Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Guitar Tone: How to Duplicate Your Favorites

When I started out, duplicating the sounds from favorite songs was (and still is) an exciting aspect of the hobby. “Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC, a long time favorite of mine provides a good example of how you can crack the code on the guitar tones you love.

An AC/DC saying I like is that they have one song but man, is it a good one. I recall late nights in college, beer and buddies, standing directly in the path of speakers driven beyond their distortion limit listening to classics such as “Whole Lotta Rosie”, “Highway to Hell”, and “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)”. So, when I finally took up the guitar, learning some AC/DC was a no brainer. I started with acquisition of “Play Guitar With…AC/DC”, a guitar tab book accompanied by a CD.

This guitar resource is valuable because it outlines the gear and effects used by the artists to reproduce each track. A great feature is that it provides backing tracks with and without lead guitar. This way, you know what it should sound like but can then play the lead part with accompaniment. Most importantly, this resource stresses the open power chords used by Angus and Malcolm Young to create their sound. If you use bar chords instead of the open chords, the equipment and effects pieces will not matter. I spent some time learning some new chord shapes as well as the lesson that there is more to this than just gear!

On the gear side, The AC/DC songbook provided the gear list used by the artists that recorded the backing tracks so I did a gap analysis between the list used on “Shook Me..” and what I already had.

Guitar - I had a Gibson Les Paul Special with hot pickups that would provide the humbucker tone.
Overdrive – I had an Ibanez Tube Screamer TS808 reissue pedal to provide the overdrive tone. BTW, if you are going to get one pedal, it should be the Tube Screamer.
Amp – I did not have a Marshall stack but started by substituting my Fender Hot Rod (TM) Deluxe.
Delay/Reverb – I did not have a pedal as outlined in the list so I played with the reverb settings on my amplifier.

In my next article, I will outline how I tweaked each component in this signal path to achieve a satisfying approximation for the lead in the original recording.

>>Related Posts
How to Tweak Your Signal Chain and Nail That Elusive Tone
How to Build a Pedal Board

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