Distortion – Understanding How Guitar Effects Work

distortionWhen a signal is sent into a device like your amplifier with too much Gain, the signal begins to “clip.” This clipping gives the sound its characteristic buzzy sound that is what we call distortion

Overdrive

Overdrive is usually a naturally occurring clipping of the signal. It is often created by turning the volume up too loud on the gain stage of the amp, or by using a gain-boosting pedal that makes the signal too hot going into the amp or another pedal. This will oftentimes drive the later stages of the amp too hard and the signal will begin to clip, or chop off the parts of the signal that are too loud. This distorted sound is oftentimes a warm, pleasing tone that also adds a little compression to the signal. Continue reading “Distortion – Understanding How Guitar Effects Work”

Modulation – Understanding How Guitar Effects Work

modulationModulation effects are those that change over time. Parameters of the effect are tied to a Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO)

If you don’t know a Low Frequency Oscillator is, think of a clock and a light bulb . When the hand is on the 12 the light is all the way Off, as the hand moves past 1 the light begins to turn on; when the hand is on the 6 the light is all the way On and starts to turn off again as it moves past 7 back to Off at 12. This cycle repeats indefinitely, and you usually control how fast the clock spins. This is basically what is happening internally with each of these effects.

Continue reading “Modulation – Understanding How Guitar Effects Work”

Delay – Understanding How Guitar Effects Work

delayTime based effects deal mostly with some kind of delay in a signal. Echo and reverb are two effects in this category

Delay is created in many ways, including electronically, using springs, (Bucket Brigade), in addition to tape (like in a cassette tape or audio reel).

Delay/Echo

Delay is a very common effect that creates an echo of the original signal. Delay can often be set to very short time, creating a “guitar doubling” effect, or it can be set for very long times creating a “Grand Canyon” type echo. It can also usually be set for a single echo or “Slap Back,” or for multiple or even infinitely repeating echos. Take a look at the MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay, or Boss DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal.

Continue reading “Delay – Understanding How Guitar Effects Work”

Filter – Understanding How Guitar Effects Work

filterFilter effects are a subcategory of Dynamics and they deal with controlling the volume of certain frequencies

Equalizers are one of the most common effects in this category and you can find an Equalizer almost everywhere that you find a Volume Control. It is built into your amp, your mixing board, almost everywhere you look. EQs work by using different values of Capacitors to target a certain range of frequencies, and a slider or Volume knob to “Turn Down” (filter to ground) those frequencies. Most EQs are passive, meaning they can only turn down the volume of the frequencies that they target.

Continue reading “Filter – Understanding How Guitar Effects Work”