tough to do that, for the following reasons:
> Playing with a lot of gain can be fun. It’s fluid, notes sustain easily – which makes it easier to cop poses like a rock stah – and it covers mistakes.
> These days most amps have more gain on tap than you and five of your buds could ever need.
> On top of that, you NEED (right?) eight stompboxes running into the front of your amp – meaning fuzz + OD + whatever else + amp = mush (sometimes).
Just in case you’re prone to gain-fuzzland, or you have a tone that gives you wood when you’re rocking out at home but not in a band situation, here’s Aerosmith’s Joe Perry – whom I’m sure has at least eight stompboxes in his rig at any one time – with some tonalicious advice in that regard.
“…when you’re playing live…smaller is better. You don’t need a whole stack of Marshalls to sound good and you may not even need a very loud sound, especially in a small venue.
“What I mean is, it’s not [about] volume. I’ve heard little combos sound louder through a mic and a PA than a big Marshall that’s turned up. It may be loud, but the actual sound that’s going out over the PA may not be that great. It’s better to go with a smaller amp and really get a good sound out of one or two speakers. You get a lot more tone.
“If you’re using amps that are heavily overdriven, it may sound really good when you’re taking a solo and be really easy to play, but it’s very easy for it to turn into mush out in the house, especially if you’re working with keyboards and other guitar players. That’s one of the things I’ve learned, and that’s why my sound is so much cleaner, drier and less overdriven.
“That overdrive may sound great when you’re soloing, but when you start mixing it in with other instruments that are playing in that same sound area, that midrange 2K to 5K range, you lose the definition if there’s too much again. That’s true in the studio and it’s true on stage. It just turns into mush.
“So if you’re having trouble getting heard out there, a lot of it can be in the amount of overdrive you’re using. Many of the modern amps have so much gain, and then people add fuzztones and it just comes out like a wall of noise. If you’re having trouble getting some definition, just plug straight into a cleaner amp, like a Fender or an old Marshall, and if you need a little bit of juice for your solos, just tweak it a little bit with a fuzztone or some kind of boost.”
Or f*** the boxes, spend some coin on a killer boutique amp and just plug right into that. That’s what I do, and I’ve literally never been happier…. More on my rig in the near future.
‘Let The Music Do The Talking,’ live at the House of Blues in Orlando, Fla. on Dec. 2, 2009. NICE tone.
> The above quotes were taken from the 2003 book “Gear Secrets of the Guitar Legends,” which I do not recommend.
Category: Joe Perry