Why does it seem like many guitarist are against using effects?

  • I hear and read a lot of comments about a guitarist saying "I just plug straight into an amp", or "I just use an OD in front of my amp". Most of my guitar heroes use effects. Some use a few and some use a whole pedal board full. So, what's the deal with being against effects?

    Larry Mar @ Lonegun Studios. Neither one famous yet.

  • I think it's a macho thing. Some guys like to pride themselves on being unique, and it becomes a kind of symbiotic development where their need to be special feeds their choices to do things in increasingly special ways to fuel the feeling of being special which in turn fuels the choices again.

    Simply put, some guys like to walk outside in the cold with a T-shirt so people will ask them "aren't you cold?" so they can lie and say "no" because they believe it plants an idea in the other person's head that they are somehow above-averagely coated against the elements. As if they have some kind of gene that makes them fitter. The important part to understand is that these people actually get a sensation of well-being from their belief that they are superior to others. They don't second-guess the idea so in a sense it's like a religious belief. They truly believe they are above others and it gives them a feeling of well-being. Saying it out directly to people just serves as a confirmation of their own belief, which strengthens the belief and creates further well-being. It's a self-reinforcing kind of thing. Like when you look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself "you're not so bad", only, they're taking it way further and saying "you're the best there is".

    Likewise, some guitarists need to shit on other people to feel purpose in their own life. So they decide that everyone that doesn't feel the same way they do are inferior and must use effects to hide the mistakes in their playing, unable to fathom that they are coming off as simpletons when they start with that BS.

    They are old people yelling at clouds or young people that came up under old people yelling at clouds and looking up to them.

    Edited 2 times, last by Preacher (November 20, 2021 at 1:43 AM).

  • I think some folks hold the perception of ‘hiding behind’ effects as in ‘if you’re putting a load of effects on, it’s masking the fact that you can’t play very well’.

    Personally, I’m more in love with a great song than virtuoso technique and I’m a fan of interesting sounds. I love the sound of a decent guitar and great amp with nothing else but I also love simple / weird effects. Whatever sound is right for the song really…. That can be pure or sound nothing like a guitar. I think we’re lucky to have so many voices at our disposal with guitars because of both amps and effects that it’s a shame to limit ourselves……. If you think of singers, some songs suit Kate Bush, some songs suit Tom Waits. They’ll hit some of the same notes but choosing the right voice makes or breaks the song depending what you’re aiming for. Why should the guitar have to be limited by ‘do it this way or it’s fake’?

  • LOL. But I see some truth to your comment just not in that extreme way. ;)

    I just really hope there are some guitar into amp purists that fancy thinking highly of themselves that come in here and try to make an actual case for why they have a point (here's a pointer: they don't, there are no rules to making music and measuring penis length shouldn't be mixed with expressing your inner artist lest it it becomes all you are). I just wanted to set the tone for the further discourse. You could say I find opinions like that off-putting to say the least. Here's me giving back a little :)

  • Personally, I’m more in love with a great song than virtuoso technique and I’m a fan of interesting sounds. I love the sound of a decent guitar and great amp with nothing else but I also love simple / weird effects. Whatever sound is right for the song really…. That can be pure or sound nothing like a guitar.

    100%. There is a whole world of creativity behind creating and utilizing effects that is just as complex, and requires just as much know-how and intuition as anything else people can get really goot at, and what bothers me most about dismissing effects is it effectively means dismissing that whole world. Effects algorithms is a dense topic. To reduce it all to some cheap make-up for newbies stuck in a rut is unrealistic and unreasonable. It's the one thing I hold against people like Joe Bonamassa. It's never "hey, effects are cool but they're not my cup of tea", there's always that overarching prejudice against the usage of effects at all, as if it somehow detracts from the creativity of music. It's so wrong. Dry instruments can get boring after a while. There are more interesting sound textures to be had for the yearning ear if one doesn't harbour some weird penis length-related prejudice against those textures..

  • This discussion has already veered of course with the "penis length" argument above. Seriously, what a weird viewpoint.

    Music has become progressively commodified, first through magazines and now with youtube content full of advertisement but the truth is that the need for effect is grossly over-represented. According to the narrative out there, you need to have access to everything under the sun to make music; you see it on every music forum since the beginning of the internet. Then, within this narrative emerges another one where you actually need to disproportionately focus on "stuff" as if your gear pool was the crux of your music-making endeavor. Your guitar heroes don't come out to talk about how much grind they went through; they come out to introduce the new Tone Print ®™ delay preset or some other sponsored trivial crap and this further confuses less experienced players as to where they should focus their mental energy. The "no-effect" crowd comes-in to take an extreme stance against this, and rightfully so because there are a lot of professional situations where little or no effect is needed and cutting the crap and going back to basic would benefit many inexperienced players by instantly revealing what they really need to focus on to get the job done well (assuming the job is playing guitar and not playing effects).

    It makes me remember a gig by Adam Rogers some 15 years ago, all the top cats came in town came to check him out and he totally blew everyone's mind in the venue. He had brought a TS9 and a delay, but didn't even turn them on once. Didn't need to. Then you come on the internet to see a bunch of YouTube channels and people arguing over which company will make a phaser that can best match their tap tempo...

  • I am a guitar into amp kind of guy for nearly 40 years.

    To be perfectly honest the reason I grew up that way is pretty simple. I’m lazy!

    With no pedals I just had to carry a guitar, a cable and a combo plug in and play. Back in those days pedal boards weren’t really a thing (unless you bough all Boss pedals and their little plastic case) so using pedals meant chucking them in a bag with cables, spare batteries etc. When you got to the gig or rehearsal you had to bring them all out find space on stage, set them up plug them in, hoping the batteries and cables still worked. When you weren’t using them you had to remember to unplug the input cable because leaving it in drained the batteries. For me it just wasn’t worth hassle. So, I just got used to guitar into amp and that became the sound I loved.

    Also, most of my heroes in the early days had pretty straight signal paths so that was often the sound I was aiming for.

    As I got older and effects developed, I bout some FX pedals and even a few multi FX rack unit because that was the fashion but I could never get a sound that I really loved. When I turned the FX on it almost always sounded worse. In those days I was as guilt as anyone of using WAY too much Delay and Reverb.

    Jump forward to about 5 years ago, I decided have another try with FX. I bout an RJM Mastermind loop switcher and midi controller, GigRig modular power supply, Digitech Whammy DT,a few OD, Boost and Fuzz pedals, a Dyna Comp, Cali76 compressor, Strymon Mobius, Strymon TimeLine, Carbon Copy and a TC HoF reverb. I built a custom pedal board and soldered up custom cables (which cost a fortune). I messed around for ages trying to make sounds and realised I was losing hours messing around with effects INSTEAD of playing. At the end of it all I still ended up with a basic Clean, Crunch and Lead tone. The only effect I found myself using much was a dual delay (like the AnyTimmons settings). Everything else was just flashing lights which rarely got turned on and the whole board was so heavy I dreaded everytime I had to pick it up.

    Jump forward a few years further and ai decided to get a Kemper. I love it for its light weight, ease of use and killer amp tones. I like the ability to occasionally add a little effect where needed without having to carry and set up a pile of junk for that one section where I want a flanger. The only concession to FX that I use a lot is some delay to fill out leads and a tiny hint of Reverb on everything else to give it a little more “room”. I hate stuff ringing on when I stop playing (I even put foam or felt under the springs in my Trem equipped guitars to kill that spring reverb) so I tend to nt like delay or reverb when practicing along but it is nice to have a little with a band as I can’t so much hear it as feel it as the decay blends into the mix.

    That gets me the sound I like that makes me want to play. I hate most of the FX on profile packs and need to either turn them off or at least significantly reduce the mix on most of them. Some folk love FX some don’t but I don’t think its anything to do with penis size ?

  • For some it must sound like how I used to use effects on full blast with them all on and 100 percent wet vs. now I use more sublte or in good taste with context to the song or band.

    My friend doesn't use modulation at all, he says it gets in the way of the guitar sound and or riff and I get it. It's fun and I like it still but I can understand more now why they say some effects are more musical than others and to which extreme they are used. At some point it's like your playing the effects and using the guitar to do so rather than adding effects to a guitar piece of music.

    But also those people you speak of do seem awfully upset about it. Or just wanna make sure everyone knows how stern they feel about it. Sometimes it can feel kinda ooga booga "me no like effects" and also lots of effects can seem kind of juvenile. I get it ^^

  • This discussion seems to me a bit crazy! Let people use and prefer what they want: on one side there are gutarist who can not live without 100s fx on other side are guitarist who swear on pure amp sound and between those poles are other guitarist who just use what sounds good for the music they are playing ...

  • Depends entirely on the music.

    If you’re in a Rush/U2/Police vein - you can’t *not* use effects.

    If you’re in an AC/DC or early Metallica vein….you can’t really play with effects.

    What I cannot stand are players being indiscriminate in slathering mod/delay/verb onto an already awful indistinct distortion sound and pretending that’s ‘good’.

    A Peavey Bandit from the 80s with a blown speaker sounds better.

  • This discussion has already veered of course with the "penis length" argument above. Seriously, what a weird viewpoint.

    It's a bit of a joke. I'm a big fan of Randy Marsh and Marc Rebillet. Substitute "penis length" with something else and I still think there's somewhat of a point in there somewhere. It's cool to feel like you're not into effects, and not use them. It's even cool to say it. But the devil is in the details, and a lot of the time those things are being said with some animosity towards people that use effects. Often, it's said in response to someone talking about or using effects. Now I don't really have a viewpoint about it, I'm just trying to understand it. And I can only understand it as some kind of attempt at putting themselves above others. Thus the penis length joke. If you're just saying because someone is asking, that's obviously different.

    OP didn't ask "what's the deal with certain people not liking effects", he asked "what's the deal with certain people being against effects". I've encountered people that are "against" effects and it's not the same as people that just don't play through effects by happenstance. Some people actually turn it into some kind of macho thing where they're "realer" or more "hardcore" guitar players because they're going direct. And that's really weird. I guess I'm mostly talking about in guitar groups on FB. It doesn't seem to happen on here.

    As for the rest of what you said, you're making a compelling point for sure. I would just point out that you can be interested in guitar, and you can be interested in sound effects, and those interests can overlap. I happen to be one of those people that love the guitar, but that also love effects in and of themselves. For me personally, it's not so much that I get confused about where to focus my energy (even though I definitely am no veteran), but that if we remove the guitar from the equation and you give me a few separate instrument layers from a recording, just messing around with effects on them is quite enjoyable to me. I love the process of mixing a track. Tweaking knobs, adding space or effects to layers, compression, all that stuff. So for me, having effects and playing guitar is like a duathlon where they belong together. Because I enjoy both activities. Then there's also the notion of "playing effects". Especially rhythmic effects can alter what you're actually doing on the instrument, your slicers and multitap delays, or pitched looping effects. It's like a third thing that grows out of the cracks of the two other things, and I find that kinda enjoyable too. So I'm just doing what I like and then some people will impose on me that I'm somehow wrong and should do things differently, and that's where I start worrying about the ruler coming out. Because they must think then that I'm wrong and they're right. Then I'm sure you get how I relate that to penis length.

    Edited 10 times, last by Preacher (November 20, 2021 at 6:21 PM).

  • I am from the camp of "a few effects." I have a pedal board but there are mostly drive pedals on it. I am very picky about my drives and midrange. I occasionally will use a little delay. I like a light chorus on a clean channel as well as a light compressor. I am very careful with reverb as I have found that when micing up your amp it multiplies by the time it get through the FOH and I am not a fan of that. My preference of using effects very lightly is from years of gigging. I find that less is more and if I get too much on it I blend into the mix too much and don't have a focused sound. I could get along with just plugging into an OD and amp and playing for the whole night.

  • These guys use effects.

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