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Old February 17th, 2013, 12:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How do you choose which guitar to play when you're recording tracks?

I've recorded 11 new songs for an album I'm working on. I recorded the drums, bass, rhythm guitar and vocals live with a couple of friends who're very fine local musos and I think it's starting to come together quite nicely.

I've now started adding the overdubs for additional guitar parts and I'm finding it difficult to decide on what guitar to use for some parts. Sometimes I think a strat will sound right but end up using my LP. Fortunately the Boss 1600CD that I'm using has 16 V tracks so I can do several takes before reaching a final decision.

But it got me thinking - how do others decide what guitar to use for certain parts?

I've read about the pro's who spend days trying different amp/guitar combinations. That's all fine and dandy when you're a full time muso but when time is limited to evenings and weekends it makes it more important to use your time wisely.

So what do others do??

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Old February 17th, 2013, 01:10 AM   #2 (permalink)
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When I only had one acoustic and one electric it was an easy decision. Haven't done much recording since those days.

Maybe think ahead to what guitar you believe you would play the song live with.
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Old February 17th, 2013, 03:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Many times I don't know until after I hear it played back.

It just takes time.
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Old February 17th, 2013, 05:02 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Choices

I use 3 Squier Teles and a Washburn HB 35 semi , In an ideal world , I too would have the time to compare different takes on different guitars . Back in the real world , I just go to my Classic vibe 50s , a one stop shop for tone , to break a track out if needed I grab the 335 , if you have not tried a semi , do it , they work for everything , Brit rock was built on semis after all . Click image for larger version

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Old February 17th, 2013, 10:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Not a tough choice for me: Hmmm, the old Guild acoustic, or my homemade Tele? Takes a lot of angst out of the decision usually pretty clear-cut!
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Old February 17th, 2013, 11:03 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I think it all depends on mood. Lately it's the PRS custom 22 for just trying stuff out. When I get serious I go for my Strat style , then sometimes the Tele needs a chance.
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Old February 17th, 2013, 11:25 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I generally know in advance what sound I'm after for a particular part, and use the guitar and amp combination that I know will get me there. Sometimes though, when I'm not so sure, I'll track a few different guitars playing the same part and then select the one that I like the best.

No rules, really, except that I try to not let myself overcomplicate things. I'm not cutting Rumours or Dark Side Of The Moon, I'm doing this for personal enjoyment, and usually "close enough" is good enough.
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Old February 17th, 2013, 08:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Frodebro View Post
I generally know in advance what sound I'm after for a particular part, and use the guitar and amp combination that I know will get me there. Sometimes though, when I'm not so sure, I'll track a few different guitars playing the same part and then select the one that I like the best.

No rules, really, except that I try to not let myself overcomplicate things. I'm not cutting Rumours or Dark Side Of The Moon, I'm doing this for personal enjoyment, and usually "close enough" is good enough.

That's my sort of thinking on this as well but the 'problem' is that once you've got a variety of guitars to choose from (yes, I am lucky!) it becomes more of a decision. Some times it's obvious that it has to be a tele or an acoustic but on other tracks a strat or 335 or LP might all sound perfectly good - just different to one another. I guess that's where the 'art is never finished' bit comes into it. I'll just make a decision to use one guitar and live with the outcome.

I'm not recording 'Rumours' either but I would like to think that the album might actually be heard by more than just immediate family!
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Old February 17th, 2013, 08:29 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have a Gibson Les Paul Special, a Squier Tele and an Agile Hawker (kind of a PRS copy). I have a Strat as well, but that doesn't see the loght of day very often.

If the part doesn't sound right with one of them, I try a different one.



The LP is my #1 though because
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Old February 17th, 2013, 08:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Isn't it just instinct?

Like when you play baseball and the ball is hit to you, you don't think, you just move to catch the ball. Same with which guitar to use, it is just instinct, you just know.

If you have a bouncy poppy song about summertime, do you really have to think about using a Rickenbacker 12 string or an ESP Kirk Hammet signature model?
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Old February 17th, 2013, 11:10 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I go by what I hear in my head, and try to match the guitar/amp combo to that sound. Fortunately, I have a decent sonic palette to choose from (telly-strat-335 covers a LOT of ground!) I often wind up using my telly, though most of the time. Sometimes I think, "Well I'm trying to cop this particular guitarists feel" so I'll choose according to what that guitarist normally uses (early Clapton is Lester>Marshall, so for me that means 335 into a Marshally setup). It's far from perfect, but it does get me there quicker than if I just fumbled around...

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Old February 17th, 2013, 11:37 PM   #12 (permalink)
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If I want several parts to overdub, rhythm or lead(s), I'll make sure that both humbuckers and single coils are used.

If I want a tight heavy rhythm section, then the same guitar is used twice (one for left, one for right), if I want a lighter one then two different guitars are used.

It's also about "arrangement". Try not to have all teh guitars playing all the same stuff all the time. Use one for the intro, and switch to another for the rest of the rhythm track. Use the first one for the solo over the rhythm track. Use higher voicings of the chords or a capo.

Just please don't have it all going full-tilt all the time, unless it's Death Metal or something.
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Old February 17th, 2013, 11:54 PM   #13 (permalink)
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My very, VERY general line of thinking/choosing ...

Overdriven rhythm (whatever style) - Gibson to start, 335 or LP (SG).
Arpeggiated chords - Fender, T os S style (these days I force my Jazzmaster on everyone's session ).
Lead lines/fills behind the vox - the OPPOSITE of whatever the most prominent rhythm part is.
Wah-Wah rhythm - 'I' prefer the bridge pkup of Gibson - very '70s.
Weird part that's just not coming together - freaky guitar, crappy guitar, your girlfriends righty guitar strung lefty, Dobro, lap/slide, mandolin, banjo, saz ...

Acoustic parts:
Modern country/Nashville style - Taylor or Martin dreadnaught and if possible double with a (nashville tuned) high strung. *I like acoustic 'lead' on a Martin style guit.
Rock/alt - Gibson steel string (they're a little 'less' pretty - dryer in tone).

Amps (or models) to start with ...
Arpeggiated parts - Fender
Heavier rhythm - anything else (if you want to use a F style amp for the cleaner stuff).

Pedals - bring them all/try them all. (Or, bring none of them - ?)

D.I. - record a dry to the board signal always if it's an option.

*This is all SUPER GENERAL. A starting point.
Don't be afraid to go in a completely opposite and non-intuitive direction.
If something's not working - don't force it - change guitars (or amps ... or pedals).

There are no rules - only suggestions.

And speaking of suggestions ... http://www.joshharrison.net/oblique-strategies/ (click on the top color bar).

Last edited by klasaine; February 18th, 2013 at 01:33 AM.
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Old February 18th, 2013, 01:26 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by klasaine View Post
My very, VERY general line of thinking/choosing ...

Overdriven rhythm (whatever style) - Gibson to start, 335 or LP (SG).
Arpeggiated chords - Fender, T os S style (these days I force my Jazzmaster on everyone's session ).
Lead lines/fills behind the vox - the OPPOSITE of whatever the most prominent rhythm part is.
Wah-Wah rhythm - 'I' prefer the bridge pkup of Gibson - very '70s.
Weird part that's just not coming together - freaky guitar, crappy guitar, your girlfriends righty guitar strung lefty, Dobro, lap/slide, mandolin, banjo, saz ...

Acoustic parts:
Modern country/Nashville style - Taylor or Martin dreadnaught and if possible double with a (nashville tuned) high strung.
Rock/alt - Gibson steel string (their a little 'less' pretty - dryer in tone).
.
This is so close to what we did I just copied it. We really thought thru what to use and why. There were a few experiments, mostly by the pedal steel guys. Most everything worked sonically. When it didn't we scooped the eq's a bit so things would fit.


Gory details:
We used the Tele's bridge pickup most of the time. Then the bridge and humbucker neck for one song. (We borrowed a Strat for one song to get a single coil neck pup.)

There's also a 335 always in the neck position scattered thru the album. It's easy to pick out and really compliments the Tele.

Christina has an old Silvertone 1454 she pushed thru a little Pathfinder. It really adds an extra dimension. (I used for a lead here).

The acoustic parts are Christina's J200 strung with light strings on just about everything. The acoustic lead is my D18. It has medium strings. Several songs have one of the guitars with Nashville tuning buried in the mix.
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Old February 18th, 2013, 01:35 AM   #15 (permalink)
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There's also a 335 always in the neck position scattered thru the album. It's easy to pick out and really compliments the Tele.
You can make any record in any style with just a Tele and a 335 - full stop!
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Old February 21st, 2013, 05:30 AM   #16 (permalink)
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You can make any record in any style with just a Tele and a 335 - full stop!
Sticky this!

When my son, now a phenomenal guitarist, was just learning, I would ask him what kind of guitar/s was being played on a song. I wanted him to learn the sound of a humbucker (solid/semi-solid/hollow) and single coil (Strat/Tele) and a P-90. I think it made him a better guitarist, as he has a feel for what sounds good on a certain track.

Having said that, I do believe one could do 90% of all session work for electric guitar with a Tele and a 335 (or even a Les Paul). The other 10% might be with a Gretsch, which has it's own unique sound, expecially for Brittish invasion sounds.
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Old February 21st, 2013, 06:51 AM   #17 (permalink)
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you should really know the answer to this before you track !

Not meaning to be funny..part of the recording process is preparation, knowing what it is you are going to do and being rehearsed ....arrangements....you may very well use two different guitars but you should know it before you hit the red button...

Here's why...

You may play your best take..best performance , on the wrong guitar...and decide you don't like the tonality...decide on the tonality FIRST then record the part.

But then , that is typical protocol...Today, recording at home, if you have gobs of time and don't mind tracking the same guitar parts with several guitars..go for it

there are really no rules anymore !

If you were paying studio rates / hour..more than likely you would know exactly what guitar to use...well at least by the 3rd or 4th hour you would !


Personally I use my Telecaster for everything I record at home....( if it's an electric track )
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Old February 21st, 2013, 01:40 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I've read about the pro's who spend days trying different amp/guitar combinations. That's all fine and dandy when you're a full time muso but when time is limited to evenings and weekends it makes it more important to use your time wisely.
Well, for me that's part of the fun, and since I do it for fun it works out. I start with the one I think will work, and keep trying until I have a recorded sound I like. It's not really a waste of time either, since at the same time I'm trying out different guitars, I'm also working out what I'm going to play, whether that's my plan or not. It's my time, and unlike with pros, no one is paying for the studio time and I don't have to be efficient from that point of view.

Then if I go back and listen to the different ones a day later, assuming I saved the tracks, they all sound about the same! A little different, but not that much.
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Old February 22nd, 2013, 08:31 PM   #19 (permalink)
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you should really know the answer to this before you track !

Not meaning to be funny..part of the recording process is preparation, knowing what it is you are going to do and being rehearsed ....arrangements....you may very well use two different guitars but you should know it before you hit the red button...

Here's why...

You may play your best take..best performance , on the wrong guitar...and decide you don't like the tonality...decide on the tonality FIRST then record the part.

But then , that is typical protocol...Today, recording at home, if you have gobs of time and don't mind tracking the same guitar parts with several guitars..go for it

there are really no rules anymore !

If you were paying studio rates / hour..more than likely you would know exactly what guitar to use...well at least by the 3rd or 4th hour you would !

Personally I use my Telecaster for everything I record at home....( if it's an electric track )
Unfortunately a lot times what you prepared for/with doesn't actually work with the track in and under the microscope of the recording environment. Don't spend 3 hrs forcing something that's not working. This goes for the actual part too. If it ain't working after 3 or 4 takes? - change up.

Sent from my Nexus 7

Last edited by klasaine; February 23rd, 2013 at 05:47 PM.
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Old February 23rd, 2013, 04:57 PM   #20 (permalink)
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For me ... I record straight into my iMac via an Apogee Duet interface, and process the dry signal with Amplitube. I say this as a preface, because doing it this way really reduces (to my ears) the amount of difference between which guitar I use.

Having said that, I usually wind up recording with my Gibson LP Special with the P-90 pickups, and it seems to let me have a wider range of (good-sounding) sonic adjustments than using my Tele does. If I'm playing live through an amp, it's just the opposite though. Go figure ...

... if that makes any sense. I need some coffee. Carry on!

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