Everything Is An Effect

Everything Is An Effect

If you hang around guitar players or visit guitar discussion groups you will soon run into debates about using guitar effects and tone.

One side of the debate usually argues “tone comes from your fingers” and suggests that “all you need is a good tube amp and a guitar, then use the tone and volume controls.” Sometimes followed by a derogatory comment like “If they have to use a lot of pedals it’s because they can’t really play.”

The other side offers “Add delay with your fingers.” or “I need more than just one tone.” or “[insert famous guitar player name] used effects.” or “Effects are like colors to a painter.” Both sides have valid points, but I really don’t understand the battle. Sure, discussing gear is fun. But the only real reason to care what gear someone else uses is if you want to sound like them, you are seeking their advice, or just natural curiosity. Otherwise use what works for you and get on with making music. 

Gear should be secondary to making music. I have used effects since the 1970s and in my experience guitar effects (amp reverb and tremolo are effects) can make your tone better and inspire you to play differently. How could that be bad? 

Sure some players can become dependent on certain effects and may overuse them - in our opinions. But is that any different than someone who uses only one amp with no effects all the time? That could be considered overusing the same tone also. It is really an artistic choice. 

In fact, I would argue that every electric guitar player uses effects. You may have not considered it, but amp gain is an effect, pickups are effects, tone and volume controls are effects, amp reverb is an effect, capos are an effect, slides are an effect, picks are effects, fingers are effects, pedals are effects, cables are effects, string gauges are effects. They all affect your tone. Anything you put in your signal chain affects your tone so can be considered a guitar effect. Not just pedals. 

It's what you do with effects that matters, not if you use them. You do. At least, that’s what I think. What do you think?


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