Here's What's Cool for Guitar-based Bands and Artists in 2007!
By Sebastian Robertson
Music styles, production and the industry itself can be compared to the tides of the ocean. They are ever-shifting entities that never seem to be content in one place for too long. However all things tend return to where they began, and in music you can also witness cycles.
One thing you can hear in some of today's bands like Wolfmother and My Chemical Romance, is the return of the Classic Rock sound. Bands like Queen, Black Sabbath, and AC/DC seem to be shaping the next breed of rock bands. The modern sound of power pop seems to be getting phased out. Super slick production seems to be out of favor today while a grittier, more honest and revealing sound is coming back to the surface.
As far as I'm concerned, Classic Rock is on the rise again. The booming sounds of John Bonham, the warm grit of Tony Iommi, and the vocal range of Freddy Mercury are all back in the plus column. All from a time when musicians were revered and loved not only their style, but for their skill. Thank you Rock gods for the return of what is and what will always be the greatest sound... Classic!
Let's take a closer look at the guitar tones of Wolfmother. The Sabbath influence is present, but more importantly, how do you achieve such a warm and delicious tone?
For starters, what kind of guitar do you use? Generally, Fender guitars (Telecaster and Stratocaster) are brighter guitars, reference Hendrix or Clapton for Strat guys, and Roy Buchanan or Albert Collins "The Master Of The Telecaster" to get a good idea of the tone of the Tele.
If you're in for the warm fuzz, you're going to want to lean in the Gibson direction. Tony Iommi and Angus Young immortalized the Gibson SG. It doesn't get much thicker than "Iron Man" or "Hells Bells." Now, if you want a little more flexibility, the Les Paul is a true "workhorse." While in the rhythm pickup you can achieve a thickness similar to the solo in Zeppelin's "Fool In the Rain," yet switch down to the treble pickup and the bright wail of the "Whole Lotta Love" solo is at your fingertips. Depending on your budget, you can find versions of these guitars that are much less expensive than the originals. Check out Epiphone, or ask your local guitar dealer. Be sure to sample all guitars and at the end of the day, trust your ears!
So, you've picked a guitar that fits your needs in bringing that sweet classic tone to your work. In conjunction with the right amp, you can really take your sound to the next level. TUBES! Got to have the tube amp. Don't get me wrong, there are some nice solid state numbers out there, but comparing the two is like apples and oranges. The breath of a vacuum tube, that distortion that happens when the tube is overloaded, music to my ears. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible to emulate the warmth of a tube amp with solid state. Orange, Marshall, Mesa Boogie, the list goes on and on.
There are so many great amps out there, you really need to sit down and A/B them to find what pleases your ear. The Orange Retro 50 is what I'm really loving right now. It's expensive, but what a sound!
All in all, your rig is like your thumbprint, it's your signature, it's your sound. Take the time, do the research and if it means saving up a little longer it could be well worth it in the end.
And spend some time listening to the modern classics to reference their tone, their arrangements, and the overall production values. The marketplace is getting more competitive every year, and if your music sounds like it was conceived and recorded in days gone by, you might very well be doing a disservice to your very best songs.