How do I cut through 5 guitars?

January 31st, 2011, 11:55 AM
For reasons that I will not explain, I'm playing a short set with 5 other guitarists in a few weeks. Yes, 5 guitarists all playing the same chords. I have two solos, and am wondering how to cut through the mix.

I'm playing a Tele into a Blues Jr. and running a Fulltone FD2 as my main overdrive, and as you can imagine, the boost function on that pedal probably won't cut it. So my current plan is to run my Fultone OCD after the FD2, and hit that when it comes to the solo. I'll run my OCD a both a higher volume and set with a higher treble/mid.

Think that'll work? Both pedals turned on at the same time can be pretty gain-y, but I don't know how else to "break on through to the other side".

fezz parka
January 31st, 2011, 12:00 PM
Take a Tele.:grin:

Mike Simpson
January 31st, 2011, 12:04 PM
Tele bridge pickup + BBE Boosta grande... clean cuts through.

January 31st, 2011, 12:05 PM
Put tablature-less sheet music in front of the other guitar players.

OK, seriously though, one solution might be to connect a volume pedal after the FD2. Set your amp louder than normal, and use the volume pedal to get a good level when you're playing with the other five 6-string slingers. When it comes time for you to solo, rock forward on the volume pedal to get the same tone only louder. Just remember to rock it back when you're done.

If you don't have a volume pedal, you should be reasonably OK with the OCD at minimum gain and maximum level, or at least a level setting that makes you louder than the other five guys. The only danger here is that the OCD at minimum gain might add some of its own character to the solo tone. Your ears may not like what they're hearing.

Or they might. Your mileage might vary.

January 31st, 2011, 12:07 PM
Take a Tele.:grin:

...and use the bridge pickup on solos!

As far as the pedals you mentioned, those are both very good choices but you DON'T have to run the drive knobs very high when stacking them. If you're stacking the OCD after the fulltone, cut the drive on the OCD back to taste. The inherent EQ of the OCD will help you cut through the mix very well IMHO, and it will give you a bit of a volume boost if you dial it in right. You don't need tons of gain to be heard...quite the contrary...the more gain you have the more chance there is of getting "squashed" in the mix because it will overly compress your signal and you'll lose some attack, which I feel is needed when soloing for note separation and articulation.


Mike Bruce
January 31st, 2011, 12:22 PM
Assuming the others will be chording in the lower octaves while you're soloing, get up above them in the mix, ie an octave higher. Also, suggest that they apply some dynamics, ie more quietly while you solo. Also, someone(s) could create/double the bass line to reduce the midrange din.

Peace, Mike.

January 31st, 2011, 12:24 PM
Tone cuts through, if you have a valve amp try using a Treble Booster instead of a distortion pedal, crank the amp up and use the volume pot to clean or distort the guitar sound. Distortion pedals make the drive fizzy and generic.

January 31st, 2011, 12:30 PM
I'd go with carbide, those pickup magnets and trussrods are apt to pretty quickly dull high speed steel saw teeth.

January 31st, 2011, 12:31 PM
This is all just my opinion based on my own experience playing onstage... Boosting the treble will not help you be heard above the other instruments. To cut through, use as little distortion as you feel you can get away with... the cleaner the sound, the better. And use as much midrange as possible. Low and highs will just get lost in the mix. What sounds best at home, at rehearsal, or on a recording is not necessarily what works best onstage.

Tim Armstrong
January 31st, 2011, 12:33 PM
Just remember that you don't want a lot of distortion, the cleaner the tone, the less mud, the more cut (obviously CLEAN clean might be too clean, unless you're playing surf tunes!).


January 31st, 2011, 12:34 PM
BBE sonic maximizer helps, also, but most importantly listen to where others are at and be some where else. I play in a 3 guitar band, i spend most of time in either the middle or Neck position. and play something different as far as chord voices.

Another tip is take a baritone if you have one...

January 31st, 2011, 12:37 PM
occupy the frequencies they aren't. So, if they're like a lot of guitar players I know, go for the midrange.

January 31st, 2011, 12:47 PM
When you do the sound check, set your guitar on "5".
You should be playing rhythm w/ these guys at equal volume. Then for the solo, turn up to "10"(4th gear) & hit a pedal if necessary.
Hopefully everyone else will not be turning up too & creating a never-ending attempt to be heard!
Different chord voicing helps too - Try to avoid 1st position bar chords.

January 31st, 2011, 12:51 PM
Do what guitar players have done for years...just keep turning your amp up until YOU ARE HEARD.

Seriously though, I agree with Tim. Sometimes clean tones stand out from the crowd.

January 31st, 2011, 12:54 PM
Unless they're all clean, I'm in the 'less gain' camp.
If you know what guitars and amps they're all using and you have the option(?) pick something very different. Like if they're all strats and LP's bring your tele or a Teisco, etc. If they're all teles - an LP. As Jazztele said - occupy a different freg range.

Colt W. Knight
January 31st, 2011, 12:57 PM
Twin Reverb

Ed Boyd
January 31st, 2011, 12:57 PM
What you do is take a Tele with well potted pickups and play through one of these amps.


January 31st, 2011, 01:20 PM
The Treble booster doesn't have to make your sound too treble, on a class A valve amp especially like a Vox AC30 is gives you natural smooth gain. = Rory Gallaghar, Brian May, Richie Blackmore etc....

January 31st, 2011, 02:00 PM
if you need a volume boost try running the FD2 on CompCut so that the boost actually does boost volume...just a thought.

what song/s are you doing?

Papa Joe
January 31st, 2011, 02:12 PM
I had a similar situation once but it was only three other guitars and the volume was kept down for a small club..still pretty dang loud. I was playing a Tele..I used a treble booster and could be heard even though my volume was lower than the others..Suck tone but at least I was heard..

January 31st, 2011, 02:28 PM
Have them all plug into one power strip and "accidentally" turn it off come solo time... ;)

Electro HArmonix's Linear Power Booster is a nice boost pedal.

January 31st, 2011, 02:30 PM

January 31st, 2011, 02:33 PM
I play at a local blues jam every week and often there's 3-4 guitars and either a sax or a harmonica player up there at once. I've never had an issue being heard. All 3-4 amps are quatity 18 watters and are are dimed. No pedals. Everyone just turns the guitar volume down for rhythm and cranks it for their solos. If that don't work, tele+bridge pickup+hard pick attack will get you heard. The only problem would be if the other amps overpowered the one you plug into. Or if the other guys just don't understand picking dynamics at all.

January 31st, 2011, 02:36 PM

January 31st, 2011, 03:10 PM
All 3-4 amps are quatity 18 watters and are are dimed.

Is it a good jam?



January 31st, 2011, 03:37 PM


January 31st, 2011, 04:18 PM
Thanks for the suggestions. A couple of comments:

1. Playing a Tele into a Blues Jr., using the bridge pickup.

2. For the rhythm section, I'm using my FD2 only, with the guitar volume rolled back to about 7, and then I turn it up to 10 for the solo.

3. For solo time, instead of hitting the OCD with high gain, I'm going to take your advice and roll the gain back a bit on the OCD, but turn the volume up. I think the clean(er) tone should hopefully push through.

4. The biggest problem is that all 5 guitarists are trying to overpower each other, so I'm not sure I'm going to get them to back off for solo time. Nobody else is playing a Tele, so I guess I've got that going for me (they're playing LP's, and semi-hollow body Gibson's & Epi's).

5. If I could, I would use a more standard clean boost (Micro Amp, LPB-1). But, mine is currently being hand-made by the fine folks at JHS Pedals and hasn't yet shipped. I'm hopefully going to have it before gig time.

I have a few weeks of rehearsal to try this out, so...

January 31st, 2011, 04:50 PM
What everyone said AND....

Position your amp so it is directed straight at the ears of the people you want to hear you. Make sure there is no obstruction (including you) between the audience and the amp. When in doubt, a little higher is better than lower.

January 31st, 2011, 08:02 PM
Half-cocked wah! Choose the most unoccupied frequency with your foot.

It pains me to hear that there will be so many guitarists playing at once. In my experience, three is always too many, two is frequently too many, and one is just about right most of the time. :)

January 31st, 2011, 08:11 PM
I'd like to hear the story of how there got to be 6 guitars in this short set!

January 31st, 2011, 08:30 PM
I'm not sure what he means but, Carlos Santana says when he is playing with several others guitarists, he zigs when they zag and he plays down if they are playing up.

January 31st, 2011, 08:38 PM
Get an EQ and boost the mids liberally and the gain as needed. I don't think the OCD will help much to cut through if you're using it for OD. Stick with the FD2, but use the vintage mode, not flat mids.

Just read your other post - those semi hollows could provide some tough competition. Boosting the mids alone is probably not going to be enough - you're probably going to need even more volume on top of EQing/boosting. Looks like earplugs might be the best investment for this gig. :lol:

Tim Armstrong
January 31st, 2011, 09:21 PM
Have you considered talking to the other guys about maybe backing off a touch during your solos?


Colt W. Knight
January 31st, 2011, 10:31 PM
You could do it like a bluegrass show, and just use one mic. Everybody takes turns. hehe

January 31st, 2011, 11:11 PM
Have you considered talking to the other guys about maybe backing off a touch during your solos?


January 31st, 2011, 11:28 PM
I am with the camp that recommends less distortion or gain to help cut through the mix. Five guitars though!! Good luck brother! Can't beat a Tele bridge to take to battle but it would be nice if your fellows would back down a beat. This sounds like a case of tinnitus on the way, be careful.

Tim Armstrong
January 31st, 2011, 11:37 PM



January 31st, 2011, 11:40 PM
just play better than the rest of them.

Ragtime Dan
January 31st, 2011, 11:43 PM
Use a slide and go an octave above them, like Greg Allman.

February 1st, 2011, 12:48 AM
gas axe!

February 1st, 2011, 12:49 AM
Get the other five guitars shipped to the gig via UPS?

February 1st, 2011, 04:43 PM
Besides all the other advice given, respect other players and hold yourself back while others are ripping it. Skill that comes to good use in every band situation.

February 1st, 2011, 04:46 PM
Besides all the other advice given, respect other players and hold yourself back while others are ripping it. Skill that comes to good use in every band situation.

Respect is earned. :wink:

February 2nd, 2011, 01:50 PM

Who let the crazy guy in here? This is a guitar forum. :mrgreen:

February 2nd, 2011, 01:51 PM
Get the other five guitars shipped to the gig via UPS?

Give the other guys new gig bags now?

February 7th, 2011, 05:19 PM
I've stumbled upon what I think it the solution, as my JHS Banana Boost arrived in the mail today. It's naturally pretty treble-driven (JHS claims it's versatile and can sound like the LPB-1 at a certain setting). So like every other gigging guitarist, I'm going to use it as a volume & treble boost.

But I do have one question, as I've never used a boost pedal before. In another post, someone mentioned that treble boosters don't work very well unless the amp is slightly overdriven. Is this true? I run a Telecaster into a Blues Jr., and tend to run my amp at a pretty clean setting, and use pedals (Fulltone FD2 and OCD) for dirt. Do I need to re-think this and run the amp a little dirty in order to get the most out of the boost pedal (it will be after the FD2 for the solo)?