We all know loud guitars are the very foundation of rock music. But how loud is loud, why does it matter and how does it change your tone?
Life too short for long YouTube videos? Please see the ‘Interesting bits and go-to sections’ information below.
Welcome to the show. This week Dan and I are dealing with the subject perhaps closest to our hearts when it comes to guitar tone: volume. We go as far as to say that volume is probably more important than any other factor in determining what and how you play, approach and interact with the electric guitar. But hold your horses: this is emphatically NOT ‘louder is better’. What we’re saying is that ‘louder is definitely different’, for all the reasons we discuss in the show. So…
We take two amps then play them super quiet and super loud before trying to find a reasonable point in between. With stage volumes being continually reduced in recent years, it’s a relevant discussion around what is, or is not, being lost from the experience of playing the electric guitar.
Enjoy the show!
SAFETY WARNING: Please be aware that even short exposure to loud sound pressure levels can permanently damage your hearing. Be careful with volume!
Related, there is no need to post comments telling us we’ll lose our hearing. We know that. We are both 30 years in to playing loud at this point. We say a number of times in this video that this is NOT about playing as loud as you can! It’s about finding a reasonable volume that gets you connected with the instrument. They are two very different things.
OUR dB METER is almost certainly not very accurate. Please also keep in mind that it is placed very close to the amps. If you were measuring dB levels in a venue further away from the stage it would read considerably less. So try not to concentrate too hard on the specific numbers, moreover the scale and proportion over which they run. It’s a relative guide, not an absolute measurement.
Interesting bits and go-to sections…
- Intro playing: 00:00
- Why did that sound so off? 02:00
- What are we doing today? 02:22
- What is a guitar sound anyway? 3:30
- And then there’s feel: 4:15
- What changes when you play loud and quiet? 07:38
- Sound + feel = tone: 9:20
- Today’s amps: 10:12
- Two-Rock and Bassbreaker c70dB: 11:30
- Okay, let’s go loud: 17:40
- Two-Rock and Bassbreaker at 100dB+: 18:06
- The Andy Summers wisdom: 25:50
- Warthog / Lucydremer / Disaster Transport: 29:40
- The tone determines what you play: 32:15
- And some fuzz before we turn down: 34:10
- How quiet before it stops working? 37:45
- The dB isn’t accurate: 44:08
- Warthog & Lucydreamer at 90dB: 44:33
- How loud before feedback? 49:28
- 90 - 100dB and feedback: 51:45
- It’s a different instrument at high volume: 54:00
- Clean sounds, finally: 54:40
- Clean sounds at lower volumes: 59:29
- Adding compression, Strymon Compadre: 1:01:52
- Thoughts on the the compressor: 1:06:20
- What have we learned?: 1:07:18