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70s Arena Riff Rock

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In this lesson we will focus on getting the right tone.

Most of the bands I am emulating in this tutorial used electric guitar with humbuckers and big, loud tube amps. If you want to get close to the tone I am using, then I suggest using a guitar that has a bridge position humbucker that is not too "hot". Some of the modern humbuckers are way too high output and cause a lot more gain, edge or distortion for this style of playing. Another factor is most of the time these 70s bands guitars didn't have the massive bassy bottom that many newer high output guitars have. Typically, they had a good biting, crunchy treble register and a solid midrange. They often had only a little bass in their tone. They would often let the bass guitar in the group flesh in the lower, bass registers of the overall group sound.

The same goes for the amp and it's settings. I am using a little tube amp, but it is essentially a miniature version of those bigger, loud old tube amps. You can mimic this tone with a modeling amp or software set for an old Marshall Plexi tone, British 60s or 70s overdrive, or some setting like that. You can often get really close with just a small old tube amp that sounds clean on low volume, but likes to be turned up to get a little break up happening!

The main thing is that we don't want a clean tone. But we also don't want a tone that is too much distortion, overdrive or crunch. And we definitely don't want that metal scooped EQ setting with all lows and highs but no mids. The tone we want is crunchy, tough, midrangy and barky!

Listen to parts of songs by Deep Purple, Montrose, Kiss, Van Halen, ACDC. Listen for when the guitar is played alone. Listen to how it has overdrive, but you can still hear the individual notes of the chord.