"How do I use time-based effects with my overdriven amplifier?" I get asked this question all the time. For many people, an effects loop works *ok*. I say *ok* because there is, IMO, a much better-sounding way to do it. In fact, I consider this method to have astounding sonic qualities, myself. This method that I'm referring to is known as the *WET/DRY* method. It's pretty simple to set up. You will need several items:   

1. A *LINE-OUT* jack on your amplifier *OR* a *LINE-OUT/DI BOX* that simply taps a line-level signal off of the cable that connects your amp to you speaker.  The LINE OUT or DI BOX should also have a GROUND LIFT, in case you need it to eliminate a ground loop.

2. A reverb, delay, or combination of both effects processor. This processor must have the ability to be set completely *WET* so that there is no dry signal coming out of it, only pure reverb/delay. Most of them do this, but you should check in the store to be sure, before buying.   

3. A second amp. You don't need another hotrodded plexi halfstack, not even close. You just need a small combo....solid state, even, that can produce some sort of clean sound. This is because, with the effects unit set completely WET, you don't really need much volume out of the effects amp to get a huge coliseum-like sound. 

Most people set the effects amp right next to the MAIN/DRY amp, but you may enjoy spreading them apart a few feet or more, too. For myself, I sometimes use 2 amps live anyway...a Marshall Plexi Halfstack (dirty sounds) and a Fender Super Reverb (clean sounds), using an A/B BOX. The Super Reverb has two channels....so I use the channel on the right for my clean sound from my guitar, and use the channel on the left as my EFFECTS CHANNEL for the Marshall. When doing this, you may have to unground *one* of your amps, to eliminate a ground loop, in addition to using the GROUND LIFT on your LINE OUT/DI BOX.

Additionally, the effects even have their own tone controls this way. By using this method, you are not putting too many duties upon the speakers in your main cab. You are also not compromising the tone of your main amp in any way, shape, or form. You are simply taking that already PERFECT sound, and adding to it. It really is a wonderful method.

It makes sustaining notes at lower levels a lot easier, and SOUNDS and FEELS bigger and louder, without completely blowing away the rest of your band.  You can even use a VOLUME PEDAL on the signal going into the effects amp, so you can vary how much effect you have as you are playing. 

"Can I put a delay in between my guitar and overdriven amplifier?" Running a delay in between your guitar and overdriven amp can yield some nice results. Having the delay level set very low, you won't actually hear the delay's slapback until you stop playing, and make room for it. This is useful for keeping your sound nice and clear, yet providing some effect when you play a staccato section, as well as having something to fall back on, besides dead space, if you miss a note (my main reason for one!).

Setting the volume of the delay louder will yield a much more aggressive and fairly psychedelic effect. When using it this way, it sounds wonderful to keep your foot on the pedal as you're playing, and turn the delay *ON* only during certain sections of your solo, to really reach out and grab people at those times. Certain delays will work better than others, obviously. I prefer an Echoplex for this, myself, though many delay pedals will do the job. Experiment before you buy, and also make sure that the power supply that comes with the pedal doesn't introduce noise of its own, as an overdriven amp will tend to amplify this a great deal. 


Guitar cable length

The length of your guitar cable (or cables) between your guitar and amp affects your sound. Longer cables add more capacitance, which rolls off higher frequencies. This is frequently promoted as a bad thing, and many advertising dollars go into promoting cables with minimal capacitance, however, treble reduction from longer cables runs can be desirable. People seeking the warmer guitar tones from the 50's, 60's and 70's can benefit from adding a length of cable into their rig just for that reason, as it's often a very musical way to reduce highs. Before the use of wireless systems for guitar, long cable runs onstage were the norm.


Methods of holding the pick

How you hold the pick has a huge effect on your tone, and is extremely important when playing through a dynamic amplifier that lets every nuance of your playing shine through. 

Let's look at standard pick shape, also known as the 351, since it's very common. 

It has three corners, one of which is sharper than the other two. Most people use the bottom sharp corner to strike the strings with, and I believe that it was designed for that. However, I have found that some players use the more rounded corners, and myself included, after another player (who has TERRIFIC tone in his hands, btw) hipped me to this a long time ago. The sound tends to be thicker and more midrange focused, with less high end attack and pick clack. This sound isn't for everyone, but it really works well for myself.

Of course, adding in the thumb and index finger will increase the area of the string being hit, making the sound even thicker and more interesting.

Pick Gauge

A thicker pick will give you thicker tone. This is mostly because you can get more power out of a thicker pick, which drives the strings harder, which drives the pickups harder by causing them to generate more AC voltage, which drives the first stage of your amplifier harder, and so on. I prefer a Fender 351 Heavy, because of this. Again, though, this is personal taste. Some players enjoy the low end roll off cause by thinner picks, myself included sometimes, especially in certain recording situations and with certain guitars.
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