As usual, this kind of discussion can expand to infinity...and it's good and interesting to know the different perspectives of other musicians.
As a classical trained pianist, I can understand the matter of things Kris is talking about. It has nothing to do with musical taste, audience reaction or absolute judgements about this or that "final result".
When I was young and started playing music with friends I noticed that was easy for guitarists using high gain and distortion get good results, what that make me notice how different it was to get the same "final result" for me, as a pianist playing keyboards...
The point is that when those guitarists and I sat down with just a piano and an acoustic guitar they didn't seems to have the same ability in "expression". So I can see the point: it depends by your ability in articulation, as Kris said, and at the end, by the control of your body and "domination" you have on your instrument.
In analogy, talking about "clean sound" I could say that that's the same different between playing fast and playing slow.
This is something I learnt studying Bach and that everyone here has personally tested, I think: that is more easy to "look" like a good player when playing fast, but we all know how more difficult is playing a slow piece of music giving "honour" and the right presence to each single note.
Articulation and control...again.
If I well understand he's talking about
When I got speed and fluidity in playing classical music I was amazed
Yeah, but you probably also can't play your articulate clean ideas with
much heavier strings and higher action than you're currently using
Yes, I also can't articulate my clean
ideas as well with a bass guitar or a lute. What is the
point? Pick any electric guitar that is setup the way you like.
Play it clean, play it with lots of gain. That is the context I am working
with here. Test it. Test others. See how often the hypothesis is true.
--does that mean that your current instrument setup (whatever it might
be) is generating an illusion of technique? I don't think so.
No. In the case you bring up, the unusual string gauge and
action is just hindering me. Use the strings and action you are
comfortable with, then let the tests begin. Technique is technique. Create a
level playing field, and then you can either play the notes fluidly
and with accuracy, or you can't. A lot of distortion may in fact
conceal this on some cases, but it doesn't change the fact. I can
pickup an electric with high gain and race up and down the neck with
arpeggios, in that classic Malmsteen or Paul Gilbert fashion. I can do this as
fast as I can and it sounds fairly fluid, but I can't turn around and do it on
the electric with a clean tone. I have to slow down and maintain more control
over my instrument. The high gain, compression, and ultra sensitivity
allows a lot of things that one couldn't ordinarily do with a clean tone while
sounding just as controlled and articulate. I'm really not saying much more
than that here.
Whatever tools make it easiest to produce your desired end result, by all
means, use those, but the whole "make the young bucks play through a clean
amp" thing doesn't make sense to me. Is anyone surprised when that sort
of playing doesn't sound great through the wrong amp settings?
Wrong amp settings? What does that mean? I am not talking about
what sounds "great" or "good", or what is "wrong" or "right". This is purely a
matter of technicality, and I dare not introduce what "sounds good" into the
conversation, because that is an entirely different and subjective matter
regarding taste. I am talking about pure physical technicality and the
raw ability to create notes with accuracy and fluidity with a clean vs. high
gain tone. You can perform the test with any guitar or amp. Doesn't
matter to me. And the easiest test to perform is to have someone (could
be yourself as well) who is very good at playing fast and seemingly articulate
on an electric with high gain, and then see if they can do it with a clean
tone. And it can be the clean tone of their preference, with the guitar and
amp of their preference. It is a basic test. I performed it on
myself, and could not play the same thing with a clean tone. There is nothing
wrong with that. It just means that I am taking advantage of the high gain to
do things I can't do on with a clean tone. It does not mean I am a bad player,
though I can say that I have aspired now to be able to play only things that I
"can" play with a clean tone, and that has made me a better player. Now
when I go back to the electric, I am even more articulate. So, the crutch
proved to be a useful tool. It forced me to sit down for years with a
clean tone and really gain control over my instrument....though I am still
working on this and it is a lifelong process.
On Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 2:58 PM, Krispen Hartung <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Yes, I understand where you are coming from,
and they seem like valid points. Though the points I made still
stand true to my own evolution as a guitarist. High gain generated an
elusion of technicality that could not be re-produced with clean tone,
regardless of who it touched, whether it was miced, or any of the
separate skills required to play the electric with high gain (which I
fully understand, having played the electric for almost 30 years). And I am
sure I can sit down with 10 young bucks walking on the streat who play
screamin' licks on the electric, and test my theory with a clean tone.