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  1. #1
    Good Enough
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    the one Ed plays guitar on
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    12.14.17 @ 03:08 PM
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    Default What subtle changes in your setup have resulted in HUGE benefits?

    An example of what I'm talking about:


    Showing up for band practice on Sunday, it was quickly realized that no one had thought to bump up the thermostat the week before to hedge against the current cold snap we're in...we walked into a 52-degree practice space. None of the equipment was affected, but it was still damn cold. So, I kept my rather bulky hoodie on while we fired everything up and got started.

    Because of the bulky hoodie, the guitar just didn't feel right. So, after fighting the guitar and the extra layers I was wearing for a half-hour, I loosened up the strap maybe an inch and a half or two inches...

    ...and BOOM! A COMPLETELY different "feel" to playing my guitar.

    For my right hand, it was like I had suddenly discovered what "economical picking" really was, and it also felt like my picking accuracy had improved.

    Fret hand side, it felt like my hand just found "the slot" to fret easier and move my hand up and down the neck a lot faster. NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS would I have thought a simple change like that would open up my playing ability as much as it did, as quickly as it did.

    Has anybody else out there just "stumbled on" something as insignificant as this just to realize a seemingly drastic improvement in their playing?







    ...a little more backstory (in case you'd care to know and want to keep reading):

    I picked up the guitar 25 years ago during my Freshman year in college. When I bought my first guitar, I just picked out a standard leather strap off the rack to go with it, adjusted it to where I thought it "fit" (the longest length possible), and just went with that. For the longest time, I only had that one guitar with that one-length strap. Once I was able to expand my guitar collection, I just set whatever new strap I got to the same length of my original...THAT was the guitar "feel" I was used to.

    I had never really thought of myself as a "serious" guitar player until about 8 years ago when I was talked into joining a band, so in reality, two-thirds of my 25 years playing was plinking around making noise in my bedroom/basement.

    Of course, being a EVH fan, I had always equated that "fighting the guitar" feeling I've always felt to just "doing something right" because I had read somewhere that Ed had always felt like he was "fighting the guitar".

    And, naturally, I would just chalk up the fatigue and soreness that I would experience in my fingers and wrists to "playing hard"...not anything like simply playing ergonomically incorrect.

    We practiced for 5 hours on Sunday...with NO stiffness, soreness, or fatigue afterward. Matter of fact, I went home that night and played for another 2.5 hours simply because everything just felt right.

  2. #2
    Sinner's Swing! evhintexas's Avatar
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    Push comes to shove
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    12.09.17 @ 03:43 PM
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    Premium Member

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    Default

    Awesome man
    I've been playing about 34 years. The strap issue was a major deal for me many many years ago. The first time I leaned a combo amp back was a game changer and I still do it to this day. Well I use 4x12s now. But my combos are leaning back still just unplayed.
    I have always wondered about other guitar players fingertips. So, Thursday night I hung out with Jake E Lee after a show and asked him to show me his fingertips. He thought I was crazy I think but he did it. His fingertips are hard as a rock but soft in a strange way. In a subtle way I am a better person from just talking with the man about guitars and stuff until 3 o'clock in the morning.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.

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  4. #3
    Sinner's Swing!
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    11.25.17 @ 09:06 AM
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    Default

    Interesting topic!
    Hmmm..Well, the strap thing for sure. I actually wear my guitar a little higher these days, and it really makes a difference in comfort. Of course when I was young, you were pretty much expected to wear your guitar as low as possible. I watched US Festival on VHS many years ago, and when I saw Ed wear his guitar higher, I thought "he doesn't care...why should I?" Lol!

    I'd say the most important thing that really is a small adjustment, but is critical to your playing is having the right attitude. I kinda have a more "fuck it and just play the shit out of it" mentality now.
    For a long time I started letting my state of mind dictate my playing. It was crippling. If I was happy, and had a clear head I could play great, or at least I was satisfied. If I had something on my mind, or was burdened in general, I'd fuck up, play sloppily. Didn't want to play with people for fear of bombing.
    It was terrible, but now for an hour or two before playing, I just do my best to clear my head, "think positively" and it really does help.
    It's weird and I don't know if others have gone through it, but it's such a small thing to change, but it's like night and day.
    I still don't have the ability to turn on at the flip of a switch like some players can still ,but I'm much better now if I just consiously put things in perspective.
    Basic lesson here is don't let your emotions get the best of you.

  5. #4
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    12.17.17 @ 07:24 AM
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    Default

    For me, the two things I discovered that changed everything for me revolved around my amp.

    #1- I use no more than a 30 Watt 1x12 Combo amp, tilted back facing me like a monitor. I used to use a 4x12, but realized that the sound I was hearing on stage was not representative of what was being pumped out to the house through the mains. I attributed this to the fact that I was hearing 4 speakers from behind me, and the house was only hearing sound from one of the speakers through the mic. I got a 1x12 combo, pointed it at me from the front like a monitor, and adjusted it so it sounded good to me. When I mic'd the speaker, the sound coming from the mains was what I was hearing on stage.

    #2- I don't try to get all of the gain from my amp anymore. I use primarily what would be considered medium gain amps, and boost the input with an overdrive pedal. I've gone through Boss Super Overdrives, Tube Screamers, and even built a couple. I've settled on the BSIAB II. It has given me exactly the type of tone that I've been looking for. I've found that the gain created by this kind of set up is very full, toneful, and transparent while still retaining the thickness I like. If I were playing a 5150 combo, I wouldn't turn the lead gain up past 2 or 3, and I would drive the rest with an overdrive pedal. I'm currently running a PRS SE30 with the BSIAB II, and it sounds very Fair Warning-ish. It's definitely a classic rock tone, but that's what I'm into.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

  6. #5
    Eruption garbeaj's Avatar
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    12.17.17 @ 07:41 AM
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    Default

    There are always very small victories in understanding that have greatly improved my playing.

    But here are two very important things that most guitar players ignore:

    1. Learn how to tune your instrument and learn how to keep it in tune. This includes having your guitar regularly serviced by a professional guitar technician. There is an art to keeping guitars in tune and intonated properly. There is an art to the way that guitars are tuned. Understanding how to tune your guitar to the tunings that were used on recordings that you study will greatly increase your knowledge of the art of tuning.

    2. Learn how to work hard at learning how to play the guitar. This is THE most important thing in getting your own playing act together which you can then share with other musicians and audiences...whether you are making a YouTube clip or performing at a sold out arena. Most guitar players suffer more from a lack of effort than any deficiency in tone or gear.

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  8. #6
    Baluchitherium Mikey Metalhead's Avatar
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    06.12.15 @ 12:43 PM
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    Donor

    Default What subtle changes in your setup have resulted in HUGE benefits?

    V-picks and guitar pro

    For sound my ENGL pre amp
    Last edited by Mikey Metalhead; 11.20.14 at 12:48 PM.
    I SURVIVED TEXAS LINKERS WEEKEND I, II, III, IV and VI and VII.barely made it to VIII time to slow down
    I musta had a broken middle finger for V
    http://www.youtube.com/user/daneph

  9. #7
    Little Dreamer
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    05.14.16 @ 08:39 PM
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    Default

    - XOtic EP Booster hitting the front end of whatever amp I plug into...solid state or tube...doesn't matter. Brings my sound to life. And I especially agree to using smaller wattage amps. No more than 30 watts and you can let today's killer PA systems do the work.

    - One day, I accidentally grabbed the wrong bar to thread into my real Schaller Floyd. Instead, I put the Gotoh in which had a bigger break angle than the Schaller and found I had more control of the bridge. Instead of just dive-bombs, my vibrato was much more controlled.

    - D'Addario NYXL strings. WOW...just try them once and you'll see what I mean. Just wow...

    - Everything matters and makes a difference if you care about what you sound like

  10. #8
    Baluchitherium noise next door's Avatar
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    12.17.17 @ 07:31 AM
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    Default

    What my teacher told me in 1981... and it still hasn't changed:

    1. memorize the fretboard

    2. don't worry about high-end equipment that much... you either are in total control of creating music with your fingers or you're not... and you can learn to do that with $300 in equipment

    3. stop learning cover songs ASAP... believe in your ability to find and build your own music

    4. spend 95% of your time building rhythm knowledge... not soloing... its a waste... nobody really gives a fuck whether you can solo or not... they want good songs

  11. #9
    On Fire Stealth5150's Avatar
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    11.10.17 @ 05:45 AM
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    Default

    Well, I'm not sure this counts in terms of 'setup,' but a few years back I injured my shoulder causing me to have to sit down and play. I couldn't bear the weight of my guitar on my shoulder while standing. This mentally caused me to focus on skill vs. jamming. I've always associated (and preferred) standing while playing in the interest or 'rocking out.' Sitting down caused me to take a step backwards and really focus on my playing; to clean up what was sloppy. Perhaps it wasn't sitting down while playing, but without a doubt it was the 'stepping backwards' and slowing down... just trying to 'clean up' and practice instead of rocking out songs. It really made a world of difference. My shoulder is healed now, but I still make a point to often sit down, step back, and review what I 'think' I play well.

    On another note, I have a MXR 10 band EQ pedal. I recently bumped up the 2K slider from just around -6 to almost +6db. In my ears it made a world of difference!

    EDIT: and WOW do you guys offer some GREAT advice and suggestions that have already replied!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. #10
    Good Enough
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    12.16.17 @ 10:40 PM
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by garbeaj View Post
    There are always very small victories in understanding that have greatly improved my playing.

    But here are two very important things that most guitar players ignore:

    1. Learn how to tune your instrument and learn how to keep it in tune. This includes having your guitar regularly serviced by a professional guitar technician. There is an art to keeping guitars in tune and intonated properly. There is an art to the way that guitars are tuned. Understanding how to tune your guitar to the tunings that were used on recordings that you study will greatly increase your knowledge of the art of tuning.
    Or...

    blah blah blah Devin Townsend blah blah blah

    https://www.facebook.com/devintownsendexperience

  13. #11
    Good Enough
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    12.16.17 @ 10:40 PM
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    Default

    I have always played in standard tuning. I'd tune down at times, and do the drop-D thing sometimes, but always following the standard tuning structure.

    I put the guitar down and barely played a note for 15 years. When I picked it up again, I got bored with it really quickly. Nothing felt "right" anymore. Even the way I positioned my hands or held a pick felt off. Just uncomfortable all the way around. After 15 years, I had to make a lot of adjustments just to be comfortable. But even after I found a new way to position myself, the experience was just "blah."

    So, I decided to try open tuning. Now, I've always considered open tuning to be "cheating," unless it was for slide playing. I've been a fan of Devin Townsend's for years, but always thought a little less of him because he plays in open C. lol

    So I tuned my guitar to C-G-C-G-C-E, and holy shit...

    It was like a floodgate for my creativity and drive. All it really took was the turning of some tuning pegs and my whole guitar world has changed forever. Crazy how the littlest things can make all the difference.
    blah blah blah Devin Townsend blah blah blah

    https://www.facebook.com/devintownsendexperience

  14. #12
    Eruption garbeaj's Avatar
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    12.17.17 @ 07:41 AM
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Wildman View Post
    Or...

    Interesting bridge...still, the art of tuning still remains. If you really want to study Van Halen and many other great guitarists you need to learn how to tune your guitar to the instruments used on the recordings that you study. If you've seen any of my posts about Sweetened tunings and the various Van Halen tunings I've posted then you'll know there is a whole world beyond simply staying in tune...there is the whole world of tuning offsets and learning how to actually play along in tune with the recordings that you learn from.

  15. #13
    Top Of The World WDFA5150's Avatar
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    10.29.15 @ 04:06 PM
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    Default

    I added a BBE sonic max (442 I think) to the effects loop of the 6505- MAJOR improvement!
    You simply cant run the thing at 6 on volume- totally impractical and the BBE seems to compensate for that. Someone else on the board suggested that that's probably what gives the tone the cranked to 6 feel-
    When you get into understanding how the BBE's work- it does make sense that the sound becomes fuller.
    I used to be 'sean112' but lost all my details!

 

 

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